How Hunting Pressure Impact Waterfowl
Hunting pressure becomes an influence to waterfowl when it begins to change normal waterfowl patterns and tendencies. Scenarios that cause this to happen include: shooting at birds that are out of range (sky busting), over calling, shooting birds off their roost, hunting feeding locations in the morning as well as the evening, hunting the same "hole" from sunrise to sunset day after day, etc.

When situations such as those described above occur the impact is often extremely negative. Ducks and geese will become very skittish. They will travel to and from their destination at elevations that make decoying these birds almost impossible. They become "decoy" and "call shy". And when the pressure becomes too intense, they simply leave the area.

An Example Of The Influence
A number of years ago, a small area that we used to hunt quite frequently decided to change the location of their refuge. The refuge was at the far east end of the waterfowl management area and both the ducks and geese could leave the area to the north, south and east without encountering hunters. During the late 70s and early 80s the area would hold between 25 - 30,000 ducks and 2 - 3,000 Canada geese. For quality waterfowl hunters this was an outstanding area to hunt.

Unfortunately, the state and local waterfowl powers decided to change the location of the refuge and put it squarely in the middle of the waterfowl unit. To the applause of many, this was proclaimed to be a great move since it would allow more opportunities to harvest ducks and geese regardless of the direction they left the refuge.

What has ensued since the change was made has been a steady decline in duck and goose numbers as well as lower and lower success rates for the hunters that do hunt the area. Since the ducks and geese are shot at no matter which direction they leave the area, many times at extreme ranges, they do not stay in the area for long. Because of the never-ending pressure put on these birds, they no only stay for a short period of time before they are "burned out" of the area. Over the past 12 years, the average number of ducks and geese that this area holds is about 1⁄4 of what it previously was.

How To Take Advantage Of The Influence
In order to take advantage of this influence you need to think in terms of extremes. For decoy setups try using a spread that is very large in comparison to those hunting the area or try using only a few (7-9) decoys. When calling ducks and geese in these situations try using soft subtle calling techniques. And perhaps the most important area that must never be overlooked in high-pressure areas is concealment. You must become invisible to the ducks and geese that you're hunting and present as low a profile as possible.

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