Honey hole dry? Just throw down some plastic and watch ’em pile in.
Twice in the past several years I have had my four-acre pond go dry. Both times we have turned to a strategy that’s prompted many hunters to raise their eyebrows.
What we have done is to basically create a fake pond, turning the middle of the now-dry pool — the honey hole — into “water” by using heavy black plastic. This is the same black plastic that farmers used to cover silage piles.
The black plastic is shiny and glistens and from a distance, it really looks like rippling water. Using two pieces of plastic, we can make a 50-foot by 80-foot water area.
But for this to work, it’s important to have larger bodies of water around that’ll be holding ducks. A total drought without any water around means no ducks. You need enough hunters to keep the ducks flying around and preferably a cloudy day with some wind.
Here’s How To Do It
It is important for the ground to be smooth enough that the plastic doesn’t have a bunch of lumps beneath it. So, if things go dry in the summer, immediately watch for grass growing, and either keep it mowed close to the ground or spray it with grass killer.
Keep the ground clear and a few days before season put down the plastic. If done too early, dirt in the air will collect on the plastic during morning dews and cause it to begin to lose some of its sheen.
Choose a totally calm day to put the plastic down. In a wind, it can be a real challenge. When we built ours, we used no large farm equipment, only a rider mower and a 4-wheeler and shovels.
Throw Some Dekes
Spread out the plastic and dig a trench (about two inches deep) all the way around the plastic, then put the outer edges of the plastic in the trench and cover the edges with dirt. Make sure the plastic is pulled as tight as possible.
We added a couple of clumps of tall grass to break up the straight plastic look and then added several decoys without keels for a little realism. Both years we did this for our early season and then for the opening weeks of the regular season. Each year we have shot waterfowl — teal during the early teal season, followed by some wood ducks, gadwalls and mallards.
Not as good as real water, but still enough action to be better than battling public hunting areas.
Here are some key tips:
- Both times we built one of these, we were in a drought, so there was no concern about heavy rainfall.If the weather forecast shows rains, then roll up the plastic and either store it in storage building or away from the low spot.
- If you are going to have 2-3 weeks between hunts, pull the plastic. Otherwise, it becomes dirty and grimy…begins to look like dingy plastic.
- Don’t be lazy and leave the plastic out over the winter. Nothing like getting snowmelt and spring rains to flood the plastic. Makes it very hard to pull the plastic out.
- It is very difficult to get more than one year’s use out of the plastic.
- Each year that we did this we have had teal come zinging in and landing on the “water.”
It may sound crazy, but it sure beats having to put up with crowded public areas and sky blasting. Plus, there’s something special about having a crazy plan like this work.
Steve Weisman, a retired teacher, is a member of OWAA and AGLOW and has been a freelance outdoor writer for the past 24 years. Contact Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org.