If there’s a more iconic experience in waterfowling than a plump, full-plumage mallard drake in hand, I’m not aware of it. Mallards are Canada’s most abundant duck and, not coincidentally, the most popular among hunters—along with being undeniably handsome, they have little competition on the table. And if you want to experience what many consider to be the finest mallard hunting on the continent, you need to head to central Alberta’s Parkland region.
This area is farming country, with plenty of peas and barley, two favourite mallard foods. The birds roost on large lakes, pouring out in droves every morning and evening to feed nearby. Most hunters set up in the fields, hiding in willow or layout blinds among as many field decoys as they can muster, often including Canada goose decoys. Rotary wings are spectacularly effective, if not a necessity, to ensure incoming birds finish.
For the finest mallard hunting on the continent, head to central Alberta’s Parkland region
Some experienced hunters forgo the fields to hunt the thousands of shallow potholes—generally less than an acre or two in size—sprinkled across the landscape. Before feeding, mallards frequently water on these tiny wetlands, at times by the thousands. It’s easy to remain hidden, often shrouded by willows, and you only need a dozen or so floating decoys to keep approaching birds on line. When all goes well, limit shoots for four hunters are over in a matter of minutes.
If you’ve ever heard hunters talking about tornadoes of mallards, the chances are pretty good they were describing a central Alberta mallard hunt. There are few other words that more accurately describe the sight of thousands of ducks spiralling down into your decoys.