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Thread: Waterfowling etiquette

  1. #1
    Member akdodger's Avatar
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    Default Waterfowling etiquette

    I was thinking that as a pre-season discussion and in an effort to end pages of threads dedicated to bickering over this and that, that there should be an open, respectful, discussion covering what to do, and what not to do, in the marshes as we all pursue our waterfowling passions. I'd like to open with acknowledging that people have their own views on what is acceptable behavior in the swamp and that all reasonable and realistic views will be respected.
    I would start with one subject and that is proximity... I really dislike it when other hunters are crowding the spot that I have chosen to hunt for the day or walk too close to my chosen hunting area. My biggest pet peeve is when other's set up on the periphery of where I'm hunting hoping to intercept birds working my spread. This scenario usually results in no birds for anyone. I know it is unrealistic to expect that while hunting off the road system in SC Alaska that I'll be alone, but that said, I don't expect to hear other hunters' conversations from their blind and I know I don't want to get peppered, or worse, by others' shot. This being said, how close is too close? I know that ideally, I prefer about a half to 3/4 of a mile. Most days this is realistic and most hunters respect proximity. Heck, I'd rather have a hunter join me and hunt together than have someone 300 yards or less from my blind. Setting up in the dark I usually hang a light above the blind to allow others to see approximately where I am so that they don't set up too close.
    I really hope others chime in with their thoughts on waterfowling etiquette. Here's wishing all hunters a successful and especially safe season.


    Cheers,
    Dodger

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    Member AK Ray's Avatar
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    I wish all the idiots out there also participated on this forum so that they could under stand what they were doing wrong. But the truth is that there are so many lurkers that scoff at anything remotely ethical its pointless to complain here where the choir is singing.

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    Member akdodger's Avatar
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    Very true AK Ray,
    One of the things I like best about this forum is that it is very easy to filter the knuckleheads out from the true, ethical, reasonable individuals. I made this thread in hopes that the lurkers would indeed see that there is a whole community full of reasonable, rational, waterfowlers out there and that there is definately an "etiquette" to this passion we all share. Here's hoping that the newbies and the lurkers will gain some edification from this forum and this thread. Ak Ray, what are your thoughts, peeves, ideas regarding waterfowling etiquette? I know it drives me up the wall when I see hunters not chasing down their cripples or spending ten minutes in a half-hearted effort to find the bird they just skybusted. I have called AWT on these idiots several times.

    Dodger

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    I agree with you AKDODGER on the distance thing. There was times I was hunting with my buddy on the flats late season and pratically the whole lake was open to hunt and people would still set up close to us. I really never saw anyone not chasing cripples where we hunted but i'd also agree that that is a big deal. My buddy was telling me that he used to go hunt and him, duckhunter01 and another gentlemen would meet up at the begining before they headed out and they would all agree on setting up at different ends to keep the birds flowing and give eachother their space, I wish I was around for that because that seems like a great group of people and no worries about shooting eachother.

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    I could and probably have written a book on this..lol So many factors contribute to this sport of waterfowling. I has really kicked off in the last 10 years and has brought alot of changes in ethics associated with duckhunting. 30 years ago you would be hard pressed to find someone to go with you and endure the challenges and temps with you..let alone endure the whole day chasing our feathered friends.
    Today, on the other hand with new guns, neoprene waders, faster shell, boats, mud motors, mechanical decoys and all the other gadgets, I believe we have really gotten away from the true meaning of waterfowling. So many today think grabbing a couple dozen decoys, duckcall from their local walmart and never learning the 7 most important notes to use, are ready to set out and shoot some birds. I don't and will never knock the motivation nor enthusiasm, I love it.

    I have taken most anyone that has ask to go duckhunting from Canada to Texas, Kansas to Alaska, guided in Kansas for years and always have taken the time to educate those that wanted to listen and hear the do's and don'ts. Not only my interpretation of the ethical behavior of waterfowling but what the general duckhunter out there with you expects in return. When you take to the marsh in pursue of that greenhead, you need to know that you are not alone in most areas and the way you conduct yourself and treat others is usually widely spread amongst the local duckhunting community, either by what you drive, dog you have, boat you use, or that dying hen call so widely heard across the marsh. Regardless of what tool they identify you with, they all know when you are coming and where you are going. my 2 cents on that..could write a book on the good and bad I have seen not only in Alaska but over the lower 48 as well.

    Distance, it would be great if there was enough birds in Alaska to accommodate all the hunters out at DL and other areas. I speak mainly about DL as I have grown to appreciate the diehards that I have been fortunate to share that place with over the last 7 years. AKDuckman, AKRay, Duckslayer, are just a a few of the solid waterfowlers not including the many that are not members on this forum that have shown a genuine concern for others on the marsh, and always eager to help others in a time of need or educate in a few words or less on the ethical behavior shared out there. I will also mention we have seen many come and go out there over the years and I am sure many years before I arrived that have given it their best. It is not that big of an area..if we are lucky to get that 500 yards apart at times..then we take what we get...most communicate their spots and most like myself have a few spots I like to go and that is it..not that I wont move..if needed due to someone encroaching on my area..I will kill ducks...regardless of where I am out there..yes some spots are more productive than others...but if you are a solid character and know what you are doing. You will kill birds if they are there. AKDuckman for example. Solid guy, have known him for years out there..hunted that area long before the last two dozen or so guys started hunting out there...always lends a helping hand if needed and will...all he wants to do is have his little space with his 2 dozen deks and kill birds and that he does, almost every day he hunts. I have shared the blind with him many times and we have always had a blast hunting together if the pressure is heavy out there or not. He offers sound advice in a few words and if they are listening they will hear his message and adhear to it. Most just take it in passing and come back empty handed or frustrated at the experience. We laugh and wonder if they will ever return...lol

    There has always been a huge discussion on ethics and ethical behavior associated with waterfowling. We are fortunate we dont have to be there bright and early to sign for blinds, wait in lines, etc. Great open area, beautiful scenery and solitude found by many. If only the new guys to the sport would ask more questions and the ones that want to do it by themselves and not ask these questions would hear the few words of wisdom that are passed while crossing paths. I take it serious, have fun and have always enjoyed sharing the sport with others that enjoy it or think they might as much as me. I am hated by a few wives of friends, although they always find time to get away...lol

    how much distance between waterfowlers? perfect world 5 miles, my world, just enough so when that birds flare or banks from his spread it is going to hear my call and commit.

    Lets keep this going...more to talk about I am sure..

    DH01

    PS Duckhunter8..thanks for the kind words.
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    Member akblackdawg's Avatar
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    Opening weekend this year will be a madhouse. Saturday morning everybody and his neighbor who has ever thought about duck hunting will be out looking and pretending to be hunting. Dogs that have never seen a duck will go wild running around and causing problems. Doesn't matter if portage, hayflats or Jim lake area, not to mention many other popular hunt areas, people will be tromping around the marsh at 1 am, yelling, shining lights, running motors etc. Most areas it would be extreamly difficult to hunt less then 100 yds from somebody else, and if you do set up, somebody without deks, will walk though and shoot your birds. But thats opening day, morning. Sunday this year will be almost as bad. But wait a couple weeks, and we can space out and show respect. Things will get better, and hunting will get better for those who love the sport. Hope everybody has a good opener, hope those who set out deks the day before to claim their spot finds that somebody else wanted their deks, hope nobody gets shot. Bud
    Wasilla

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    I agree with everything that has been said. I have a few things I'll add, as well.

    Be considerate. This goes hand in hand with the distance thing. We all know that it's no walk in the park to get out and duck hunt. Especially if someone is willing to get out and scout a spot, do the work required to get well hidden and set up, and get there early enough to make sure all that work wasn't in vain so they can procure their own spot, please don't set up on top of them. Also, if you have a boat and you pull up to a group that has walked in, either ask to hunt with them if you're determined to hunt that spot, or be the bigger person and move. Guys walking in are pretty limited to where they can hunt, if you have a boat and the freedom to hunt the majority of the marsh, just bow out and go somewhere else, or offer the guy some coffee and pull up a stump. It's all about being considerate. As stated, we have limited spots to hunt and the sport is growing, if we can't figure out how to get along in the marsh, duck hunting will lose its draw and it'll end up not being fun anymore.

    Trash. I know it's amazing on those mornings where it seems like you can't keep the ducks out of your spread. We live for those mornings. I particularly enjoy them when the weather is horrible. To me, that's duck hunting. Braving mother nature's worst to stick around and scratch out a limit. Often times, I'll bring along food and some hot drinks on days like that. But, when you've pulled the trigger for the last time of the day, don't just run off because now that the fun's over, you finally realize how cold it is and don't want to take the extra five minutes to pick up your trash and empty shells. There are a few things I'm looking for when I scout. First, and most obvious, birds. But, if I see birds and then see a spot near them that has a ton of empty shells by it, I'll know someone had some decent shooting there. It is what it is. If you don't want people to know where you hunt, make it look like you were never there. You wouldn't come on the forum and give coordinates to your honey hole, so why leave a bread crumb trail?

    Take a kid hunting. Kids are our future in this sport. Waterfowling is a type of hunting that we'll be able to do for years. It doesn't have to require insanely long hikes carrying tons of gear on your back. We don't have to haul out 100+ pound packs of meat, we don't have to spend hours caping/fleshing in the field. Since it's a sport we can do when our kids and grandkids are willing to take us out and do the work for us just to have us along, it's our job to make sure their generations learn the lessons we're on here talking about right now. I know it can get exhausting at times to have a kid in the blind with you, and yes, you may miss some shots because Ol' Bucko is moving or won't keep his head down or is just dying to blow his call, but it'll pay dividends later in life. Just think of some of the yahoos you see in the marsh these days and consider a kid trying to learn for himself. If that's all he sees going on, this sport is going to spiral downwards pretty quickly.

    Ethics. Take good shots. Some of the shots I've seen people take in the marsh I think I'd let them shoot me from that distance. If you don't want to spend all day (and hopefully, if required, you will) chasing a crippled bird, then it's your job to bring the birds into a distance/situation where you can make a good clean shot. Obviously every shot won't kill a bird stone dead, but you've got to at least put the odds in your favor. And if you don't kill the bird with the first shot, be prepared to make a quick cripple shot, have a well trained dog, or start walking. If you don't find it, it still counts to your limit. I've been checked several times by troopers and feds while out waterfowling and on more than one occasion, they could spout back to me every bird we'd shot because they'd been watching us hunt for a while. A waterfowling violation is NOT the ticket you want, but more importantly, you owe it to the birds. I'm not trying to be a hippie about it or anything, but if waterfowling gives you that much joy, you owe it to the birds to find every one you shoot. I think we'll see, in our lifetime, the greenies using unethical hunting as a huge point for the anti-hunting platform, so try to keep it from happening so they don't have that ammunition.

    Have fun. Admittedly, I consider waterfowling a part of my life. I'd rather spend opening day of duck season in a marsh than doing anything else, no matter what tag I draw or what other seasons are in. It's a big part of who I am and how I act. That being said, it's just a hobby. It's not worth getting into fist fights at boat ramps, attempting to sabotage other people's hunt, vandalizing people's property, etc. It's a hobby. You should enjoy your hobbies. If someone beats you to a spot, oh well, either pull up and talk to them (I'll usually invite you to hunt with me) or find another one. I don't usually head to the marsh without a Plan A, B, & C. Hunting is always under fire from animal rights activists, so when we fight with each other, we weaken our own force. It really isn't worth it. The marsh, although small compared to other places to hunt, is big enough for all of us. I've yet to see so many groups out there that there wasn't a spot a guy could set up without being on top of someone else. Just have a good time, enjoy the mornings you spend in the marsh and enjoy the company with which you spend them. Sooner or later, you won't be able to, anymore. Might as well have a good time.

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    There are some very good points made here and it would be great if more hunters did read these forums. I have been hunting since I was old enough to hold a gun but only waterfowl hunting for the past 12 years or so. In that time I have fell victim to many of these scenarios and it can be very discouraging. A few of my pet peeves is the duck hunter trash at the landings (empty steel shot boxesand casings ect…), guys setting up close enough to pass you a cup of coffee and the jerks that run their boats wide open right at the edge of your deks when they have an entire lake to bypass you. Being in the Army I have been fortunate to hunt in a lot of really great places and meet some lifetime hunting buddies. I have only been hunting around the Anchorage area now for about three years but I don’t think I ran into any of you guys on the marsh. Not all by far, but a few of the guys I assume have been hunting some of these areas for decades are not the most friendly folks I have ran across in the field. As a matter a fact after giving a friendly wave or “Hey how ya doing?” I felt like I had to scrape the mud out of my eyes from the looks I received. With folks like thataround it makes it hard for the new guys to even strike up a conversation let alone get any advice. Hopefully I will run across a few of you on the marsh next year after my vacation in the sand.

    I hope everyone has a great season!


    Oh one last thing to Akdodger, I like the light idea when setting up in the dark also, I normally I use a headlamp myself. This is something I wish the guys who set up at 1am would do, instead of letting you pull up in the dark to the spot you scouted the day before only to find out as it is getting light they are sitting silently in the dark 100 yards down the bank. Holly crap throw a rock at me or something let me know your there!

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    Member akblackdawg's Avatar
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    I was out running around yesterday, got into some spots i've never been before. One place has a lovely, yes lovely, blind built where there use to be just a pile of 2x4's. I may be using it some this season. But, I will leave it clean. If the people come to hunt that say they built it, I will move. I would mostly try to hunt it on weekdays, may even leave a note for them. I won't even consider it opening weekend, since I'm sure they are planning to use it then. Also found some other out of the way spots that I plan to hunt, and perhaps build a blind before season begins. Bud
    Wasilla

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    Do I dare ask that guys don't leave their decoys out overnight or for extended periods of time to reserve a spot?


    IMO, if you aren't actively hunting over your decoys, pick them up.

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    Quote Originally Posted by akblackdawg View Post
    I was out running around yesterday, got into some spots i've never been before. One place has a lovely, yes lovely, blind built where there use to be just a pile of 2x4's. I may be using it some this season. But, I will leave it clean. If the people come to hunt that say they built it, I will move. I would mostly try to hunt it on weekdays, may even leave a note for them. I won't even consider it opening weekend, since I'm sure they are planning to use it then. Also found some other out of the way spots that I plan to hunt, and perhaps build a blind before season begins. Bud
    Interesting, if you were on DL I am surprised someone would build a permanent blind, I thought the Feds or State was burning them all down. I wonder if they took down the big blind in the middle?

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    I hear ya...it was out there, but not in that great of shape. I think guys just go ahead and build them regardless of the Feds. I have considered it myself..but then again, It just draws more attention to that area. Love hunting out of boats anyhow. If I do find an area where I cant hide the boat I just park it down about 100yards and walk back after dropping off the gear, hunker down. Seems the boat does two things..keep others away from that area if lucky and causes some of the birds to swing wide and see my spread.

    Quote Originally Posted by yukon View Post
    Interesting, if you were on DL I am surprised someone would build a permanent blind, I thought the Feds or State was burning them all down. I wonder if they took down the big blind in the middle?
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    Member AK DUCKMAN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by yukon View Post
    Do I dare ask that guys don't leave their decoys out overnight or for extended periods of time to reserve a spot?


    IMO, if you aren't actively hunting over your decoys, pick them up.
    Well I won't get started on my soap box. But you guys won't have to worry about my decoys come opening morning as I can't seem to get the time off I need. But that's ok I managed to put a small caribou in the freezer this year. May do a walk in at cottonwood opening morning but right now not really counting on it. You all have fun and play nice

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    WHAT THE %<÷* brother...that has got to be a first....sorry to hear that.

    be with ya next year friend...have a great season.



    UOTE=AK DUCKMAN;1159233]Well I won't get started on my soap box. But you guys won't have to worry about my decoys come opening morning as I can't seem to get the time off I need. But that's ok I managed to put a small caribou in the freezer this year. May do a walk in at cottonwood opening morning but right now not really counting on it. You all have fun and play nice[/QUOTE]
    President of Alaska Waterfowl Assoc.
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    The big thing that ticks me off if the guy who shows up right at shooting time or 10 minutes late and is motoring around while the best hunting time is happening. Usually he is flaring all the birds away from everybody. Give it 30 minutes, then move in. Let everybody who got up early to get out in the marsh have a good hunt, then go in and set up.

    Guys who cripple birds and don't recover them, then still shoot a limit of 8 birds get to me as well. Please count that wounded bird on your limit.

    Swans are not snow geese! Learn to ID birds in the air before you shoot them.

    Give the other guy some space. You are ruining both your hunt and his by setting up really close. If you find somebody in your spot, wake up earlier and beat him out there. Try to find a few back up spots in case you do find somebody in your spot.

    Finally BS with the other guys in the parking lot before you head out. You will be pretty suprised on the friends you can make at the boat ramp.
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    [QUOTE=Duckhunter01;1159238]WHAT THE %<÷* brother...that has got to be a first....sorry to hear that.

    be with ya next year friend...have a great season.


    Hugh I'm not complaining

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    nice brother...real nice congrats..can't wait to chase them someday.

    real trophy, know you had a blast
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    Nice caribou!!!

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    Well I guess i'll be the "new guy" chiming in. A new co-worker of mine is a duck hunting nut from Arkansas, he has an assortment of calls and sure sounds like a duck to me. I don't know anything about water foul hunting but I have a boat. We'd like to get after it this season but I have not clue where to start. I'll be digging through the old posts here but I'm curious if anyone can recommend a good book for getting started on the Peninsula or waterfowling in general?

    The previous posts in this thread have all been very informative, thanks!

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    Boy it is a small world. I have the same knuckleheads hunting around me 4300 miles away in Arkansas where I currently live! haha I've been duck hunting since I was about 10 and I just turned 40 a month ago. Just like you guys, I have seen almost everything dumb thing people will do to try to ruin your hunt or steal your spot. It's got so bad where I live that you can't leave the boat landing until 4AM, can't run over a 25hp motor, only carry 15 shells(25 some places), can only hunt til 12 noon and can't blow your duck call until shooting hours. You want to talk about crowded. Of course all of this is on Federal Refuges. If you have private land you can hunt all day, carry 10 boxes of shells if you want, and blow your duck call all night. I'm lucky to be in a duck lease like that. I'm like Duckhunter01, I remember when you couldn't find people to go duck hunting with you years ago and now everybody has a lab, jacked up truck, with a fourwheeler in the back with decoys strapped to it and a DU sticker on the back glass. They couldn't blow a duck call if their life depended on it. And the funny thing is, we had 3 times as many ducks back then and could even shoot with lead shot. I've had people so close to me in flooded timber that I shot a duck down and their dog swam from there spot and got it. I've had trees shot that I've been leaning up against because some knucklehead shot a cripple and wasn't EVEN paying attention. Thank goodness I was on the other side. I've learned to just pack up and let em have it. It ain't worth me getting shot and having to knock somebody's teeth out. Because that's what would have happened if I would have went and talked to them about it. I'm not going to fight somebody over a duck. I'd rather have my own spot and kill nothing than fight somebody and kill alot. My pet peeve is somebody coming in at daylight setting up beside you when its '"prime time". $*** man, come on!! Like you all have said, I would rather someone come hunt with me than set up right next to me because if that happens, we both won't kill anything. In my younger days, I had a group setup next to me and my group. I yelled at the top of my lungs, "pass that Jim Beam over here" and then shoot up in the air. You wanna talk about some people getting the ^&*$ outta there! Man, that was funny.

    I sure hope lurkers are reading this thread because it is a good thing. Everything everybody has mentioned has been good for people to read that is new to duck hunting. Almost every kind of hunting I do is solo. I like it that way. But having said that, some of the best times in my life have been standing in chest waders duck hunting with people I knew or didn't know. When we are out there, we share a common bond. Even though there was that one guy who couldn't keep his head down, couldn't shoot a lick, and sounded like an orc horn, off of Lord of the Rings, when he blew his duck call!

    Now that I'm moving up there at the end of this year, I hope to meet some of you guys next year in the marsh and who knows, we might have to head down to Arkansas in December or January and whack some greenheads in flooded timber. The more the merrier!
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