Todd Fitzmorris, who is known as “Coot” when posting reports on the LouisianaSportsman.com forum, has been prowling the marshes of Southeast Louisiana since the age of 15.
And he regularly provides excellent advice for duck hunters in his frequent online posts. I was intrigued by his reports, and could tell that this hunter gets it when it comes to hunting ducks.
He has some great tips for late-season duck hunting.
Fitzmorris has hunted quite a bit in the Biloxi and Pearl River wildlife management areas, but he spends most of his time on private leases on the East Bank of Southeast Louisiana.
He also makes annual road trips to North Louisiana.
Like Roberts, Fitzmorris believes most hunters do not adapt to the changing conditions that the second split of the season brings.
He believes that you have to throw out the rule book and write your own as the season progresses.
“The best tip that I can give to late season hunters is to go out later in the morning and hunt later in the day,” Fitzmorris said. “After Christmas, I am usually launching my boat after daylight.
“The best times that I have found are between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. This strategy is especially good on public land that allows hunting until 2 p.m.”
Fitzmorris’ strategy is to locate concentrations of ducks and then set up in that area in hopes that the ducks will return.
He is normally not a big fan of boat blinds, but late in the season he uses them because they offer maximum flexibility to move locations and set up quickly.
“At the end of the season, the ducks are rafted up on open water,” Fitzmorris said. “What I do is get out in the middle with them, using my boat blind, and put out maybe 100 decoys.”
According to Fitzmorris, this seems to work much better than hunting from land-based blinds.
Fitzmorris likes to hunt a cross-wind in these situations.
“In a cross-wind, I put most of my decoys 40 to 60 yards upwind,” he said. “I let the ducks cross in front of the blind and then shoot.
“As they flair, they turn with the wind and are directly overhead for easy shots. I usually get three good shots at them using this method.”
But Fitzmorris said weather plays an even more-important role in late-season success.
“You have to have wind — a minimum of 10 to 15 knots, in my opinion,” he said. “More wind is even better.”
Wind is normally higher immediately before and after a frontal passage. Brisk winds from the south and east give way to hard north and northwest winds after the front.
“There is no better time to be out duck hunting than around fronts,” Fitzmorris said.
One of the tricks he uses in high wind is to find the calmest water possible.
“On a hunt in Venice during very strong winds, I noticed that all the ducks were huddled up right next to one of the ridges in the calmest areas,” he said. “During strong winds, I try to find the calmest areas with the wind straight at my back, and I usually have great hunts.”