Official Waterfowl Terms

By Travis Thompson

With the growing popularity of waterfowl hunting, this means that every year there are more and more new hunters entering the fields and waterways us “old-timers” have frequented for ages.

In order to bridge the gap between these newcomers and the, ahem, more seasoned hunters, we’ve taken the time to compile a comprehensive list of terms used by most waterfowlers.

Pro tip – if you’re new to the sport, don’t try to work all of these into your vocabulary on Day 1 – start slow, with baby steps, and before long you’ll blend in like Max-5 in a cornfield . . .

Spread – an arrangement of decoys.  Also a delicious fruit topping for toast (waterfowler definitions frequently overlap with food definitions.  Find me a skinny waterfowler and I’ll show you a liar)

Deke – Noun – a decoy; Verb – decoying “those birds keep circling but they just won’t deke”

Toad-strangler – a heavy, unexpected rain that MUST occur on the one day you’re able to hunt that week.

Gator Glide – a slick substance applied to the bottom of Southern Duck Boats to allow better speeds and less resistance from vegetation.  Synonymous with “Frog Spit”

Frog Spit – See “Gator Glide”

Concrete Cowboy – Newer, younger waterfowler – usually identifiable by their flat brimmed “Banded” hat, affinity for Kenny Chesney music, and lack of dead ducks.  Usually named “Tyler” or “Miles” . . .

Googan – someone who has no idea what they’re doing, yet still attempts to waterfowl hunt.  Often seen arriving after shoot time, setting up adjacent to your decoy spread, and shooting at cormorants from 120 yards away.  May overlap with the Concrete Cowboy, but skinny jeans are not required to be a Googan . . .

The Zoo – Quota hunts or Duck farms – unlike real waterfowl hunting, hunting in The Zoo requires little skill and often results in gorgeous trophies.  The waterfowl equivalent of “high fencing”

Zookeeper – Someone who inexplicably hunts the Zoo more frequently than anyone alive – 8 or 9 quota hunts a season.  The Zookeeper usually has a gorgeous trophy room, and could be mistaken for a Googan when placed on public land.

Chicken Shoot – Late season diver hunt, when the birds are stupid and will decoy to a floating beer can.  “We went Bluebill hunting this morning and it was a chicken shoot by 7:15”

Long tail – type of mud motor

Surface Drive – type of mud motor used by men

Hybrid – a mythical duck, often claimed to be shot by Googans or Concrete Cowboys and turning out to be immature pintails or late-eclipse mallards

Flocked – This has something to do with a decoy – no one actually knows what this means, but everyone claims to understand it, yet no one does . . . Except me – all of my decoys are flocked.  Hell, some are even double flocked . . .

Jewelry – A band on the bird’s foot.

Eclipse – less-attractively plumed waterfowl, commonly referred to on my boat as “ducks”

Breakfast – Yes, we know you likely have heard the term “breakfast” before – but, to a waterfowler, this is not just a meal you have in the morning . . . We’re talking biscuits and sausage gravy, eggs, bacon, grits AND home fries, sausage, pancakes, fried bologna . . . The whole 9 yards.

Jeff – Studies have shown that, in 95% of waterfowl blinds, the most reliable caller is named “Jeff”

Woodies – Wood Ducks

Hoodies – Hooded Mergansers

Blackjacks – Ringneck Duck drakes

Breezy – anything over 25 mph winds

Cupped – birds on final approach . . . Unless approaching my blind, where “cupped” means “the moment before we use our guns to scare them into flying away”

Workin’ – birds that are approaching the decoys, appear to see the decoys, but won’t “commit” to the decoys . . . As guides, we are allowed to use this term to describe any duck within eyesight.

Hit ‘em – this is directed at the caller when he hasn’t quacked in a few minutes, and someone else in the blind feels he needs a little urging – “birds workin’ right there – hit ‘em with your call, Jeff”

Feet up – Dead bird, floating on his back.  There are some, uhhhhh, less “family-friendly” terms describing dead birds, but we’ll roll with this one for now . . .

Meat stick – Shotgun

The X – spot where the birds WILL land.  The X is usually located within your line of sight, but out of shotgun range

Locked in – birds that see your decoys from a long distance away and make a beeline directly to your spread.  Allegedly.

That’s it.  The first ever edition of’s waterfowl dictionary.  Hopefully, this guide will find it’s way into the hands of every Googan or Concrete Cowboy to ensure a quick graduation into the most elite of fraternities – the brotherhood of duck hunters . . .

What terms did we miss?