10 Tactics to Bagging More Ducks on Public Land

A hunter holding a black duck that was harvested on public land
Black duck harvested on public land in Missouri

I have had some of the best duck hunts of my life on public land. I have also had some of the worst duck hunts of my life on public land. When everything works out, this style of hunting is rewarding because it requires effort and creativity in order to have a successful hunt. Throughout the year public duck hunting areas become overpopulated with hunters that are eager to pull the trigger. Don’t let yourself get caught up in what other hunters are doing. By utilizing the tactics below, you will set yourself apart from others and hopefully bag more ducks while hunting public land.


1. Having functional gear

As hunters, we all know the feeling of untangling decoys while a group of greenheads try to light into your spread. Worse yet, when your gun malfunctions after your second shot into the best group of the day. We’ve all been there and all swear we will be ready the next time a group flies over. You’ve done the work public land hunting requires, why let gear malfunctions stop you? Whether it’s a clean shotgun, Texas rigged decoys, or a well-trained dog, hunters should ensure their gear is functioning properly before heading out to hunt.

Duck Migration Maps

2. Scouting ducks on public land

The strategy that leads to the most success while duck hunting public land is scouting. Observations that duck hunters should make while scouting are:

  • Time of day
  • Species of ducks
  • Food source
  • Duck behavior
  • Location
  • Concealment near by

By taking notes and making proper observations while scouting, duck hunters significantly increase their odds of bagging more ducks on public land.

Our favorite binoculars to use for scouting are the Bushnell H2O Prisms. They’re compact for easy carrying, waterproof in case you drop them, and fog proof to provide for a clear view in any weather. Click on in image below to check out current pricing.

3. Being different than other hunters

Some of the best duck hunts on public land come from having a different setup than other hunters. Using fewer decoys, turning off the spinning wing decoys, or calling less frequently are all ways to separate yourself from other parties of hunters. My preference to differentiate myself from others is to use a jerk string with two mallard drakes on it.

Why do ducks flare: how to keep from spooking them

4. Walking further than other hunters

On public duck hunting land, the places that are hunted most often are the locations that are easiest to access. As the season progresses, ducks start to become pressured and move to more secluded areas. Hunters have success on public land when they are willing to walk/wade further than others and go where the ducks want to be.

One of my all time favorite pieces of hunting hunting gear are my Shappell Jet Sleds. When hunting public ground, my buddies and I sometimes take 2 or 3. Check out reviews and Amazon pricing by clicking the image below:

5. Hunt during the week

If you have ever hunted a public duck hunting area on the weekend, you know just how many hunters are competing for the same ducks. However, by the middle of the week the ducks will spread back out and utilize areas that were packed full of hunters the weekend before. Hunting during the week not only allows you to be among fewer hunters, but the ducks also seem to be less pressured without the constant calling and shooting.

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6. Realism

Ducks around public hunting areas are accustomed to seeing the same setups day after day. Once you notice the ducks becoming wary, try switching to a more realistic approach. Fewer decoys, flocked heads, jerk strings, and quiet calling are good tactics to use. Also, try setting your decoys in a spread that imitates ducks that are in a relaxed setting.

7. Pack lightly

When it comes to hunting public land, more doesn’t always mean better. When packing your gear, remember that duck hunting public land requires mobility and possibly walking long distances. Don’t let too much gear be the reason you and your hunting buddies don’t walk the extra distance to kill more ducks.

Going further than the next guy often means wading through water. The ALPS floating blind bag is our go to when hunting public land. Click on the image below for Amazon pricing.

8. Hunting cold fronts

A cold front in your flyway will typically bring new and more ducks to your area. When you see the cold front coming in the weather pattern, don’t miss your chance. The day of the front and the following 2-3 days could be the best hunting of the year. On public land, hunting a cold front could be your only chance to hunt unpressured and new ducks all year. Don’t miss it.

Visit our Migration Maps page to see where the ducks currently are

9. Concealment

One way to separate yourself from other hunters is by making more of an effort to conceal yourself. On public land, hiding from ducks can be challenging due to sparse natural vegetation and areas being overran by hunters. Whether you bring your own natural vegetation, build a natural blind. or wear better camouflage, you will have more success when you make the extra effort to maintain hidden from the ducks.

10. Consistently going

Getting up early, setting up your decoy spread, and competing for ducks can become exhausting by the middle of the season. That said, it seems like the ducks always show up the day you decide not to go. Don’t let your season fall short of your expectations because you decided to sleep in. Duck season is short compared to the rest of the year, get out and go!

Find the Ducks!

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Duck-Tracker is a member of Amazon associates and Bass Pro Affiliate Program. In English, this means that if you end up purchasing a product we mention in one of our articles, we might be eligible to earn a small commission at no extra charge to you. This revenue helps us keep the site up and running. Thanks for your support!