- The Fog – A Southern Waterfowlers Guide to Weather Conditions
The Fog – A Southern Waterfowlers Guide to Weather Conditions
By: Taylor Cassat
When I was a kid, I’d beg my mom to take me to the pool during the summer. One day she begrudgingly caved and promised the following day we’d make it. Much to my young chagrin, the following day was met with rain, followed by sleet, followed by hail, followed by a tornado (this is a true story). The worst possible scenario for the day I was allowed to go to the pool. Arkansas is like that, this week for example it’s been an average of 70 degrees, and we’re in the supposed “height” of waterfowl season here. Sunday, it’ll drop to a whopping 27 degrees, and we should have a solid shift on the nose of that front.
I tell this story to pose the question most beginners want to know with any game pursuit – “what are ideal weather conditions?”
The answer is that it starts with being cold. Very cold. Like chattering your teeth, consider spending your life savings on expensive merino base layers or wearing your bright colored ski jacket into the blind cold. Without cold you don’t get a quality migration, which is the whole reason for the season. Without the North freezing, ducks won’t feel a need to find food in moving water or warmer climates, and without the need to find food, they won’t move.
When you have solid movement, the next thing you should look for is great visibility. An overcast day will do you well in a field, but if you’re in timber – blue bird, sun out, Snow White singing to birds kind of days are what you’re looking for. Something that will make your decoys pop (but never shine). Without any visibility, the birds will never see your decoys enough to approach within shooting range – effectively “skunking” you before you even start.
The last thing you’re looking for is wind. Without wind, the birds aren’t going to have a reason to sit down, or a direction to sit down in. Ducks and geese both fly directly into the wind when they land, so having the wind at your back will mean they sit down right in front of your face, providing the best possible shot opportunity. You’re looking for mild to moderate wind. Between 7 and 15mph is ideal, but winds above or below those speeds don’t necessarily condemn your hunt, they just make the birds less likely to decoy or land.
It’s worth noting that there are several different methodologies to hunting the weather conditions given to you. Principles like calling hard and heavy, and using tactics like “trolling” - calling without seeing ducks until they come to the sound and environment you’re creating – are all used in ways that create effective hunts, but ideal weather conditions will breed success within your waterfowl pursuit.
My gear list from head to toe:
Head: Sitka Boreal Beanie
Base Layers: Sitka Merino Heavyweight
Torso: Sitka Gradient Hoodie, Dakota Vest, Gradient Jacket, and Delta Wading Jacket Legs: Sitka Dakota Pants
Feet: Rogers Breathable (uninsulated) Waders
Calls: RNT DC Mondo, RNT Daisy Cutter Xtreme
Shotgun: Benelli Super Black Eagle 3 with a Rob Roberts T2 Choke
Shells: Migra Timber #3’s and 5’s
About Taylor Cassat:
Taylor enlisted in the U.S. Navy at 17 years old. After qualifying as an operational intelligence analyst, he worked with the National Security Agency and USCYBERCOM as a cyber intelligence analyst in support of defensive cyber operations, ultimately becoming one of the first fully qualified in his job and a pioneer within the DoD “threat hunting” realm. After finishing his tour as a cyber intelligence analyst, he cross-trained into special operations intelligence in support of counter-terrorism operations. Taylor has developed numerous targeting strategies and collection capabilities supporting various interagency parties and has combat deployments with East Coast Navy SEAL Teams in various locations worldwide. Feeling compelled to give back to the communities that set him up for success, Taylor volunteers with Hire Heroes USA to mentor veterans through their transition process into the private or public sectors as civilians.
Born in Florida, raised in northwest Arkansas, and after almost 10 years in the Navy, Taylor moved back to Arkansas with his dog, Beaux in 2021.