These are the days that try Texoma duck hunters’ souls — the season is waning, the ducks are stale, and the weather is mild.

These are the days that try Texoma duck hunters’ souls — the season is waning, the ducks are stale, and the weather is mild.


Not exactly a recipe for last minute duck hunting success.


Especially if you commit one of these 10 deadly late season duck hunting sins:


Sin #1: Naked Blinds — Be it a layout blind, a permanent duck blind, or a natural vegetation hide, a hunter simply can’t be too covered up for late season success. Get out of bed 30 minutes early and make sure you bring a machete with you to spruce up your hide with plenty of grass, stubble, cedar boughs, or tree limbs. Once you think you’re done, add some more.


Sin #2: Wrong Colors — When it comes to cover, you’ve got to match the hatch when it comes to the local color scheme. Simply put, if you’re layout blind is Realtree Max-4 and the stubble on the blind is similarly colored, you’ll stick out like a sore thumb on the edge of a flooded winter wheat field. And you’ll be ignored by every duck in the county.


Sin #3: Bald Blind Tops — The blind is well built. The cover is dense and color coordinated. And yet the ducks still flare when they fly by. What gives? Not enough overhead cover, that’s what. When ducks fly over and notice two or three fidgeting blobs below, they’re gone.


Sin #4: Scarlet Shotgun Shells — If there’s ANYTHING out of place — like a dozen or two bright red, high brass non-toxic shotgun shells laying on the ground — late season ducks will notice. And when they spot spent shells or trash surrounding a blind, they’ll likely flare away from your decoy spread.


Sin #5: Too Many Fakes — Late January is the time to tone down the numbers in your decoy spread. Ducks are tired, flocks are small, northward migration is soon, and the approach of mating season is causing them to pair up. A dozen or less mallards with a handful of pintails, teal, wigeon, or canvasbacks mixed in is the ticket now.


Sin #6: Hard Selling — Don’t hit ducks with a calling routine straight from the Main Street contest stage in Stuttgart because if you do, they’ll bug out. A short and soft hail call, some contented quacks, a few soft feed chuckles, and the whistles and peeps of pintails, teal and wigeon are the calling keys to a limit now.


Sin #7: Undergunned — Late season birds have been disturbed, harassed, and bothered from Canada to Mexico and all points in between. So shots will tend to be a bit longer. And with birds in their Sunday best winter plumage, they are better armored with feathers and down. Bring the 12-gauge, shoot three-inch shells, and opt for #2 or #1 steel shot. Better yet, pony up the extra cash for something like Winchester Blind Side or Hevi-Metal non-toxic loads.


Sin #8: A Bird’s Eye View — When you’re setting out decoys, try not to make too many muddy boot tracks in the shallow water. And use clear 400-pound. monofilament decoy line so ducks won’t spot dark lines in clear water with light sandy bottoms. When last gasp ducks fly over your dekes, trust me, they’ll notice such things.


Sin #9: Be a Jerk — Late season decoy sets need motion. But not necessarily the spinning wing decoys that seem so effective early in the season when the shooting is up close and personal. Now, ducks are wise guys and on to the sight of two spinners in the spread. In late January, use one — or even two — jerk cord rigs that allow you to cause decoys to move, to bob, and to create duck like ripples in the water.


Sin #10: Face the Facts — Wear a face mask, wear camo gloves, and be camouflaged up. The flash of sunlight on a hunter’s face or hands in a blind as he or she looks skyward will often spell doom as ducks give the spread a final look. Next thing you know, it’s a winner, winner, chicken dinner instead of roast duck on the table.


Some of these 10 deadly sins of late season waterfowl hunting might not seem like much.


But they are to the ducks. And they should be to you too.


Unless you simply like sitting in a boring duck blind, watching empty skies, and listening to the wind blow.