Submission by Travis Thompson
One of the things we like to do from time to time is make sure that waterfowler’s are up to date on all the latest conversations in the duck and goose hunting world.
For many, these conversations take place on social media. In order to save everyone some time, we’ve decided to consolidate the most frequently asked questions and answers to waterfowling’s most pressing questions, as well as a few rules to follow when responding to these inquiries . . .
Over time, we hope some Internationally Appointed committee will adopt these standards and apply them to every forum discussion, ever.
Question: What type of duck is this (picture usually attached, almost always blurry, rarely containing identifiable marks like wing speculum, bill, or eyes.)
There’s the straight answer – “It’s a mallard, as I can tell by the bright green head” or “it’s a wood duck” . . . If someone has already answered, and it was the correct answer, simply click the “like” button on the correct responder’s comment. There’s no reason for me to see 75 comments on a Duck ID post.
The sarcastic answer – (picture clearly shows a drake wigeon, followed by the response of:) “Looks like a green wing teal/coot hybrid” – while I appreciate funny posts as much as anyone, this is only funny the first time.
Think of your response this way – remember when you were 7 years old, and you said something funny at the dinner table, and mom and dad and your cooler older brother all cracked up? It was, like, a highlight moment at that point of your childhood. So, you figure, why not go to that well again? Except that you can’t recapture that magic – the second attempt gets a smile from the family . . . By attempt number 3 or 4, they’re annoyed with you.
This is how the sarcastic response works. Most duck hunters know it’s a bluebill. Someone already answered it 9 posts up. And somebody made a funny “ringneck/pochard hybrid” comment.
The clueless answer – There’s always one guy. The original question was “Mallard or Mottled” – all clues point strongly to mottled – the wings, the underside of the bill, the fact that it was banded and ID’d by USFWS . . . Yet there’s always one guy who has to chime in with the time he killed a Mallard that had no white bars on the speculum. And he killed it in Canada and it couldn’t have been a Mottled and his buddy was a wildlife biologist in charge of duck identification for the world.
Don’t be this guy.
The correct answer: Buy a book. The Lemaster method is preferred. Learn your ducks. Don’t ask stupid questions.
Question: What is the best type of shot to use? What’s the best shotgun on the market?
Oh dear Lord.
To say I see this question at least once a day would be an understatement.
Your personal experience. Every duck hunter, almost to a man (or woman), thinks his or her shotgun is the best. The model you shoot every day has never misfired, in 20 years of using it as a paddle to move your boat around. You once left it on the bottom of Chesapeake bay all off season then picked it up the opening day of the next year and it fired flawlessly without being cleaned.
You regularly kill ducks at 75 yards with HeviShot or Rio, but the one time your gun jammed it had to be the Kent you were using.
Just. Make. It. Stop.
Here’s the answer you should see: All shotguns are good. Make a crappy shotgun and you won’t stay in business very long. I’ve seen people kill ducks with Beretta, Benelli, Browning, Franchi, Weatherby, Remington, Winchester, CZ, TriStar, Ithaca, Charles Daly . . . I’ve seen them kill ducks with HeviShot, BlackCloud, Kent, Rio, Federal, and whatever shot happened to be in their bag that day.
Find one that fits you. Find one you can aim and swing well. Buy it. Pattern it with some of the different brands of ammo. Find ducks. Shoot them. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
Question: Which type of decoy is best?
Higdon. Dakota. Hardcore. Tanglefree. Avery. Redhead. Herter’s. Cabela’s. Avian-X.
The way it’s typically answered is you select a name from the list I just wrote, then tell us how good or bad they are in your experience . . . Something like “I bought a pack of Redheads from Bass Pro and never killed anything over them” or “I took out a loan to buy some Dakota diver deeks and the paint flaked on the third day I had them” or “I bought some old Higdon’s a a garage sale with no paint on them and killed 6 thousand canvasbacks over them” . . .
Correct answer: They all have their applications. If you can’t afford high end ones, buy the clearance decoys from Mack’s – you’ll kill ducks. Got money to burn and want your spread to pass for a NatGeo documentary? Spend the extra bucks on the high end stuff. Got kids blowing apart your long lines? Might want to spend extra on foam filled. The point is, they’re all decent, you can kill ducks over all of them. Want to see the difference? Go to their websites and take a gander at the details. If this matters to you, buy the fully flocked with changeable heads. If it doesn’t, don’t.
Question: Is this a hybrid?
Much like the duck ID question, you’ll get a wide swath of responses . . .
Sarcastic: “Looks like a cormorant/wigeon/harlequin cross”
Legitimate: “Can we see (insert distinguishing remarks here)?”
Actual correct answer: No. It’s not a hybrid. Unless it’s blatantly obvious it’s a hybrid (Like a mallard with pintail wings, or a green wing head with blue wing shoulders), it’s not a hybrid. You didn’t kill a hybrid. It’s not the holy grail of ducks.
Don’t ask the hybrid question.
Question: “Where did you kill all them ducks?”
The general answers: “At the lake” . . . “In Arkansas” . . . “In the head” . . . “At your mom’s house” . . .
As avid waterfowler’s, who understand the need for secrecy and scouting, I actually enjoy many of these responses. However, they’re all wrong.
There is no correct response to this question. The correct response is to leave it with no responses.
Want to make duck hunting forums great again? Hopefully, this guide will serve to civilize and desist so much of the banality we see time and again . . . Feel free to bookmark this page and copy and paste our responses as necessary . . .
We’d love to hear from you . . . What questions would you like us to add to this FAQ? “Should I mount it?” . . . “Best state to hunt in?” . . . Let us know . . .