By Matt Young
In many ways, waterfowl hunting is defined by cold weather. Snowstorms and Arctic fronts often trigger grand passages of ducks and geese, providing phenomenal shooting for hunters lucky enough to occupy a blind in the flight path. Severe cold snaps also benefit hunters by concentrating birds on remaining open water, and even the wariest ducks and geese will respond to decoys and calling during a gale or a blizzard.
But wintry weather presents many challenges for waterfowl hunters. Freezing temperatures can wreak havoc on outboard motors, shotgun actions, calls, and decoys—not to mention fingers and toes. And high winds, ice, and snow can make driving and boating treacherous for even the most experienced and well-equipped waterfowlers. Indeed, it’s the battle against the elements and the cold that sets the sport apart from more mundane pastimes.
As winter sets in across much of North America, Ducks Unlimited asked four veteran waterfowlers—Wade Bourne, Doug Larsen, David Maass, and Marc Pierce—to describe their most memorable cold weather hunts. Here are their stories.