We can determine what time of the year is best for duck hunting by studying the migratory habits of different species of ducks, but what about the time of day? There has been much debate among duck hunters in recent years about whether morning hunting or evening hunting is better. There is a long-standing tradition for some duck hunters to go out in the morning before sunrise, put out their decoys, set up in their positions, and to wait patiently until shooting hours begin. If they are fortunate, just a few minutes after sunrise, their duck hole will be flush with birds and they will get their limit in time to roll out to their favorite café for a hot coffee and a big breakfast of eggs, bacon, and pancakes.
There is nothing wrong with this tradition, and for many people, it still is their preferred hunting experience. But, in recent years, more hunters are trying evening hunts and the results have been equally as rewarding. The truth is, it does not matter too much whether you prefer to duck hunt in the morning or the evening. There are definite pros and cons to both. One thing you should always be aware of though, whether you duck hunt in the morning or the evening, is what time legal shooting hours begin in the morning, and what time they end in the evening. Before the start of any hunting season, make sure to review all federal hunting regulations as well as your state and local regulations.
Let us take a closer look at the pros and cons of hunting in the morning and hunting in the evening to see if we can for once and for all determine which is better.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Duck Hunting in the Morning?
If you grew up duck hunting as a child alongside one of your grandparents or parents, there is a good chance you might have been taught the longstanding tradition of the early bird gets the worm. Maybe grandpa was up brewing coffee and letting you sleep until the last possible moment before you both climbed into your frost-covered pickup truck. Then you drove in groggy silence to your favorite duck hole, put on your waders, and stood silently along a tree-lined shoreline waiting for the sun to rise. There is some truth to the early bird gets the worm because this is prime feeding time for many species of ducks. Let us take a look at all the pros and cons of duck hunting in the early morning.
- Ducks usually leave their roosting spots right before shooting hours to feed. Once they are active, they can be active for one to two hours, and if the weather is good, they can continue to feed for several hours.
- You have more time to hunt stretching into late morning and mid-day if the conditions are right.
- If you want to hunt mid-week but have to report to work in the morning, you can still get to your favorite spot before sunrise, hunt for a couple of hours, and still make it to work on time.
- As much as I am sure you love to wake up at 3:30 or 4 in the morning, doing this several days in a row can beat you down and make duck hunting unenjoyable. Sometimes it does not matter how many cups of coffee you can put down, you find yourself yawning, inattentive, and groggy in your duck blind. This can hinder your shooting and reaction time.
- Depending on where you position yourself in the morning, that sunrise can produce some blinding light preventing you from being able to see your targets.
- If you are on a large body of water, and the wind is noticeably light in the early morning, it may limit how much the ducks move.
- Public hunting areas can be over-crowed in the morning hours. But do not take our word for it. For a good read about a hunter dealing with this very problem, read how he took matters into his own hands in a write-up published by our friends at Ducks Unlimited.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Duck Hunting in the Evening?
Recently, more hunters are making the switch to evening hunting and finding the same results as morning hunting. Often, they are not “morning people”, or they work early and can hit the duck hole after their shift is complete. Again, there are pros and cons to hunting in the evening. Let us take a closer look.
- Feel well-rested and alert by not having to get out of bed at 3:30 in the morning. Being well-rested not only improves your well-being, but it improves your shooting and reaction time.
- As the temperature lowers and as the sun begins to fall below the treeline, ducks will begin to move again for one last feeding before they find their roosting spots for the night.
- After feeding time, duck movement will pick up as they move from their feeding spots to their roosting spot.
- Limited window of hunting time. Often ducks will not begin to move until moments before shooting hours are about to end for the day. This may only give you a 15-minute window to try to get your limit before the sun completely disappears.
Did You Decide Which is Better?
Now that we have reviewed the pros and cons of both duck hunting in the morning and duck hunting in the evening, which did you decide is best? Like I said before, I think it does not matter if you prefer to hunt in the morning or evening and it is entirely up to you depending on how you feel. Throughout an entire duck season, I doubt that the total number of ducks that you bag, one way or the other, will be heavily skewed. So, if you want to maintain your family’s tradition of early rising, go for it. And, if you hate mornings and like to sleep in, go for it! There is no wrong answer.
If you are still undecided, take a look at our friends in Michigan at Woods-and-Water News to see their take on the matter. Happy hunting!
Thank you for reading my article about duck hunting in the morning vs the evening. I hope you enjoyed it and learned something you didn’t already know. If you like my content, subscribe to my weekly update. If you have any other questions about duck hunting in the morning/evening or just want to connect, feel free to email me at Patrick.Long@omegaoutdoors.net.