Kelsey’s Corner – The Importance of Duck IDs

Thanks to reality TV, the “Duck Dynasty” era has brought some major attention to the duck hunting industry. Whether or not this attention is making a positive or negative impact on duck hunting and hunters is up for debate. There is, of course, the fact that interest in the sport has increased which leads to higher demand in high performance gear and innovative products. Unfortunately, many new and inexperienced hunters do not understand how much time and effort actually goes into the sport.

Since the show became popular and people from all over the nation have begun to show interest in not only the Robertson family, but in duck hunting itself, it has become somewhat of a “trend” to duck hunt. There is much more involved in duck hunting than is shown on television. It is important to do your research on any and all hunting, as it can be a life and death situation. For instance, you need to know what you are doing if you want to go out and bow hunt a bear. The dangers of duck hunting may not be the same as this extreme example, but the fact of the matter is, you cannot simply go out into the marsh, throw out decoys, and become a duck hunter. The most skilled duck hunters know that it has taken them years and years of trial and error, research, and experiencing the highs and lows of hunting to really appreciate a good duck hunt.

Duck calling is a skill that is acquired over time. It takes listening to real ducks and understanding each sound to become an effective caller. Most female ducks make the “quack” sound. It takes patience, repetition, listening, and a lot of practice to make even a simple “quack” sound realistic. There are different forms of the quack (i.e. the “comeback call, “lone hen”) and mastering these comes with time and practice. The “feeding call” has taken me the longest to learn. It takes a lot of practice to learn the correct tongue placement and amount of air to blow to make the pattern work, as well as what sound to make into the call. There are various whistles that certain ducks make (i.e. wood duck vs pintail vs teal) and knowing which duck makes what noise takes research and practice. After you learn the duck calls, you must figure out what works in your area. For example, in northern Michigan, I use more aggressive calling because the ducks have just started to be hunted and aren’t as wary. Down in Texas, I use mostly a “feeding call” and some light calling to none at all. The ducks have traveled south and have been hunted their entire flight. They stop responding to aggressive calls because they associate this with getting shot at. The only way to learn when and which call to use is by trial and error, and usually years of.

Making sure you know your duck ID’s is probably the most important part of duck hunting, aside from gun safety. Young and/or inexperienced hunters often make the mistake of shooting whatever is flying by. You must be absolutely certain you know which species you are targeting before you pull the trigger. Aside from fines for shooting the wrong species, it can become a population issue. There are certain limits for each species for a reason. Coming from a duck hunting family, I learned to always ask questions and be certain of what I was shooting. For the individuals who do not have fellow duck hunters in their family or friend circles, it is imperative that you do your research and make sure you learn the ducks common to your area, how certain ducks fly in case it is still fairly dark, and most importantly do not shoot if you are not sure.

Scouting is an important part of a successful hunt. You need to learn where the ducks are roosting, feeding, loafing, and their flight paths. If you are not on the “X” of exactly where they want to be, chances are you will not do well, or you will end up pass shooting and not having any ducks commit to your decoy spread. If you are serious about duck hunting, you must put in the time of finding the birds and knowing their patterns.

I have found that decoy placement is a debatable part of duck hunting. Each hunter has their own style and opinion of what works. This is another aspect of duck hunting that comes with trial and error. I have found that wind is the key factor in how you put out your spread. It will always depend on which direction it is blowing so you can put your decoys out in a way that will invite ducks to land exactly where you plan them to. You want the spread to look natural. Use species of decoys similar to the birds in your area and numbers of decoys depend on the number of birds in your area. This, again, takes research and practice and even then, may not work out how you expect.

I have had the opportunity to meet many people in the industry and travel to different parts of our nation. Each place and person taught me new skills which brought a new understanding of the art to duck hunting. To the individuals who have the passion, it is important to pass along what you know and have learned in order to ensure valuable duck hunters in generations to come. It may be a “trend” now, but like everything, that will pass, and the devoted participants will remain.

Jan 17, 2016 | Category: Blog, Duck Hunting, Kelsey's Corner, Waterfowl Hunting | Comments: none


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