Pre-Rigged Decoys

Hard Core Decoys | Increase your Effectiveness by Converting to the Texas Rig System

Written by Steve Smolenski on . Posted in Hard Core Decoys, It's Not Easy, Waterfowl Hunting, Youth Waterfowl

Give your Hard Core Decoys an Upgrade!

As waterfowlers, we are always looking for a way to increase our efficiency and effectiveness.  As any hard core duck or goose hunter will attest, having the ability to easily adapt or adjust to any situation or condition will help to ensure your packing out a full lanyard of birds, and not just unspent shot gun shells.

One of the easiest changes that a waterfowl hunter can make to their spread is to covert from the “standard” decoy rigging method to the Texas Rig or “Quick Rig” decoy line and weight set up and here’s why.  To us, nothing is more frustrating than having to make multiple location changes during a trip to the marsh.  However, if you want to kill ducks and geese, it is important to be as close to where they want to be as possible.  We have made moves as short as 50 yards, and have had that make all the difference.
Pre-Rigged Decoys
In the past, making multiple moves was nothing short of a headache.  Contently having to wrap your decoys up one at a time, just move to the next location and possibly do it all over again!  Repeating this process over and over again is not only a pain in the rear, it is also a time killer.  When we hit the marsh, we’re there to put ducks on the ground, and it is very hard to do that when the majority of your time is spent dealing with your decoy line.  Inevitably, as always happens we begin to take short cuts to “save time”.  We find ourselves not completely wrapping our decoys, or trying to make a move by holding the strap weights in our hands only to reach our destination to find a knot so large it would be Russ Griswold envious.

The Texas rig decoy system removes all of the un-needed anger and frustrations and allows you to do what you came to do, and that’s hunt!  The Texas rig system is very simple, consisting of merely a heavy duty, aluminum snap, attached to a length of table free decoy line (lengths will vary) with a bell weight that is allowed to move along the line, and a crimped loop at the opposite end.  Simply clip the aluminum snap onto the keel of your Hard Core decoy, and you’re ready to go.  When moving from one location to another, decoys will be held together by a large carabiner and when the time comes to set the spread, simply sling and go!  Pick time is cut down dramatically, taking only a few minutes to collect 3 dozen Hard Core Mallards.

While Texas rig systems can be purchased separately, Hard core offers a wide range of our Elite series of duck decoys “pre-rigged” with the Texas rig system.  We invite you to check out our wide selection of “pre-rigged” systems and decoys as well as Texas rig decoy bags and accessories and hope you find yourself spending more time hunting, and less time untangling knots this fall!  
go hard core brand and have better success hunting geese

Looking to Go Hard Core on Geese? | Here’s 4 Things You Need to Know!

Written by Steve Smolenski on . Posted in It's Not Easy, Waterfowl Hunting

Want to Put More Geese One the Ground? |  Go Hard Core!

  To us, there are very few things that we live to do more than to chase Giant Canada Geese across the Midwest.  We have lived and breathed chasing these magnificent animals and have had to lick our wounds along the way.  While we all know that these birds can beat us all at times, we also know that they can be beaten!  We have developed four simple tips that we feel can help put you in a position to bust more caps on your Federal Premium Ammunition and put more geese on your hard core lanyard this fall.

Step 1 – Know your surroundings:  So tell us if this situation sounds familiar, you are in the field perhaps hunting or possibly scouting and you have geese in the air.  It seems as though they appear from out of thin air and disappear just as fast.  This can be a very frustrating situation, knowing that there are geese in the area but being unable to pin point them.
Hard Core Geese Hunting | Waterfowl Hunting
As a hard core goose hunter, you must be a master of your surroundings.  We make it our business to know where every hidden grain field, short grass pasture or feed lot, pasture pond or lake is within a 5 mile radius of the area we are hunting.  Understanding where they geese are roosting, loafing and feeding are obviously extremely critical; however, understating the “other” options that are available for them is just as important.  We have found that the birds become pressured, especially if their roost has been disturbed.  It may seem as though they have up and vanished, when in reality we find they have spread out and begun utilizing these “other” areas.  Understanding the layout and distribution of potential roosts, loafing areas and feeds will aid you in determining an appropriate course of action and reduce the amount of guess work on your end.

Step 2 – Understand the needs:  Like any other game animal, a goose has specific needs depending on the time of year and conditions.  This can change sometimes daily; however, there are some key indicators that can help you stay a step ahead of these critters come fall.  The best indicator or predicator for a goose’s behavior in our opinion is obviously weather.  Geese by default are very simple animals.  If conditions are such that they do not have to expend much energy to feed on cereal grains and they can get by on grasses and other forages, then it is highly likely they will not move much, other than a wing stretch here or there.  There is what we term “early season” behavior.

For us here in the Midwest, we have an early goose season which usually opens sometime around the end of September or the first of October.  During this time, we are generally focusing on resident birds.  Also, the temperatures are usually mild and geese are typically still in their summer patterns.  You may be able to find birds utilizing some early harvest corn or silage fields; however, for us we tend to focus on their loafing areas.  This time of year, family groups are still present and these birds will spend the majority of the day in a loafing area.  For us, this is typically represents a pasture pond.

We find that a goose is a goose, is a goose.  When we experience a warm spell towards the end of December, it doesn’t seem to matter that the geese have been using corn fields for the past three weeks prior.  What we see is that they will change their pattern back towards their early season patterns.  That’s not to say that grain fields would not be utilized during this time; however, with extended warm periods we find that it’s time to start looking for the “grazing” areas.

Of course, we all know the benefits of hunting during changing weather patterns, especially cold fronts.  Once temperatures drop and metabolic demands require it, geese and other waterfowl will expend as much energy as possible to search foods high in carbohydrates.  This is the time to be in the grain fields, cozied up in you man cave!  Understanding exactly how the weather dictates what they birds do in your area is critical to ensuring you leave the field with a truck full this fall.

Step 3 – The Rosetta Stone:  When it comes to calling and the vocalizations of geese, you need to be able to have the Rosetta Stone at your disposal and speak their language.  We take calling very serious here at hard core; however, we recognize that like everything else it has a time and a place.

When calling any waterfowl, it is important to remember that to be successful means more than just calling.  Doing your homework to ensure that all of the other elements of your hunt are addressed is more important in our opinion, then calling.  We see calling as the icing on the cake.  It is important to learn how to read the body language of the game that you are after, especially waterfowl.  They will tell you whether you should be more aggressive or subtle.  We find that with geese, they will tell you exactly how to respond.  For example, if we are hunting a grain field, where a lot of geese having been feeding most likely the birds will be very chatty when they show up, and we do our best to mimic them.  Likewise, if we are hunting a loafing area and the birds are barely vocalizing then we may keep our calling very subtle and soft.  Again, reading the body language of the birds is the most important factor to calling in our opinion.  If you have the ability, take some time and listen to wild geese and observe the calls they make and what they are doing, it can be very helpful.

Step 4 – Your spread:  The last tip, but certainly not the least, would be the effectiveness and realism of your spread.  Through years of chasing and scouting waterfowl, we have learned that you can have checked all the boxes, and be in the right place at the right time; however, when the time comes and birds are 60 yards and closing you need to ensure that you have a spread that is as realistic as possible.

Hard core decoys in our opinion are the most realistic and durable decoys on the market today.  Hard core’s Elite series of Canada goose decoys are simply a home run, no matter if you are hunting grain fields or over water.  Their light weight and durable construction, along with unmatched paint scheme continues to draw fans from all across the waterfowl hunting community.

Aside for ensuring that your decoys look as real as possible, they need to be arranged in a realistic manner.  While the ole’ J hook has it place, in most cases that decoy arrangement may not be the most realistic or relevant for the situation, especially when your potentially going to encounter large groups.  As we have stated time and time again, do your homework.  Scout, and really observe the geese.  There is more to scouting than just figuring out what fields they are hitting.  Noting how they hit the field, are smaller groups hitting first with larger groups following or vice versa? How do they appear when they are in the field?  Are they content, are some resting?  These are all questions that should be running through your head when you’re scouting for your hunt, and should be translated and represented to the best of your ability when sitting your decoy spread.

We hope that you have found these tips useful, and truly hope that they help you down more geese this fall.  Be sure to check out the wide range of Canada and Lesser Canada goose decoys by visiting the hard core brands website at http://www.hardcore-brands.com/ .  
Hard Core getting ready for next years waterfowl season

Hard Core Preparation | Successful Waterfowl Hunts Next Year

Written by Steve Smolenski on . Posted in It's Not Easy, Waterfowl Hunting, Youth Waterfowl

Spring Cleaning for the Waterfowl Hunter

Spring has sprung here in the heartland, and we all know what that means.  Spring cleaning!  If there is one lesson that we have learned over though the years of chasing waterfowl, it would be that we will test the wear and tear limits of every Hard Core item that we use when we hit the marsh.  From decoys to boats and blinds to bags, there is just no other way to say, we are hard on our equipment.  This article will hopefully give you a few pointers to Spring Clean your waterfowl hunting equipment the Hard Core way and ensure that you are prepared, leading to more successful waterfowl hunts next year.

As hard core hunters, when winter finally gives it up and the temperature begin to rise we begin to shift our attention to slab crappie and the sound of long beards sounding off in the sunrise.  However you can’t ring in one new season, without bringing the previous season to a close, and the way in which we do that is by cleaning and inventorying our waterfowl gear, giving it a good ole Spring Cleaning! This preparation now can be the difference between a “rat race” and a successful opening day of waterfowl season.

We’ve all been there; it’s the day AFTER the last day of waterfowl season.  You sit, at home feeling slightly lost and alone.  The depression sits in as you take a look at your blind bag, decoys, layout blind and the rest of your waterfowl gear that you have come to know so well over the past 60 days. It almost feels wrong to prepare for the next waterfowl season, but your success will depend on it.

This is a feeling we have shared amongst each other waterfowl season after waterfowl season.  Once the waterfowl season came to an end, wherever our gear was placed upon returning to the shop, was most likely where you would find it come the following season.  Over time, we began to realize the mistake we were making and how the lack of preparation would impact us the following waterfowl season.  Here are a few simply tips that can ensure you are ready to get after ‘em this fall, instead of making a mad dash to the store.

There is almost nothing worse, than preparing for the opening day of waterfowl season and not being prepared.  We used to find ourselves in this situation all the time, from forgetting that there was a gaping hole in our waders that was in need of patching, to not realizing that half of our decoy set was in need of restringing.  You name it, we have encountered it.

While it seems very obvious and almost intuitive, taking a final inventory of our waterfowl equipment, and addressing any issues immediately following the close of the waterfowl season can save you a lot of time, money and stress once the season rolls around again.

The strategy should be rather simple, nothing is more important to us than being prepared and organized.  If you are blessed with storage space like a basement, pole barn, or garage, it all starts there.  Everything has a place.  From floaters, to full bodies, to blinds and guns.  Everything has a spot it belongs.  Not only is this helpful in terms of locating something when you need it, but it also helps you quickly identify missing items, because let’s face it, we all lose items when we are out chasing waterfowl.

Once everything has been unloaded and in its place, everything is examined for damage.  We make sure that if blinds or decoys need repair or replacement that a tally is kept and a running list of items that needing to be replace throughout the year.  This helps keep the expense much more manageable when you are spreading it out over the course of the year rather than dropping it all at once, the night before the opener.

One of the biggest mistakes that can be made in regards to equipment is simply putting waterfowl gear away while it is still wet or damp.  As a hard core hunter, mold is not your friend.  Over the years of chasing waterfowl, I do not know how many times I have put my gear away for the season, only to pull it out the following year to find it dry rotting.  Be sure that your gear is dry, prior to stowing away for the summer. Otherwise you will be restocking waterfowl equipment before next season’s opener.

When it comes to Hard Core brand decoys, there is simply nothing like them on the market.  Their durability is amazing, and the toughness, considering all the abuse a hard core waterfowler puts them through on a daily basis.  Situations can lead to paint or body issues, and other brands may leave you replacing 20-30% of your decoy inventory every season.  It is good feeling to know that now, when you are purchasing decoys, you are adding to your spread instead of just maintaining the status quo.

At the end of every season, we simply power wash our decoys and allow them to dry.  It is simply amazing how these decoys hold their shine, despite days upon days of use and abuse.  One trick when it comes to decoy storage during the office season is the decoy box itself.  Holding on to the decoy box can help storage issues. At the end of the season, and the decoys are cleaned and ready to be stored away, you are easily able to stack your decoys in their original box, rather than deal with bulky decoy bags.

Most of this information may seem a little self-explanatory; however, taking the time to properly prepare, maintain, and inventory your hunting gear will give you a leg up coming next waterfowl season.  Whether it’s repairing your waders, your boat or identifying your needs for next year, staying organized and ready to go is half the battle in the world of waterfowling.  Don’t be scrambling and unprepared when its go time! Be sure to check the hard core brands website at http://www.hardcore-brands.com/ for all of your waterfowl hunting needs.

Meta Description:  Proper preparation for next year’s successful waterfowl hunts require a strategically close this one, by cleaning and inventorying your waterfowl equipment.
posted hunting and waterfowl grounds permission to hunt

How to Get Permission to Hunt │ Having Problems Finding Waterfowl Grounds

Written by Steve Smolenski on . Posted in It's Not Easy, Waterfowl Hunting, Youth Waterfowl

Getting Permission To Hunt Others’ Lands │ Running and Gunning for Geese

We all know the difficulty in finding land to hunt, and that is especially in chasing waterfowl. From private catfish ponds of the south to large agricultural fields of the north, the terrain and culture may vary, but the getting permission to hunt is pretty tough. Many have resided to hunting state and federal draw hunts which can be very productive, but also lead to frustration with other hunters. With March upon us, and mass clouds of light geese on our minds, it may not be as hard as you think to get permission to hunt other people’s land, when you are running and gunning.

Driving across the Midwest nowadays, there are some massive groups of light geese. If you have driven through many of these states during March, you’ve likely seen them in the sky or in the fields, wondering what it would take to get access to those places. First off, if you are on a main road, others have likely seen them and the landowner has either been bothered too much or granted permission to hunt to someone else. So get off the beaten path!

As you cruise these areas, and locate light geese, don’t be afraid to just knock on the landowner’s door and ask! The worst they can say is “no,” in which case you move on. Just make sure they are actually the landowner, otherwise you are just bothering a neighbor.

Talk to your local hunting buddies as well. Deer leases are all over the place and most, only will hunt turkeys in the spring. Maybe pitch a $100 or so at them for a few chances at snow or blue geese on the land they have been granted full permission to hunt, will open the door for you to get access.

If you have access to the local plat maps, you might be able to obtain some of the landowner information. A simple phone call works, but sometimes it can catch them off guard and prompt a quick “no.” So what other option is there? A typed and hand signed letter, can get you more permission to hunt than any other method. Make sure you have all your appropriate contact information on the letter for reply.

With permission to hunt lands decreasing, it is important to be very sincere and appreciative when you gain access, whether for deer, turkey, or geese. This will ensure future generations will be able to enjoy the same lifestyle we love to live! By Jeremy Flinn
light goose and what to expect

Snow Day | Light Goose Primer and What to Expect

Written by Steve Smolenski on . Posted in It's Not Easy, Waterfowl Hunting, Youth Waterfowl

Snow Day

by Chris McLeland

It has been amazing to see how over the past several years, chasing snow geese has gone from something that some may turn their noses up at to one of the top hunting opportunities across the Midwest.  I mean, if you’re someone who likes to work large flocks of ducks or geese, as well as have your “waterfowl wits” put to the test, and you haven’t tried snow geese over decoys…..well, you’re missing out!

A light goose, which includes snows and blues as well as Ross geese, can be very worthy adversaries.  So if you are unfamiliar with these beasts of the waterfowl world, here are some basics.  These birds can travel in unbelievably large groups and are largely over-populated.  This is one of the perceived reasons why these birds can be difficult to hunt.  They have an insatiable appetite and can eat out a quarter section corn field overnight.  While these birds are creatures of habitat, much like any other waterfowl when it’s time to migrate they don’t mess around.  These birds make a lot of racket.  After a day in the field, between the callers and the birds themselves, you will be hearing snow geese in your sleep for a week!

Here in the Midwest, we are blessed to have millions of light geese pass through our area.  Specifically, Southeast Missouri and Northern Arkansas have become known as hot spots during the fall and winter seasons.  Snow geese love to overwinter in this part of the world, and take advantage of fall flooded rice fields for daily forage areas.

While chasing light geese can be blast, we find it difficult to pull ourselves away from chasing ducks and Canada geese when their respective seasons are still in, however if the opportunity comes to lay the wood on some snows during that time take our word for it…..we take full advantage.
hard core touchdown 12 pack decoys
Once Canada goose season has come to a close, we begin to start getting our gear ready for the spring migration.  Like many other States, our State has a conservation order on light geese which allows for Hard Core waterfowlers to chase these birds into April.  Additionally, the use of electronic callers, un-plugged shot guns are also allowed.  What more could you want?  The spring conservation order provides watefowlers a chance to get out and keep doing what we love, and sure helps fill the void between the close of duck season and when the crappie start biting and the turkeys start gobbling.

When it comes to hunting light geese, something we hear repeated time and time again is “I’m not set up for it” or “I don’t have the decoys”.  Well, we’re here to tell you that your decoy situation shouldn’t be a limiting factor.  Hard Core Decoys offer a wide range of light geese decoys that are the most durable and realistic decoys are the market.  Our personal favorite set up is one where we mix our economy snow goose shells and full bodies with a wide spread of snow goose rags, a combination which is not only easy on the wallet but deadly in the field.  3 to 4 dozen decoys mixed in with 200-300 rags can make for an effective spread.

During the fall months, when we are chasing green headed ducks; sunshine and a northwest wind is a lethal combination.  When chasing light geese during the spring migration, sunshine and wind are also very important, with the exception being the wind direction.  As we said previously, when light geese migrate, then don’t mess around.  Look for days with a strong wind from a south to southwesterly direction.  We have had our best luck hunting in these conditions, especially when we are simply running traffic on migrating geese.snow advisory snow geese hard core decoy hoodie

When snow geese feed, then tend to “leap frog” from one place to another.  In other words, if you have a large group of geese feeding in a field, the geese from the back of the group will tend to “hop” over the lead geese to continue feeding in the field.  Additionally, new geese coming into the field will tend to want to land towards the center of front of the main group.  So you decoy spread doesn’t tend to look like it would if you were hunting Canada geese.  We try to leave our main kill hole in the middle of the spread, and have the birds work over the top of us, toward the front.  Others have may have a different technique, but with the realism of the Hard Core’s, this is what works well for us.

Over the past few days, we have been hit with some extreme winter weather conditions.  In our areas specifically, we have received close to 5 inches of snow, with more on the way.  Currently, the temperatures are 17 degrees with 25 mph winds; bring the wind chills to balmy -25.  Not necessarily the conditions you think of when you think of hunting snow geese on the return migration.  That being said, we were pleasantly surprised by what we encountered!

Prior to the winter storm, the birds were on the move.  This storm in particular was bearing from the south, which always make for a lot of snow.  We anticipated a lot of birds to be moving north, ahead of this storm front.  We had located a field, close to house that had a lot of Canada goose activity during the late Canada goose season.  The field was a large field, and had a lot of waste grain in the field.  Having seen zero light geese using the field, we took a chance and made a setup only hours before the first snow flake fell.  The decoys looked great, and we hidden well.

The first hour was a wash, with not a bird in the sky.  That all changed at 4:13 p.m.  We’re not really sure what exactly happened, but all we know is we went from not even seeing a local Canada goose in the sky, to the clouds parting and light geese were dropping from the Heavens.  To this day, seeing a large group of waterfowl regardless of the species tornado in down to the spread from 5,000 feet is still a sight to behold.  It seemed as though it took forever for the birds to make their way into range for our Brownings, but once they did it was all over by the crying!

We managed to shoot into two groups that evening, which we felt pretty good about considering we were simply running traffic.  Looking back on this hunt we are certain of three things.  The first, had we not taken advantage of the weather that we had, and understood that we would have a good chance of seeing birds, we would have been sitting on the couch which always a poor place to shoot waterfowl.  The second, the birds we encountered were defiantly hungry and tired of migrating and were in need of carbohydrates.  Third, the realism of the Hard Core snows and blues and decoy placement set up brought these birds in to 10 yards, making for some very consistent and accurate shooting.

The following day, I made a pass by the same field and there were geese everywhere!  We fully intend to make a trip back as soon as possible.  Don’t let your lack of experience or a perceived lack of gear keep you from trying your hand at chasing light geese.  We find that regardless of your age, it’s still fun to have a snow day!

The Landing Zone

Hard Core Videos

Hard Core Brands "We Are Hard Core" Commercial

Hard Core Dog Dummy Carrier Kit

Hard Core Plastic Dog Bumpers