Morning fog lifts during duck hunt
Early duck offers awesome opportunities to get kids out and experience an exciting hunt in comfortable conditions. (T.A. Harrison)
We all started somewhere. Someone noticed the spark within and they invested. To that person we should are be grateful.
We can all trace our early days of hunting and fishing back to a single experience that turned that spark into a roaring blaze. And how that spark affected the lives we lead now.
It's a good way to live.
Family hunting traditions held a big role in what is likely the direction of your passion today. For some, it was deer camp, others upland hunting, turkey hunting and to many it was chasing the webbed-foot migrators.
I can give reasons why each style or type of hunting offers young people a great opportunity to build and nurture a growing passion, but I truly believe waterfowl offer one of the finest venues to initiate a love for the Great Outdoors.
It's critical to the future of our sport that we invest in the next generation and get them exposed to the countless hunting and fishing opportunities that are available to us. That responsibility is on us.
There is ample opportunity across the nation to take advantage early duck seasons that generally open late summer and into early and mid September. Also depending on where you live, and the population densities of local Canada geese, there might also be an urban goose season available.
It's certainly worth looking into what's available near where you call home.
Early in the season the weather conditions are generally pretty comfortable and ducks plenty. Find a spot that isn't overrun with other hunters and enjoy a comfortable morning on the marsh. (Photo courtesy of Jeremy King)
Early duck offers awesome opportunities to get kids out and experience an exciting hunt in comfortable conditions.
And that's an important point to make: You want their early experiences to be good memories. The fastest way to ruin a hunt is by trying to endure tough weather conditions. Remember, they are kids and don't have the hardcore nature you've developed after years of hunting experience. Plan ahead and hunt comfortable conditions as often as possible.
Fortunately, early duck typically offers just that.
Read up on your local season dates and bag limits, and make plans based on what's available to you.
Scout More Than You Hunt
Make your plans, get your gear ready, get up well before dawn and have fun. But let's be honest about something here. We hunt and fish to be successful.
It's easy to say it's not all about killing ducks or catching fish, and there's some truth to that.
Understanding early fall feeding patterns will help you create a successful hunt. Get out and check known roosting sites, ponds, fields and areas resident ducks frequent, and build your game plan from there.
However, success needs to happen, and that's up to you. Put in plenty of time locating birds and acquiring places to hunt. Public waters are not necessarily out of the question; one can find seclusion on public property, but it usually takes an inside line of information. The chance of sharing public water with other hunters is pretty high.
Personally, I prefer privacy when teaching kids the art of whacking ducks.
Finding an out-of-the-way spot that attracts the ducks is a great scenario for young hunters. Private property is probably the best-case scenario for a youth hunt, but if that's not an option look into overlooked public water. Some great hunting can be had on state property. (Photo courtesy of Jeremy King)
Get permission on private property; scout often; locate a place that is holding ducks and is not overrun with other hunters and build a plan. If private property is a part of the game plan, it may be important to include your kids in securing permission — shaking a landowner's hand and earning his blessing to hunt is a good lesson learned.
This part goes back to how important success is. But this is a fun part.
Spend time on the range shooting clay targets and burning gunpowder. As a hunter, wingshooting is a skill that takes years of development, but it has to start somewhere.
Shooting clays as a family is a lot of fun, and a great method to hone wingshooting skills that can be used in a lifetime of duck hunting. (Photo courtesy of Ross Grothe)
Under the guidance and direction of an experience shooter, the only way kids are going to become proficient from behind the shotgun is by spending time behind the shotgun in both practice and hunting scenarios.
Shoot a lot. It's an investment that will pay off.
That brings me to my next point about why early duck is a great time to get out and hunt. The birds are pretty dumb since they haven't been hunted recently, and resident birds -- when located -- can be very plentiful offering young hunters ample opportunity to make good shots and kill ducks.
Depending on where you live, hunting ponds, river backwaters or harvested ag fields can offer very exciting early duck hunting opportunities. Take advantage of what you have around you. (Photo courtesy of Ross Grothe)
The hunt begins with gear preparation from waders to decoys to camo to shells, and the kids need to be apart of that process. It adds a certain level of ownership to the experience; perhaps offer chances to talk about why hunters do what they do, and how they accomplish their goal.
One of the great things about duck hunting is the social nature of the hunt. The team aspect of setting up the decoys and prepping the blind can be fun, talking and telling stories in between flights of ducks, and of course the group celebration with a limit is filled.
If the situation allows, cook breakfast. This is part of what makes ducking hunting an ideal pursuit for new and young hunters.
Fixing a hot breakfast from inside a duck boat only enhances the experience. Plus, who doesn't love bacon, eggs and coffee on a cool fall morning? (Photo courtesy of Jeremy King)
Listen To Them
As a father of two budding hunters I've learned my children crave conversation and knowledge about the craft.
They have questions; they want to know everything possible about the process. Give that to them. Talk to them
When they say they're done hunting the hunt needs to end. Forcing them to stay beyond the point of what they consider fun is a detrimental decision. You don't want to burn them out.
Be patient. Be the example of an ethical, passionate hunter that they may one day aspire to.
There are few experiences that generate more life-long memories than those to be made with your kids while hunting and fishing. Seeing the sun come up in the morning is a special time to be shared with those you love the most — don't let those day pass by. (Photo courtesy of Ross Grothe)
As the sun rises and wings whistle above your heads with curious ducks buzzing the decoy spread, and the smell of the morning marsh filling your nostrils, remember that you are creating memories for the little people that came with you. Make each memory one they'll cherish.
Our children are the future.