Submission by Travis Thompson at http://gasparillacharters.com/
Duck Season Recap – What’s wrong with duck hunting…
“THAT’S WHAT’S RUINING OUR SPORT” . . . All day every day it’s not hard to find an otherwise genial waterfowler complaining about what is wrong with the sport of duck hunting.
Below are the 5 complaints I hear most often. What is your take? What can we do to fix it?
This is the number one complaint I hear. I hear it in message boards, I hear it on Facebook, I hear it at the boat ramp. I hear it from people wearing Duck Dynasty sweatshirts. I hear it from casual hunters, hardcore hunters, new hunters and old hunters. It’s consensus.
Here’s where I take exception . . .
I’m a fan of Duck Dynasty. I think the program is overly-scripted, but it’s fun. It’s heavily focused on family . . . my kids and I have probably seen every episode from the first 5 seasons . . .
It’s not about duck hunting!!! At all . . .
If you watched that show and suddenly started wanting to duck hunt, did you also suddenly want to start gigging frogs? Making duck calls? Hosting a radio show? Pretend to be Santa Claus for underprivileged kids? All of these are plots and stories that are much more prominent than duck hunting.
Sure, the family made their money off duck calls and the Duck Commander brand . . . but I find it startling that so many guys are so quick to blame this show for the increase in duck hunting.
I can see the show bringing duck hunting to the conscious of viewers, much the same way I can see it bringing family, religion, fishing, and shenanigans to conscious of viewers.
What I cannot see is folks viewing the show and suddenly rushing out to buy a GatorTrax or ProDrive . . .
You woke up at 2:30 this morning.
You drove halfway across the state to get in line for a quota hunt at a premier management area. Fate has smiled on you and you get first pick of blinds.
You find the perfect point or cove, and your decoy spread looks impeccable. 25 minutes before shoot time you hear a duck splash into your pod. It is going to be epic.
Until you hear them. Their motor is unmistakable – not a fisherman, no, it’s duck hunters, and they’re making a beeline for your shoreline.
They never see your decoys or blind. They pull up just out of range and began setting up. Right. On. Top of you.
Suddenly every bird in a 3 mile radius begins avoiding the area like it’s laced with avian flu as these guys begin putting out their decoys. And their mojos. And their other mojos. Their jerk rigs. Some of those feather sock things you use to hunt snow geese.
It’s called a “good day” if they don’t accidentally pepper you while mistaking a coot for a mallard.
You know these guys.
Every duck hunter alive knows these guys.
They are often the late arrivers. But not always.
You sit in your blind across the lake. Like most good duck hunters, you and your buddy have taken 7 shots and have 3 ducks in the boat.
These guys, however, are shooting CONSTANTLY. Never more than 3 minutes between shots.
That’s how it is, right? Some days you’re on the “X” and some days you aren’t.
Until you run into them at the ramp and start to chat:
“How’d ya’ll do”
“Well, Bill knocked one down but we never found it . . . How ‘bout ya’ll”
Sometimes the skybusters will be close enough for you to see what they’re shooting at.
This makes for an especially frustrating morning when you have pods of wary ducks in the area, but they get blasted every time they go within 100 yards of the aforementioned skybusters.
You will have the urge to rain down #3 HeviShot from a distance. Resist that urge.
This, right here, is quite a bit of what is wrong with waterfowling today.
Social media has made it “cool” to post limit after limit. All drakes. All bands. All trophies.
Don’t get me wrong – I love Social Media. You can follow me @travisthompson and I post pictures of ducks and decoys and sunrises and sunsets. But we have to stop with the sensationalism of social.
There is not a duck hunter alive who ONLY kills trophies. I’ve hunted all over the US with some premier outfitters and duck callers and guides – there ARE bad days.
The problem isn’t that we don’t celebrate those bad days on social – it’s that we don’t even acknowledge them.
This is part of the reason I’ve started trying to post things I enjoy about duck hunts – a particular sunrise, a lit up drake, a first duck . . . sure I’ve posted pictures of limits, but, more often than not, it’s about the colors and the sights and the people I’m with . . .
If we’d all practice a little more “realism” with our social feeds, I think we’d see some softening of expectations in the field . . .
This follows quickly on the heels of our social media problem.
The internet is a fascinating place. It is filled with many good people. But when it comes to a waterfowler’s forum, the good is often hard to find.
I find it sad when someone posts asking for a duck ID. The derision and chiding and sarcasm would make me afraid to ask any question to the web. Yes, I know you should identify a duck before you shoot it. But sometimes you’re certain it’s a scaup until you see the rings on it’s bill. Is it a mottled or a mallard.
More anger is directed at the cyber-scouters. Real guys looking for just the slightest information. This was a real thread I saw the other day:
Person A: “Anybody have any general info on Lake Z? My kid is sick and I was going to scout but I can’t make it up there today and I have a permit for Saturday . . . not looking for honey holes, just general “area is holding birds” type stuff . . . help?”
Person B: “CYBERSCOUTING”
Person C: “Go #$&(* yourself”
Person D: “Who cares that your kid is sick – we all make time to scout – so should you”
Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
I get it. I don’t like it when a 19 year old kid posts on my pictures and asks “Where did you shoot them” and I ALWAYS want to answer “In the head” but I don’t. I will usually post a gentle “South Louisiana” or “Central Arkansas” in answer to their question and they move along.
Somewhere along the way, we all started duck hunting. Somewhere along the way, someone showed you the difference between a redhead and a canvasback. But the internet has given way to an arrogance that divides us into castes, each one better than the next, a superiority that enables us to besmirch even the most innocuous of inquiries.
Want to make waterfowling better? It’s time for all of us to, simply put, “be nice . . . “