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Location: Idaho
Joined: 06/01/2004
Posts: 1068
Can Ducks (and Geese) Smell?

I was making a perfect stalk on some mallards on a ditch this morning ... deep ditchbank for concealement (birds were in a deep ditch, not me) ... stripped down to short sleeves and bare feet across soft plowed field. They were already `in the bag' as far as I was concerned. Hunting straight down a fairly stiff breeze. About 50 yards out they busted. Hmmmmmmmmm. The only thing I can think of is scent????? (I hadn't taken my morning shower.) Or maybe, maybe I made some wierd noise I was not aware of ... but I had good noise concealment with wind, vertical bank, gurgling of stream, and nearby road. But they some how knew I was there - the busted and flew straight away. If they would have been coming out for any other reason, they would have climbed out toward me - into the wind.

I'm told geese have incredible smell sensory.

Weigh in por favor.

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Location: Nova Scotia
Joined: 08/17/2002
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Can Ducks (and Geese) Smell?

I'm not sure how well their smell is but they have amazing eyesight and might have spotted you.

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Location: Idaho
Joined: 06/01/2004
Posts: 1068
Can Ducks (and Geese) Smell?

Due to the deep ditchbank, they could not have spotted me on the approach - but there is a slight chance I was spotted when I first spotted one of them. I got a glimpse of one of them at 100 yd and then backed out. Maybe one spotted me then, but at that range I would have expected them to bust then ... not 5 or 10 minutes later. (And they did bust - not just casually exiting.) It's a strangely difficult spot ... strange because it looks like a slam dunk - but I've had a number of situations bust there, with ducks, geese, and pheasants.

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Location: Idaho
Joined: 06/01/2004
Posts: 1068
Can Ducks (and Geese) Smell?

Spot and stalked nearby spot today. Similar to yesterday, except that I took a shower first and approached cross wind. Everything else exactly the same ... spotted about 100 yards out, shed my shoes at 80 yards, made the sneak. But this time got within 6 yards. Tremendous tactical advantage to have the surprise at 6 yards. Got `em both. I will go clean them shortly - the first bird will not be that much fun (to clean) - it was obliterated - only flew a short distance before taking my first shot.

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Location: Nova Scotia
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Can Ducks (and Geese) Smell?

I have been doing internet searches on this subject and the results are across the board. I found one site saying geese(canada) have amazing smell and were used by Romans to early detect enemy soldiers on the attack. Another site said snow geese have poor sense of smell but this site was just a compilation of "facts and opinions" on a personal site. I would say that you don't take the chance and try to stay as scent free as possible. Sneaking up on large flocks may be less successful than a couple pairs as well.

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Location: Idaho
Joined: 06/01/2004
Posts: 1068
Can Ducks (and Geese) Smell?

It will be interesting to see how this topic plays out in our experience in the days, years ahead. I've had some other situations busted perhaps by scent. In a way it makes sense to me that they would be naturally armed with good scent detection, especially as `puddle' creatures that land on some pretty small or tight puddles.

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Location: Pennsylvania
Joined: 10/28/2003
Posts: 1647
Can Ducks (and Geese) Smell?

I wouldn't think they would have a good sense of smell but what the hell do I know? eye roll
This thread made me remember something I either saw or read about vultures. It seems they can even find rotting carcasses if they are burried (not way down but out of sight) so that would suggest that at least those birds can smell. On the other hand I just read a very well written piece on mink that said that because they smell soo bad (the mink) they don't make a favorite prey species for fox and coyote but since raptors can't smell or taste they do eat them. I don't know if this guy had any studies to back it up or if it was his opinion.
Interesting topic, I guess I never thought about it before. Scent control isn't something I worry about when hunting waterfowl or even turkeys for that matter. I will tell you that I think it is a good idea to practice scent control while hunting turkeys but not because the turkeys will smell (although, maybe they can) you but because the deer will smell you and send out the old snort-wezz alert and bust the turkeys out of there too! It has happend to me.

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Joined: 05/05/2006
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Can Ducks (and Geese) Smell?

I've always read that waterfowl sense of smell is very poor. It is pretty common knowledge that they have excellent eye sight. I never used scent blockers while hunting waterfowl.

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Joined: 08/20/2006
Posts: 10
Can Ducks (and Geese) Smell?

nah i sight is good though with in 300 yards.

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Location: Idaho
Joined: 06/01/2004
Posts: 1068
Can Ducks (and Geese) Smell?

I started this string ... and so I continue to mull on the thought. And also as another waterfowl season is closer than it's ever been before.

I am curious-suspicious that scent may indeed be a navigation tool during migration. (Salmon and steelhead apparently return to their original beds via scent.)

It seems it doesn't take long for waterfowl to find wasted grain (piles) or baiting piles ... perhaps by smell.

The general concensus so far is that smell not much of a factor ... perhaps. But the concensus at one time was that the world was flat. I'm not saying anyone is wrong, or right, ... it's just fun to push the envelope of what we take for granted / common knowledge.

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