Four flyways, colorful species small and large, the art of the decoy and the thrill of a Labrador retriever leaping over the boat’s bow to make an enthusiastic retrieve of goose or duck make waterfowling one of the most thrilling hunting sports around. It’s also one of the oldest—drawings of waterfowl have been found in Ice Age caves, Egyptian tombs and even the artwork of B.C.-era Peru. America’s earliest settlers from “across the pond” found their new home in the East boasted a nearly unlimited supply of ducks, geese and swans—good eating for starving Colonials.
This is one of the more gear-intensive hunting activities. You’re going to need lots of waterproof gear—shell bags, waders, parkas, gloves—a boat if you’re hunting anything larger than a pond, shotguns that can take wet, muddy and often frigid conditions, and calls that say to the birds above, “It’s safe and there’s plenty of food down here, come join me!” You’ll want some friends, especially ones who own boats and garages full of decoys, plus the ones who never forget to bring sandwiches and jerky. And you’ll also want a dog—not because you always need one, but because it’s just so much better with one.
WaterfowlWaterfowl are warm-blooded animals that live on or near water, and include diving ducks and puddle ducks. Puddle ducks are found primarily on the shallows of lakes, rivers, and freshwater marshes. Puddle ducks prefer to feed on or near the water’s surface. They launch themselves directly upward when taking off. Diving ducks inhabit large deep lakes and rivers, coastal bays, and inlets. Diving ducks obtain most of their food by diving. They must run across the water to build up speed to take off.
Hunter EducationNeed a Hunter Safety Certificate? Start an online hunter safety education course for your state at Hunter-ed.com. Hunter-ed.com works with state agencies to produce a hunter safety education course that’s accurate, interesting, and easy to understand.
Ballistics: The science of the motion of projectiles, such as bullets or pellets.Whether you’re hunting or practicing with a firearm, there are several things you can see and control, like where your muzzle’s pointing, if the safety is on, and if the gun is loaded. But there are some very important things happening that you just can’t see, like the speed and angle at which the bullet travels and the distance that it will go. And these factors make up the science of ballistics. So it’s our responsibility as hunters to know the ballistics of our firearm and ammunition before we pull the trigger.
Know Your Firearm's RangeKnowing your firearm’s “maximum projectile range” is critical to being a safe and responsible hunter. The maximum projectile range tells you at what distances your firearm’s projectile could cause injury or damage to persons, animals, or objects. When hunting, knowing the “effective hunting range” lets you immediately assess when a shot will give a clean kill. The effective hunting range will always be less than the maximum projectile range. Learning to estimate distances and knowing your firearm’s projectile range and your effective hunting range are important parts of hunting. The following charts show the maximum projectile range when you use lead bullets in your rifle and Handgun and well as lead pellets in your shotgun. Whether you’re hunting or practicing, think about firearm safety before you pull that trigger. Know what your gun is capable of and your abilities as a shooter. Hunter-ed.com. Hunter-ed.com works with state agencies to produce a hunter safety education course that’s accurate, interesting, and easy to understand.
While fall turkey hunting isn’t as popular as chasing spring longbeards, hunters in many states find pursuing these birds in the late season a fun and challenging hunt.By Michael Pendley Mention turkey hunting to most folks and they immediately think of the gobbling longbeards of spring. But, for hunters in 42 states and a few Canadian provinces, there’s another season for chasing turkeys. Fall turkey hunting doesn’t get the hype the spring season does, but turkey hunting actually started out as a fall pursuit. Steve Hickoff, author of Fall & Winter Turkey Hunter's Handbook and Realtree.com’s turkey hunting editor, started his turkey-hunting career on fall birds. “The turkey-hunting tradition has its roots in autumn and winter hunting,” he explained. “Before the notion of ‘spring is for beards, fall is for antlers’ came about, flock-seeking sportsmen sought out their game during the woodstove months. Back then, there was a prevailing notion that taking a breeding-minded gobbler in the spring was easy, even unfair. “A Pennsylvania native, I first hunted wild turkeys in 1971. As a kid, I remember old-timers (guys my age now!) talking about how turkey hunting in the spring was just flat-out wrong. They were all avid fall turkey hunters. Back then, Pennsylvania had legalized spring turkey hunting only in 1968.”