Ten Commandments of Public Duck Hunting
Rules to live by when you're hunting public land
- 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 Stone Cold Steve Austin and have a temper like Russell Crowe.
- 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.
- Thou shalt know the effective range of thy own fowling piece – They’re called skybusters, these pseudo-hunters who shoot at anything within eyesight.
- 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.”
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Written and donated to the South Carolina DNR by M.D. and Julia Carol Johnson, on behalf of young waterfowlers everywhere.