As most people know the mornings are starting to cool down and feel a lot more like Fall. This morning as I poured myself a cup of hot coffee I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the thermometer for outside was down to a mere 35 degrees! This got me daydreaming of mornings in the duck blind and the work I need to get done in the next few weeks before waterfowl opener takes place.

In order to have a successful start to the waterfowl season I firmly believe that everyone needs some time to prepare gear accordingly before taking in the opening morning sunrise from a wheat field or duck pond in North Dakota. 

An important aspect to make sure opening more goes smoothly is to check all your decoys in advance. For my floating decoys I like to take each one out of the bag individually and check to make sure that my anchor rope is intact and that each decoy has an anchor/weight to hold it down in the water. There is nothing worse than throwing your first few decoys out in the morning to only realize that you have no weight there to stop it from floating away. The other thing I like to check are the batteries on my motorized decoys, this is important as sometimes batteries will be left on during the off season or batteries will burn out over time and not take a charge.

I’ve learned from past experiences on finding out that a battery won’t take a charge the evening before opener and there isn’t a store within 200 miles that is open to get a new battery. Also, water hunters with summer winding down now is the time to slip on those waders and check for any leaks that may have developed from last season. It is a lot nicer to find those leaks on a sunny 75 degree afternoon at the local boat ramp versus a frosty October morning in the duck blind.

Field hunters may be wondering what they need to prep on decoys, the most important thing for a field hunter to check is that all their decoy stakes are accounted for. Sure a person can just set the decoy on the ground and getaway with it, but there will be times when a person is hunting in a higher stubble field and needs that extra foot from the stake to give that decoy some visual clearance. 

Another simple yet overlooked detail is checking to make sure all of a hunter’s duck and goose calls are cleaned and reeds are in great shape.  A person would be surprised by how little of debris it takes to make a duck call not work quite properly. Also if a hunter isn’t shooting trap in the offseason now is the perfect time to grab a handful of shells and make sure everything in your gun is cycling properly, this includes making sure you have the proper choke tube and gun plug in for waterfowl season. 

Last thing I like to do before opening morning, and this is for hunters with a four-legged companion , is to get my dog into “hunting shape”. By hunting shape I mean, getting their bodies ready for "off-roading". I like to get my lab out on gravel roads to get his paws in shape for working in fields and ponds and also bringing him down the local boat ramp or beach to get a few water retrieves in. This not only instills confidence in me but also my dog. 

Lastly, try on your hunting clothes to make sure everything fits properly. This may seem simple but trust me, you don’t want to tight of a fitting or too loose of a fitting piece of clothing. This can make for a long and uncomfortable day in the field. 

Fall is near and Waterfowl season is looming, I hope everyone has a great hunting season and we look forward to seeing you in the field here in the Devils Lake area!

Written by Tanner Cherney