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Waterfowling 101: Ignorance is Not Bliss

Hunting is a sport in which traditions are passed on along with the gear, and for those who do not have any gear or traditions passed on, entering the sport can be a daunting task.  Simply tagging along with someone can be difficult when the initial capital to do that is quite high.  That is why spacing out purchases based on necessity is the best way to insure you don't go broke and can still enjoy the sport.  The more you become interested in something the more expensive it becomes and the more you are willing to spend.  You will make justifications in order to purchase products and gear that other people will call you crazy for.  It is a slippery slope to go down but it is one that you will have no regrets about doing.  When starting a hobby it is always an overwhelming feeling when you see people with the most and the best of all the gear. For those who are not fortunate enough to not have gear passed down to them, hunting can be an interest that is never pursued. Following a few tips can help a new hunter ease into the sport.


The easiest way to figure out something is get read about it.  There is plenty of good information that can be found in books or online.  Looking at catalogs like Macks' Prairie Wings can help educate you on types of birds and gear associated with the sport.


When hunting with an experienced hunter you can learn more then ever anticipated.  They have insight as to what works, what doesn't, where to go, when to go, how to do it ALL.  One of the key benefits to a new coming to hunt with an experience hunter is that they have all of the gear necessary.  Hunting with someone who has experience will fine tune your skills and make you a more well rounded hunter.  They are always willing to give you advice and


Just because you have made it through your hunters safety course, doesn't mean your a good hunter.  The most important thing to remember is safety.  That should be on your mind way before shooting a bird, and after too.  Not being a safe hunter is a great way to never go hunting with someone ever again, and you better expect them to spread the word.  Make sure you remember all the small lessons from gun safety and apply them to the field.  Shooting behind someones head, or in their area, not watching where your gun is when walking, or generally putting someone or yourself at risk is not following ettiquette.  Make sure that you know when to shoot and let an experienced hunter shoot first or tell you when to shoot.  Every hunter has their way of doing things and make sure you find out what they do so you do not impede on their ways.


There isn't a hunter out there who would not be willing to give a novice information they are looking for.  Information can come from clothing to gear to decoys to ways to hunt and on and on.  The best thing to do is to take this knowledge with a grain of salt.  People have biases and they will be spread, listen to multiple people and draw your own conclusions.

Asking another hunting to go hunting with them is something that they may be a bit more reluctant to do unless you know them.  Hunting with a complete stranger is something isn't always done becaues of trust issues.  Family members who hunt are probably the best way to get an in into the sport.  Be willing to ask and don't get disapointed if someone says no.


You don't want to expect to go out and shoot limits everytime you are hunting.  One of the most frustrating things is to take a person out for the first time and not see any birds.  If that first time hunter was expecting a show and one isn't given, they may give up on the sport.  Having modest expectations for your first few hunts will make sure you aren't let down and when you have a day that you wont forget, you'll appreciate it more.


The first experience of having a flock of birds buzz by you is something you don't forget.  Typically you are too amazed by the scene to remember to pull your gun up to your shoulder and shoot.One thing to keep in mind is that you more than likely got up at 3:30 in the morning, and you should take in the sights and sounds while you are waiting for the hunt to begin.  You have the opportunity to see the world wake up in front of your eyes as you are concealed waiting for the ducks to fly.  When you are in these situations you will see things that you have never seen before.  Don't assume that the only way you are going to have fun is if you shoot a limit of birds.


If you are starting out and were not given any gear for hunting whatsoever, you have a laundry list of things that you are going to need before you hunt.  Some more important than others.  What you will figure out is that as your passion for the sport grows your eyes will be open to new and exciting things that you want and that will make your life easier.  You need to take a step back and look at what you really cannot get along without.  Because as you continue to hunt your collection of gear will only inrease until you do not need anything anymore (Lie, you will always NEED something).  The point is not to spend all your money in one season but to acquire a few things each year until you are satisfied with what you have.


Going hunting with someone who owns all the gear first ensures two things.  If you follow ettiquette, you will have a future hunting partner and you will find out if you enjoy it.  Waterfowl hunters are often thought to be insane because of the things they are willing to do for a bird.  If you are unsure after your first trip if you want to pursure, then you probably wont.  No duck hunter forgets the rush he felt of his first flock zipping by.  So why start spending your money on something you are unsure about.  Boats, Blinds, Coats, Waders, Bibs, Decoys, and Calls are all things that are gathered during years and years of purchases.  The best thing you can do is to purchase products our of necessity.  If you need a coat, buy it but, get help from other hunters you know or can trust.  Decoys are only needed if you want to go hunting yourself, you can ask people around your area what is needed and what works best.  Purchasing unecessary products leaves you with a little less cash in your pocket and no birds to take home.  There is not a hunter out there who is not willing to help a beginner if they prove themselves worthy.