Hurrying Your Hunt Can be Counterproductive — or Dangerous
Many waterfowl hunting situations call for quick decisions or swift reactions. Trouble arises, however, when hunters get unnecessarily hasty and rush to judgment or action.
We've all been there. Maybe you woke up 15 minutes late and feel compelled to throw out a decoy spread as quickly as possible so you don't miss the opening bell. Or perhaps you're pushing hard for a distant slough while not paying enough attention to your surroundings.
Those scenarios — and many others — are just products of our nature. When experience tells us we need to hurry, minor panic sets in, and we charge ahead without thinking. And that can be counterproductive or even dangerous for waterfowl hunters.
Rushing your decoy setup typically results in a half-baked spread, with lines draped over backs, blocks stuck in shoreline mud and no real waterfowl-attracting shape. Take a breath, and then take your time placing decoys. Yeah, you might miss the first minute or two of action, but you're better off setting a quality spread than prioritizing blasting away at the first few passers-by of the morning.
As with decoys, folks in a rush often identify the first plausible setup they see and make camp there. Sometimes, this works. Many other times, it doesn't, and you realize throughout the morning how you would have been better off at the next point or bay over.
Study the weather forecast and lay of the land before you hunt, and then have a firm destination in mind. Go there, even if it takes longer and you miss the first 10 minutes of legal shooting. But also watch how birds work, and don't procrastinate when it's logical to switch setups.
Sometimes, we get so antsy or eager to shoot that we ruin our chances, shooting before birds fully commit or, worse, at ducks or geese that are out of range. Everyone makes mistakes, of course, but the key is to realize your errors and strive to avoid them in the future. Calm yourself down, and resolve to take only quality shots. Let birds work and commit to the fullest before getting in on the shooting action.
We're getting into the danger zone here. Hey, I've done it; poked cattail stalks in my eye while rushing through prairie sloughs, taken a muck bath after tripping in an almost frozen lake or, worse, smacked props or tangled decoy lines while rushing with a boat.
Duck hunters must always place safety first — no exceptions. Never rush anything when wading, canoeing or especially in a power boat. Slow down, think and be precise.
Be decisive, efficient and even swift this duck season, but do so in a safe, calculated manner. Take a step back from every situation, think everything through and do it right. Being slow or late by a few minutes will rarely sabotage your hunt. One haste-inspired gaffe, though, can ruin your day or endanger your life.