Wood Ducks, Coming to a Stream (and a Table!) Near You

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By Jonathan Bowman

Photos by Jonathan Bowman

My God, I love wood ducks. They arrive fast and early. Sometimes so early that you have to watch them swim a few feet ahead of you while you wait for legal fire. The distinguishing feature of a wood duck is the hissing of its wings and the high-pitched cry of its voice.

If you’re like me and don’t have a duck dog to retrieve killed prey from a river or other deep water, wood ducks are your best friend. They might be the only regular waterfowl that land in this shallow marshy pond deep in the woods. Wood ducks generally do not “work” in the sky (circling several times before landing) like a mallard, for example. Decoys and calls are useful, but I’ve had some of my best wood duck hunts when we forgot about decoys and calls. My buddy Clay and I are pros for forgetting to bring the expensive gear we spend our hard-earned money on.

Another great part of wood duck hunting? You may be able to do this before work. You rarely see a wood duck flying 30 minutes after sunrise. Yes, more ducks may arrive later in the morning, but we usually finish our marsh hunts within an hour of sunrise.

So enjoy a quick hunt in your local swamp, knock down some antlers (and any other ducks that might surprise you) and get ready to spot one of the most beautiful birds in the world. Oh, and by the way, wood ducks are one of the best for the dinner table. Try my quick and easy duck recipe.

Get the recipe


Jonathan Bowman lives in Amelia County, where he spends as much time as possible hunting, fishing and cooking. Jonathan enjoys sharing his passions with others and is determined to one day convince his wife to join him on a turkey hunt.

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