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The Fowl Men

Famous waterfowl hunters share their secrets to success
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  • photo by Russ Verbofsky
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Story at a Glance
  • Recent times have transformed duck hunting from a challenging venture to one that's often frustrating - but not impossible.
  • Hardcore concealment means paying attention to the details.
  • Trust in realism and natural movement
  • Downsize your operation - focus on quality vs. quantity.

by M.D. Johnson

Waterfowl hunting isn't what it used to be. There was a time when you could throw a dozen #5s in your pocket and, armed with 10 mallard decoys, venture out, secure in the knowledge you'd go home with a bird or two.

But times have changed. Better calls, better callers, ultra-realistic decoys and nearly invisible blinds have transformed waterfowling from a challenging venture to one that's often frustrating. Not impossible, but frustrating.

Still, there are men out there who take it upon themselves to even the odds when it comes to convincing wary waterfowl that everything is as it should be. These are the 21st-century waterfowlers – consistent, efficient, resourceful, innovative and, most of all, successful.

These revolutionaries have taken traditional duck-hunting strategies and thrown them a curve. So read on: these fellows know what they're doing and they're not shy about sharing that knowledge.

Learn to hide

Often, waterfowlers grow complacent in their approach to camouflage and concealment. Duck blinds that looked fine at the start of the season aren't nearly as invisible as they once were.

"When I'm cutting brush for my blinds prior to the season," said four-time Tennessee duck-calling champ Bill Cooksey. "I cut twice as much as I'm going to need. I'll pile the extra nearby, and it'll weather along with what's on the blind. When I need to re-brush, I've already got material that matches perfectly."

Hardcore concealment means paying attention to the details, and remembering that there aren't such things as insignificant details when it comes to hiding. Hands, face, gun, blind, dogs—they're all factors in the grand equation. Overlook one, and you might as well be standing out there in a pair of Spongebob Squarepants boxer shorts. And that's a visual no one needs.

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