The got-to-have-it-now, news-travels-faster-than-the-speed-of-sound information age has infiltrated duck hunting.
Rarely do I go on a hunt without my smartphone, sometimes even packing the iPad, and so do most of my buddies, based on the number of texts I get on days afield. Everything from live hunt reports to post hunt pics to questions like “Where’s lunch?” flows pretty steadily most days.
How did duck hunters do it in the “old days”? Maybe duck hunting wasn’t so good back then because there wasn’t the constant exchange of information. Maybe it was way better than we thought for the same reason. Nowadays it takes literally minutes to find out how the hunting is going on any given day.
Between the archaic phone call (who does that anymore?), text and social media, word travels fast when the ducks are good and when they are not. Hunters are quick to post about successful hunts on Facebook and/or Twitter and camera phone pics burn up the data plans.
Some of my Facebook friends very rarely post from February through October but, come duck season, if they are into the ducks, expect a flurry of status updates, piles of ducks and big smiles. And rest assured I am guilty of it as well.
I have a small network of buddies that has evolved over the last few years that gives our group the pulse of anything and everything related to duck hunting, starting about Halloween and running through the end of the season. All are accomplished waterfowlers that strategically hunt in various key areas of the state and on any given day I can ping to get the rundown on hunting conditions.
Some of the networks overlap, some run in parallel. Some of the information I share, some I withhold if the person providing doesn’t want the entire desperate duck hunting population showing up near his honey hole.
Duck hunters can be private that way, especially if they get on the ducks on public ground. Some might call it selfish but if you have ever gotten on a hot streak in Bayou Meto WMA then roll into your hole and find decoys setup every 50 yards, you know why. I’ve had a wildlife officer tell me he knew a group of college kids that were hammering mallards in the Scatters over Christmas break a couple of years ago and would post pictures on Facebook noting they were in the Black Swamp WMA. For the record, the Black Swamp is 60 miles or so as the crow files from Bayou Meto. No telling how many guys loaded up their gear and headed up to Gregory to give it a try based on those misleading photos.
This time of year I actually find myself missing some of the conversations and back and forth trash talk that flows freely during duck season. If someone has to lob out a “how was it?” text, odds are the hunts weren’t very good. Or in some cases, it’s so good one becomes tight-lipped to prevent the crowds from descending upon the hot spot.
Some days it’s a race to see who can limit first and fire off a picture of the day’s bounty before picking up the decoys. Other days one of us will get into them good while the rest are either stuck at work or the ducks just aren’t in our neighborhood. Fun stuff and I am sure many of you are part of the same type network.
Interestingly I feel like I “talk” to those guys daily during duck season via text but only have sporadic conversations during the other nine months of the year. We all get busy with kids, work and other hobbies that get neglected from November to January each year. I feel like we need to form a once a month breakfast club to talk duck hunting and whatever else so we stay in touch more during the off season.
The ability to text to your hunting buddies has changed the dynamic of scouting for ducks. In just a few minutes, without leaving the office or house, one can find out water, weather and waterfowl conditions by pecking out a simple text message. I can’t venture a guess on how many gallons of gas are saved by hunters no longer burning up the dirt roads and backwater bayous trying to find some ducks.
Technology has become a game changer in the waterfowling world. Before long we will be live streaming hunts while looking down the gun barrel with Google Glasses. That type of accessibility and technology is probably closer than we realize.
As long as it doesn’t get in the way of fair chase, let the waterfowling technology boom continue on.