7 Reasons Why Duck Hunting is Cooler Than Deer Hunting

By author of The Duck Blog

These Factors Call Many to the Marsh Rather Than the Stand

OK, before I feel the collective wrath of America’s whitetail nation — or maybe just take heat from Realtree.com deer hunting editor Josh “Kentucky” Honeycutt — I’ll admit that headline is intentionally provocative.

Actually, I won’t try to convince anyone that duck hunting is cooler than deer hunting. Everyone has their thing, and that goes for waterfowl nuts and whitetail fans. Some live to watch the sun rise from a tree stand overlooking a hot scrape, but others prefer the smell of marsh muck and the feel of a north wind at their backs. A better title for this blog might be, “7 Reasons Why Many Hardcore Waterfowl Guys Choose Ducks Over Bucks.” But that’s boring.

Anyway, I digress, and there’s no time to waste, as Honeycutt might get his dander up and head north. Here are some factors that entice folks to hunt bills instead of antlers.

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Chat AwayHygiene is Important, But … No Down TimeVarietyCooler ToysMore CallingDog Work

1 | Chat Away

Many duck hunts double as social occasions, and unless birds approach close, you don’t have to worry about staying quiet. In fact, good conversation often becomes the highlight of many days in a blind, boat or pit. Chat about sports or politics, or solve the world’s problems. Shoot, you can even just talk about duck hunting. You don’t have to hush up for fear that you’ll spook an unseen buck.

Photo © Banded

2 | Hygiene is Important, But …

Duck hunters don’t need to worry about fooling a whitetail’s incredible nose. We don’t have to shower with scent-free soap, spray down with scent-killer before a hunt or keep our hunting clothes sealed in a tub. Sure, we play the wind, but that’s to direct birds into our spreads and shoot at ducks finishing toward us, not to avoid revealing our scent to downwind deer.

Photo © Wildlife Research Center

3 | No Down Time

Most duck hunts involve quite a bit of action, from spotting birds at a distance, trying to work them close and, hopefully, shooting and retrieving several. Many deer hunts are low-action propositions, as hunters might wait long periods between sightings and even longer before shot opportunities. I realize some scenarios are exceptions, such as hunting a busy food plot or witnessing heavy chasing during the rut. Still, it’s safe to say that the average duck hunt involves more sightings and shooting than a typical deer hunt.

Photo © Tom Rassuchine/Banded

4 | Variety

Obviously, whitetail hunting is species-specific. Many duck hunts, however, provide opportunities at several species, from cagey mallards and regal canvasbacks to diminutive buffleheads and green-winged teal — and a multitude of others. Each bird has its own appeal. Of course, I know that every buck is somewhat unique and can even display behavior traits that resemble a personality, but that’s different than the kaleidoscope of shapes and colors on display during a mixed-bag duck hunt.

Photo © Tom Rassuchine/Banded

5 | Cooler Toys

Some folks will argue this point, as deer hunters have loads of cool toys, including stands, blinds, optics and a dizzying assortment of archery gear. No doubt, they’re gear guys. But to me, duck hunting just has a wider variety of playthings — boats, motors, calls, spinners and the ultimate duck hunting toy: decoys. When I rig, wash, repaint or store any of my fakes, I call it work and preparation. Others in my household liken the activity to a toddler who gathers his toy cars and trucks around him on the floor and then entertains himself for hours. She doesn’t get it (but I know you duck guys do.)

Photo © Tom Rassuchine/Banded

6 | More Calling

For years, folks have documented the whitetail’s fascinating vocabulary and written digests about using those sounds in hunting. In response, manufacturers have given hunters some pretty amazing calls to reproduce those noises. Yet that pales when compared to the art, body of knowledge and cult-like status surrounding duck and goose calling. If you’re a waterfowl hunter, you’re a caller — period. Moreover, you love to call, and you probably do it a lot. Plus, I don’t envision anyone starting a world grunt-calling championship anytime soon.

Photo © Bill Konway

7 | Dog Work

No contest here. Duck hunters are dog people. We train with our companions year-round to prepare them for the season, and then we rely on them to mark, find and recover our birds. Nothing eliminates lost birds like a skillful retriever, and perhaps nothing is as enjoyable or rewarding as spending time afield with your dog. Of course, this means no offense toward the increasing number of folks using hounds and other dogs to recover wounded deer — a great and fascinating discipline. It’s just that dogs and ducks will forever be intertwined, and you really can’t talk about one without discussing the other.

Photo © Bill Konway