We have another year of liberal-format regulations, waterfowl populations are doing well and hunters have never had better, more efficient gear to use.
But do you really want the pressure of all that success? What if you’d prefer to suffer through another mediocre waterfowl campaign? Honestly, cleaning all those birds can be tedious.
No problem. Here are several steps you can take to ensure that next duck season sucks.
That clean, polished shotgun should stay in the safe. Don’t shoot it or become more familiar with it. Odds are it will function flawlessly in fall, and you’ll be spot-on with your wing-shooting skills. It’s just like riding a bike, and reflexes improve with age.
Is your dog sleeping on the couch? Leave him be. Don’t work with him on training or conditioning. He’ll be fine come opening day. Dogs aren’t like people. They never lapse into bad habits or try to do things their way. And they especially never get soft and out of shape. Never mind that he’ll be a year older.
Status Quo Day 1
Speaking of opening day, just count on hunting the same spot as you did this past season. Should be good. I’m sure the eight other guys who beat you to your hotspot this past October won’t be there this year. Whatever happens, don’t look for other opportunities with lighter hunting pressure. That might confuse the situation and leave you with too many options.
Don’t Tweak or Repair
Do not fix decoy lines, repaint your blocks or fine-tune your rigs. Those decoys killed birds before, so there’s no reason to think they won’t work fine forever. Yeah, they might be dirty and faded, but ducks won’t notice. Realism is overrated, especially with pressured birds.
Assume All is OK on the Water
Make sure your boat or skiff stays in the garage all spring and summer. Whatever you do, avoid conducting a safety check on your boat and motor. And please, never check the batteries. They’ll be just fine when you need them during a frigid, windy December day.
Duck and goose calls sound so loud in the house. It’s best if you just lay off them until next year. They worked fine in January, right? Those skills don’t get stale. Go fishing. Oh, and while you’re wetting a line, please don’t listen to live ducks and geese. You might be tempted to imitate those birds afield next fall.
Do not take advantage of modern apps and mapping sites to search for new hunting spots that might produce during peak migration or even after freeze-up. Poring over aerial photos to find hard-to-access springs, streams, backwaters, wildlife areas or walk-in properties is so mundane — especially when someone just posted a new YouTube video featuring a hilarious cat.
Find a Happy Spot, and Stay There
Realize that you’re a great duck hunter and a font of waterfowling wisdom. Post old pictures on social media, and continue bragging to anyone who will listen. Any decline in your success is the fault of other hunters, or state or federal agencies. Or steel shot — definitely steel shot.
On Second Thought …
OK, all this tongue-in-cheek negativity has convinced me that I’d better get my hind end in gear to scout new spots, work my dog, improve my shooting, fine-tune my decoys and boat, and generally improve my attitude and ambition.
I've never liked cat videos anyway.
Click here for more Realtree waterfowl hunting content. And check us out on Facebook.
Get the latest waterfowl hunting news, tips and tactics in your inbox!
Realtree waterfowl editor Brian Lovett has been an obsessive duck and goose hunter for more than 30 years, chasing his passion on the Dakota prairies and the marshes and open water of his home state of Wisconsin. He's been a writer and editor in the outdoors industry since 1991.