Friday, December 13, 2013

Bad Weather, Good Hunting

Bad weather is usually not an outdoorsman’s friend. Extreme cold, high winds and heavy precipitation either in the form of rain, sleet or snow just makes for a miserable experience with little chance of success to boot.
This very reason is why I grew up disliking, no the proper word is actually hating, duck season. For whatever reason, it was the only time ducks would actually fly during shooting light. My dad would drag me out to the swamps or impoundments well before the break of dawn where we would throw out plastic decoys in frigid waters and hope for something to fly by.
Now I was a fairly decent shot regarding dove hunting, but ducks were a different story. Ducks provided a very small window of opportunity to get a shot off. With dove, I could watch them fly in for several minutes, point the muzzle and swing the shotgun through the bird while pulling the trigger and watch the bird fold up and fall. Ducks, especially in the swamps, required an instantaneous ‘snap’ style shot. And with inexperience combined with the pure speed of the waterfowl’s flight, I often ended up empty handed.
Dad on the other hand, well he had no problem. One of the best wingshooters I have ever seen, he could put a bird down with ease. After many, many years of watching how he shoots, I figured out how he was successful. He always kept a watchful eye out for the skies. He also knew his limits. Birds over the treetops were a no shot situation. If a bird snuck in on him and he did not get a chance to get the barrel up in position cleanly, he would hold off the shot as well. When he did shoot, he always followed through the shot and he never shot more than twice unless he had downed one bird and was trying to get a second and missed a shot. That was rare though. Not the part about downing one bird and going for a second but the missed shot part. He figured if he had to shoot a third time the bird was probably too far away.
As I became an adult I began to appreciate duck season more. While I am still not fond of the cold, I did have clothes that could keep me warm for longer periods of time. I still stretch my shots at times but my misses are fewer and further between now. I understand what to listen for and what to look for in the sky. I understand where the birds will come in to a decoy set. These tidbits are less knowledge and more wisdom. I learned from hunting, not from listening to others. It is not that I was not listening to more experienced hunters. It is just I did not understand fully.
I see that with others also. I have seen decoy sets laid out all wrong. Not because the hunter did not try to set them up correctly. In fact, they were likely trying to do exactly what they read in a book or magazine. But when they finally get it, when the light finally turns on, the success beams from hunter. Limits are taken and with fewer shells spent. The excitement from the new found wisdom carries over into future hunts.
And that bad weather is no longer a bad day.

1 comment:

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