No Limits Waterfowl
In the two decades plus I've spent in a blind watching the many cloud shapes roll by, waiting on that last bunch to finish this out, I noticed two seemingly contradictory things. In that time, nothing has changed; all the while, everything has changed, because you have to continue to learn and adapt or fall behind. Gearing up for my first hunt was so exciting and simple compared to today's standards. Brown coveralls, flute around my neck tied with a boot lace, an 870 with a pocket full of 3 inch lead number 4's, and another pocket filled with snacks. Now, all I had to do was go to that spot that I had scouted out. There was a gap in the trees of an old fence row where the geese would fly low enough that I knew I had a shot at bringing one down if I waited long enough. After what seemed like an eternity, here they came, over the woods and across the cornfield. Just as I had watched before, they adjusted their angle to pass right through the gap and above me. I got tucked in against the tree. When they came over, I let 'em have it. Success! One fell, and I ran over to pick it up. Although just a kid, I felt just like those guys I'd read about in Field and Stream and Sports Afield magazines. I was convinced I figured the whole sport out. I went back the next day, confident that I would have the same results. Here they came, over the woods and across the cornfield. However, this time about halfway across, they veered completely to the left avoiding that gap completely and landed in the field on the other side. In that moment, I learned three things: birds learn very quickly to avoid danger, don't repeat past mistakes, and the field is where they wanted to be all day long.
Today, we use large cargo trailers to haul dozens of life-like decoys with flocked heads, spinning wings, and flags to attract attention. We wear state-of-the-art waterproof Gore-Tex clothing and ground blinds comfortable enough to fall asleep in. Short reed calls, when blown correctly, sound incredible. Have you heard guys like Hunter Grounds? He sounds like 30 geese in a field. We use apps on our phones to show not only the weather forecast, but also landowners, boundaries, and even contact info. Gone are the days of lead shot and an old pump shotgun. Today, we have non-toxic loads that in some cases out-perform their lead counterpart and auto-loading shotguns with engineered choke tubes are now the norm. Not to mention social media, where everyone in the country is linked in showing you what, where, when, and how. With all of this, you would think the birds don't stand a chance, but sometimes they still veer left right before that gap in the trees. In my opinion, today is the best time to be a waterfowl hunter. We have the opportunity to combine modern technology with all of the lessons learned from seasons past about what doesn't change. It's no accident those birds are going where they go. They want food, water, shelter, safety from danger, and the need to reproduce. At it's very core, that's what drives a duck or goose to do what they do and go where they go. It seems obvious, but often overlooked is scouting. If you're where they wanna be, you're halfway there. So be on time, be early, and be ready. Concealment is of upmost importance if you want to be successful. Don't spend all that time and money just to lose out in the last seconds to an improperly brushed boot bag or a coffee cup laying next to the blind. If we do these simple unchanged things, that greatly improves your odds. Finally, when it all comes together, marksmanship is the last hurdle. Have you practiced with your gun lately? When you close your eyes, can you find that safety? That gun should be an extension of ourselves, unfailing muscle memory. While I will never make any lofty guarantees that I can't possibly adhere to, by promising "the hunt of a lifetime" and "limits in minutes." I will make every effort to ensure we adhere to the simple unchanged principles and stay current with methods and equipment that lead to success. At the end of the day, I'm still that kid with snacks in his pocket eager for what the next day day's hunt will bring. Hope to see you there!