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 Post subject: Is Waterfowling too expensive ?
PostPosted: Mon May 13, 2013 7:22 am 
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Joined: Fri Aug 26, 2011 12:16 pm
Posts: 20
Last year I ran across an article in American Hunter by Brian McCombie lamenting the continuous decline in the number of waterfowl hunters, despite the fact that duck populations have stabilized, and actually shown a modest increase. His conclusion was that “waterfowl hunting tends to be more expensive, requires more effort and tends to be less available than other hunting opportunities”. I decided that it was time to address the impression that waterfowl hunting is expensive, so I wrote “Camo Pajamas, now posted down in my Blog stack at www.sportsmansphotoalbum.com. I was wondering if anyone really cared….until I received an e-mail from a young aspiring western waterfowler who had just finished reading “Camo Pajamas“. I invite you to read his comments and impressions of our sport in the forward to Camo PJ’s.

Thanks for your interest...

Ron




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 Post subject: Re: Is Waterfowling too expensive ?
PostPosted: Mon May 13, 2013 9:49 am 
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Joined: Mon Mar 07, 2005 4:16 pm
Posts: 4398
Location: Long Island, NY
Waterfowling CAN be expensive, but it certainly doesn't need to be. Ninety percent of what is being marketed as "MUST HAVE" gear is just not necessary. There are some absolutely necessary items such as good waders and a good parka, but you really don't need to spend a fortune on really good stuff. Parkas, for example, need not be the latest and greatest camo pattern. If I had a nickel for every duck I've killed with a plain canvas coat, I wouldn't need to buy shells for the rest of my life.

And shells! Without looking for sales, most people could save half of their regular ammunition bill by purchasing plain old round steel loads of modest (say 1400fps or so) velocity. These loads will kill just as far as most of the more "sophisticated" loads like Black Cloud, Blind Side and HyperSonics. In fact, it's a pretty good bet that they'll kill a good bit farther than you can consistently connect. I will admit that the heavier than lead non toxic loads are ballistically much better than steel. However, you have to ask yourself if you are able to take advantage of it and is the extra cost (substantially extra) is worth it? Then, go out and prove it. If you can break 7 out of 10 crossing targets at some extended range (something beyond 40 yards and more likely beyond 50), then the stuff is worthy of consideration. Then, you need to assess your type of hunting. Are your shots mostly over decoys, say 30 yards or less? If so, then steel will work just fine. If you're pass shooting beyond 50 and can make those shots, then the heavy stuff is probably a better choice.

Then there's chokes. If most people knew how to properly pattern their guns and went about it in a logical manner they'd actually find out that the factory chokes, in most cases, will do the job just as well as the aftermarket ones. It's a lot less expensive to select a choke and then test various loads through it than to select a load and fire it through several different chokes to see which one is best. Then, instead of just checking the pattern at some predetermined range, check the pattern over the complete range. In other words, set up pattern sheets from, say 25 to 50 yards at 5 yard intervals. Have them aligned vertically and horizontally, and fire through all the sheets. You'll then get a better idea of exactly what your load is doing as it travels down range.

Decoys are another favorite target of marketers. Ever wonder why decoys are called "blocks"? Have you ever seen some of the decoys that were used back in the 1920s and 1930s? Marketers would have you believe that the ducks are smarter today, but I've never heard of a "Duck College". The fact is that like most prey animals, waterfowl react to conditions. The more they are shot at, the more they become wary. In the 20s and 30s, the daily limit was between 25 and 50 birds a day. And there were a lot more hunters. Still, the crudely carved wooden "blocks" tolled ducks. Today, we are told that we need the most realistic looking decoys with the highest level of detail and flocking or we won't be successful. And then you'll need special slotted bags to carry them in so they don't get scratched or they'll flare birds! The fact is that I've got a string of about two dozen decoys that I carved myself. Painted them with standard flat house paint. By last count of the freezer, they toll birds well enough. Not saying that you have to carve your own. You can get the absolute best, most realistic, highly detailed, flocked decoys for about $150 per dozen, or you can get plain old plastic water keels for about $30 per dozen. If you know how to scout, pick a location, and place your decoys, you'll kill as many birds with the cheap blocks as you will with the expensive ones.

The list goes on and on. From shotguns to boats to ammunition to whatever. If you listen to the marketing campaigns you'll go broke. The bottom line is that you can't buy success.

Frank

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 Post subject: Re: Is Waterfowling too expensive ?
PostPosted: Mon May 13, 2013 11:15 am 
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Joined: Sun Oct 21, 2007 11:08 am
Posts: 1534
Article brings back memories. Frank is correct in that one can get by shooting the plain Jane steel loads for about $10 per box. When steel came out the naysayers claimed that its extra expense would drive away duck hunters but today steel is less expensive than lead high brass. Lot of gimmicks in shells, but the plain old steel works. The tungsten based stuff is more appropritate for me in smaller bores.
My first decoys were made for diving ducks and we split cedar logs and installed head silhouettes, and painted them with hardware store paint. These will still get ducks. I also agree with Frank that the $30/ dozen decoys work well. Local stores are starting to sell individual decoys for about $3.00 @ which permits one to add to his spread or build one over time. I have never needed much more than a dozen decoys in the area I hunt mallards anyway.
Clothing can be had pretty reasonable, lots of ducks are shot by hunters wearing Carhardt work coats. I wear a very warm brown work cap. My blind material is the burlap camoflague stuff sold at about $15 per bundle. I often stick the oars in the water and drape it over them for height.
I have shot ducks with semiautos, doubles and pump guns. The pump gun is still as good as ever. I get doubles out of a flock with either an auto or a pump and generally blow the second shot with either. While an auto may give an advantage in International Trap or Sporting clays, it has no advantage over a good pump gun for me in the field. Pumps work fine.
A fiend mentioned going duck hunting with me but right away thought one of use should spend large $$ on a duck boat with a 90 horse motor. I get by with an old boat I picked up for $90 and an electric motor. I go up rivers and hunt small ponds. The 90 horse would be good for Leech Lake, but I don't care to venture out on the big water anyway. Did pick up a 4 horse for the boat which will out do the electric motor. I also fish a lot out of that rig in smaller lakes when alone so it is not just a duck boat. Many in my area see no problem fishing out of a camo painted boat.
I jump shoot a lot of ducks, which is no different than upland hunting. To do that I wear a good pair of boots, mostly for walking, but wear the same boots for pheasant hunting.
Another expense most don't mention, but which is worth more than all the expensive decoy spreads, boats and shotguns are my retrievers. I do not think I would hunt without a good retriever. All the BS about tungsten shot eliminating cripples is nothing compared to a good retriever. No matter what one shoots, you will get cripples. Through the years, even back in the days of lead, I can remember those special retrieves. Had a Chesepeake that went after a crippled bill. Couldn't swat the bird as the dog was in the way. After about the 3rd dive the Chesie must have though "enough of this s##t and dove after it and brought it back by the tail feathers. The water was clear enough to watch the dog go down. I could tell a lot of stories, but those dogs made the difference. A good dog is as cheap to feed as a worthless mutt.

DP


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 Post subject: Re: Is Waterfowling too expensive ?
PostPosted: Mon May 13, 2013 9:21 pm 
Tournament Grade

Joined: Thu Apr 26, 2012 8:50 pm
Posts: 256
I have duck hunted 40+ yrs And have been caught up in the expense of the sport. The big expense is Leasing my gosh! but where I am from the duck hunting dried up in the early 90's (loss of Dairy farms and focus on deer and turkey) but I duck hunt so I have to go west for what I luv to do. And I am lease looking! Help


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 Post subject: Re: Is Waterfowling too expensive ?
PostPosted: Mon May 13, 2013 9:58 pm 
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Joined: Sat Mar 07, 2009 8:44 pm
Posts: 914
Location: Kansas
There are many articles written each year on waterfowling on a budget . Split a flat of shells with your hunting buddies , share cost of gas when scouting , Pump shotguns are as good as they ever have been. Scout rivers that are public accesable, No lease here. Make freinds with a farmer or two alot of waterfowling on farm pnds are free for the asking.

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 Post subject: Re: Is Waterfowling too expensive ?
PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2013 10:28 am 
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Joined: Sun Oct 21, 2007 11:08 am
Posts: 1534
Lease hunting is getting to be an issue in other areas also. In MN leases have dwindled the amount of private land available for request for pheasant hunting. For ducks, in Northern MN there are almost too many lakes as they do not tend to concentrate in any particular water body. I do drive about 150 miles one way to hunt pheasant, so I can understand a waterfowlers problems. We do have WPA's in abundance and they offer good opportunities. Get a book of maps from Delorme or such which will assist in scouting as they show public lands. Other maps are available.
Another way to budget after one gets into the sport is to buy after season gear. I have an excellent coat I bought last November after the season was over, had another but my daughter kind of confiscated it.

DP


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 Post subject: Re: Is Waterfowling too expensive ?
PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2013 10:47 am 
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Joined: Sat Dec 12, 2009 1:17 am
Posts: 478
Location: mn
I do think some of the expensive part comes from wanting to be more successful and have an easier time. It might also be too expensive if you aren't really dedicated. If you hunt 2 times a year then it is hard to justify any waterfowl gear. If you hunt 15 times a year but would like to get out 30 times you start looking at a nice jon boat with a mud motor, then it starts getting expensive.

It all boils down to - do you really need it? Most times you don't need nice stuff but it makes hunting easier.


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 Post subject: Re: Is Waterfowling too expensive ?
PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2013 7:50 pm 
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Joined: Thu Apr 26, 2012 8:50 pm
Posts: 256
I am going to pay whats fair to do what I luv! Duck hunting


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 Post subject: Re: Is Waterfowling too expensive ?
PostPosted: Wed May 15, 2013 10:22 pm 
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Joined: Fri May 03, 2013 1:13 am
Posts: 26
All hunting can be expensive. Walking into Cabela's will prove that. However ... yes ... waterfowling seems to be the most gear intensive ... or can be. I've been hunting waterfowl for 21 years (not much of anything else), and I honestly would be frightened to find out how much I've foolishly spent over the years.

I started hunting when I was 10. Until I was 20 or so, I just did what other hunters told me to do (that is, decoys to buy, ammo to use, calls to blow, guns to shoot, etc.). It may be hard for a new hunter to realize what he likes or dislikes. As a young gosling, I didn't know any better, and would save all my pennies for a year for that special item. Then, after having used that item for a few weeks during the season, I'd realize that item was a complete waste of my pennies. (This, I'm ashamed to say, has happened far too many times.)

Mr. Lopez has it right, though. I finally realized the simple things seem to make waterfowling more enjoyable. I'm happy to hear he has carved his own decoys! I think that is an incredible off-season activity that can enhance one's appreciation for the sport. Reloading can do that, too.

I agree with this new waterfowler's observations: hunting ducks and geese is much more an art than a science. Again, I think Mr. Lopez is correct in saying we've over complicated the system ... the duck's brain hasn't gotten bigger or increased in mental power throughout the years ... but we hunt them like it has, as if they're some sort of evolved species that can sense discoloration in a two-year old decoy versus the new decoy down river, OR will flare at the sight of shiny, blued barrels.

Just as others have already said, keep it simple and enjoy the ride! Waterfowling is incredibly addicting. Not because of trigger pulling, but because of the friendships and bonds (manly bonds, of course) that are strengthened in the blind. To this day, my closest friends (with the exception of my wife) are my ducking buddies. There is a bond there that is hard to understand unless you're an honest waterfowler, who not only respects the hunt but also the hunted.

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 Post subject: Re: Is Waterfowling too expensive ?
PostPosted: Mon May 27, 2013 8:50 am 
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Joined: Wed Dec 13, 2006 1:38 pm
Posts: 1234
Location: Florida
And no one has even brought up a retriever, food, vet bills, proper training,etc.
Really it boils down to access. If you have to pay to travel & have a place to hunt, it is considerably more expensive than if you live in an area where ducks are plentiful and you have free or relatively so access. Times have definately changed. What use to be available to hunt just for the asking (and maybe some farm help or game sharing off season), now has a big lease fee attached.


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 Post subject: Re: Is Waterfowling too expensive ?
PostPosted: Mon May 27, 2013 9:33 pm 
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Joined: Fri May 03, 2013 1:13 am
Posts: 26
Bwanar wrote:
... Times have definately changed. ...
Indeed, they have!

I live close to the border of southern Idaho. So I hunt both Utah (the Great Salt Lake and its marshes) and Idaho (the Snake River and Indian Reservation). Public ground around the GSL and its marshes is horrible unless ... you shell out enough money for a good Mud Buddy or an air boat. If you don't have access to either one of those, you don't have access to good hunting. The reason? Clubs and the uber wealthy have access to the drivable locations. The good public hunting is, for the most part, only accessible by boat.

In southern Idaho, it's different. Most duck hunting is river hunting ... fast river hunting. The water moves fast and 10 oz weights on decoys is barely enough. Boats are not crucial, but they help! Dogs are crucial, though! No dog equals lost birds ... every time. Sad thing about Idaho is the state's fish cops allowed guides to come in. It was previously against the law. Now field hunting is becoming too expensive with the guides taking up all the farmers' land with leases. Access to the river is easy ... for now. Once the land around those access points dries up to leases, then boats only will get you to good hunting. Idaho is becoming like Utah.

You're right, waterfowling is expensive and it's becoming more expensive, even for those who live within 20 miles of phenomenal hunting. It's sad, but it's the truth. I fear my children will not experience what I have experienced. Not because of gun laws, but because of availability.

We talk of gun laws and the potential of those laws destroying our freedoms. But it's also the cost of hunting that will drive and has already driven many away from hunting. I'm surely not condoning redistribution of wealth! But for the middle class and below, hunting is becoming more and more expensive and less and less accessible. Not sure if we'll ever become Europe or the U.K. But times have, indeed, changed.

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 Post subject: Re: Is Waterfowling too expensive ?
PostPosted: Mon May 27, 2013 9:46 pm 
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Joined: Thu Apr 26, 2012 8:50 pm
Posts: 256
We talk of gun laws and the potential of those laws destroying our freedoms. But it's also the cost of hunting that will drive and has already driven many away from hunting. I'm surely not condoning redistribution of wealth! But for the middle class and below, hunting is becoming more and more expensive and less and less accessible. Not sure if we'll ever become Europe or the U.K. But times have, indeed, changed. Great Post JAKER 40 yrs later I never dreamed we would be where we are NOW!! trouble from all sides


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 Post subject: Re: Is Waterfowling too expensive ?
PostPosted: Tue May 28, 2013 11:02 am 
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Joined: Sun Oct 21, 2007 11:08 am
Posts: 1534
MN is called the land of 10,000 lakes but we actually have over 14,000 by count. So far I can find a lake or a pond on our acres of public land that offers decent duck hunting. For pheasant I have to hunt public land due to private companies leasing land. Also farms have gotten large enough such that owners can get hard to track down. There si something about hunting a wild pheasant or other game birds that is much more satisfying than a game farm bird. I will admit game farms are really less expensive when I look at travel time, etc. They may be more of a thing in the future whcih is sad. One shooting preserve does seem to be repopulating pheasant in an area that never had any as the owner kind of complains about hunters going after some of his flyoffs which seem to be flying farther and farther. Claiming seeing spring birds.

DP


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 Post subject: Re: Is Waterfowling too expensive ?
PostPosted: Sun Jul 21, 2013 8:31 am 
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Joined: Fri May 09, 2008 9:17 pm
Posts: 2100
Location: Land of Oz
Waterfowling can be very expensive.....if you want to be successful consistently!

One can be a casual duck hunter for not much money, but those of use who number the birds killed in a season in the several hundreds know it takes dedication. And dedication means spending money. Time and money spent just scouting alone is tremendous.

I think it's worth it.


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 Post subject: Re: Is Waterfowling too expensive ?
PostPosted: Tue Jul 23, 2013 11:36 pm 
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Location: lapine oregon
It used to be much cheaper to hunt around here. Then The USFS changed the rules on access to the nearby lake. Blocked the best access. Now if you want to set decoys it takes a boat capable of big water. This added the cost of a boat to hunt an area we used to drive to, drop off decoys then walk back in. Idiot 4x4 mud boggers did this to us. Cost go up for a lot of reasons. Dogs are not cheap, Fuel at near $4 a gallon is probably the most painful.

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 Post subject: Re: Is Waterfowling too expensive ?
PostPosted: Wed Jul 24, 2013 10:07 am 
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Joined: Sun Oct 21, 2007 11:08 am
Posts: 1534
One thing also depends on how you look at things. My Golden Retriever did not cost $1200 like the article mentioned. We would keep a dog anyway and he has been spoiled as a pet by my wife., but still hunts ducks. Worked with a person that raised Pugs. They were show stock and cost more than my Golden. Don't quite know what some of other breeds like them are good for, but they are spendy.
Boats are also a matter of perspective. I often go fishing and that boat would also double as a duck boat. See a lot of duck boats pulling double duty. I even fish a lot in smaller lakes out of my regular duck boat. I guess any recreation comes with a price and what you are willing to pay for it. My fishing boat is an old Crestliner, but it floats, doesn't leak and I catch fish out of it. Some pay more for their boats than many of us do for a car.

DP


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 Post subject: Re: Is Waterfowling too expensive ?
PostPosted: Tue Aug 06, 2013 11:34 am 
Tournament Grade

Joined: Fri Jul 20, 2012 12:20 pm
Posts: 105
Gun...$50 for a single shot at the local gun store.
Shells...$9.00 at Walmart
License and Stamps...$35
Call...$20 to $30 for R-N-T or Buck Garner

If you hunt water you might want a pair of $70 waders, depending on your location and water temperatures. :)

You can get a set of decoys on sell for $30 ducks, $60 geese, but if you setup right you really don't need those either. You can jump shoot creeks, or walk river banks. Set trash bags or painted bottles and jugs out in the fields to help finish geese and ducks.

So $70 if you have a gun and less than $150 if you don't. :)




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