When possible, shots should be called so all hunters have an equal chance at the birds. For instance, if a flock is coming in on a crosswind, the caller should delay calling the shot until the birds are squarely in front of the blind. Many times a delay of just a couple of seconds in calling the shot will allow all hunters to share equally in the action.
When the wind is blowing into the front of the blind, birds must work in from behind, and calling the shot can be challenging. The shot caller must decide whether to call shots over the back of the blind at oncoming birds or let them pass overhead and then call the shot out front. In either instance, the shot caller should keep other hunters informed and ready to rise and shoot together.
The same holds true for passing shots on days when birds aren’t decoying well. A decision to take these shots should be clearly understood so all hunters can share equally in the action.
When the order to shoot is given, it should be commanded loudly and distinctly so there’s no confusion. Before the hunt, shot callers should let hunting partners know what they will say to signal the time to shoot. My command is simply, “Shoot!” It is short, clear, and unmistakable in intent.
Shot callers are forever subject to criticism from their hunting partners. How many times has “we should have taken them on that pass” been muttered in America’s duck blinds? Birds that fly away instead of circling back can turn a tentative shot caller into a goat. Others in the party may be tempted to start making their own decisions on when to shoot, but this can lead to chaos. Calling shots is akin to being married—for better or worse.
Shot callers should call shots when they think the timing is right and reasonable for all hunters, and they should adjust their shot calling based on how the birds are working that day (locking up and coming in or circling tentatively).
Shot callers won’t make the right call every time, but their partners should allow them some leeway. If they make a good call most of the time, teamwork will rule and more birds will fall.
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