Hard Core | Waterfowl Season is Coming to an End

Switching Gears | Hard Core Waterfowl Season Coming to an End

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

Switching Gears | Waterfowl Season Ending?

Right about this time of year, we start getting the itch.  We start getting the itch to put the Hard core green heads, and pick up the Hard core full honkers!  The one thing we love and appreciate about hunting here in the mid-west is the opportunity to take advantage of some multiple species hunts, chasing green headed mallards and long necked honkers at the same time.  However, when the ducks start getting stale, then it’s time to start breaking out the short reeds.

Hard Core | Waterfowl Season is Coming to an EndWe have been hitting it hard, chasing ducks almost every day over the past week.  We put in the time and the effort and enjoyed some excellent hunts; however, the action has been few and far between.  As we like to say, “It’s not easy” and that has certainly been the case.  One thing that you come to realize when you chase waterfowl is that even the best laid plans may never come to pass.  Well, we have planned to chase ducks on up until the end of December, however, with the birds becoming spookier by the day it was time for a change of pace.

Over the past week, we have been enduring above average temperatures for December.  This has been a slight benefit when it comes to chasing green headed ducks, however, it has pushed the geese back into an early fall pattern.  With some scouting, we were able to lock down several groups, all using pasture ponds in the area.  From what we could tell, the birds seemed to be sitting for most of the day, however, some would get out and stretch their wings mid-morning.

We had two pasture ponds in the area, so the decision was to run some traffic and see what we could scratch out.  The set up was simple, 3 dozen Hard core full bodies with a dozen floaters was the gear of choice.  We didn’t get in a hurry, hitting the field about 7:30a.m.  With the mild temperatures and lack of arctic weather, we still haven’t seen the large pushes of Canada Geese that we would have typically started to see this time of year.  We didn’t expect to get into many, but we hoped to see enough to make the effort worth it.Hard Core | Waterfowl Season is Coming to an End

Once the birds started to fly, it was clear that they must have read the script the night before.  The Hard core full bodies had the birds committing from 300 yards out, and as any avid goose hunter will tell you, when the birds are dropping their feet from 300 yards, it’s about to get real!  Very little calling was required as the decoys and blinds did the rest.

I can tell you that we will continue to grind it out, and put some green headed ducks down in the decoys between now and the end of the season, but, it was nice to switch gears for a little while and take advantage of some pasture pond honkers!  We will continue to keep an eye on the goose numbers and you can bet that we will be in the corn fields, with the Hard cores on full display in the near future! Look at our online catalog at: http://shop.hardcore-brands.com
Hard Core Floating Gun Case and Sleeve for Waterfowl

It’s Not Easy | Finishing off 2014-2015 Waterfowl Season Strong

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

Grinding….It’s Not Easy!

Here at Hard Core, we truly embrace the understanding that to consistently put greenheads on the stringer each and every day, you have to be willing to put in the work and “grind it out”! That is what we mean when we say “it’s not easy”! Over the last two weeks, that has certainly been the case!
Hard Core Floating Gun Case and Sleeve  for Waterfowl

Picture Courtesy of: Jason Summers



The last two weeks have made it clear to us that the 2014-15 waterfowl season is going to be “one of those”, where drastic swings in the weather may present stellar hunting conditions one day, and difficult or even hazardous the next. Coming straight off the heels of super storm Nuri, which brought a massive cool down to the Midwest, as well as massive push of waterfowl we have been stuck in a very interesting weather pattern. Since Veterans Day, we have had a complete freeze up and thaw out on three different occasions.

While the conditions we are experiencing here midway through the season are more typical of later season conditions, excellent hunting opportunities are still be available, if you’re willing to work for it. When it comes to freezing conditions, keep in mind that as long as waterfowl have food and open water, ice really isn’t a limiting factor. Ducks and geese work on a law of diminishing return, as long as they are not expending more energy to keep open water on their roost than they are taking in and storing, you’re in the money. When the “cost” of keeping open water becomes too high, then it’s so long suckers!

The last two weeks as truly been a grind for us, but we have been reaping the fruits of our labor. We have been concentrating the majority of our efforts on days where we have steady wind and sunshine. We have been able to maintain a healthy local population of birds, although we have lost several thousand in the past few days.
Grinding out the year with a waterfowl hard core dog

Picture Courtesy of: Tom Forman



Now that we are midway through season, you must rely on your gear much more than you do on opening day. That’s where the Hard Core Magnum Pre-Riggs really pay off. The birds we are hunting have been pounded for over 30 days, and we have found to be successful you need to: 1) be on or as close to the X as possible, 2) make your best effort to have the most realism in your spread. This also includes have movement in the spread. We love wind, but if that isn’t an option, the Hard core jerk cord system keep the birds feet down the in the hole. 3) Concealment, these birds will be looking for the slightest thing out of place, so we do our best to put forth extra effort to have a good hide. Layout boats have been the preferred method as of late. 4) Be prepared for an all-day sit. When the conditions start to freeze, especially late in the season with wary birds more often than not birds will fly during the warmest part of the day. This has been especially true as of late.

Monday found us back at it. Conditions had been 100% ice covered, with ice ranging between 2 to 4” thick. However, we caught a break, with a strong warm front having just pushed through; we were pleasantly surprised to find the majority of the ice had rotted. We liked our chances! The Hard core decoys did their job. We were finishing mallards at 10 yards all day long. Its days like this that make keep looking for that next hunt. Two hours later, we walked out with our limit of greenheads and some smiles on our faces. We caught a big break in that we didn’t have to contend with the ice that particular outing; we had done our due diligence by putting in the time to scout, not being afraid to tackle the difficult hunting conditions and get out a grind! We have been adding ice steadily over the past few days and hunting conditions are beginning to get difficult, however as long as there are birds to chase we’re going to be going after them!
GPSNOW

Hard Core Decoys | Realistic Decoys Outsmarting Educated Birds

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

Smarter by the Day!

by Chris McLeland 

It seems to us that one of the differences between your average waterfowl hunter and your Hard Core Hunter is handling highly educated birds.  Regardless of where you call home, we will all have the opportunity to chase late season waterfowl this fall.

We mentioned in the last article that your equipment can help make the difference between a successful hunt and going home empty handed.  Hard core decoys are hands down one of the most realistic decoys  on the market.  When you’re tackling decoy shy and extremely wary birds remember that they have seen it all and heard it all, so the quality and realism of your decoys is important.

hard core decoys most realisticFor us, decoy placement is often the key ingredient in a late season hunt.  So we would like to go through a couple of scenarios that we experienced over the last week, and how we managed out-think some of the most stubborn and difficult birds we have encountered.

More often than not, the biggest mistake that hunters will make during the late season is to continue to do the same ole tactics that use each and every time they hit the marsh.  We have found that to be successful in the late season, less is more.

It’s a fact that spinning wing decoys have changed the way most hunters hunt waterfowl.  It’s a rarity where we hunt to see hunters hitting the marsh without at least one.  This can be one of simplest and easiest adjustments you can make to your late season spread is to pull the spinner.  At this point in the season, educated waterfowl will begin to associate these decoys with 12 gauge shot guns.

As I mentioned before, realism in your spread is key for late season success, however, do not mistake realism for quantity.  We have found that cutting back on the amount of decoys in our spread can be extremely effective during this time.  During the late season, birds tend to be extremely decoy shy, and are very stubborn to commit to finishing right in the hole.  Decoy placement becomes key.

During the late season, try placing your decoys where you don’t want the birds to be.  Although it may seem counter-intuitive, this tactic can be extremely effective at putting birds on your game carrier.

For those of you who have been following our blog, you know that the week of Veterans Day saw one of the largest migration events in recent years.  Since that time, we really haven’t seen much in the way of favorable weather that would bring new birds into the mid-west.  So what does that mean?  Well, as I mentioned before, these suckers have seen it all and heard it all and have been shot at every day for the past 30 days.

Conditions as of late have not been very favorable for success.  Very cold and cloudy conditions had the birds holding tight.  That all began to change on Monday, when the temperatures were once again above freezing and ice began to thaw.  The forecast called for sunshine and 15 mph wind, so the conditions were right for success.

hard core waterfowl hunting limt of 3Based on what we had been seeing over the past couple of days, we made the decision to go small and rely on the realism of our Hard Core deek’s to do the trick.  We made the decision to leave the spinning wing decoy at the lodge and hit the marsh with 2 dozen Hard core quick rig mallards.

When setting late season decoy spreads, there are several different methods that can be very effective.  There are two techniques that we use most often.  The first method is simply using a small, tightly packed group of decoys.  In this set up, there really isn’t a “hole” to speak of.  Late season birds become very wary of decoys deployed close to cover.  This may be standing corn rows, or blinds.  They are wise to the game.  So to combat this stubborn trait of late season waterfowl, we like to put our cluster of Hard core decoys away from our hide, at roughly 25 yards.  You may not think it would may much difference, but try it and you might be pleasantly surprised.  The second technique that we use quite often is setting our decoys wide of the hide.  Late season birds that are extremely decoy shy will tend land wide of the decoys.  By setting the decoys where you don’t want birds to land, will force their hand to land right on the X.

For this hunt, we set 2 dozen Hard core mallards in a tight condensed bunch at about 25 yards.  After making sure we were hid as well as possible, the waiting game was on.  The morning started out a little slow, that is of course until the wind picked up.  Nothing will get the birds up and moving better than a good steady wind.  Once the wind started to blow, we started seeing birds.

The last aspect to being effective for late season waterfowl is the amount of calling required.  As you can probably guess by now, we feel that during the late season, less calling is more effective.  In a situation where most waterfowlers will over call, we rely more on the decoys and location to do the work.  On this occasion, we only called when necessary.  Hitting birds to get their attention, and working them on the turns, as we find softer is better.  Typically, finishing birds falls more on the decoy setup than the calling.

To say we were successful on this outing would be an understatement!  With the wind at our backs, sun in their eyes, and realistic decoy spread the birds this day acted as if they just arrived from the Missouri Cateau!
geese2

Hard Core Greens to Full Honkers | Switching Gears

Written by Steve Smolenski on . Posted in Waterfowl Hunting

Time to Shift Gears?

by Chris McLeland 

Right about this time of year, we start getting the itch. We start getting the itch to put the Hard core green heads, and pick up the Hard core full honkers! The one thing we love and appreciate about hunting here in the mid-west is the opportunity to take advantage of some multiple species hunts, chasing green headed mallards and long necked honkers at the same time. However, when the ducks start getting stale, then it’s time to start breaking out the short reeds.

geese3We have been hitting it hard, chasing ducks almost every day over the past week. We put in the time and the effort and enjoyed some excellent hunts; however, the action has been few and far between. As we like to say, “It’s not easy” and that has certainly been the case. One thing that you come to realize when you chase waterfowl is that even the best laid plans may never come to pass. Well, we have planned to chase ducks on up until the end of December, however, with the birds becoming spookier by the day it was time for a change of pace.

Over the past week, we have been enduring above average temperatures for December. This has been a slight benefit when it comes to chasing green headed ducks, however, it has pushed the geese back into an early fall pattern. With some scouting, we were able to lock down several groups, all using pasture ponds in the area. From what we could tell, the birds seemed to be sitting for most of the day, however, some would get out and stretch their wings mid-morning.

We had two pasture ponds in the area, so the decision was to run some traffic and see what we could scratch out. The set up was simple, 3 dozen Hard core full bodies with a dozen floaters was the gear of choice. We didn’t get in a hurry, hitting the field about 7:30a.m. With the mild temperatures and lack of arctic weather, we still haven’t seen the large pushes of Canada Geese that we would have typically started to see this time of year. We didn’t expect to get into many, but we hoped to see enough to make the effort worth it.

Once the birds started to fly, it was clear that they must have read the script the night before. The Hard core full bodies had the birds committing from 300 yards out, and as any avid goose hunter will tell you, when the birds are dropping their feet from 300 yards, it’s about to get real! Very little calling was required as the decoys and blinds did the rest.

I can tell you that we will continue to grind it out, and put some green headed ducks down in the decoys between now and the end of the season, but, it was nice to switch gears for a little while and take advantage of some pasture pond honkers! We will continue to keep an eye on the goose numbers and you can bet that we will be in the corn fields, with the Hard cores on full display in the near future!

The Landing Zone

  • Switching Gears | Hard Core Waterfowl Season Coming to an End

    Switching Gears | Hard Core Waterfowl Season Coming to an End

    Switching Gears | Waterfowl Season Ending? Right about this time of year, we start getting the itch.  We start getting the itch to put the Hard core green heads, and pick up the Hard core full honkers!  The one thing we love and appreciate about hunting here in the mid-west… Read More »
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    We Don't Stop | Go Hard Core "Decoys" or Go Home If you’re like us, the day after the last day of waterfowl season is a day filled with mixed emotions.  It’s a day in which we reminisce about the hunts of the year, and remember the highs and lows… Read More »