Public Land Duck Hunting Etiquette
What to do and what not to do while duck hunting on public land.
This is in response to a recent experience in Georgia during the waterfowl opener. Friday the crew scouted a few holes and found some quality birds sitting on a Hydrilla flat on the main lake. We got up extra early because this was a well-known spot on public land. The prodigy boat took no time to get there with the 37 EFI Mud Buddy. Pushing 31 mph loaded down with 3 people. We set up a decent decoy spread (around 6 doz) where we knew the birds would decoy.
Thirty minutes before shooting light a boat pulled up within 100 yards and began to toss decoys. I shinned my flashlight towards them to show how close they were. The hunters proceeded to put out decoys. We decided to make the best of the hunt and stay with our spot. Birds began to trickle around and the shooting began. Teal started coming in at first with both groups getting adequate shots at birds. When the sun began to shine on our decoys more birds began to work the area making large circles around our decoys. It was a perfect set up and I knew our group of hunter would be able to finish out some limits.
Next, the skybusting began, the group next to us was trying to pass shoot our working birds. We started yelling at them to let them work with no luck. This lasted the entire morning. This lack of knowledge resulted in a ruined hunt, for both groups. How can we handle this better on public land?
A few proposals I have for hunting public land.
1. Give at least three hundred yards between groups. Safety of hunters is most important.
2. LET THE BIRDS WORK- decoys are placed for a reason in order to shoot ducks feet out over the decoys
3. Skybusting birds results in injuring birds, educating birds, and causing problems for nearby hunters.
4. Invite neighboring groups to join if there are enough birds in the area. Sometimes combining a spread and hunt will result in the best hunt for both parties.
5. Wait your turn- If enough birds are in the area and a limit is reached by one group the other can move to that spot. This has worked many times for me on public land.
6. Don’t ruin someone else’s hunt. Every hunter puts in the work in order to have a great hunt.
7. Do not risk safety- it’s not any fun getting peppered with steel shot.
This will always be a problem on public land I assume. It’s a hunters obligation to educate new hunters on the etiquette of waterfowl hunting, especially now with the surge or new hunters. The most important part of duck hunting is finding the X, where the ducks want to be.
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