Grandpa Goes Retro for Duck Season

By author of The Duck Blog

The old-timer has some frank — and surprising — opinions on new gear

Sometimes, Grandpa yearns for the old days. But now and then, he appreciates modern technology. Photo © Tod Manning

Grandpa is at it again. Realtree.com’s waterfowling sage and social media critic is tired of modern conveniences. He’s been longing for simpler times, so this duck season, he vowed to switch back to retro equipment and traditional tactics. We chatted with Grandpa to see what worked — and what didn’t.

Gear: An old-school skiff powered by a push-pole

Grandpa: This was fun. I’d almost forgotten how much I enjoyed a long, peaceful push into a quiet pre-dawn marsh. And I actually got to hear ducks and geese on the water instead of pounding my eardrums with motor noise. Of course, a bunch of guys in a flat bottom with a big surface-drive motored to within 50 yards of my spread 15 minutes before light and set up anyway, but that’s another story.

Gear: Wooden decoys

Grandpa: Those old blocks are heavy, especially when you have to hoist two-dozen of them into a skiff and then pole them back to the landing. But they ride great in rough water and work as well as ever. I might compromise next year — a few wooden blocks for nostalgia’s sake but some newer plastic fakes to ease my aching back.

Gear: No spinners

Grandpa: Funny, but I seemed to do just fine if I hunted a place where ducks wanted to work anyway. And I didn’t have to listen to that motorized whirring all day.

Gear: Old-school duck calls and goose flutes

Grandpa: Someone told me these wouldn’t work, as modern waterfowl have become more discerning about calling. But I don’t recall ducks or geese sounding different now than they did 35 years ago. I do OK — especially when I remember when to shut up.

Gear: Old steel shotshells

Grandpa: I had to draw the line here. Why is everyone complaining about new steel ammo? Old steel sucks. I shot lead when I was a kid, and I'll never forget the drop in performance when we switched to steel. I'll stick with the new stuff.

Approach: Skipping social media

Grandpa: I didn’t miss it. Let me guess — more bearded dudes with stickers on their guns scowling at the camera while huddled around a pile of ducks, or a picture of a grebe in a post titled, “Can someone help me ID this duck?” And then there’s this Duck Blogger, trying to tell me how to shoot. I’ll tell ya, the stuff they put online these days … .

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