Snow Goose Hunting | Hard Core Brands

Snow Goose Hunting | Warm Weather Snow Geese

Warming Temperatures and Strong South Winds | A Deadly Combination for a Snow Goose Hunter

Beginning every year, right around the beginning of February, waterfowl hunters will begin trading in the their full body Canada goose decoys for something a little more spring like. When the temperatures begin to rise and the south winds begin to blow, you can bet that there will be large groups of snow geese making their way northward providing an excellent opportunity for waterfowl hunters to cycle some rounds through the Berretta this spring!

Believe it or not, at one point in time hunting snow geese was looked down on, and even somewhat frowned upon in the world of waterfowl hunting. Much like a professional bass or crappie fisherman might look down their nose at the person who throws on a wad of dough bait in search of a common carp. However, thanks in part to liberal regulations, liberal limits, and a new found appreciation for these animals, chasing “light geese” has somehow become “cool” again. This article will cover some of the basics for waterfowl hunters interested in giving snow goose hunting a try, while hopefully providing some insight and perspective that even the most seasoned snow goose hunter might find interesting and useful.

A Conservation Success Story

It seems only fitting that an article focusing on pursing “light geese” begins by mentioning where the population was a few decades ago, to where it is now. This brief history lesson may help to provide some insight into the world of waterfowl and their management, while at the same time providing us waterfowl hunters with a sense of accomplishment, because after all, waterfowl hunters are conservationists first and foremost!

Beginning at the turn of the century, it was estimated that population of greater snow geese was less than 5,000 individuals. Some biologists speculate that it may have even been less than that, hovering closer to the 3,000 mark. Luckily groups of concerned sportsmen and individuals recognized the importance of conserving not only the remaining light geese populations, but all waterfowl species. Through the work of the Federal Government, guided by the direction of conservation group’s refuges and legislation to help conserve, protect, and enhance key wetland areas and habitats were put into action. As a result, we have ducks and geese to chase each and every fall.

While the recovering of the Ross, Lesser, and Greater Snow Goose can be primarily accounted for thanks to Government and citizen led conservation initiatives, some of the thanks need to be given to the birds themselves. Over the years, these animals have been able to adapt and overcome shortages in historical winter foraging habitats by learning how to take advantage of the world around them, by foraging on waste grain fields during the winter and spring months. In today’s world of waterfowl hunting, the modern grain farmer plays a large role in waterfowl life cycle from the migration to the breeding grounds and beyond.

In 2016, it was estimated that the population of Lesser Snow Geese exceeded 5 million birds. This is a stark contrast to where the population was just over 100 years ago, and proves what good, sound conservation can do in terms of recovery of a species. However, now that the pendulum has swung 180 degrees the other way, from low population number and a threat of extinction to what some would say is overpopulation, we have a whole other list of problems on our hands.

Light geese winter in the Artic, one of the most pristine and sensitive ecosystems left on the face of planet earth. Light geese species now pose a large threat to integrity of this ecosystem. Light geese feed by a mechanism called “grubbing”. This simply means that the bird uses its beak to turn over the moist soil in the tundra to expose root masses which are the primary source of food during the spring and summer months. This process of essentially tilling the land is becoming detrimental to the tundra itself.

Warm Weather Snow Geese | Hard Core BrandsTo address the issues of over population and degradation to the Artic, conservationist and biologist are employing hunters as the primary tool to address this issue. As a result, during the spring conservation order waterfowl hunters can enjoy a much liberalized approach to waterfowl hunting which allows for the use of unplugged shotguns, zero bag or possession limits as well as the allowance of equipment such as electronic callers. When you add this all together along with the right conditions you have the making of some very memorable days in the field!

Why Now?

If you haven’t noticed, light geese almost act like a completely different bird between the fall migration and the spring migration. During the fall migration, light geese are some of the very first waterfowl species to move through the area. During the fall, these geese seem as though they are on a mission to head to the wintering grounds, with a small proportion of the population stopping to overwinter in States like Missouri, while the vast majority head further south toward Arkansas and the coastal states.

By the time the spring migration rolls around, these birds are in an entirely different frame of mind that in some cases make them more vulnerable to being tricked into landing in a spread of Hard Core’s decoys than they might have been a few months prior. During the spring migration, light geese are in search of food and water, and are focused on maintaining their body condition until the reach the nesting grounds in the Artic. As a result, during the months of February, March, and April in the Central Flyway you can find yourself keying in on waste grain fields in search of hundreds of thousands of light geese on the wing.

Timing is Everything

If you speak with a seasoned waterfowl hunter long enough, they will tell you when it all comes down to it; success is simply a matter of being in the right place at the right time. Knowing where the “right place” is; is simply a matter of putting in the time to scout. As hunters, regardless of the game you are chasing there is no one thing more important than having the best possible understanding of the habits of the critters you are hunting. There is simply no substitute for scouting.

In terms of “the right time”, this is simply a matter of getting out in the field and spending some time chasing the game. It goes without saying that with each closing day of waterfowl season, there is a good chance you have learned something new and have become a better waterfowl hunter than you were on opening day. The same can be said for chasing light geese, just like there is no substitute for scouting, there is no substitute for experience and time spent in the field.

All that being said, here are a few pointers to help get you started. In terms of the “right time”, when the weather begins to warm, especially along the gulf coast light geese will start to move. Light geese are not ones to waste a strong south wind, so play close attention to the forecast. If you find a day or two during the month of February, March and early April when the temperatures will warm significantly and winds will be strong from the south, you need to be in the field because the birds will be on their way!

Timing is Everything for Snow Goose Hunting | Hard Core Brands

In terms of the “where”, it is true that light geese will tend to key in on specific areas and will tend to return to these locations year after year, and while setting up in these areas will certainly increase your chances for success, it is not a requirement. All you really need to is to find yourself in a good area to run traffic on migrating geese. When light geese migrate, the do so by the thousands, and will always be looking for a great place to stop, rest, and forage while on their way northward. If you can find yourself access to a crop field such as a corn or winter wheat field, then you can be in business! Do your homework, and spend time scouting as with all waterfowl hunting finding the “X” greatly increases your chances, however, it is not required for light geese success.


Light geese travel in extremely large groups, with the adults typically migrating first with juvenile geese following soon after. The large groups that these birds travel in can make them extremely difficult to decoy without considerable effort, especially when you are focusing on adult birds. When the juveniles begin to make their way through, waterfowl hunters can enjoy a little more ease in terms of successfully decoying these wary birds.

Snow Goose Decoys | Hard Core BrandsDecoy spreads can vary in terms of sheer number of decoys implemented, however, when it comes to light geese it can sometimes be said the over kill is underrated. Most successful light geese hunter will deploy anywhere from 100 to 15 dozen decoys ranging from full body decoys to rag decoys or a combination of both.  While this fact only can sometimes make waterfowl hunters feel a little limited in terms of their ability to chase these birds, however, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Hard Core Brands have a wide range of light geese decoy ranging from full bodies to rags, along with blinds and callers that can have you pulling the trigger non-stop this spring.

If you are looking for a great opportunity to get out and keep scratching your waterfowl or goose hunting itch long after the regular season has ended then consider giving light geese a try. So when the weather turns warm and winds blow this spring, you might just be in for a snow storm this spring!

Hard Core E-Z Grass

Hard Core E-Z Grass │ Stay out of sight this duck hunting season

Quick and Easy Concealment │ Use Hard Core E-Z Grass this duck hunting season

Big Water Ducks Hard Core BrandsIf we have said it once, we have said it a thousand times, if you are going to be successful when duck hunting then you have to fool their eyes first. When duck hunting or goose hunting, concealment is the name of the game. All too often waterfowl hunters will spend a large amount of time getting the Hard Core decoys just right, and try to fool those birds with a marginal blind setup. No matter how many times you try to get by with a marginal concealment, you will never put as many birds on the stringer as you would if you had taken the time to first properly hide.

One of the most common themes we hear from waterfowl hunters when it comes to camouflaging or brushing in their boat or blinds is the time it takes to do so. We also frequently hear “There wasn’t much cover available.” If you have been duck hunting long enough, you have probably found yourself in one of these situations, and most likely at one time or another you have made the decision that the hide was “good enough” and you most likely paid the price for it. If you have been there and done that, then you most certainly appreciate the ability to hide anywhere at any time regardless of the conditions, situations or lack of available cover.

Here at Hard Core, we want each and every hunter to be successful when they take to the waterfowl woods. To combat the constant issue of tricking a goose or ducks eyeballs we have developed a wide range of blind grass mats and covers to fit any and all situation you may encounter when duck hunting or goose hunting. The E-Z grass series from Hard Core provides every hunter the base that is needed to camouflage everything from the larges river boat to smallest blind. Regardless if you are covering a large boat or a layout blind having a base camouflage is the most critical piece to any hide. Bases provides the blind or hide the contrast, depth and shadows need to convince even the most wary of waterfowl. When the E-Z grass system is used in conjunction with native vegetation such as moist soil plants or even cornstalks it is a deadly combination and can spell game over for those waterfowl.

Hard Core Blind Grass

The E-Z grass system comes in multiple color patters however all are durably woven and come with the patented bungee system for each attachment to any surface you choose. Don’t allow the lack of cover or the time it takes to properly hide keeps you from pulling the trigger this duck hunting season. Improve you harvest this fall by giving the E-Z grass system a try, you won’t be sorry!

Early Season Goose Hunting

Early Season Goose Hunting │ Calling tips to have Canada Geese on a string

Calling Tips for Early Season Canada Geese │ Early Goose Hunting Success

Goose Hunting | Hard Core Brands

In the world of waterfowl and waterfowl hunting, early season goose hunting holds a special place in many Hard Core waterfowl hunters’ hearts. Early season goose hunting not only helps to usher in the beginning of the fall waterfowl season in most areas, but liberal bag limits and unpressured geese can really help keep the action intense. Goose hunting during the early season can help build the confidence of even the most novice goose callers, as the lack of pressure and abundance of young geese can make for an exciting hunt. Regardless of the lack of pressure and young family groups, geese are still waterfowl, and just as easy as a stellar hunt can happen early season goose hunting can also burn you fast.

Canada Geese | Hard Core BrandsRegardless if you are goose hunting on opening day of the early goose season or the last day of goose season, calling geese can be both fun and as well as challenging all at the same time. One of the best and simplest tips for calling geese anytime during the season is to mimic what they are doing. Geese tend to be more vocal at certain times and less vocal during others. Geese that are headed to feed, especially if there is a large number of geese using the particular field can tend to be very vocal. Geese that are headed to a mid-day loafing area such as a pasture pond tend to be less vocal depending on the circumstance.

One of the easiest things you can do, is allow the geese to tell you how to call. In many cases, early season geese can tend to be fairly vocal in most cases. This fact has a lot to do with the family groups, and young geese that are present. Just like in many cases with humans, paternal and maternal instincts tend to kick in and the family heads vocalize to keep the young geese in line. Young geese enjoy the opportunity to holler as well.

Canada Goose Sleeper Shell

Goose calling during the early season can be quite enjoyable if you are someone who loves to pipe on a flute or short reed goose call. Excitement in your calling can really help you to pull geese to the Hard Core decoys and finish them on the “X”. Keep your calling series short, but with lots of clucks and moans can really help sell the setup, and once those birds lay eyes on the Hard Core elites, its game over from there. The name of the game for goose calling during the early season is to keep it exciting; if you do your part the geese will do theirs! Enjoy early season goose hunting to its fullest.


Selecting the right duck call

Duck Calls │ Selecting a call that fits you

Selecting the right duck calls │ picking the proper style

Choose a duck call that fits you

In the world of duck hunting, duck calls are king. Selecting the right duck call may seem like an easy decision, however, it can prove to be more challenging than you might think. Duck calls come in a wide range of shapes, sizes and styles. There are calls for open water hunting, timber hunting, cutting calls, short barrel calls, and the list goes one. While it is accurate to say that different calls fit different situations, it is important to select a call that fits you.

Selecting a duck call that fits you is truly a personal decision. There is a lot that goes into it. First and probably the most obvious, is the fit and the feel. Most duck hunters will keep a duck call in their duck call in the hand for the majority of the time there are in the field, so it is very important that the call or style of call you choose is one that it most very comfortable. You know you have stumbled upon the right call when it seems to almost disappear in your hand, and you forget you are even holding it. You truly want the call to become an extension of your arm.

Hard Core Baseball Team Hat

Once you have narrowed down a style or design that seems to work best, it’s important to determine what type of call best fits you in terms of your calling style. To affectively operate a duck call, you must summon air deep from the depths of your diaphragm. There many different types of calls, some are louder for more open water situations. These types of calls are typically single reed calls. Softer calls, used predominately in timber situations or to “finish” waterfowl on the final pass tend to be double reed calls. Cutting calls are used to reach out and hit flocks of ducks on the perimeter of the decoy spread and can be a combination of single or double reed. Each duck call requires a different amount of air pressure to operate; much like a flute call requires a difference in air pressure as compared to a short reed goose call.

Hard Core Duck HuntingIf you are new to duck hunting and duck calling, or just looking for new duck call one of the first steps to help you make the selections is to consider the type of hunting you will be doing. While single reed calls tend to be a little easier to operate, the can be somewhat overpowering in flooded timber or small marsh situations. At the end of the day, you just need to find what works best for you. There are many different brands of duck calls on the market, and it is important to take the opportunity to explore and “test drive” as many as you can before making your decision. Selecting a new duck call can be an expensive and investment that can be as critical as selecting the proper duck decoys. Ensuring that you select a duck call that fits you, and you can operate effectively will translate into more ducks in the bag this fall!


Team Hardcore finds themselves home in Louisiana

Louisiana Bucks and Ducks

Louisiana holds a special place in my heart! Having been born and raised in Louisiana’s woods and waters, it’s always nice to be able to come home to the place where my love for the outdoors took root. One thing that was a staple for me when I was growing up was deer hunting.  As I grew older and was able to hunt on my own I then discovered the treasure of hunting waterfowl in the timbers and flooded sloughs of the Mississippi River bottoms, which is home to some the finest deer and waterfowl hunting in the world!  Those are just two of the reasons why Louisiana is known as “The Sportsmans Paradise.”  That’s exactly where Team Hardcore finds themselves this week, HOME!

With the rut in full swing, bucks were chasing does everywhere, but the only thing that came my way were young bucks that needed a few more years to grow. As I sat waiting on that mature buck that never came, I couldn’t help but notice the flocks of ducks flying into the slough that was across the timber from where I was sitting.  Cody, on the other hand, finally had that love struck mature buck chase a doe right across his path.  After getting back to camp the congratulations, celebration, high fives, and all the excitement that is part of the hunt when someone kills something began.  We started talking with our buddy,  John Storey who we were hunting with, about all the ducks that we had seen all day! He told us he knew the exact spot where they were landing and he would love for us to go try to hunt them the next morning. So that night, Kevin and I broke out our duck calls and got our shotguns ready to go, with our decoys already loaded in the truck we were ready for daylight. As the sun started lighting the eastern sky we were throwing out the decoys out around some grass patches in the slough where we planned to hide.  The sky was full of ducks, all we were waiting on was legal shooting time! Let the fun begin!

By: Keith Burgess


The Boys of the Marsh │ The Other Side of Waterfowl Hunting

Waterfowl Hunting Isn’t about the Harvest │ Memories from the Duck Hunting Marsh

Waterfowl Hunting | Hard Core BrandsMake no mistake about it, here at Hard Core we live and breathe waterfowl and waterfowl hunting. It’s in our blood, it’s what we do and it’s what makes us who we are. It has helped define us, helped guide in ways that we never even realized until after the fact. Yeah, I guess you could say that waterfowl hunting is our lives.
The most interesting thing about waterfowl hunting, regardless of whether your interest is chasing ducks or geese, it is amazing just how similar waterfowlers as a group are. That is certainly not to say that there will not be those rare instances where you encounter someone whose waterfowl hunting “style” doesn’t necessary mesh with yours, but all in all you can bet that those folks are just as passionate about waterfowl hunting as you are.

Over the years, we have had the opportunity to meet and share the blind, corn field or layout boat with a lot of different people from many different walks of life. Many of them, we met for the very first time a short time before taking the field. The one thing that holds true is that regardless of how new the friendship may be, it doesn’t take long for the fun to begin once we hit the field.

Chasing ducks and geese has truly introduced us to many fantastic people, and helped to foster friendships that we will cherish for years to come. The social aspect of waterfowl hunting is what draws many outdoorsmen and women to the sport. It is what the sport of waterfowl hunting that fostered many of the outdoor traditions that we enjoy today.

All too often the social enjoyment of what we do as waterfowl hunters becomes somewhat overshadowed by the constant focus on the harvest. Now, that being said, here at Hard Core we love pulling the trigger of ducks and geese more than just about anyone but what makes waterfowl hunting waterfowl hunting is more than number of birds that you walk out of the marsh with, it’s about the memories that you make while doing it that matters and what makes the sport of waterfowl hunting unlike any other in the world.

Hard Core Crewneck

During a recent waterfowl season we found ourselves in Central Missouri in mid-December, snuggled into our layout boats in a flooded corn field with the Hard Core Duck Decoys doing what they do best. We had been going hard all week and grinding out some pretty amazing hunts. This week was special. It wasn’t because of the high number of ducks and geese in the area, it wasn’t because of the strong northwest winds and cold front that was pushing through, no, this hunt was special because we had a some longtime hunting partners in camp that we had not hunted with in a long time.

We knew that if we could find the “X” that we would stand an excellent chance of pulling the trigger on some large and in-charge, migrating mallard ducks. Typically, in mid-December this area of the country experiences its first and sometimes “lethal” freeze of the year. We say that it is lethal as it typical years you can go from open water to 3.5” of ice overnight, and the ice may stay on the duration of the duck season. This would be the conditions we would face on this hunt.

Hard Core Waterfowl HuntingWith bitter cold temperatures and wind chills pushing the single digits, we hit the water. It didn’t take long to find what we were looking for as we located an area with several thousand ducks huddled in a tight groups feeding in the flooded corn field. While the threat of frost bite was a reality, we were so excited to have the opportunity to joke, laugh and cut up like we used to that we barely felt the cold. Once shooting time was upon us, it didn’t take long for a pair of green headed mallards to find the Hard Core duck decoys, and with the birds finishing at ten yards, with two shots and we had two dead ducks in the water.

After the first two drakes were down, it seemed as though we were being strategically being bombarded with wave after wave of mallards. Luckily for us, the waves of ducks were spaced long enough for several cups of coffee to be ingested and several wise cracks to be made at each other’s expense. It pretty telling of sport where you can be reminiscing on previous times spent afield while in the process of making new memories!

Two hours and seven minutes after the hunt started, the final greenhead hit the water bringing our total to 16. As the wind grew colder and stronger, the water we once dredged across to get to our location was now the consistency of your favorite gas station slushy. No words were really spoken as we began to break down the spread. Each of us new our role in the process as if we had continued to hunt together every day since the last. This hunt would turn out to be our last in Missouri during that season as severe ice conditions would push many of the birds further south. We have been fortunate to have successful hunts afield since then; however, this hunt will be one that will always stay close to us. It will always hold a special place in our memory not because we harvested a limit of green heads or that the conditions were brutal, but that we had the opportunity to share those conditions and experiences with some wonderful friends and sportsmen. It’s amazing how much pressure can be removed from a situation when you realize that it’s not about the kill, but it’s about the experiences and the memories you make with friends and family that really matter.

Hard Core Brands

Great Early Season Migrant Duck Hunting│ Managing for Moist Soil Plants

Moist Soil Management │ Creating Great Early Season Duck Hunting

By Chris McLeland

While shooting a big fat green head never gets old, it is really hard to be a group of early season mallards working the Hard Core duck decoys in a moist soil marsh. Many waterfowl hunters have heard the term “moist soil”, but do not quite understand what it exactly is, and why these habitats are important to waterfowl. In this article we will discuss the topics of moist soil management and how proper actions can help you have great duck hunting this fall.

Hard Core Early Season Duck Hunting | Hard Core BrandsMoist soil is a term that really describes a specific suite of early successional and perennial plants that result from specific variations or changes in water levels within shallow marshes or pools. The timing of these variations, along with the duration, can play a large role in terms species of plants established in these areas. In most intensively managed areas, the goal is manage these areas in such a way as to establish seed producing, wildlife (especially waterfowl) friendly species.

Some examples of beneficial moist soil plants that waterfowl and other wading birds utilize during the spring and fall migrations would be annual smartweeds, panic grass, sedges, and wild millets just to name a few. These plants more often cursed and cussed for clogging up boat props, and causing many on duck hunting trips to take an early season “polar plunge”, by tripping them up. These plants are much more than just weeds. These species have excellent nutritional value and can be easily promoted with the proper water level management or successional management practices.

So why are these plants important? Moist soil plants such as those listed above provide an excellent food source for many different waterfowl species, both in the spring and in the fall. Ducks and geese actively seek out the seeds and roots of these plants, and well as feeding on the macro-invertebrates or bugs that are attracted to these types of areas. While flooded corn fields in the fall can provide an excellent source of carbohydrates during the winter months, when waterfowl are actively looking for high energy foods as they prepare to migrate south, ducks and geese cannot live on it 24/7. There’s in an old saying, “if a duck had to eat corn every day, he would starve to death”. This is a very accurate statement. By providing native, seasonal habitat in conjunction with flooded cropland areas, you are covering all of your bases.

Hard Core Puddle Pack

Moist soil areas are dynamite areas to harvest ducks and geese, especially species such as teal, widgeon, gadwall, and pintail and of course, green headed mallards. While moist soil areas are effective locations all season long, they are exceptionally productive for duck hunting during the early migration as most of the early season waterfowl species are making their way south.

So how do Hard Core Duck Huntingyou promote moist soil plants? As was stated earlier, moist soil plants are a result of water level change, and the time of year that change took place. In other words, the natural variation in water level change is the driver of this cycle. Typically, most areas are wetter in the early spring months due to snow melt and increased rainfall, dry out in the summer, and then tend to be wetter in the fall. We have probably all seen that lake or pond that is bank full during the spring, then as the water level drops you begin to notice vegetation growing in the shallow areas close to the bank. As the rains return in the fall, the vegetation that grew during the warm summer months, is now flooded again and in turn is available for consumption by waterfowl, and makes some excellent duck hunting. This is the same mechanism that managers try to simulate during what is referred to as a controlled draw down.

A controlled draw down is a process in which water levels are managed to mimic the natural cycles above. The first step in completing a controlled draw down is having the ability to add or remove water from the area. This is typically completed through utilizing water control structures. Water control structures consist of a vertical rectangular box, set to a specific elevation with boards that slide in the box. The more boards you add, the deeper the water will be. Inversely, as you remove boards, you can drop the water level. To simulate the natural draw down cycle and stimulate the duck food were all love, managers aim for dropping the water level between ½-1” per week. Drop the water too fast, and you can promote problematic plants such as cocklebur and spike rush, drop the water too slow and you can shift the plant community to more of an emergent marsh community which can be beneficial in certain areas.

While water control capabilities make it much easier to manage the plant community of a wetland, promoting moist soil plants can still be accomplished. In areas where water levels fluctuate based through normal evaporation, the timing may be thrown based on wet conditions. Utilizing methods such as disking and mowing can help keep problematic species at bay, and can help promote and establish moist soil plants, and will help you keep mallards in the duck decoys this fall.

Hard Core Moist Soil ManagementMoist soil vegetation provides a cheap and natural food source that waterfowl require to make the long trip south in the fall, north in the spring and to sustain them through the nesting season. While they may just seem like weeds and grass, these plants make all the difference in the world of ducks and geese. Take some time to explore these areas this fall as you scout for ducks and geese we bet you will be glad you did. Who knows, you may just find yourself packing out a stringer of green after a duck hunting trip this fall.

Canada Goose Shells Frozen

Better Goose Hunting │ How to Hold Geese Over Summer

Summer Time Geese │ Attract Now for More Goose Hunting This Fall

By Chris McLeland

If there is one thing that most of us waterfowl hunters have been guilty of from time to time, it would be neglecting to think about our most precious and sacred resource during the “off season.” The fact is, without proper habitat, habitat management, and conservation; we would be unable to enjoy chasing goose hunting every fall. The time for getting this done is now. The work that is put in during the summer to hold waterfowl, the better the goose hunting will be this fall.

Canada Goose 12 Pack
While it is important to understand the habitat that ducks and geese look for in the fall, it is equally as important to understand they habitat they are seeking during the summer months. If you live in an area of the country where waterfowl actively nest during the summer months, then having this understanding of habitat and habitat management, can be a great asset to you come fall, especially for goose hunting the early season.

While most of us enjoy spending time in our Hard Core Man Caves, chasing geese around the corn fields, their diets and habitat requirements are much different during the dog days of summer. By early spring, geese have broken into breeding pairs, and are looking for a place to pull off their nest. Geese will tend to key in on areas of water, with lush and short vegetation. One of the best management practices that you can do to make your lake or pond more appealing to waterfowl is to keep the vegetation short around the perimeter of the lake or pond, while maintaining denser cover adjacent to the short cover. The will provide the geese with browse areas, as well as provide brood rearing areas for the young geese The denser vegetation can allow a location for the geese to nest, as well as provide safety from predators. The key to holding summer time geese is maintaining this habitat structure, to ensure they geese have everything they need. If the geese remain unharassed and you do your part in maintaining what they need, you should be a happy waterfowl hunter come fall.

Canada Goose with young | Hard Core BrandsIf you are lucky enough to have a pond or a lake available to you, and you have never had geese utilize these areas during the summer months, then we suggest you give these simple recommendations a try. While you may on notice a few geese the first year, repeated habitat improvements and management during the following years should only increase the number, especially if the resident geese are successful in pulling off a brood.

As hunters, it is our responsibility to ensure that we do our best to leave the outdoors in a better condition than we found it. While these tips may seem simple and common, they can make a huge difference in terms of the breeding condition of the resident geese in your area, as well as the overall goose population as brood size will likely increase, ensuring plenty of goose hunting opportunities come fall!

Hard Core Duck Hunting

Getting to the Best Duck Hunting│ Advantages of using Waterfowl Layout Boats

Waterfowl Layout Boats │ Get to the Best Duck Hunting

By Chris McLeland

As hard core waterfowl hunters, you know the importance of getting on the best duck hunting spots. Your success rate can be exponentially increased if you are able to locate and get to where the birds want to be. Your success rate continues to increase if you are able to effectively reach the best duck hunting spots while the competition cannot, through a little stealth and concealment. A good waterfowl layout boat can be the key to a good day in the marsh.

Duck Hunting Hard Core

In duck hunting, there is a wide array of gear and equipment on the market, which often makes us better waterfowl hunters – like Hard Core duck decoys. If you are a fan of duck hunting backwater sloughs, moist soil marshes or shallow areas such as flooded crop fields then a waterfowl layout boat is something you should consider this fall. Also referred to as a poke boat or sneak boat, waterfowl layout boats are designed specifically for duck and goose hunting, and can greatly increase your success this fall.

The art of waterfowl layout boat hunting is one almost as old as the modern day duck hunting heritage. Many seasoned waterfowl hunters have most likely owned or are at least familiar with waterfowl layout boat hunting. However, in today’s duck hunting world it seems as though they have somewhat fallen out of popular use.

Duck Hunting | Hard Core BrandsLayout boats offer many advantages to the waterfowl hunter, both in transporting duck decoys, goose decoys, other gear and waterfowl hunting in general. Waterfowl layout boats are very sleek in design, with most only sitting a few inches out of the water when carrying a waterfowl hunter and equipment. This low profile design helps to keep waterfowl hunters concealed when using these boats as blinds. Waterfowl layout boats come in many different designs and configurations. Today, almost all manufacturers of waterfowl layout boats are made from a heavy duty, fiber glass mold. These molded boats are extremely tough and come in a wide range of models such as youth, single or two man boats. Almost all waterfowl layout boats these days will come equipped with a transom, rated for either a trolling motor or small outboard engine. However, despite having the transom, these boats are light enough that they can be easily moved by simply utilizing a push pole. If you are looking for a summertime project to keep duck hunting near and dear to your heart during the off season, there are many different plans that you can find on-line that can give you step by step instructions on how to correctly build a waterfowl layout boat. While building a homemade layout boat can be a fun and exciting challenge, there are some draw backs. Depending upon your experience level, the cost can sometimes be comparable to the cost of purchasing a waterfowl layout boat from a manufacturer. Homemade layout boats are often heavier than boats purchased from a manufacturer, which maybe something to consider if you will be duck hunting alone. Also, homemade layout boats are made of wood and fiberglass. These often require more maintenance down the road than a molded layout boat. All that being said, a homemade layout is just as effective in putting greenheads on the game carrier this fall, it is simply a matter of choice.

Waterfowl layout boats offer a unique opportunity for waterfowl hunters, which allows you to be more versatile while in the marsh. Many hunters simply utilize waterfowl layout boats as means to access certain areas that would be inaccessible otherwise, or simply as a means to reach their destination faster than the cmpetition when duck hunting public areas, which is always an advantage. However, if you truly wish to experience the full advantage of waterfowl layout boat hunting, then duck hunting out of your layout boat is the only way to go!

Wood Duck Pack | Hard Core Brands

How many times have you seen group after group of waterfowl lock up and commit to an area out in the middle of the marsh, where there is very little cover to hide? This always seems to be an occurrence that happens multiple times in a season. If you are limited to sitting on a marsh seat, then most likely you will not be able to make a play on these birds. A waterfowl layout boat will allow you get out to the best duck hunting in this case, and have a fun filled day of finishing waterfowl right in your face. There are wide ranges of waterfowl layout boat accessories that exist today that can help you conceal your boat, and keep birds in the duck decoys. Many layout boat manufactures provide waterfowl layout boat blind kits that are similar to the double door system of most layout ground blinds such as the Man Cave from Hard Core Brands. These kits can typically mount to any boat, whether manufactured or homemade and can easily utilize natural vegetation or manufactured grass concealment systems to help you blind in to the natural surroundings.

Waterfowl | Hard Core BrandsIf you enjoy duck hunting while sitting in the comfort and concealment of your Man Cave, then you will love shooting a limit of greenheads from the comfort and concealment of your waterfowl layout boat. There is absolutely nothing like having the ability to be where the ducks want to be, and be concealed so well, that you literally have birds trying to land on top of you. One of the best times to utilize layout boats is in areas with high pressured birds. These ducks and geese have heard it all and seen it all, and have become trained hunter spotters. In many cases, these birds will shy away from duck decoys and key in on areas with less vegetation, simply due to the fact that they can see anything that may be hiding in the cover. Utilizing waterfowl layout boats in these situations will keep you squeezing the trigger, and keep the freezer full of meat this fall.

If you love duck hunting and have never tried waterfowl layout boat hunting, we suggest you give it a whirl this fall, we know you’ll be glad you did!

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Hunting Food Plots | Planting Food Plots for Ducks and Geese

Planting Quality Food Plots for Ducks and Geese

Most people don’t immediately think of waterfowl when they hear the words, “food plot.” They’re more likely to think of whitetails or turkeys feasting in a lush clover field.

However, ducks and geese benefit from food plots in much the same way. Increasing the “groceries” on your property will attract waterfowl during the hunting season, but also provide a food source to get them off to a good start for fall migration. With wetlands disappearing across the nation at record paces, the birds need all the help we can give them. Excellent waterfowl food plot seed options include millet, milo, corn, wild rice, sago pondweed, wild celery, and smartweed.

Hard Core BrandsAll you really need to start a new waterfowl plot is a pond, seasonally flooded depression in a field, beaver swamp, impoundment, etc. You need to be able to access water in the fall to flood your plot. The trick for some food plot species (e.g., millet, milo, corn) is to be able to remove much of the water in the summer. This is important because you need to be able to plant seeds on a good soil surface and let the plants establish a root system before re-flooding the field to give access to the birds.

You can accomplish this by pumping the water out or removing a beaver dam to naturally let it flow away from your site. However, it may make more sense to install a culvert if you plan to manage the plot for many years to come. It will be much easier to add or remove stop logs to manage the water level this way. Check your state’s regulations before tampering with natural wetlands or beaver ponds that flow into streams or rivers, as there could be legal ramifications.

Hard Core BrandsCorn is certainly attractive to ducks and geese alike, as many waterfowlers know from hunting flooded fields. But it can be a little pricey to plant when you add up fertilizer and equipment costs. However, millet is cheap, generally has a shorter time to maturity than corn, and can be planted with a hand or ATV spreader on moist soils, giving it certain advantages. Milo is somewhere between corn and millet in terms of planting and conditions, and ducks love it just as much. Speaking of site conditions, several types of millet grow well in wet conditions, while corn and milo require slightly drier soils.

Most native waterfowl food plot species (e.g., wild rice, sago pondweed, wild celery, smartweed) should be planted right into standing water or in very close proximity. The benefit of planting these species is that they will generally be more adapted to your local conditions and may be able to thrive with little ongoing maintenance.

Hard Core BrandsSmartweed produces small seeds that waterfowl species consume, and is best planted in moist (not flooded) soils, so target pond edges and mud flats that will eventually be flooded during hunting season. Wild rice produces grain that persists in flooded conditions, and grows well in shallow water (i.e., 1 to 3 feet). Sago pondweed provides nutlets that ducks absolutely devour and can grow in similar water depths as rice. Wild celery produces buds that large diving ducks seem to prefer, and actually grows in waters as deep as 3 to 9 feet. Save this one for the deepest parts of your pond.

One good way to get the benefits of both approaches is to plant the native water-loving species in the deepest parts of your pond or impoundment. Then dewater the pond enough to plant the fringes with the corn, milo, or millet. You can replicate a shallow lake situation and attract divers, dabblers, and geese alike. To recap, plant these food plot seeds from driest conditions to deepest water: corn, milo, millet, smartweed, wild rice, sago pondweed, and wild celery.

Though not a food plot species, per se, you can also add freshwater shrimp (scuds) to your ponds. Many waterfowl species feed on invertebrates like these, which provide a great source of protein. If your pond has fairly clean water and enough depth, shrimp can persist from year to year and provide good forage year-round.

In summary, ducks and geese will benefit from food plots just as much as a deer, turkey, or pheasant would. They provide vital nutrition during fall migration, and attract waterfowl to your property to give you more hunting opportunities. Given the choice between a pond with a bountiful smorgasbord and a regular old beaver pond, which do you think would be more popular?

Economy Mallard Pack | Hard Core Brands
Don’t leave the outcome of your hunt up to chance. Do your part to help preserve waterfowl populations and start a legacy on your property.