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.