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Be Welcome in the Blind: Waterfowl Hunting Etiquette

By Kristy Fike

Photos by Anna Swerczek

Our blinds are licensed and brushed. We’ve fine-tuned our calls and our four-legged hunting partners. After scouring stores in-person and online, we were finally able to stock up on shells. Our travel mugs are ready for coffee, our blind bags are packed, our guns are oiled, and our decoy batteries are charged. You may find the OCD individuals among us checking their gear over to ensure everything is as it should be…. again. Regardless, we are ready for the final months of waterfowl season!

While there is merit in excitement and being prepared for waterfowl season, it is imperative to ensure your waterfowl hunting etiquette is up to par, especially for those that hunt with others. Below is a list of etiquette considerations.

  1. Do not become the group thief. Your lack of preparation does not permit you to take someone else’s food or drinks, specifically Pop-Tarts or ham biscuits.
  2. Do not offer to carry someone else’s heavy blind bag to your honey hole, complain to them the entire way about how much the bag weighs, and promptly ask them for an item or piece of gear out of it. Furthermore, if you are graciously lent something out of the bag you complained about carrying, do not forget to give it back or replace it as needed.
  3. Given that shooting light is the same for everyone, be considerate of other hunters’ time. If another hunter is giving you a ride, have your gear staged and ready to go. If you use a public boat ramp, do not hog it.
  4. If your hunting partner works with their retriever in the off-season, it is likely that they have already worked on steadiness, you do not need to contribute with poor aim and a pile of empty shells.
  5. If there are incoming birds, rather than being the group hero or being overcome by the excitement, wait for shots to be called before getting up to shoot. Furthermore, if you cannot help yourself and do shoot before shots are called, ensure you are indeed the retriever’s hero and harvest a bird.
  6. If you would like to be invited back on a hunt and avoid names like Bird Hog, Mr. or Mrs. Greedy, or Show Off, stay in your shooting lane.
  7. Many of us enjoy consuming our harvests. However, it is polite not to laugh too hard at those that vocalize their excitement to consume their birds…that they have not harvested yet.
  8. If you do miss and others look to you for an explanation, do not make up too many excuses or go on and on about how you should have harvested the bird. By the time you finish, others have already moved on.
  9. If you do put a hole in someone’s decoy, at least offer to replace it.
  10. If you use up someone else’s shells, replace them.
  11. If you are frequently invited on hunts or are on a hunting lease with someone, do not leave them to do all the grunt work involved with waterfowl hunting. Get out there and help!
  12. Be sensitive to the dog handler’s connection and time spent with their dog. If it is their last hunt with their dog, allot them time to have a special moment with them.
  13. If you are new to hunting, do not wait until you meet with your mentor to determine if you purchased the correct hunting license.
  14. Always be respectful of other people’s time and efforts, especially of your mentor’s. They do more behind the scenes than you’ll ever know to ensure you have a safe and memorable hunt.
  15. If hunting with kids, always be an example. Display safe firearm handling and ethical hunting tactics. Do not discuss hunting tactics that you should not have used and got away with in the past. Allow them to have a moment with their mentor or parent after their harvests. Do not accept or take their harvest, especially their first harvest, unless it will go to waste.

Proper waterfowl hunting etiquette is imperative when waterfowl hunting with a group. It helps avoid what some would call humorous moments and even accidents too. While some waterfowl hunting etiquette considerations would be deemed common sense and common courtesy, they can easily be forgotten due to the excitement of some hunts. Regardless, keep in mind ways you can keep your waterfowl hunting etiquette up to par this season.