Jump Shooting Renaissance
Jump Shooting waterfowl gets a bad rap…
“What's a matter, can’t decoy em?”
“If you scouted more/better you wouldn’t need to jump shoot.”
“Learn to call!”
I’ve heard all of these barbed jabs over the years and in my opinion they’re BS. There isn’t a darn thing wrong with jump shooting ducks or geese and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Is jump shooting my preferred method for taking waterfowl? Nope, I’d rather call and decoy birds on feeds than anything else. Is jump shooting a great way to put ducks on the strap or geese in the pile? Youbetcha!
The fall and early winter of 2020 were tough hunting for us here. We got birds early but then nice weather turned them nocturnal and we rarely got the type of conditions we needed to make birds fly in the daylight with consistency. They were content to loaf on small creeks with cover, irrigation ditches, or big water treatment ponds where nobody could get at them. Decoying birds was difficult at best.
When my father showed up for Christmas and wanted to chase ducks we tried hard to get on them in the classic manner. We scouted tornados of mallards spiraling into corn fields after shooting hours, just waiting for some weather to make them do it during legal hours but it never came. We killed a few birds on the local river but pickings were slim. So when we found a pile of birds using an irrigation ditch, we did our best to figure out how to make a set and decoy them but there was no X on that ditch, as the food was all up and down it and the birds didn’t trade around at all once they landed, preferring instead to simply swim where they wanted to go.
So, with pheasant season still open, we decided our best option was to load up with non-toxic loads, put Mack at heel and walk the ditch, knowing we would get our ducks but hoping for a rooster or two as well.
As we eased our way along we would spot birds at a distance up the ditch, mark their location, loop around and send Mackinaw in to flush the birds. We’d kill the drakes on the flush and Mack would mop up the retrieves. We even added a couple roosters from a wide grassy spot on the ditch too. It was surprisingly fun and rewarding.
All in all we collected four drakes apiece and with the pheasants our vests were heavy. Dad and I got a nice stroll on a gorgeous December afternoon. Mack got some work and we took home a few perfect birds for the table. It was a lot better than sitting in duck blind all day staring at empty skies. Oh, and the birds tasted exactly the same as the ones I shoot over decoys, go figure.