If you purchase a new duck call every two years simply because your hunting buddies tell you it makes you sound better, or if you have an energy drink instead of coffee before heading to the swamp, this article will have very little to offer. Instead, if you like things old and more simple, or as my two sons say “boring”, then keep reading. You might find we have something in common.
Each year I reach into my hunting bag, which happens to be about 15 years old, and pull out my lanyard of calls. The lanyard includes a Yentzen from the early nineties, a call that my departed father purchased for me as a gift at a Ducks Unlimited banquet some 15 years ago, as well as a call that came from some drawer in the house. I hunt with the same brand of shells I have hunted with since being introduced to duck hunting about 50 years ago, and the shotgun my father received as a gift in the mid 1950’s lays silent under my bed. And all this time, I have never had an energy drink before a hunt, nor any other time.
You see, I’m a “slot dad”. I was caught between hunting one spot a year, be it a lease or a hunting club, and being told, “we need to go where the ducks are” by my hunting buddies, which happen to be my sons. They seemed to think sitting in one spot while the ducks were “over there” was not using our time wisely.
There seems to be a pretty deep line drawn in the sand around some parts of the country when it comes to methods of duck hunting. You either belong to a hunting club and have a long term lease, or are one of those “public land hunters”. You know, the ones that get up slightly after going to bed and stand in a long line, just hoping you get to hunt in the morning. They are the ones who send “Mr. Lucky” up to the draw line, in hopes of going to the honey hole that day. Actually, I have found this to be pretty entertaining to watch. Lucky rituals like rubbing the forehead of a hunting dog, or the promise of removing hair from unmentionable parts of the body all seem to add to the success rate.
Both hunting methods seem to be the answer for my hunting buddies. With the onslaught of information, we have weather reports, migration reports, and general reports, all of which seem to lead us in the right direction. I can leave my appointed dressing area in the corner of the garage and climb into the truck for the days hunt, and my hunting buddies have my head spinning from information overload by the time we get to the end of the driveway.
This new wave of duck hunters seem like they are somewhat of a reflection of our society. Items of importance are disposable, and they do not seem to have a strong thirst for traditional forms of hunting. Nor do they seem to want to build traditional rights of passage.
In my opinion, this isn’t all bad. They seem to bring a breath of fresh air to a sport that is crammed full of tradition. They work extremely hard at scouting, setting up, and are not scared to wade another 100 yards into the swamp if it means a successful day. They are loyal, hard working, and have a huge network of friends. I have also observed that a lot of these new hunters were not taught the sport by their fathers or grand fathers, but instead by friends.
Will my sons fight over my old worn out equipment when I no longer can take the early mornings or the half mile walks through flooded fields? I can only hope so.
This article is from our father’s perspective on waterfowling over the years. He and a few others lit the fire for us when we were younger in the duck blind. Things have certainly changed over the years in the sport of duck hunting, but the answer will always be to go where the ducks are.
Find the Ducks!