By Chris Jennings
It used to be that as the trees began to bud, those who congregated around outdoor stores and coffee shops discussing waterfowl hunting, began discussing more seasonally-appropriate outdoor activities such as fishing and boating. As Spring gave way to Summer, waterfowl hunting conversation had faded into the sweltering heat waves, and thoughts of hunting wouldn’t return until Fall’s first cool breeze. Fortunately, for those who live and breathe the thought of ducks, decoys and cold northern winds, there is a 24-hour-a-day sanctuary where they can find other hunters talking about goose flutes, layout boats and pit blinds.
Welcome to the world of online forums
While there are still outdoorsmen and women out there who believe the Internet is just a fad and will disappear with time like brown camouflage, it’s not going to happen. With screen names such as Pintail411, widgeonman, duckgirl, and egoose, waterfowl hunters across the continent have clicked their way through social sites to find cyber “potholes” of hunters who continuously address opinions, concerns, and general hunting discussions.
“The Ducks Unlimited online forums have been a great success for www.ducks.org,” said Anthony Jones, DU's Web Systems Manager. “Getting our members online within these forums brings the DU family closer together. They can spin ideas off of one another for fund raising, hunting, and dog training. With the upgraded migration mapping that will be coming out this fall, we have created a complete interactive waterfowl hunting experience for hunters across the continent.”
Avid waterfowl hunters find themselves sharing tactics, tips and even trading hunting opportunities online. Being able to reach out to fellow hunters and ask about the best methods for decoying birds has proven to be priceless for many.
“The [DU forum] has been the best site I have found about waterfowling tactics and different ways to pursue the game,” said Andrew Limmer, an active member on the DU forums and chairman of the Milwaukee School of Engineering DU chapter. “Anyone, new to the forum or old, could ask a question about any aspect of duck hunting: dog training, what kind of shotgun, decoy spreads and probably get at least five answers by the end of the night from guys who do it themselves.”
DU forums offer general discussion, waterfowl hunting tips, dog training and even individual state forums. Have a question about choosing the right shotgun shells? Find your answer within minutes from hunters who have been using all kids of shells. The wealth of waterfowl knowledge within the forums can save time researching a certain idea and turn it into more time in the field.
“The main reason’s I visit DU forums is to meet new people and learn new things,” explained Mitch Byrnes, an avid participant within the DU forums. “I have learned a lot of helpful information on these boards, and it is fun just to be able to talk about topics with other people who share my passion.”
When questions are asked online, it might surprise many people who actually responds to their questions. State chairmen, committee chairmen, pro staffers from several companies, DU biologists and DU staff members frequent the site, answering questions and getting involved in waterfowl discussions.
“I try to keep an eye on several different online forums,” said Mike Checkett, DU media relations biologist and co-host of DU TV. “It’s a great way to find out what questions people have about DU and waterfowl all over the country in just a few minutes. I also share some tactics and tips we use on DU TV and answer any questions members might have about the show.”
So this summer, when your mind is stuck on why you had problems decoying mallards in flooded corn fields last season, don’t hesitate to get online, check out DU forums and find thousands of other waterfowl hunters whose passion fuels waterfowl discussions – all year long.