Top Ten Tips for Waterfowl Hunting in Alabama (& other useful information for the Alabama duck hunter)
Alabama may not have the duck populations as our northern and eastern cooler climate neighbors, however, it is very much a favored outdoor recreational activity amongst many avid waterfowl hunters throughout our state. This sport continues to grow statewide due in large part to the dedication to management of the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Waterfowl Program.
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Seth Thompson, an avid duck hunter from Muscle Shoals, Alabama. He shared with me the following Top Ten Tips for Waterfowl Hunting in Alabama:
1. Always position your decoys in front of you with the wind at your back.
2. Use smaller shotgun shell shot size (i.e. #3 or #4) for smaller water considering there will be closer shots and also for smaller waterfowl (i.e. teal).
3. Use larger shotgun shell shot size (i.e. BB or #2) for bigger water considering it will be farther shots and also for larger waterfowl (i.e. mallards and geese).
4. Layout blinds are a great tactic in fields or at the water’s edge.
5. Hunting with a good duck dog is very rewarding and enjoyable.
6. On big water, the more decoys, the better, most of the time.
7. Types of decoys and their spread are important: when hunting divers (i.e. canvasbacks or bluebills) on big water, you need diver decoys with a lot of white on them. Personally, I’ve had the most luck running long straight lines of diver decoys rather than having them grouped. When hunting dabbling/puddle ducks (i.e. mallards, pintail or teal) its best to group specific duck species together and leave a hole in the spread without decoys. This gives the birds a place to light in the water.
8. Motion decoys (i.e. Mojos) are good typically in the earlier part of the season. I’ve found them less effective later in the season. Be mindful that they will always flare geese.
9. Always be respectful to other hunters and don’t setup to close to others, there are plenty of places to hunt on the river.
10. Wood duck boxes are a great way to attract woodies to roost on your property, I make a point to put new boxes on our farm every year.
Alabama Duck Season for 2018/2019
November 23 – November 24
December 1 – January 27
• 6 Ducks a day and may include no more than 4 Mallards (no more than 2 of which may be a female), 3 Wood Ducks, 1 Mottled Duck, 2 Black Duck, 2 Redhead, 2 Pintail, 2 Canvasback, and 3 Scaup (bluebill).
SPECIAL YOUTH WATERFOWL HUNTING DAYS
November 17, 2018 & February 2, 2019
• Same shooting hours, bag limits, and legal arms and ammunition apply as the regular waterfowl season, in accordance with Rule 220-2-.119
Popular public places to hunt in Alabama by region:
The Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources manages over 721,574 acres of land for the Alabama hunter (funded by the sale of hunting licenses and federal excise tax on firearms and ammunition). To duck hunt the wildlife management areas (WMA), you must have a valid hunting license, federal duck stamp, Alabama duck stamp, Harvest Information Program Certification, management area permit, and management area license.
South: The Upper Delta WMA consists of more than 42,000 acres of ponds, sloughs and flooded areas. The W.L. Holland and Mobile-Tensaw WMA (Lower Delta) covers over 51,000 acres and is often home to gadwalls, bluebills, ring necks, and seldomly green winged teal. Mallards and woodies can be found in out of the way ponds/sloughs. Redheads and canvasbacks can sometimes be found in the more coastal region of Alabama.
Central: The David K. Nelson WMA covers nearly 7,000 acres and mainly has woodies, mallards, ring necks, bluebills, and the occasionally the green winged teal. It is located in Sumter, Hale, Marengo and Greene Counties near Demopolis.
North: The Jackson (County) WMA encompasses over 18,000 acres; including Crow, Racoon, and Mud Creeks. Seven Mile Island WMA in Lauderdale County near Florence has over 5,100 acres. The Tennessee River Valley is very popular among Alabama duck hunters. The Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge encompasses a massive 35,000 acres which is a haven for waterfowl. Although no hunting is allowed directly on the refuge, areas nearby such as Lake Guntersville and the Swan Creek and Mallard-Fox Creek Wildlife Management Areas near Decatur are prime areas to many types of waterfowl including widgeons, woodies, canvasback, mallards, green winged teal, ring necks, gadwalls, and pintails. Of special note: Swan Creek on Wheeler Lake in Limestone County does an annual duck blind raffle and let’s you leave a blind at your drawn location to hunt for the whole season.
For more information regarding Alabama’s Wildlife Management Areas visit: https://www.outdooralabama.com/hunting/wildlife-management-areas
Duck hunting on private land:
Alabama private land often times has swamps, ponds, or creeks that make prime duck habitats, especially if groomed accordingly. Duck hunters on private land are required to have a valid hunting license, federal duck stamp, Alabama duck stamp, and Harvest Information Program Certification.
For more information on Making Your Own Duck Honeyhole visit: https://deltawaterfowl.org/make-your-own-duck-hunting-honeyhole/.
For current Alabama Duck Hunting Properties for sale visit state land brokerage companies such as http://old.gr8land.net/.
Report your harvested banded ducks
Online at www.reportband.gov. The Alabama Waterfowl Association has an annual banded mallard release, so be sure to always report your bands.
Seth Thompson is an avid hunter, drone pilot / owner of Shoals Drone Solutions, and Land REALTOR ® for Great Southern Land in North Alabama. He can be contacted at 256-394-3525 or Seth@old.gr8land.net. Follow him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SethThompsonLandRealtor/ or on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/seth_thompson_realtor/.
Submitted by: Lindsay Schumacher (Outdoors Enthusiast, Freelance Writer, Independent Marketing & PR Consultant) firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Linked In at https://www.linkedin.com/in/lindsay-s-2171031b/