Duck Hunting Scenes That Make You Go Hmm

By author of The Duck Blog

How Bad Behavior Spoils Hunting for Everyone

Legal shooting doesn't actually open for another 10 minutes. That and other duck hunting transgressions won't win any friends. Illustration © Ryan Orndorff

To my new best buddies:

Psst. Hey. Yeah, over here, standing in the cattails about 65 yards from where you set up. I’m pretty sure you saw my headlamp at dark-thirty but chose to ignore it.

Anyway, I hope you had a good hunt. Nice shot on the goose. I let it pass when it flared over me at 75 yards. Incidentally, that’s something you might want to consider when wood ducks do the same thing over your boat. It’s fairly tough to recover a wing-tipped woodie that sails into cover 100-plus yards downwind and starts motoring away — that is, assuming you even attempt to search for it.

So, not to get preachy, but I wondered if you guys had ever considered modifying your hunting behavior. You know, adopting an approach that conformed with basic civility and federal waterfowl hunting regulations? For example, that rulebook table listing shooting hours clearly notes that the legal opening time varies depending on your distance from the state’s baseline time. So although the regs listed 6:10 a.m. as the go-moment, we couldn’t legally open fire until 6:18 a.m. Not that it mattered, as you guys let loose at 6:08 a.m. Incidentally, I let that slip to the warden. Have fun next weekend. (I am not kidding.)

This probably sounds like I’m griping, and maybe I am. But honestly, have you fellas examined your hunting practices and looked in the mirror? I know you’re young. And yeah, it's a traditionally busy weekend, so everyone was fired up. But the slob-hunting modus operandi — skybusting, shooting early, not making an effort to retrieve wounded birds and setting up way too close to other groups — doesn’t play well. In fact, that type of boorish behavior is what spawned the saying, “No one hates a duck hunter like another duck hunter.” Now, I don’t hate you guys, but you made it awfully tough for me to like you, and that’s a shame. We probably have a lot in common. Heck, in different circumstances, we could maybe share a hunt together.

I just don't comprehend the root of the problem. Maybe you don’t know anything else. Perhaps you think you have to act that way to compete in crowded situations and kill a few birds (hey, gotta represent on Instagram, right?). Buddy, you don’t. In fact, if you believe your wanton shooting and selfish actions equate to quality hunting, I feel somewhat sorry for you. Some of that recklesness will probably fade with age and experience, but until you resolve to police your behavior and hunt the right way, you’ll be stuck in the same ugly cycle. And that will only cause increasing frustration and score you dirty looks at the boat launch.

OK, lecture time is finished. The soapbox doesn’t fit well in my skiff, anyway. Enjoy the rest of the season. I won’t be back this fall, but maybe I’ll see you next year. Or maybe not, as I’m getting old for this type of hunting. Still, if I doze off in the marsh, I’m confident you’ll wake me up at least 10 minutes before shooting time.

Sincerely, the grumpy old guy with the black dog.

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