When Birds Social Distance

If you would have told me nine months ago that the world as we know it would take a 90-degree turn, I would likely have thought you to be kidding, a conspiracy theorist, or completely mad (as in crazy). But here we are. If you had told me that the U.S./Canadian border, something that has been a part of my life since a young child, would be closed for perhaps a year, I would have laughed—not possible. But here we are.

Over the past eight months, the world has been redefined and we’ve adapted to new realities not by choice but by necessity. And we’ve done a good job of it, in many cases. Even our terminology has changed. Terms like “essential workers” and “front-line workers” now define diverse groups of people in the important roles they play for a working society. Online learning is no longer an outlier method of getting a degree; it has become standard fare. Social distancing? Who ever heard of that? We’ve adapted in the workplace, with more telecommuting, more online meetings. We’ve adapted in business, with empty spaces becoming outdoor cafés, and box stores and restaurants combining online business with curbside pickup.

Personally, I’m impressed with how much a society can change in so short a period, but do I like it? No. In so many ways it’s inconvenient as heck—especially when it comes to hunting!

I had plans for a couple of trips across our northern border—both cancelled. Minnesota’s Game Fair, a fun August event—cancelled. Shot Show, a January industry even—cancelled. NWTF, a February event in Nashville, cancelled. As I write this, I’m still trying to figure out what our trips to the prairies are going to look like when motels and restaurants and travel in general are factored.

It’s all a pain in the behind. Yeah, I get that some alteration in routine is required in these unusual times, and yes, I want to keep my family safe and intend to follow guidelines to do that. But let me be clear—I can’t wait to turn the page.

On the other hand, I think the ducks and geese might be liking this, at least those north of the Canadian border. I hear this from my contacts up there who have found hunting to be tough this year. According to reports, the birds in Canada are having a party—one to which you and I weren’t invited.

To start with, weather early was unusually warm—never great for hunting. Add to that a landscape with an endless buffet table and too few hunters to keep the birds honest. And finally, for goose hunters, too many adult geese are in the flocks, which means fewer mistakes by the birds and tougher decoying for the hunters.

One source reported watching scouted birds feed in four different fields in the same afternoon, with the hunters completely vexed by where the birds might go next. I don’t know about the hunters, but it sounds like the birds are doing a great job of social distancing! www.waterfowler.com/subscribe

November 2016
Issue Contents


The Scavenger Hunt
Some Hunts Are Gifted To Us—
Others Earned
By Jay Strangis

Giving A New Name To
The Adventure Into The Unknown
By David Rearick

Jersey Buffet
In The Shadow Of A Major City,
A Great Mix Of Birds
By Ron Peach

The Last Goose Hunt
Recalling Two Decades Of Camaraderie
In A Special Place
By Captain John Gribb

Meant To Be
A Hunting Roadblock Overcome
By A Cast Of Good Doers And Sheer Luck
By Jack Hirt

The Sweet Spot
It’s One Thing To Have Access To Prime Ground,
But Quite Another To find It’s Heart
By Gary Zahm

Hold On Ma’am!
Just When We Think We’ve Seen
Everything, Fortune Springs
By Bucky D’Agostino



Hunt Book
Who’s Shooting How Many?
Smart Money: Freezeout Lake, Montana
Safety First—Gentle Firearm Reminders
Three Teal
Plastic And Metal
At Odds With Scaup
At The Gueydan Duck Festival
Lack Of Evolvement? So Be It!
Marh Notes: Two Wins For Fish And Wildlife
New Tools Aid In Migration Research
Unwanted Visitor In Minnesota

From The Editor
Different Uniforms, Same Commitment

Using Flyers
By Michael Hungle

Duck Dogs
By Robert Milner

Inertia Rising
By Jarrod Spilger

Reloading 3-inch 12 and 20 gauge
By Tom Roster

Boats Guide
Floor Replacement

One Last Shot
Almost Quitting Time
By Dean Pearson

Market Hunter
Find An Outfitter, Call, Boat, Retriever, Waterfowling Accessory

Changes In Latitude
By Patrick Meitin

December 2015
Issue Contents


Waiting For Calmer Water
A Late-Season, Take-
What-Comes Duck Hunt
By David Rearick

Winter Bayou
Chased South By A Bitter
January Cold Snap
By Ron Peach

Problem Solved
Hiding A Big Boat In Open Water
With A Scissors Blind
By Mike Marsh

Some Hunts Form In The
Shadows Of Expectations
By Jack Hirt

It’s The Motion
Depending On Its Form, Or Timing,
Motion Can Kill, Or Cure, A Hunt
By Wendell H. Shepherd

A New Dutch Treat
Trophy Goose Hunting
In A Very “Green” World
By Ramsey Russell

Funeral Song
Armed With Little Faith, He Chose
A Resting Place Close To Heaven
By Jon Wongrey


Hunt Book

Flyway Watch—Taking Notice Of Whitefronts
Smart Money: Coastal New Jersey
Survey Says—Iowa’s Early Teal Season
A Wild Goose Farce?
Why Three Shots?
The Pond
Band Beginnings
Marsh Notes: Seasons Announced Earlier
Award-Winning Beer Gives Back
Green Bay NWR To Expand

From The Editor
That Was Different
By Jay Strangis

One-Two Duck Hunting
By Michael Hungle

Duck Dogs
The Trainer’s Fault
By Robert Milner

Tools Of The Trade
By Jarrod Spilger

Practicing And Hunting With Steel
By Tom Roster

Boats Guide
Boat Blinds—Mobile Hides
By David Rearick

Close Calls!
Surprise Shots
By Willard Weikle

Market Hunter
Find An Outfitter, Call, Boat, Retriever, Waterfowling Accessory

Born To Please
By Patrick Meitin

Best Of Jay Strangis – The Great Distraction

There’s so much going on in the world that each day is a cascade of tumultuous events, overwhelming to the average person. My Web browser is set to open to one of the national news outlets by default, so each time I search for something, up comes a rash of intriguing headlines.

Did you know Bristol Palin is pregnant again? I was just itching to click on that to find out the latest dirt until I saw a photo of one of my favorite actors with the tag, “People We Lost.” I’m too savvy to get sucked in there. They often put up the photo of a famous person even if the person who died was that famous person’s elderly father. Been there. Not going there.

But there’s plenty more to be “concerned” with. Beheadings here, mass murders there. What the heck is this world coming to? About the only thing that happens in our little corner of the world is the occasional meth lab blowup resulting in Kentucky fried drug dealer.

My problem is that I go to my Web browser with good intentions—usually to background some subject, look up a new product or check a writer’s use of a proper name or spelling—then I get sidetracked by the headlines. By the time I’m done reading them, I’ve forgotten entirely what I came to the browser to do!

I pretty much behave the same way at an outdoor or sporting goods store—now what did I come in here for again? The sheer volume of outdoor paraphernalia is overwhelming these days, and I love that. There’s so much good gear to choose from that I’m much like that five-year-old at the grocery checkout who is melting down over the well-placed candy rack. I totally relate.

As anyone who has ever hunted with me will attest, I love gear, and I don’t like to be without it. Yes, I have been accused of having a sporting goods store in my motel room on more than one hunt. You just never know when that one situation will arise that requires that special set of clothing, those specialized decoys, that specialized blind, the other shotgun and more of this and more of that.

That’s why putting together the American Waterfowler giant Gear Guide issue is so much fun for me, and I don’t think any of the writers who put together the gear sections are any exception. We all want to see what is new, tweaked or improved for the coming season.

But we realize that, like us, readers of the magazine probably get a little overwhelmed by all the gear out there, especially because the marketers of that gear do such an effective job of getting in all of our heads.

But hey, like my distraction with the headlines, it’s not like I don’t somehow welcome it. There must be some corner of my mind that seeks out the sensational. But there are more corners ready to pounce on a bit of news about a new decoy or specialized boat. I think for most of us, waterfowl hunting IS the great distraction. And we’re all on board.

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