HUNTING TIPS & TACTICS
The Lesser Scaup, like the Greater Scaup, are very hard to differentiate from one another and virtually impossible tell apart when in the air.
The determining factor is the white speculum, which runs the entire length of the wing on the Greater Scaup but stops halfway across the wing on the Lesser Scaup. In full plumage, the drakes of both species are defined by the sharp belly transitional color to a virtually black chest. These two birds are members of the diver duck family.
Hunting these little birds can be very exciting and rewarding, when the stars align. In fact, hunters have been known to harvest full limits of these fast little birds within less than an hour when the flight is on.
Depending on the spread size, the traditional method of hunting both Scaup species is to set up long lines of diver decoys that can run 200 – 300 yards out into the lake, with a tight ball of decoys at the end of the line. These birds will follow the string of decoys all the way to the end where the hunters set up, usually off of a land point or in a boat blind. This has been a very effective method of hunting not only the Scaup but many of the other diver duck species for years.
The kicker is, most diver ducks are found on deeper bodies of water and require a specific set up designed for deeper water. In this case, many hunters elect to run what is a called a “Long Line Rig” where all of the decoys are attached to one thick cord with a large anchor weight to hold the entire string of decoys in place. This method has the decoys spaced out and attached every 5 to 10 feet.
Modern hunting methods have evolved from the traditional sea duck hunting off the coasts. Many hunters are now investing in layout boat rigs with tender boats. The layout boat set ups are a lot of fun in regions where hunting open water is legal. This method allows the hunter to set up on large bodies of water right where the birds are and shoot at eye level.
This style of hunting does require a lot more gear and can be more dangerous if a severe storm were to come up on one of these large bodies of water. The set up normally requires a tender boat to retrieve the downed birds and to assist in setup and takedown of the spread, making it a much more popular method with serious duck hunting guides than do it yourself hunters.
For the average duck hunter, booking a layout boat style hunt with a reputable outfitter can be a great way to enjoy a new style of hunting. Some outfitters can offer the ability to hunt many species of both diver ducks and sea ducks on the same trip.