High Water & Summertime

Justin TackettThis spring and summer has blessed those of us in the Mississippi Flyway with some serious high water. But those of us that hunt public land exclusively must use this high water to our advantage. This high water makes learning new areas almost too easy. Plus, all duck hunters love to load a buddy, a good Labrador and a cooler in the duck boat and burn a few gallons just looking around. There is usually little walking involved, and if you take a few important factors into consideration, you can always dig a new hole out of the high water.

  1. Water Level – Be sure to know exactly what the water level is on the body of water you are on. I hunt the lower White River where it drops into the Mississippi River, so I always pull the levels from the Clarendon gauge on the White, as well as the numbers from Helena and Arkansas City on the Mississippi. By knowing what these levels are, and with just a little thought and a push pole, a fella can easily figure what’s possible and what isn’t once the season roles around.
  2. Food Sources – In areas of the upper Midwest, there are huge areas of wild rice along the backwaters. Here in Arkansas we have Pin Oak flats and willow brakes that, once flooded, can develop into an incredible tornado of ducks in just a few hours after a water rise. So, stop a minute, really look around and take a serious mental note on what a potential hole has to offer.
  3. Where does the SUN track – Because things will likely be very different when you roll back into this hole 6 months later, you may not be able to afford a “poor set.” Some of my very favorite places to hunt are places where you get only 2 or 3 bunches into a hole throughout a morning, so when that first group is at tree top or looking, be ready and be sure that you are in the shadows with at least a few of your decoys in the sun. Wind is very important, but if they know you’re there, having the wind at your back will do little for you. I’d much rather shoot ducks in the rear end than not shoot ’em at all.
  4. Plan for Greatness – Be sure you are READY for success. Take things seriously. Make sure you have your jerk string set, be sure you have your dog stand with you and please make sure you have plenty of shells. I say this only because I’m the world’s worst about grabbing a gun, a call lanyard and a pocket full of shells, only to find that every duck in the state of Arkansas is in this hole and I’m not ready. Every legendary hole had to be discovered by somebody.

Take advantage of high water when you get it. The world’s most perfect duck hole is still out there; we just gotta find it.


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