Building The Duck Hole of Your Dreams
Just the other day we visited a property where a guy wanted to build his own duck-hunting hole. The spot he had picked out had fertile soil, was known to hold some ducks and most importantly, was along a river. This bottom is in a natural floodplain and can easily be filled up or drained with the rise and fall of the river or by using a pump. We were amazed that he’d planted crops such as corn, milo and Japanese millet the last several years but had never really considered it a spot to hunt ducks. After thinking about it for a few days, we sat down to put together a list of items that can really make that river bottom into a duck hole dreams are made of.
Rent, Borrow or Buy a Bulldozer
A bulldozer and someone who knows how to operate it is going to make this guy’s life a lot easier. Read on and you’ll see exactly why.
Remove the Silt
The lay of the land is a long river bottom with two holes that fill with water when the river floods. On rare occasions, when the river is at its highest, the entire bottom might be underwater for days at a time. Of the two holes, or depressions, which are set against steep inclines some 100 feet off the river, one tends to draw more ducks than the other. We think this is primarily because ducks can simply swim in off a high river and seek shelter and crops hold well even in high waters near this hole.
Silt does a couple of things to the bottom of a pond. First, your pond won’t hold water once its full. From what we heard, the hole wouldn’t hang on to water for more than a couple of days after the river receded. Secondly, silt is not conducive for walking. Let’s say he does get this duck hole completed and he has some successful hunts. Walking out through a silt bottom is a good way to arrive home sopping wet and freezing cold.
Open it Up
Despite having a healthy stand of crops and some ducks using the river bottom, we’d still suggest he open it up a bit more. There is one line of trees along the river, the open field, and then the steep embankment behind the hole. Using the bulldozer, he needs to knock down some of the trees on both sides of the duck pond in order to give waterfowl a place to fly in to. This will also allow him to plant a bigger crop, which will hopefully attract more ducks and geese. Some of the tree removal can be done with a chainsaw, but like the bulldozer, we caution anyone to find someone who knows how to run it if need be.
All the crops he’d mentioned - corn, milo, Japanese millet - are excellent choices for a duck hole and they grow well in that particular climate. He typically plants the river bottom early summer so that he’ll have a healthy crop when the river typically begins to rise in late fall and early winter. The only real problem crops will face in a river bottom are when the river covers the entire field and the current is strong enough to remove all vegetation. In that case, there’s just not much you can do to control the forces of nature.
Build a Blind
Once the silt has been removed from the little pond and the necessary trees knocked down, we’d say build a blind. It doesn’t have to be overly extravagant, just enough to conceal a few people. There are all kinds of way to do this, so we won’t go into great detail. Also, we’d recommend making this a summertime project when the bottom is dry and getting in with a truck and walking around are not problems.
Having this natural river access, the ability to plant crops that waterfowl love and the fact that ducks use this bottom on a yearly basis make it ideal for a productive hunting spot. Despite the peculiar weather patterns that have kept the majority of waterfowl up north the past couple years, it’s still fun just to get out there.