Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Duck Hunting

I haven't shot a duck over decoys in ..... well, I've never bought steel shot. It's been a few years, but I still keep a couple of duck calls on a string in the attic in case the spirit urges me to chase another mallard.

I see in this article, where some are agitating for the banning of motorized decoys.
That original, single "spinning wing" decoy has evolved into a wide array of motorized products that include wing-flapping swimming models and huge carousel-like contraptions with a half-dozen motorized-wing decoys moving in a circle.

That evolution has been fed by the intense interest of hunters -- many of whom feel they must invest in the expensive equipment or watch ducks fly into their neighbors' ponds.
Oh, yeah. Duck hunting has gone hi-tech. There are more batteries than shotgun shells in the boat some mornings. Yet, there is some small evidence that hunters who use those decoys kill more ducks.
All of this is happening against the backdrop of research indicating the technology is putting hunters on the southern ends of flyways at a distinct disadvantage. The consensus of numerous studies showed hunters using motorized decoys consistently killed more birds than those sticking with traditional methods, Helm said. Perhaps more important, the studies also revealed the effectiveness of the motorized decoys decreased the farther down the flyway they were used.
So, the ducks get used to seeing spinning decoys as they come down the flyway, and the decoys work better in up-north Minnesota than they do in down-south Louisiana.

I see, though, that there is a movement to ban or limit the tyopes of moving decoys that hunters use.
But changes may be coming. Wildlife commissions in six states have supported requests by hunters and banned or restricted the use of motorized decoys. And sportsmen in other states want to join that list -- including those in Louisiana.

The Louisiana Wildlife Federation recently passed a resolution asking the National Wildlife Federation to support a ban on the devices. LWF Executive Director Randy Lanctot admitted the move was born out of self-interest, but included a lingering sense of uneasiness about the violation of fair chase.
Here's the deal, Randy. If you have any lingering sense of uneasiness about fair chase, that's your conscience talking to you. Listen to it. Fair chase is important. It's sporting.

Duck hunters pay a lot of money every year in the form of licenses, equipment, boats, ammunition, coats, boots, oh, the list is exhaustive. They want a return for their investment. It isn't going to happen. If we were truly interested in the return on our duck hunting investment, we'd sell all that sporting equipment and buy poultry at the market.

Men shouldn't hunt ducks because they're hungry. Duck hunting is a tradition, a ritual of passage. It's a way to connect with those that came before us, in the annual migrations of animals. I don't have an opinion on motorized decoys, but I do have an opinion on fair chase.

You never have to justify fair chase. If it's fair, you know it. If it isn't fair, then why dicker over it?

1 comment:

Rivrdog said...

My sentiments exactly: I practically majored in duck hunting when I was in college - would study in the car all night then be first in line for the public blinds in the local hunting area, hunt until just after sunup, then go to class. I had all my classes start after 10am.

I have not hunted since they went to steel shot, have never hunted from a sneakboat, have never used any sort of mechanical call or decoys. I used to wade out and place each Deek individually, in the dark, when I used a blind. If I was stuck with pass shooting, I had a sort of Gillie suit made of an old poncho festooned with dry grass and cornstalks.

I got my ducks, never shot anyone, and managed to stay peaceable in a crowded refuge. I enjoyed it, but probably wouldn't now, so I haven't been back.