Duck hunting in the United States is one of the most anticipated times of the year each winter.
Ducks and other waterfowl species will migrate down the Atlantic, Central, Mississippi, or Pacific flyaway from Canada headed towards Mexico in search of food sources and warmer climates. Since the seventeenth century, duck hunting has been a widely popular gentleman’s sport.
Abundant waterfowl became an easy food source for settlers and market hunters into the nineteenth and twentieth century’s.
Facing decreasing duck and waterfowl numbers, laws such as The Lacey Act and The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 were established by the federal government to help ban market hunters.
As market hunters faded, it provided a way for true, blue, American’s to hunt ducks!
What makes duck hunting special and such a greater sport than deer or turkey hunting is the social aspect. It is much easier to ignore the cold weather when you are laughing and having a good time with your buddies instead of alone in a tree.
I have seen numerous black and white duck hunting pictures of my grandfather in hip boots and a business suit with his buddies and their morning’s harvest. Duck hunting was and still is more of a social event than a true stalk hunt.
Duck Hunting Supplies
The advancement of modern duck hunting supplies in the past decades has helped increase the popularity of the sport. For example, insulated waders.
When I began duck hunting over twenty years ago, the only waders I could purchase were non-insulated fly fishing waders. When the temperature dropped below freezing on those early January mornings, it was rough duck hunting.
Another duck hunting improvement is the waterfowl shell shot. Steel shot was horrible when it came to knock down power in the 1980’s, but now ammunition companies have created a non-toxic shot that is more powerful than lead.
Mallard Duck Hunting
Mallards and Gadwall (Mini Mallards) are the most popular ducks killed by hunters in the Mississippi Flyaway. Here are the two reasons:
- Population – mallard populations have continued to increase over the years
- Sportsmanship – a hunter must have great duck hunting skills to shoot and fill their limit
Diver Duck Hunting
Diver duck hunting, a Great Lakes tradition, has become very popular across the US the explosion in the diver duck population. Diver ducks such as the canvasback, bluebill, redhead, bufflehead, ruddy duck, and merganser have seen an increase in their population numbers. According to hunters, divers are the easiest decoy and call of all the puddle ducks. Diver duck downside? Fishy Taste. I have only found one duck it would not eat, a merganser. As an ethical hunter (eating what I shoot) I try not to shoot them anymore, but when I do, I always drink Dos Equis.
Pintail Duck Hunting
When pintail duck hunting, all of my hunters talk about the dream of carrying a North American Pintail to their taxidermist. It is a distinct duck in flight by the sprig of feathers or by their whistle like call. Of all the waterfowl, most hunters believe it is the most intelligent. Pintails live and migrate in the same general environment as mallards, gadwall, and diver ducks.
Wood Duck Hunting
Wood duck hunting is where many people begin their waterfowl career. Most wood ducks leave and return to the same place like clockwork each day. In my opinion, these are the most beautiful ducks in the sky. Males in full plumage are absolutely gorgeous with the full spectrums of colors he has a very distinct whistle or squeal. Wood ducks can be found in almost every state swamp or river bottom.
Snow goose hunting in the United States has continued to grow each year with explosions in their population. Snow goose hunting typically happens in the winter and the most popular way to hunt the snow or blue goose is by stalking. Decoying geese is a tough task in the Deep South compared to the northern end of the flyaway. Why? Geese band together as they fly. Most mornings when duck hunting in the Mississippi Delta I see 10,000 – 30,000 in one group moving from field to field. How many callers can you collect in a group to create a sound like a 10,000 geese? Do I hunt them? Absolutely, but my favorite is their cousin, the speckled belly goose. Speckled belly geese are exactly like hunting puddle ducks, except on dry ground. They are a much easier to call and decoy compared to snow goose hunting. My least favorite of the three is Canadian geese hunting. Many hunters have the opportunity to hunt Canadians in the fall while honing in their skills for the upcoming duck hunting season.