The first week of the 2013-14 Texas North Zone duck season is in the books.

The first week of the 2013-14 Texas North Zone duck season is in the books.


And so far, the results are mixed. If you’re where the birds want to be, a good shoot — if not a limit — can be had. But if you’re not where the birds want to be, then you could find yourself wondering what all of the fuss is about concerning this year’s duck season.


If you’d like to experience the former rather than the latter, pay attention to the words of local waterfowl hunting guide J.J. Kent of Kent Outdoors.


He says that the first key to early season success is to get out and find a huntable group of birds. Especially for those hitting the so-called "X" — the sweet spot they want to be at — rather than hoping to run traffic as birds either migrate south or mill around the local wet spots.


"The first thing I would say is to get out and scout," said Kent, who has more than 20 years of waterfowl hunting experience under his belt. "If you can find some birds, either on private land that you can hunt or on public land, then that just ups your odds for a good hunt the next morning."


If your plans center around hunting at Lake Texoma, Lake Ray Roberts, Lake Fork, or any of the other water-starved reservoirs across the region, then don’t hit the snooze button.


"If you’re hunting public ground on a reservoir, then you’ll need to get out there very, very early because low water levels will concentrate hunters on the good stuff," said Kent.


What should a hunter’s early season decoy spread look like?


"Whatever you are seeing in your scouting, then that’s what your decoy spread should look like," said Kent, a Mossy Oak pro-staff guide.


"If the spot you’re planning to hunt has two dozen birds, then hunt with two dozen decoys. If it’s got six, go with six. If it’s got 75, then go with 75. But match what the birds are seeing as they fly around."


What type of decoys should you toss out? Kent is a big believer in using pintail and wigeon decoys in early season spreads due to the attention grabbing white that is on the bird’s plumage.


He is also a big believer in using motion decoys, albeit a bit differently than the guy set up down the way.


"A lot of guys use one Mojo spinner in their spread," said Kent. "We like to use two, three, or four. And if everybody in the area is using a Mojo, then we might use a Wonder Duck that splashes the water rather than spins its wings.


"We’re trying to look different and differentiate our spread from everyone else’s spread. That can help bring a few more ducks your way."


Another early season tip that Kent passes along is to match your camouflage to your surroundings.


If you’re hunting inside of a dark blind or in a timber hole, use darker patterns typically used for deer hunting. But if you’re hunting a mud flat with little timber, a weedy spot filled with recent rainwater, or a stock tank with a little bit of smartweed, opt for lighter patterns like Mossy Oak’s Duck Blind or Shadow Grass Blades.


A final key from Kent for early duck shooting success is to avoid overusing a mallard call.


"Early in the season here in North Texas, there aren’t a lot of mallards around but there are a lot of whistling ducks on the move," said Kent, a pro-staff caller for Zink Calls. "So I’d say that a teal or widgeon or pintail whistle is a good thing to have hanging around your neck.


"I would lean on a whistle more than a mallard call over the next week or two here in North Texas."


With any luck, there will be plenty of ducks in the region after the next week or two run their course on the calendar. And maybe even a bunch of greenheads, just in time for Thanksgiving.


That’s when the hunting should start getting consistently good in the Texoma region.


Until then, follow these tips from Kent and odds are, you’ll be plucking a limit of early season ducks.


Even before the current duck hunting season’s really "good stuff" arrives.