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Deer and Duck Prospects Good for Texas

October 21, 2014

Hunters in Texas can look forward to a better deer and duck season thanks to recent rainfall.

Biologists with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) have good reason to be optimistic regarding the state's deer and duck population. Significant rainfall in recent months has provided a much-needed reprieve from the drought that hunters had been bracing for, and it seems that the wet conditions are good for wildlife both on land and in the air. “I would say conditions have improved over most of the state the last couple of months,” said Kevin Kraai, TPWD Waterfowl Program Leader, in a press release....

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How Expensive Shotgun Shells Save You Money

October 13, 2014

It may seem counterintuitive at first, but using more expensive shells can actually save you money. Image courtesy Bill Miller.

How many shotgun shells do you fire for each duck or goose in your bag? I’m not talking only of the hits and misses at fresh birds coming to the decoys, passing overhead, or jumped from a meandering creek or cut field. Be sure to add in the shells you use to recover cripples, too. When you include ducks and geese hunted over water in that number, those extra shots can add up fast. CloseRange_300x250...

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Duck, Duck, Goose: Waterfowl Hunting Options Abound in Michigan

September 26, 2014

Ponds and lakes full of huntable birds await sportsmen who come to Michigan seeking waterfowl.

When you think of waterfowl hunting meccas, places like Stuttgart, North Platte, Eastern Shore, and the Dakotas get thrown around. Sure, those places have a rich tradition of amazing waterfowl hunting, but what do they have that Michigan doesn’t? The answer is simple---nothing! In fact, there are not many places that can stack up to the Great Lake State when it comes to waterfowl hunting. Looking for puddle ducks? Got ‘em! Want the ultimate diver duck hunt? No sweat! Want the skies to turn black with migrating Canada geese? Here you go! Oh, and did I mention sea ducks? Good luck finding...

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The Annual Fall Waterfowl Migration is Underway

September 23, 2014

Blue-winged teal are almost always the first ducks to migrate south every fall.

Over half of all the 914 species of wild birds in the United States will migrate south this fall making it a prime time to be able to enjoy the nation’s waterfowl, whether you’re hunting them or watching them. And you will not be alone---according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, more than 70 million U.S. residents 16 years old and older participated in some form of wildlife-related recreation in 2011. For anyone who enjoys watching waterfowl for any reason, there’s good news. Except for severe drought this fall in California and a small area of North Texas, all across the rest of...

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A Duck Dilemma—What Would You Do?

September 22, 2014

What do you do when you encounter something in the field that completely goes against everything you hold dear about the outdoors?

Several seasons have slipped into muted memory now, yet one incident several years ago still stands out to me. Some nights I lose sleep over it---when something’s important to me, it tends to lodge in my synapse, recalled too easily and too often. I guess that’s called conscience. I will probably always wonder if I did the right thing. It began as a simple local duck hunt less than a five-minute drive from home---just the dog and me. The weather was unseasonably warm; the flight was slow. I managed to bag a couple of mallards on a public hunting area by slogging deep into the oxbow...

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Michigan Goose Hunting is a Dream Come True

September 19, 2014

Joe Robison retrieves giant Canada geese from a cut wheat field in Southeast Michigan.

The geese---a flock of about 30---came from upwind, flying toward our decoy set from behind us. They seemed fixated on our dekes, ignoring the well-grassed, A-Frame blind the four of us occupied. As they lost altitude, Joe Robison, the ramrod on this early season goose safari in Southeast Michigan, offered that perhaps we should take them, rather than allow them to swing wide and turn into the wind to land, as geese are wont to do. When they drew even with the blind and were no more than a few yards in the air, Robison called out to take them. We did; I squeezed off three shells and...

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Keep Your Duck ID Skills Sharp with These Tips

September 18, 2014

Dogs and hunters need a little training before duck season. Making a solid identification before you pull the trigger and Fido brings you your duck requires a bit of training, too. Image by Doug Stamm.

"Don’t shoot! That’s a Can---" is not what a duck hunter wants to hear from his buddy in the blind as he pulls the trigger. Duck hunters may be a small niche subset of the hunting population, but this unique group of folks live, eat, and breathe the passion. Not all duck hunters are as famous as the Robertsons from Duck Dynasty, but a few of the avid duck hunters I talked to recently all get super excited to duck hunt every chance they can. The "avids" take duck identification to a completely new level, and woe unto the unprepared who cannot tell the difference between a mallard...

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Michigan’s First Teal Season in 50 Years a Success

September 15, 2014

Joe Robison takes a blue-winged teal from his Lab.

For the first time in 50 years, Michigan duck hunters had an opportunity to start duck hunting well in advance of the usual opener this fall. Michigan duck hunters enjoyed an early teal season the first week of the season and by all accounts, the experiment was a success. Early teal seasons have been a longstanding tradition across much of America, but the special hunt was canceled in the Upper Midwestern states---known in federal waterfowl parlance as “production states”---five decades ago. Lobbying by Southern states, which were concerned about the incidental mortality to non-target...

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Why Every Shotgunner Needs a Rangefinder

September 15, 2014

A rangefinder may not seem like a standard piece of gear for wingshooting hunters and waterfowlers, but the wise sportsman will find many uses for it.

Rangefinders have become part of the standard kit for big game hunters, especially bowhunters. They take the guesswork out of range estimation leading to more well-placed shots and speedier kills. Win, win, and win! Hunters using slugs for deer and turkey hunters were some of the first shotgun sportsmen to open up their daypacks to range-finding optics. In those pursuits, rangefinders play the same role as they do in the rest of big game hunting. However, smart wingshooting hunters find many uses for rangefinders, too, particularly in waterfowl hunting. Read more »

100 Percent of Wingshooting is 95 Percent Mental

September 1, 2014

It may not seem like it, but wingshooting is primarily a mental game.

Famed New York Yankee Yogi Berra and chess grandmaster Bobby Fischer couldn’t be two more different people. What are the odds they’d both espouse philosophies applicable to hitting a flying target with a shotgun? Well, so they did. Berra is known for saying “…90 percent of the game is half mental.” Fisher once said, “I give 98 percent of my mental energy to chess. Others give only two percent. Wingshooting, done properly and successfully, is primarily a mental endeavor. Once you collect the mental pictures of what it takes to hit a goose, grouse, or clay target and train your...

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