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Banding Together for Waterfowl

The Duck Hunter's List

10 things all waterfowlers should do in their lifetime
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Story at a Glance

 

  1. Hunt the Canadian Prairie in Early Fall 

  2. Train Your Own Duck Dog

  3. Hunt Diving Ducks from a Layout Boat

  4. Teach a Kid to Call

  5. Hunt the Arkansas Timber

  6. Visit the Eastern Shore

  7. Hunt Staging Snow Geese

  8. See Ducks Unlimited Headquarters in Memphis

  9. Learn to Hunt with a Camera

  10. Read the MacQuarrie Trilogy

7. Hunt Staging Snow Geese

First the good news: There are a lot of snow geese. Now the bad news: There are a lot of snow geese.

The white goose resource has never been richer, and spring hunting from Missouri to Manitoba can be an amazing experience that extends your season. A weeklong March or April trip provides hunting opportunity that didn't exist just over a decade ago, and spring hunts mean more time in the field with your friends, more shooting and more retrieves for your dog. While getting underneath the "white tornado" can be a staggering display, with literally thousands of geese making a deafening racket overhead, snows and blues are on the move in the spring, and hunts are often a feast or famine proposition.

But experienced spring hunters learn to stay the course. Drilling a few dry wells will be worth it on that one gusher day when every goose in the county wants to be exactly where you've set your decoys.

8. See Ducks Unlimited Headquarters in Memphis

Those who love the movies and music of Elvis Presley swoon when they contemplate a visit to Graceland, home of the "King." But waterfowlers visiting Memphis also should set aside some time to stop by Ducks Unlimited's headquarters.

This is where wetland and waterfowl conservation begins, and many hunters find that a visit to DU headquarters helps inspire them to consider the difference between just duck hunting and really giving something back.

During your visit, you can talk to someone at DU about all the different ways to help the ducks, from volunteering to assist with a local DU event to donating a conservation easement on your property or planning a legacy gift. There are so many ways to get involved, and all are rewarding.

And while you're there, don't miss the complete collection of federal duck stamp prints on display at DU.

9. Learn to Hunt with a Camera

There was a time when bringing the family Instamatic on a duck hunt was a dicey proposition at best. Even if you kept it dry enough to take some photos, you still had to take the film to the developers. With any luck, you got a scrapbook photo or two. But times have changed for the better, and in addition to recording your hunting memories in a journal, consider joining the technological age by investing in a good digital camera and a waterproof case so you can record your hunts as they unfold.

A good rig will cost about the same as a good semiautomatic shotgun. With digital cameras, the learning curve is rapid, so you'll start taking spectacular photos almost from day one. Better yet, that hen mallard swimming in your spread is no longer an extra decoy but a subject for a close-up.

Tip: The sporting world does not need more photos of your hunting partners holding up dead ducks in the garage. Take photos in the blind with water or a blue sky as a more fitting background than the family sedan. Also, to take great photos, you have to put down the gun. When you do so, you may find that "shooting" your friends shooting ducks is as much fun as swinging a shotgun, and hanging your own photos on the den wall is icing on the cake.

10. Read the MacQuarrie Trilogy

Far from a homework assignment, reading the three collections of "Stories of the Old Duck Hunters" by Gordon MacQuarrie is one of the greatest fireside pleasures that a duck hunter can enjoy.

MacQuarrie was a masterful storyteller, and probably could have brought a smile to your face or a tear to your eye if he had written about paneling his basement. Fortunately, hunting waterfowl was one of MacQuarrie's true passions, and he wrote about ducks and the people who pursue them in a way not done before or since.

Many veteran hunters reread MacQuarrie each season. If you are new to MacQuarrie, start with "The Day I Burned the Oatmeal." Trust me when I tell you it is not really a story about preparing breakfast, and you'll be on your way to enjoying another of waterfowling's great traditions.

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