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Set Your Decoys on Long Point Bay

Setting the decoys from the sneak boat. • Credit: James Smedley

Part of the magic of migration is the huge number of ducks that gather in staging locations before their journey south. In Southwestern Ontario, Long Point is one of the prime staging spots for thousands of waterfowl every fall.

It’s also a great waterfowl hunting spot.

A classic way to hunt Long Point waterfowl is a sneak boat shoot with Coletta Bay Guides. Sneak boat shooting involves setting out a large number of diver duck decoys, then anchoring anywhere from 100 to 200 yards upwind. A sneak boat has a screen to block hunter movement from ducks that set in the decoys. Typically it’s a two-person operation, with the person in the stern paddling or using the paddle to steer as the wind propels the boat. After drifting within shooting distance of the ducks, the hunter drops the screen and shoots.

preparing a decoy for action
Glen Rohrer preparing a decoy for action. (Photo credit: James Smedley Outdoors)

A hunt with Coletta Bay Guides hearkens back to a time when life was simpler and duck numbers were higher. Owner Glen Rohrer’s boat is a wooden lapstrake craft, 17.5 feet in length that traces its roots to the 1940s. The decoys are hand-carved wooden blocks.

As we launch in Port Rowan on a November morning with twinges of orange signaling sunrise, I see huge flocks out on the bay. While setting up, we reach that magical point of the morning when all the ducks decide to stretch their wings at once. The sky is literally blackened.

thousands of ducks taking to the air
The sight of thousands of ducks taking to the air is something to behold. (Photo credit: James Smedley Outdoors)

We aren’t even anchored upwind before birds land in the decoys. We make the drift, but I drop the screen too soon and miss.

“Wait until you get closer, or if it looks like they will break,” Rohrer advises.

The next opportunity is a single bluebill. I wait until we are closer, drop the screen, and hit the bird on the first shot, just on the edge of the decoys. Glen scoops the bird out of the water, returns to our anchor and a pair of buffleheads settle in the decoys. I take one of the two.

The sneak boat in action
The sneak boat in action. (Photo credit: James Smedley Outdoors)

The trend continues over the next couple of hours. Most times, we sit five minutes maximum before more birds set. That doesn’t mean there are that many shooting opportunities. Often we reach the decoys and the birds sneak out or take off at our approach.

The sneak boat in action
(Photo credit: James Smedley Outdoors)

It takes us three hours, to harvest my limit of six ducks, with a mixed bag of buffleheads, bluebills, and one canvasback. Some of the birds are long shots. Others hold until we get within 20 yards.

Rohrer also offers traditional shooting over decoys and layout shooting, as do other guides in the area. For the do-it-yourselfer, blinds can be rented at the Long Point Waterfowl Unit,  a non-profit group that rents blinds and shooting points to hunters.

Contact Info

Coletta Bay Guides
50 Cranberry Road
Tillsonburg, ON N4G 4G8
PH: (519) 842-8886

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