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Thread: Another one of those ethics posts...

  1. #1
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    Default Another one of those ethics posts...

    Sorry in advance for the long post. This has been kind of stuck in my craw since yesterday.

    My two hunting partners and I were unable to hunt on Saturday due to each having prior family duties, but we decided to head out to the Palmer Hay Flats and hunt Sunday. I have hunted the Palmer Hay Flats for over 25 years and have 3 or 4 spots that I regularly hunt. I have never had a confrontation with another duck hunter out there and always try my best to assist other hunters/boaters when I can.

    We launched the boat before first light, and motored down under spotlight to the same exact spot we hunted last weekend. The spot we decided to hunt is about a 20 minute walk from where we anchor the boat. When we got to the spot we were going to set up, we discovered there were decoys already there, but there was no sign of anybody around hunting them. We didn’t see the decoys until we were right on top of them. There was no established blind, no chairs, no buckets, no people, nothing. My hunting partners and I discussed for about 5 minutes of going somewhere else, or just putting our full decoy bags down in the toolies and sitting by the already-placed decoys until the person that left the decoys arrives. Keep in mind that this spot is a one-way-in one-way-out hunting location. If the person were to arrive late to his decoys, we could see him walk in from a quarter-mile away and we would promptly relocate. We decided we were going to just sit in the toolies, not establish a blind, and hunt over the decoys that were left behind. One of my hunting partners took his decoy bag about 100 yards across the pond and setup a few on the other side of us.

    There were hardly any ducks flying and matter of fact we didn’t even fire our guns. Well guess what? 90 minutes past shooting time, out walks the hunter that had left his decoys there. We see him coming from a quarter-mile away and my partner across the pond picks up the few decoys he deployed. By the time my partner across the pond picked up his decoys and started walking back, the other hunter starts yelling at us from a couple hundred yards away. “What the *!@# is going on here”...repeatedly. It totally caught us off-guard. We told him we had no intention of sticking around and we were going to relocate. Knowing full-well that he nor we had any claim to that small piece of swamp, we picked up and moved anyway. We were doing the nice thing by leaving, and he decided to berate us. He insisted that we were in the wrong and used the analogy of us coming into his home. “I would never just walk into your home and watch TV”, he yelled. I thought that was quite comical. He was totally irate. My hunting partners and I were cordial the entire time, however, I couldn’t take much more, and used the proverbial line of, “do you own this land?”. That got him to pipe down but he was still fuming. Maybe he woke up on the wrong side of the bed.

    We decided to move a quarter-mile away. I know they say there are 3 sides to every story, but I’m telling you, this is exactly what we did, what his actions were, and what our intentions/actions were. If I were a jerk I could have sat there and argued with him, but based on his actions I knew that would get us nowhere.

    The Facts:
    1) There were no signs of anybody there (no blind, no chairs, no buckets, no person, etc.) except decoys in the water.
    2) We never touched his decoys.
    3) We had intentions and followed through with those intentions by leaving if someone were to arrive.
    4) He arrived 90 minutes after shooting time ready to start a fight with 3 guys carrying guns that he did not know.
    5) He stated he hunted the day before in the same spot.
    6) The hunting was very very poor and not one duck came within shooting range while we were “in his home”.

    Questions:
    1) Have/would you ever hunt over decoys that were just left there?
    2) Based on this post, were we in the wrong to do such thing?
    3) Do you “mark your spot” by leaving your decoys the day before?

    By process of elimination at the boat launch due to hardly anyone being out there, I’m pretty sure this guys’ license plate says “DUKSLR”. Hey DUKSLR, if you read this post, chill out man, and if you see us out in the Hay Flats again, come say Hi. We really are an easy-going group of hunters.

  2. #2
    Member skybust's Avatar
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    We have put out decoys at the end of shooting time in the evening and then go out and hunt the next morning but we are at the spot way for legal shooting time. I don't think you did anything wrong and if he want to hunt that spot he should have in it before legal shooting time. Just my two cents worth. I think you did the write thing by staying calm.
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    Member bkbaker's Avatar
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    I think leaving decoys in the field gives you no rights to anything. Leaving old crappy decoys in the field for the season is littering. I like to leave decoys stashed in the field in hidden in decoy bags because I'm lazy. There are no private blinds on public lands, unless people dont find them. I don't get mad at people who beat me to my spot, I blame myself.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bkbaker View Post
    I think leaving decoys in the field gives you no rights to anything. Leaving old crappy decoys in the field for the season is littering. I like to leave decoys stashed in the field in hidden in decoy bags because I'm lazy. There are no private blinds on public lands, unless people dont find them. I don't get mad at people who beat me to my spot, I blame myself.
    couldn't agree more
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    Member Birdstrike's Avatar
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    I've hunted in the evening and left decoys out for the next morning. However, I still plan on getting there well before shoot time. If someone is in my desired spot I can ask to join them or just pick up my decoys and move on.

    If I arrive early at a spot that has decoys I have three choices....move on to plan B, pull their decoys without tangling them and use mine, or just use theirs. No matter what, on public land the first one there has the right away.

    As a side note (does not apply to your case), if I were to hunt someone else's blind I would not modify, move, trash it, etc. If someone else put work into a blind I'd respect their effort and leave things as is. I would definitely not modify it to a size that would fit a VW Bug. I've seen that already this season.

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    Member SteveAK's Avatar
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    Blind? That's not a blind. Watch this.

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    Member hodgeman's Avatar
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    I've always thought people leaving stuff behind in the field to "mark their spot" was sort of a d-bag kind of move.

    Kind of like the jokers who leave a $15 Wal Mart tent to let the world know this is "their" drainage....whenever they get around to showing up and hunting it.

    I'm pretty new to waterfowl, but it seems like a couple groups of hunters working together in reasonable proximity works better than a dude working solo....
    "I do not deal in hypotheticals. The world, as it is, is vexing enough..." Col. Stonehill, True Grit

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    Member daldrupjm's Avatar
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    Alright so it seems that the majority think it is alright to use a blind that you might find if no one is there. I have found a few blinds in some spots I wanted to hunt but moved on as I didn't know what the ethics were. I never want to start a confrontation so instead of using it I just find another spot. If I did use one I would move on if the person showed up with the plan to use that spot. I have also stumbled across decoys out and no one around which is very frustrating since no one was there when shooting time started. If you are going to do this then you should be there well before legal shooting time.


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    Member bkbaker's Avatar
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    If I am in my blind alone and a "random" shows up I have always invited them to sit and shoot. I do feel sorry for them because they have deal with me!
    However, I have asked a fella sitting in the blind before I got there if I could come in and shoot as well. He agreed and we shot a couple beauty green heads that night. If he had wanted to hunt it alone I had planned to carry on elsewhere.


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    Thanks for the replies guys; I feel the same ways as many of you. Like I said in my original post, I've never had a problem out there before, although it was the first time I hunted another person's unattended decoys. I've always humped it to a different location when I've seen decoys from afar. It just so happened to be unique situation. I hope to see some northern birds coming down in the next few weeks because right now its pretty scarce out there!

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by skybust View Post
    couldn't agree more
    Yep...+1...Shouldn't try to save a spot unless you're occupying it already.
    "Grin and Bear It"

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    Quote Originally Posted by hodgeman View Post
    I've always thought people leaving stuff behind in the field to "mark their spot" was sort of a d-bag kind of move.

    Kind of like the jokers who leave a $15 Wal Mart tent to let the world know this is "their" drainage....whenever they get around to showing up and hunting it.

    I'm pretty new to waterfowl, but it seems like a couple groups of hunters working together in reasonable proximity works better than a dude working solo....
    This...don't leave your stuff out there thinking it's your spot for the season, that's just wrong...
    "Grin and Bear It"

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    I would just like to state for the record that DUCKSLR isn't me.....my license plate is just a regular AK issue
    Some people call it sky busting... I call it optimism
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  14. #14

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    I agree that leaving decoys out to guard your spot is irresponsible, unless you are hunting the site continuously, such as an evening hunt and then again the following morning. If you are not going to be there hunting the spot, then you should do nothing to prevent someone else from doing so.

    I will take the bait on dropping a tent to guard your spot. While moose hunting, I have used a tent to block another area from where my camp was set up, strictly for safety reasons. I hunted a bend in the river, and if someone was not careful, the site where I dropped the spare tent would look like a great spot, but it was actually a few hundred yards from our camp. After having someone shoot a sublegal bull (while aiming at our camp, while we were there), something had to happen, just for the sake of safety. I'm sure that hunting party had plenty to say to the troopers, but fortunately, an accidental shooting wasn't on the list.

    Moral of the story: there is plenty of space for everyone. If you aren't going to be at your spot and hunt it, then don't leave a mess. There are a few exceptions to any rule, but in those situations, there needs to be a good reason. If not, you are doing yourself and every other hunter a disservice, and someday it will catch up to all of us unless we are proactive about it.

  15. #15

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    I learned a lesson many years ago fly fishing on the North Fork of the Middle Fork of the Willamette River. If you are willing to hike a bit you will accomplish two things #1- About 95% of your two legged friends are not willing to put in the work to get away from the crowds #2-The majority of folks who are willing to put in the extra work to get away from the crowds are usually a pretty good bunch who won't trash the place and will respect their fellow hunters and fishermen. At any rate, it's a shame when a waterfowling trip or a fishing trip is ruined by folks who don't have a clue....
    Ruby at the end of a good day.

  16. #16
    Member hodgeman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by miller View Post
    I will take the bait on dropping a tent to guard your spot. While moose hunting, I have used a tent to block another area from where my camp was set up, strictly for safety reasons.
    I've got no problem with a guy putting up a tent to mark his camp in close proximity behind it... I do have a problem with a guy setting up a tent and claiming his camp is in that drainage while he's 400mi away....at work....for the rest of the week. Tent was set up by his buddy... in the next drainage...which was claimed by his retired buddy 10 days before season started in the next drainage.

    We've had some folks around making that their SOP last couple of years with a couple of altercations as a result.
    "I do not deal in hypotheticals. The world, as it is, is vexing enough..." Col. Stonehill, True Grit

  17. #17
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    I haven't hunted waterfowl in a few years, and even though I understand that it's public land and all, I just can't see myself hunting over someone else's decoys. I think I agree that they shouldn't leave them out there, but I would hunt elsewhere. Not saying anyone is wrong here, but I just would not feel right about it, if anyone is interested in knowing...

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  18. #18
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    I recently found this in the marsh together with a couple of Home Depot buckets, empty Coors cans, an empty Muscle Milk box (kinda gives away the demographic of the hunters), and some camo netting. It has not been used this season, maybe longer. The fabric is starting to deteriorate but the bladders seem ok. Too bad they didn't leave behind a set of oars.



    Does this piece of gear in the field mean it's someone else's spot? Lol

    If it's still there and unused next time I'm around I'm hauling it out and hopefully salvaging it. It's pisses me off when crap like this gets left in the marsh past the end of the season.

  19. #19
    Member cod's Avatar
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    A few yrs ago I walked into a spot I had been hunting off and on that season, only to find decoys out and no one around. I pondered what to do as it was mid day. Felt a bit uneasy about taking the spot so moved to the far end of the marsh.
    The next time out hunting dekes were still out. So I went ahead and hunted them. And in fact hunted them several times later thru the season.
    As far as I'm concerned, if no one is around the spot, it's fair game for anyone. But sometimes it might not be worth the headache.
    By the way, I believe where I grew up it was illegal to leave dekes out overnite.
    Your sarcasm is way, waaaayyyyyyyy more sarcastic than mine!

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    Well for what it's worth I think the OP acted perfectly in the situation.


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