John’s Note: A couple of weeks ago I hunted ducks and feral pigs in Texas. Zane Fudge, a 19-year-old, from Longview, Texas, has been guiding duck hunters for Kent Outdoors (www.kentoutdoors.com) for 3 years. He also guides for turkeys, hogs, deer and doves. He’s furthering his education by studying corrosion technology at Kilgore College.
As a duck-hunting guide, I often get hunters who never have hunted before. So, the first thing we do is go through safety instructions to make sure everyone knows how to be safe with their guns in the blind. When we reach a stock tank, I already know where the ducks have been sitting the day before we hunt, because I’ve been scouting, and I’ve actually seen the ducks sitting on the water. For that reason, I know where to set-up the decoys and our Avian X (https://www.avian-x.com/) A-Frame Waterfowl blinds, depending on the wind that day. Once we set-up the blinds, each hunter has a dove stool to sit on, and guides to make sure each person knows how to load and unload a shotgun and put the safety on and off. Next I often set-up outside the blind near a tree with my dog and do the calling. Then I can blend-in with my surroundings wearing Mossy Oak camouflage (http://www.mossyoak.com/) and wear black face paint to look like a shadow of the tree. This way, I can watch the ducks and not have to wear a face mask.
I know when to blow my duck call and when to be quiet. Before I call the shot, I let the ducks get as close as possible. One of the problems that we sometimes have with hunters who’ve never duck hunted before or duck hunted very little is that they want to look at the ducks. They don’t seem to realize that ducks can see down in a blind when they circle over it. So, I ask my hunters to keep their heads down until I call the shot. By then, the ducks should be right out in front of them. At other times, hunters will get shots of adrenaline when they see those ducks coming in and circling over the blind. If they haven’t duck hunted very much, they’ll assume the ducks are in range, although they’re really not. They get so excited that they’ll look up and shoot before I call the shot, but that doesn’t happen very often. Most of the time, we have a really good time, and we take plenty of ducks.
One of the funniest hunts I ever went on was when I wasn’t guiding. I was hunting with one of my buddies out in flooded timber. Just before legal shooting time, my friend (I omitted his name deliberately) had to go to the bathroom. So, he waded a little bit away from the spot where we were hunting. As I looked at my watch, I saw that legal shooting time had arrived, and I also spotted a flight of ducks approaching. After the ducks made the first pass over where I was standing in the water, I whispered loudly, “Ducks, ducks, ducks.” My friend turned around quickly and started running toward my stand, but forgot he’d pulled his waders down. He had only gone a little ways before he stepped into a logjam, went head first into that icy water and spooked the ducks. He came up spitting and sputtering, trying to get himself together, even though he was as cold as he’d ever been. I couldn’t do much to help him, because I was laughing so hard. Most days, we take ducks, but on this day, the ducks took my hunting buddy for a dip.
For recipes to prepare ducks for the table, go to “The Best Wild Game & Seafood Cookbook Ever: 350 Southern Recipes for Deer, Turkey, Fish, Seafood, Small Game and Birds” at http://amzn.to/WkbLRg. For more information on hunting, check out John E. Phillips’ books at www.amazon.com/author/johnephillips for print, Kindle and Audible, and Nook books at www.barnesandnoble.com.