Why the Final Days of Duck Season Rock

By author of The Duck Blog

The Year's Final Hunts Often Become the Most Memorable

The calendar tells us that duck season is finished. That’s always difficult to accept, especially when you’ve devoted much energy and passion to a pursuit.

Still, I always look back fondly on the final days of a campaign. Maybe it’s just me, but the last few hunts seem to create memories like no others. Perhaps that’s just because we’re focused on the impending off-season, but I think it goes deeper. Here are some reasons why I think the last days of duck season rock.

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Weathering the Worst

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1 | Weathering the Worst

No matter if you’re hunting Wisconsin in early December or Arkansas in late January, the final few days of the season can bring some fearsome weather. Ice, wind, snow and freezing rain might be on the menu. But that’s OK, because you’re hunting — no matter what. There’s plenty of time to dry off or warm up after the season. And hey, no great duck hunting story starts with, “The day dawned warm and beautiful … .”

Photo © Bill Konway

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Best. Drakes. Ever.

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2 | Best. Drakes. Ever.

Nothing compares to late-season ducks. And the later you get them, the better they look. A mature late-November canvasback from Minnesota can be stunning. However, a late-January bull from Louisiana will have you speed-dialing the taxidermist. You simply don’t see that kind of color and breeding plumage during early season hunts.

Photo © Jean Landry/Shutterstock

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New Approaches

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3 | New Approaches

Often, late-season hunters feel compelled to try something new. Maybe they want to break out of a frustrating cycle, or perhaps they’re eager to scratch their curiosity. Either way, what do you have to lose? The season will end soon, why you might as well try new spots, use offbeat approaches or dream up a seemingly cockamamie scheme. Don’t fear failure. Hey, if nothing else, you’ll know better for next year.

Photo © Bill Konway

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Quick Trips

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4 | Quick Trips

The end of duck season can be relative. After all, the final days of hunting in some areas mark the early season in others. And if time and your budget allow, you can usually stretch the season a bit by taking an impromptu trip to another state. Make some calls, find decent public spots, convince a like-minded buddy and hit the road for a long weekend.

Of course, Jan. 31 pretty much ended duck options in the United States. But hey, light-goose conservation-order seasons are right around the corner for many of us.

Photo © Alexander Lukatskiy/Shutterstock

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Reflection

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5 | Reflection

Duck hunting’s end gives us the opportunity to look back at the season and appreciate another season. Waterfowling probably wouldn’t be so intriguing if it lasted year-round. Watching the beginning, peak and end of another campaign is part of the process. And witnessing the unceasing grand passage of waterfowl during their annual cycle is one of the sport’s greatest appeals. Look back. Look ahead. Smile at your successes. Chuckle at your defeats. God willing, you’ll be back at it soon.

Photo © Bill Konway

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