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Outdoor Life: Difficulties with duck
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Duck hunting is one of our greatest outdoor sports, and today we will delve into the requirements of this activity along with some of the pitfalls that could get in your way. 
    I should tell you up front that duck hunting requires good hand-eye coordination, steady nerves, the craftiness of a con man, the toughness to withstand nasty weather, and an understanding banker willing to loan you enough money to get things up and running. Also it wouldn’t hurt to have an advanced degree in animal science and identification.
    There’s nothing like the anxious moments before the sun comes up over the horizon while standing chest deep in a cold, muddy swamp in anticipation of that first bird to come whizzing over. I know that sounds like an amusing way to start your day but in order to get to the point of actually firing a shot you should be aware of all the aspects of the hunt.
    Let’s start off with the financial considerations.  Duck hunting is much cheaper than say buying a new bass boat but the difference is not as great as one might think. Basic requirements include waders, camouflage outer wear, duck calls, shotgun shells and a working shotgun. There are also instances in which you will need a john boat equipped with camouflage out-riggings as well as an anchor, paddle etc.
    That’s not the end of it. You will also need to be in possession of a hunting license, a federal duck stamp, and a WMA license depending on where you are hunting.
    As an addendum to this it is also wise not to tell your wife that you plan on bringing “free meat” home for supper.  After you have paid your bills, duck meat will be hovering around $100 per pound — and this ain’t Peking duck we are talking about.
    Now that you have gone to the bank and borrowed enough money to get started, we must take a look at hunting regulations. You will have to bone up on the myriad of regulations attached to the sport. 
    Necessary tidbits of knowledge include how many of each type of duck you can take by species and gender. What that boils down to is that you have to know how many mallards, wood ducks, teal, redhead, black ducks, etc., that you can legitimately bag. You also have to know how many males versus females are part of that bag limit and know how to tell the difference. 
    In addition to knowing the rules you must also be adept at identifying each of these species while they are buzzing you at 100 miles an hour in the pale dawn with shotguns going off all around you. I’ve had courses in graduate school that were easier, so you made need a tutor and put in a year’s worth of study before setting out.
    One other timely hint is this —  don’t even think about taking a rest room break while duck hunting. Besides overcoming the obvious problem of getting your waders down to the necessary level in waist-deep water, you will find that ducks tend to fly right over the top of your head during that process.
    It is also wise to address Mother Nature’s role in all this. The grand old lady of the outdoors will make sure you earn your rewards. Every duck hunt I’ve ever been on included icy water, air temperatures of less than 20 degrees, fog, and a light sleet, so gird up your loins and make dang sure your waders don’t have a pin hole in them.
    Lastly, in order to actually kill a duck you must have the sharp-shooting skills of Buffalo Bill. Many of these birds are going to come whistling in at the speed of sound, darting and diving. While you are trying to just get your gun barrel pointed in their general direction don’t forget to go through a duck ID check so you won’t be in violation of the law.
    I would also advise all hunters to use a light gun. I once had a friend visit me to go duck hunting and he brought the biggest shotgun I’ve ever seen. I think it was a 10 gauge and I’m pretty sure it would have stopped a charging rhino.
    My boy never cut a feather that day, because by the time he’d hefted his Gatling gun and brought the barrel to bear, the birds were long gone. Just goes to show that with regard to duck hunting, size does not matter.
    I hope I’ve given you a good primer on what to expect as you tackle this enjoyable outdoor sport. Just get out your wallet, bone up on your identification skills, break out your best cold weather gear and make double sure that you are not guilty of wearing waders with a hole in them.

    Articles and columns by Alvin Richardson about hunting, fishing and other outdoor sports appear weekly in the Statesboro Herald. Richardson can be reached at