How Ducks See Hunters


Why is camouflage important when duck hunting? Gary Lewis from Gary Lewis Outdoors ( provides a glimpse into how ducks see hunters.

When a hunter sees a duck in the distance, it is often silhouetted against the sky. We recognize it by its wingbeat. Often the bird or flock is a mile or more away. And there's a good chance that mallard is looking right into our blind.

According to Ducks Unlimited, ducks and geese can see two to three times farther than humans. This is because they have muscles at the curvature of their corneas and lenses.

As duck hunters we know their ability to see color is also highly acute, but they don't see the way we do. They see blues, greens, yellows and reds and ultraviolet, better than we do and this high degree of sensitivity means they are especially alerted by light, by shine and glare.

Think about how many times you have worn sunglasses or used binoculars with shiny 40mm lenses. Think about how you have seen ducks flare away from the blind because someone leaned out. Perhaps the high-gloss finish on the barrels spooked them. Maybe there was a flashlight on inside the blind, or a headlamp.

One of the worst giveaways is the pale human face, uncovered, right alongside that flashing blued barrel.

While the birds are on the approach, any small amount of shine that bounces out of the blind is likely to flare birds. Before the hunt starts, police up the empty brass on the ground and look at everyone in the blind. See them the way the ducks see them. And, if you have to, wrap their shotgun barrels with a wrap like McNett's Camo Form. It is offered in a number of patterns including Snow and Realtree Xtra Brown and the new Max-5 camo.

Along with that big bag of decoys, bring extra gloves and facemasks or grease paint when duck hunting to help your partners blend in. Paying attention to the smallest of details will pay off with more looks at ducks over the top of the barrel. 

Gary Lewis can be reached at 

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