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January 15, 2010

The 10 Commandments of public duck hunting

The Waterfowl Advisory Committee to the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recently completed a series of five public listening sessions across the State to receive input from waterfowl hunters. One of the common themes to come from the sessions was the need for better education of those participating in the sport in terms of practicing ethical behavior, especially those hunting on public waters.
The Ducks Unlimited web site recently featured a book entitled Successful Duck Hunting: A look into the heart of waterfowling by M.D. Johnson. An entire chapter was dedicated to the ethics of hunting for waterfowl on public lands and waters. "The 10 Commandments of Public Waterfowling" included several of the common concerns heard throughout the Waterfowl Advisory Committee listening sessions:

            I.          "Thou shalt not shoot another man's swing – If your neighbor's working a flock that passes over your blind within range, let them go. It's common courtesy, and you never know when that neighbor's going to be built like a wrestler with a temper to match.

            II.        Thou shall allow ample space between thyself and others – This one's simple: Unless you're both willing to partner up, give the next guy room. And in most parts of the country, 50 yards isn't considered enough.

            III.       Thou shalt know the effective range of thy own 'fowling piece – They're called skybusters, these pseudo-hunters who shoot at anything within eyesight, and they rank right up there with Osama bin Laden.

            IV.       Thou shalt not blow a duck call nonstop, nor at every bird and beast – Sure, you paid $20 for it, but that doesn't mean you have to get $20 out of it every trip into the field, does it? Remember the immortal words of legendary outdoor writer Nash Buckingham: "A duck call in the hands of the unskilled is conservation's greatest asset."

            V.        Thou shalt set up and tear down quickly and efficiently – In other words, don't putter through the decoy spreads 5 minutes before shooting time or lolly-gag in your blocks for an hour just because you have to be back to work at 9 a.m.

            VI.       Thou shalt clean thy kill neither at the ramp nor in the parking lot – We as hunters need to realize that a lot of non-consumptive users – birdwatchers, photographers, hikers, school groups – use our nation's public areas, and that the image we leave at the ramp or in the parking lot reflects on us as a whole.

            VII.     Thou shalt be familiar with and abide by waterfowl regulations – Another no-brainer. Ignorance, says the wildlife officer, is no excuse; however, it can come with a hefty fine.

            VIII.    Thou shalt know the area boundaries, and though tempted, stay within them – This one's not only a public relations issue, but a legal one as well. If it's marked Keep Out... well, then, KEEP OUT.

            IX.       Thou shalt leave thy temper at home – Think about it. Do you really want to get into a shouting match with a complete stranger that you know has a gun? Enough said.

            X.        Thou shalt work harder than most – Nowhere in the world does the old adage, "Hard work and perseverance will be rewarded," hold truer than the realm of the public-land waterfowler. Do your homework and go that extra two miles, and you may have that mallard hole to yourself."

By following these 10 rules, public hunting will be more enjoyable for everyone.   

South Carolina's natural resources are essential for economic development and contribute nearly $30 billion and 230,000 jobs to the state's economy. Find out why Life's Better Outdoors.

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