Photo by Roger Phillips
Duck season opened Saturday. Oct. 12. I was lucky to have a great hunt. My buddy and I both shot limits, Dusty did great retrieving birds, and it was a really fun day. But I also heard reports about snotty hunters who set up too close to others, behaved rudely, and basically spoiled hunts for others.
There are a lot of unwritten rules and gray areas when it comes to duck hunting. For example, no one owns a blind on public land, but if someone took the time and effort to build one, why would you try to take it on opening day? It’s common sense to assume the person is going to use that blind. But what about a month later if it has been sitting empty? I would feel a little weird using it because I didn’t build it, and I don’t know the guy’s schedule who did. Technically, it’s fair game for any hunter to use, and building a blind doesn’t make you a land lord. That’s situation is a gray area.
Then there’s setting decoys too close to someone else’s spread. How far is far enough? That’s another gray area, and at a wide-open area like the Snake River, too close might be defined differently than at a congested area like Fort Boise Wildlife Management Area.
But it all boils down to basic common courtesy. Treat others as you would like to be treated, and at the same time, realize that competition between hunters is part of duck hunting. If you want a certain spot, get there early. If someone beat you to it, take it like an adult and go someplace else where you won’t affect their hunt.
And if you’re truly a good hunter, go beyond common courtesy. If you see a flock working another guy’s decoys and a single drops into yours, maybe pass on the shot so you don’t flare the birds he’s working. The other guy will hopefully notice and do the same thing for you. You will both have a better hunt.
When hunters who’ve never met think about the other guy first, or at least factor them into their decisions, it makes it better for everyone. If you see someone treat you fairly, tell them thanks so they know you noticed and appreciate it. Small things take the edge off sometimes tense situations.
Nobody wants his (or her) hunt ruined, and in a perfect world, nobody would want to be the jerk who ruined someone else’s hunt. I’d much rather leave an area than be that person.
Fortunately, waterfowl season is a long one, and hopefully your good hunts will far outnumber the bad. There are a lot of variables beyond our control in duck hunting. We can’t control the weather, the migration, or how the birds behave, but we can certainly control how we behave.