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eyepatrol

Being Prepared

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eyepatrol

Hunting waterfowl is a tradition that has been carried on through my family for a couple generations, one of which I hope to continue with my children when they are old enough to participate and decide for themselves if it is something they can be passionate about. The beginning of this season marked my 23rd year of waterfowling and one of the many things I've learned to do over the course of time is to be prepared; not only for the season, but for each outing.

All of my years of waterfowling have been spent on a 1,000+/- acre lake that I grew up on. Most of the preparations I note here are based on hunting the water, but may apply to those that hunt in the fields or other locations. I'm not going to get too detailed, but the preparations I go through for an outing on the water are as follows.

My first and foremost preparation is my gun. There are a few items of hunting equipment that can injur or kill a person and the gun has to be at the top of the list, whether it's your own gun or your partner's gun. Before the season starts and after each outing I disassemble my gun and give it a thorough cleaning, making sure the inside of the barrel is clean, the trigger system and safety system works properly, and so on. From there I pack my gear into a large, plastic toolbox that we use as a shellbox. I'll put my shells in, extra pairs of gloves (both cloth and waterproof), gun lubricant in case for some reason the action on my gun sticks, a pocket knife, calls and before I pack the shellbox into the boat, I put my cell phone in. I've lost one cell phone due to it falling out of my pocket into the lake before the sun came up, so I now keep it in our shellbox. smirk.gif I also pack an extra flashlight in the shellbox just in case the spotlight I use goes out.

Next is the boat where I make sure that the 14' aluminum boat we use has the plug in it along with a full tank of gas. I also make sure the oars (or for some a push-pole) are in the boat and that my PFD is in.

After making sure the boat is ready on my folk's shoreline, I'll head back home and get my clothes out. I personally will dress myself to be a little too warm for the conditions. I can always take an item of clothing off out on the lake, but it's not as easy to add on clothing unless you pack additional clothing (which I don't). Know the forecast and the conditions you'll be hunting in is the approach I take. And, I always put my clothes downstairs as my wife and kids are upstairs sleeping and I CERTAINLY don't want to wake them up! wink.gif

After my clothes are all set out and ready, I get to what I consider one of the most important pieces of hunting preparations - the coffee maker!!! grin.gif I'm one of those guys that can't go out without a full thermos of piping hot, blacker than black coffee. wink.gif

Before I hit the hay I set my alarm and more importantly, I let my wife know where I plan to hunt and what time I plan to be home. Even though my wife knows I'll be on the lake, I still let her know what my plans are. Always tell someone where you're going and what time you will be back. If something tragic ever happens to you (especially if you're alone), authorities will have an idea of where to begin looking, etc. If my plans change at all, I use my cell phone and simply make a 30-second call to my wife.

When it comes to setting my alarm, I've found over my years of hunting that people around here generally plan to go out at the top or bottom half of the hour. I hunt on public land, so this is an important piece of information to me. Because of this, I'll set my alarm for something like or 4:15a.m., or 4:40a.m., or some other "odd" time. It takes me 30 minutes to get dressed, load up the boat and get to the hunting spot, so waking up at an "odd" time puts me on the lake at an "odd" time. You'd be surprised how many outings I got to the good spot by just 10 or 15 minutes by doing this. In fact, my hunt yesterday was a perfect example. I was at the spot at 4:20a.m., the next boat came at 4:30a.m. and the next one at 4:40a.m., all wanting the spot I was hunting at. Also, like many others, I get very pumped to go out hunting, but I try and get to bed at a decent hour to get enough good rest. Being overly tired can be about as dangerous as being intoxicated, so I try and get at least 4 or more hours of sleep (plus I don't drink alcohol the night before…just my personal policy).

Before and after each outing I make sure that all my decoys are in good order; that they don't have holes, the knots on the lines and weights are secure and there isn't a chance of having a decoy float away on me when the ducks want to pour in. It can be extremely frustrating to have a decoy or two float away on you when the ducks are pouring in. mad.gif

One other thing I keep in our shellbox is a set of the hunting regulations along with the waterfowl supplemental regs. They can be helpful with many things ranging from sunrise & sunset times, bird identification (although for most this probably isn't a problem), limits and the TIP line.

Last, but not least, become familiar with survival techniques. We always hear of hunting accidents where somebody's boat capsizes and people drown due to one factor or another. Wear your PFD, know how to improvise to make flotation devices, keep your decoys bagged to use as flotation devices, know what the cold-water survival techniques are, drive your boat close to shore if you can….anything to improve your odds of survival should some freak accident occur.

In general, these are the preparations I go through for each outing. There are other minor preparations I go through, but the ones I've shared here have added to the enjoyment of the hunting experience in past years and for years to come.

If anyone else has some preparations they'd like to share, I'd be very interested to hear about them. I'm always up for gaining new ideas and tips to make my hunting experiences better!

Good luck to all and enjoy the rest of the season. The best hunting of the waterfowl season is just around the corner! laugh.gif

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Sartell Angler

long post but fun to read nonetheless. I do many/most of the same things as I think most other duck hunters (at least the serious ones) do.

I've never heard of the "odd time technique" you mention but agree that it probably rings true sometimes...a lot of people, especially when meeting other people at the ramp, agree on a time at the top or bottom of the hour.

One thing I always do is hitch up the boat and load all the gear the night before, so once I get up I can do the minimum amount of things before I can leave...this also helps prevent leaving things behind. I'll also lay out all my clothes on my floor in one spot the night before, and if there is anything else to grab (something from the fridge, a charging roto battery, etc) I'll just make a note on a piece of paper and set it with my clothes.

Oh, and if I'm meeting someone at the field or launch I'll always give 'em a ring on the cell while I'm driving there to make sure they got their butts outta bed!

Sartell Angler/ woodduckwizard

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IceHawk

Good tips guys!!!

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eyepatrol

Definitely SA! Since we hunt on the lake my folks live on, we just meet up at their house. Usually we both get there a few minutes before we agree to the night before, so if it gets 5 minutes past that time, one of us is calling the other to make sure they woke up. smirk.gif

I too try and have the boat loaded with as many things as possible the prior night. There's enough to carry from home like the gun, coffee thermos, snacks, spot light, and what ever else. smirk.gif

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Guest

I leave everything I need short of my shotgun in my vehicle throughout the hunting season, including extra clothes.

My usual morning routine is to wake up just long enough to get both eyes pointed in the same direction, jump in the truck and stop at the nearest gas station for coffee.. head down te road to the freeway entrance... turn around and go home to grab my shotgun that I forgot worrying about morning coffee!

I need to get an automatic coffee maker with a timer!

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Buckmaster

Bass,

Good info that you presented. Looking at your profile I too have hunted this 1000 acre lake. It has produced well in the past. Plenty of helpful information that I will pass on to some of my fello hunters/coworkers. A LOT of info here, must have been a slow day at the office wink.gif

I'm always looking for pointers on being a better waterfowler. Thanks-

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eyepatrol

Actually had typed most of this up on Sunday after getting in from hunting, and finished the last little bit off yesterday.

Would you happen to be from Gaylord? Wonder if I might know you...

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Buckmaster

not from Gaylord just guessing about the 1000 acre lake in looking at your profile - not too many lakes that size in that area. Your profile says engineer smirk.gif looking at the number of posts you have each work day you must work for the highway dept grin.gif

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