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Why duck hunters fail
loc lgp marshmusings pic 1web

All duck hunters fail some of the time. Some duck hunters fail a lot of the time. Since I seem to occupy a spot in the “frequent failure” category, I decided to precisely analyze the situation and try to put a few more birds in the sous vide which is my current favorite method of preparing ducks at the perfect temperature with perfect moisture and flavor. It is terrific for deer roast also.
I think my attitude is good. I’m eager to go obviously you can’t harvest many ducks from your recliner in front of the weather channel) and have a nice 20 gauge and a good pair of waders.
This is where it gets dicey. Since I have aged a bit, I like to go with similar minded duck hunters. Young guys grab a sled, throw a dozen decoys in it, wade out a mile into the marsh, break the ice and come home with a limit of ducks. They seem to do it in good and bad weather and are impervious to cold. I vaguely recall things like that in my younger days. It is much more complicated now.
It was also more fun (and successful) when I had a dog. Smooch died this year, and after 13 great years with her (and her father King Eider), I am without a dog. My buddies have new young dogs, so that really is not a issue. Duke, Annie and Ida are more than eager and capable. Everyone should see great young dogs go through the process. I moved out here in the 90’s with that vision in my mind. I have never been unhappy with that decision.
I think we are getting closer to understanding my problem. We have a boat. We have spent lots of hours decorating this boat with perfect camouflage. We can go lots of places with this boat and it hides us very well.
There are usually three of us (one Canadian) and two young dogs. Only one of us is good with a duck call. Duane and I have scared off more ducks than we have ever attracted. That fact in no way prevents us from practicing enthusiastically while Brian is rolling his eyes and doing his best to get ducks into our spread.
Young dogs tend to chase each other around the inside of the boat. Watching and managing young labs definitely distracts us from watching for ducks and it seems they appear when the dogs are busiest.
We also tend to go long periods of time without any activity. Duane can doze off in a heartbeat. That has infected me on a few occasions and that doesn’t put meat on the table. I have a suspicion that snoring flares ducks. More research is in order.
I won’t discuss shooting skills, but there have been issues.
I think mostly it is Duane’s fault. Duke is a gorgeous 70 lb. eleven month old Labrador. Duane sits him between his knees. We noticed ducks flaring off our set (these ducks have been hunted all the way from Canada and are very educated by now) so I got out of the boat to investigate. As you can see in this photo, Duke had worked his head through the camo and was most visible to the incoming ducks. That’s not good.
Our little boat is probably the happiest one in the marsh. We have enjoyed the company, the dogs, and the few dumb ducks that made a mistake.
If it isn’t too cold or windy you can probably find us out there again dozing in the warm sunshine and not shooting ducks while continuing our complicated research projects.

Doctor Dan Witt is a retired physician and nature enthusiast.