Every social situation has unique protocols, and duck camp is no exception. Sure, a waterfowl hunt with buddies is typically much looser than a day at the office or a family dinner, but you still have to act accordingly.
Follow these dos and don’ts the next time you’re on a waterfowling trip. Your campmates will thank you.
Do: Come prepared, and bring extra. It seems someone always forgets something when they embark on a road trip, and a few folks never bring enough grub or supplies. Bring gear to share, such as extra facemasks, motion decoys, gun-cleaning kits and other accouterments. And stock the camp larder with plenty of snacks, water and other oft-neglected necessities. Everyone will be happy you did.
Don’t: Become an uber-expert and bore folks to death with success stories. Even if you’re the most experienced hunter in camp, you don’t have to remind everyone of that hourly. Dispense wisdom or advice when asked or in situations where it seems appropriate. And lead by example. When a neophyte watches you scout, set decoys and run a hunt, he’s learning the finer points of the grand game — something you likely did from a mentor years earlier.
Do: Share spots and info. Hey, camp is a fraternal affair. Share scouting intelligence freely with your buddies, and even offer up likely spots if you’ve located several. Such acts of kindness are usually rewarded down the line, perhaps when you’re struggling to find birds or decent areas. Along these lines, don’t hesitate to take struggling hunters with you, and let them shoot first.
Don’t: Claim birds. In many camp situations, you’ll often hunt with one or more buddies. Sometimes, it takes a while to figure out the group dynamic, and it’s common for two or more hunters to shoot the same bird from a flock. When that happens, don’t be a claimer. Tell your buddy, “Good shot,” and then hand him the bird after your dog retrieves it. No one likes the dude who jumps up after a bird falls and proclaims that he got it.
Do: Bring several meal ideas, and share them. You’ve been there. Hunters have cleaned their ducks, and that fresh organic protein is begging for proper preparation. Then someone says, “What do you want to do with them?” Argh. Have several recipes in mind, and pack the ingredients to prepare them. Plan meals in advance. In fact, cook one or two in advance for the next night. You never know when hungry hunters might return late to camp. And don't hesitate to volunteer for dish or cleanup duty.
Don’t: Let an unruly dog dominate the camp. When pups experience new environs and interact with other dogs, their behavior sometimes takes a turn south. Stay on top of that. Don’t let your dog beg for food, bark at everyone who passes by or endlessly fight with other pups. Make sure it’s held to the obedience standards you use at home.
Do: Foster a sense of community and togetherness. Duck camp is about people. Yeah, the adventure is exhilarating, and prospect of once-in-a-lifetime hunting gets everyone jazzed up. But ultimately, you’ll remember waterfowl trips because of the folks with whom you shared them. Be generous. Be social. Be tolerant. And don’t be a sad sack if things don’t go your way.
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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.