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Opening Day Mistakes

Avoid these common errors and oversights to ensure a successful start to your waterfowl season
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6. Overlooking the Fundamentals

Lamar Boyd of Tunica, Mississippi, operates Beaver Dam Hunting Services on the oxbow lake made famous by the writings of Nash Buckingham. Boyd sees duck hunters repeat the same obvious mistakes, on opening day and otherwise. Among these is the failure to familiarize themselves with their shotguns well before opening day. "If you're new to waterfowling or if you have a new gun, study the owner's manual to learn how to properly load the shells, change chokes, and ensure there's a plug in the magazine," he says. "Then take the gun to the range for some hands-on practice."

Boyd also advises waterfowlers to purchase a duck stamp early, sign it, and affix it to their license so they'll be ready when opening day arrives. He offers up a cautionary tale to illustrate his point.

"Last year, my sister-in-law called two days before the season opener looking for federal duck stamps for her two sons," Boyd says. "Her local post office and Walmart were sold out. So I started looking in our area, and it was the same deal—everybody was sold out of duck stamps and didn't know when they'd get more. Those boys missed opening day because they hadn't bought their stamps ahead of time and couldn't find them on short notice."

Even waterfowlers who wait until the last minute to purchase a federal duck stamp shouldn't miss the season opener. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is piloting a program that allows customers to purchase a federal stamp online. These e-stamps can be used immediately and are valid for 45 days from the date of purchase, after which hunters will have to carry their actual federal duck stamp sent to them in the mail. Currently, eight states are participating in this pilot program, but anyone, regardless of where they live, can purchase an e-stamp through any of these states. Visit fws.gov/duckstamps for more information.

Visitors Also Read: 10 Tips to Get Ready for Duck Season!

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