Waterfowl Scouting 101

Waterfowl Scouting 101

– Photos & article by Prois Staffer, Gretchen Steele –

As waterfowl season approaches with what seems like breakneck speed, being prepared is the key to success. There are dogs to train, decoys to rig and repaint, blinds to build, and boats to tune up; but the one important part that  many hunters overlook is scouting. Scout smart this year with these techniques, you just may find yourself on the “X” on opening day.

Not only are there a variety of high tech options you can use as additional tools, such as radar tracking of big pushes, online migration reports from fellow hunters afield, and aerial surveys, nothing beats  boots on the ground and eyes to the sky.

It’s hard to beat the excitement of finding a large group of ducks or geese on the water, but it’s vital that you identify whether or not you’ve found a main roost area. If the birds are hitting it at sundown, or busting out at daybreak, chances are that’s a main roost area and you want to leave that water alone. Hunting on or even within ¼ or ½ mile of a main roost, can result in pushing birds out of an entire area in no time. The key here is to watch where they go when they leave in the mornings or try to determine where they are coming from in the evenings. This will often lead you to their preferred loafing areas and feeding fields. Often, ducks will leave the roost area and make a pit stop at a small pothole or pond before heading on to feed in the fields. Find that spot, and you have just found the spot that will provide you with an action packed memorable hunt.

Don’t discount even small batches of birds in the air. Even small groups are worth watching.  Sometimes it’s that one little batch of mallards that give away the location of a whole field or pond full of birds.  Don’t think that because that slough is only holding 50-75 birds it’s not worth hunting. Small groups add up and finding a slough, pond or river bend that has small groups coming in at steady pace will net you a dandy hunting spot.


The amount of guesswork for selecting a spot decreases quickly once you have found birds on the ground. Now it’s time to start looking at numbers. For Canada geese, “the more the merrier.” Consider looking for fields holding 100 – 150 birds. But don’t stop there with your scouting; more important than the number on the ground is how the birds are coming into the area.

Often a field with a smaller number of birds overall can be more productive than a giant feeding area. Successful hunters know that a field with 60 or 70 birds that has geese coming in in small numbers will likely be most productive. Big flocks can be hard to decoy and call in. Small groups of 4-6 coming together just seem to respond better to flagging, calling and the decoys.

During your scouting trips, wait at a distance until the birds leave the field, then explore to find the exact spot where they were feeding. Signs that will clue you in are fresh droppings and feathers, tore ground, torn up corn. Mark that  spot in your GPS, your note book or even leave a small flag there as a reminder if possible, even snapping a photo with your phone will work to help put you right on the X the following day.

With ducks, there is more wiggle room for setting up on the X. When dry-field hunting ducks, you really are looking for big numbers, numbers that reach well into several hundreds, especially mallards. Mallards are more like to be coming in as large groups or waves.  It’s important though, to watch a big duck field feed to insure that they are indeed committed that field, and there is still plenty of food available.

None will dispute that watching a giant tornado of ducks is awe inspiring and downright cool to witness, but what’s even cooler and what you are looking for is when, where and how those ducks hit the ground. You are looking for birds that are committed and using the field with regularity. Avoid spots where the ducks seem to be bouncing around and unsure. If they are unsure when you are scouting them they will likely be just as unsure and less likely to commit the next day. Picking the fields where the ducks are piling in and seem committed and comfortable will go a long way towards insure a successful hunt.

Turning a scouting trip into a good or even great hunt is a bit like solving a puzzle and requires you to put your observations together into a workable plan.

Think about even small parts of the puzzle. What direction is the wind, what direction will the birds be coming in, what  is the species mix, is the weather going to take a drastic change overnight?  All of the things that you were able to determine from your scouting trip will and can make a big difference in how you determine how to place your decoys, blinds, and dogs.

Bottom line, scouting is a ton of time behind the windshield, the binos and the spotting scope.  It’s boots on the ground, and can quickly eat up an entire day. However, the more you know about what the birds are doing, how they are moving, and what the numbers look like,  the more likely it is you’ll have great hunt the next day.

Gretchen is a proud Prois Staffer as well as an excellent photographer and writer. She has a strong passion for the outdoors and our hunting heritage.

PRÓIS® HUNTING & FIELD APPAREL ANNOUNCES PLANS FOR FULL NEW LINE IN PRÓIS/ VEIL® CUMBRE™ CAMO IN 2018

New Pattern and New Designs Offer New Level of Performance for Serious Female Hunters

 

Torai Midweight Jacket

Gunnison, CO — Próis® Hunting & Field Apparel, manufacturers of the most technical, high-performance hunting apparel for women, is proud to announce its plans to launch in 2018 an entirely new assortment of designs from head to toe in its new Próis /Veil® Cumbre™ camo pattern.

 

“We have recently secured all new sourcing for the Próis line. This means our plans for a fresh new line-up in 2018 are in full swing, which will completely replace our current inventory,” states Próis CEO, Kirstie Pike.  “We are knocking it out of the park on our new-for-2018 designs and we can’t wait to share them with female hunters everywhere.”

 

Próis is working diligently to offer new designs complete with new fabrics and new cuts. “With our new sourcing, we are able to focus on every minute detail to achieve a whole new level of perfection.” Pike adds.  The 2018 assortment will include everything a female hunter will need for any type of hunting in any weather condition — from merino wool, new down products and updated rain gear to state-of-the-art warm weather and mid-weight apparel.

 

Perhaps the most exciting news of all is that all current inventory at Próis is on clearance to make room for the new lines.  All Próis clothing is currently marked down to 50% off MSRP while supplies last.  Check out this fantastic sale at proishunting.com.

Próis worked closely with Veil® Camo to create a pattern with a diverse western landscape in mind, while also utilizing colorations that provide excellent concealment in all regions.  Próis/Veil Cumbre contains both macro disruption and textural disruption strategies that come together in one of the most aggressive, high functioning and visually distinctive patterns available.  The color palette is a careful combination of tones pulled directly from the environment and used in a calculated balance that ensures maximum performance.  The blends of browns, grays, greens and tans are carefully synchronized to create disruption that works in open space as well as deep timber.  Cumbre stands for “above the rest”..and it is THE ideal camouflage for serious female hunters that demand a new level of performance from their concealment strategy.

 

About Próis Hunting & Field Apparel

Olann Merino Half-Zip

Próis has been the leader in women’s technical hunting gear since 2008 and believes women hunt hard and deserve the highest performing gear to support their pursuits.  All Próis gear is engineered expressly for women and the company utilizes only the most top-rated performance fabrics to provide wind stopping, wicking, waterproofing, silence and thermoregulation. The company’s out-of-the-box thinking has resulted in award-winning designs that have raised the bar for women’s outdoor apparel.  For more information about Próis Hunting & Field Apparel, visit: Próishunting.com

 

Próis offers sub-licensing opportunities of the Próis /Veil Cumbre pattern to fellow manufacturers. For more information, email: kirstie@proishunting.com

Cajun Dove Poppers!

Dove.  Its the first bird season to open, down here in the south, and it brings with it the opportunity I wait all summer for!  An appointment with my personal massage therapist: Mr. Browning Twelve Gauge.  He really knows how to work deep down into the shoulder tissue, and get those muscles from all angles…

Bringing his assistant, Sir Gunpowder Aromatherapy, it’s a time to re-connect with my surroundings and prepare for the coming months – as dove are only the beginning!
So – now that my shoulder is purple and I have 5 freezer bags of dove in my freezer, what am I to do with all of them?  Through the years I’ve tried quite a few techniques to cook these little guys, with varying levels of success.  They are a challenge because of their strong flavor, their size and meat texture.  You definitely need to add flavor and preserve moisture.  After spending an extended amount of time in South Louisiana, this Oklahoma girl has learned a new trick that I’d like to share with ya!
The secret:  Boudin.
For those of you unfamiliar with boidin, it is a cajun sausage, with rice and vegetables, stuffed into a hog casing and then poached, grilled or smoked.  It is absolutely delicious!  I prefer mine smoked, then grilled (for a crispy casing).   The version on my pictures may be available in grocery stores around the country… and while it is no where near close to the flavor of fresh LA boudin, it will do.
Back to the doves.
Many are familiar with, and love, dove poppers – cream cheese and jalepeno stuffed inside, bacon wrapped around the outside… grilled to perfection.  Its a wonderful way to cook them.  But, my time in cajun country got me to thinking… why not boudin in there?  So, that’s just what I did.
Here’s how you do it:
Cajun Dove Poppers:
10-12 dove
1 lb Bacon
1 lb Boudin
Toothpicks
Remove individual dove breasts from the breastplate and butterfly each piece. If they’re too small, you may just have to cut them in half, and that is fine.
Remove the boudin from its casing.  Cut bacon slices in half.
Lay out a half of a slice of bacon, lay a butterflied dove breast on top, then take a small chunk (1-2 T) of boudin and squish it into a small pancake that will fit in the “sandwich” of dove meat.
Close it all up, wrap bacon around tightly (you can use another half slice if needed or desired) and secure with toothpick(s)
Grill at a medium to medium/low temperature
(or bake/broil) until the bacon is done.  Viola!
The fat from both the bacon and the boudin ensure there is plenty of moisture in the dove meat, and the flavors meld together perfectly.

PS – It hasn’t happened yet, but I know this will be a perfect technique for so many other types of game… I can see it with duck, goose, venison… the possibilities are endless!

– Prois Staffer, Leslie Crawford –

Junior Staff Winners!

We were absolutely blown away by the incredible applications we received for our Prois Junior Staff Contest. Picking the winners was exceptionally difficult for our panel of staff judges that rated all the applications according to a point system. In first place is Brooklyn Wistisen, in second place is Katie Payne, and in third place is Paige Moritz. We believe all the girls that applied are winners and we will be adding several to the new Prois Junior Staff division so stay tuned. We also want to recognize the parents of all these girls for raising such intelligent, capable, and passionate young ladies, We will be sending every girl who entered a Prois package. We are so impressed and proud of these girls. You may read all of their touching essays and see their awesome photos here
https://www.proishunting.com/junior-staff-applications/.