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 Post subject: Decoying for wood ducks
PostPosted: Sun Sep 13, 2020 3:14 pm 
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Joined: Thu Oct 11, 2012 12:12 pm
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Hey everyone,

I believe I have asked this before, but I will ask again. A couple of my buddies have an isolated pond deep in the woods we can get to. It has held ducks at times during the winter and mainly wood ducks. Would you recommend some decoys to try and "coax" them in or "make it more inviting or comfortable"? If so, what kind of spread? Also, do you recommend a duck call for them. Thanks

Woody




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 Post subject: Re: Decoying for wood ducks
PostPosted: Sun Sep 13, 2020 3:21 pm 
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Joined: Sun Nov 26, 2006 9:04 pm
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Location: Upstate NY
Wood ducks are best decoyed with oak trees and called in with acorns! :wink:

I've tried calling wood ducks over the years and have pretty much given up. It seems that they very rarely respond (although that could be a function of my ability to work a duck call).

Woodies are the most common duck in my area, so we put our effort into calling and decoying "big ducks" (mallards and blacks). I don't really know what the best technique for decoying wood ducks would be... interesting question.

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 Post subject: Re: Decoying for wood ducks
PostPosted: Sun Sep 13, 2020 4:04 pm 
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Joined: Mon May 20, 2019 9:53 am
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I think woodies are gonna go where they’re gonna go. Once they get there I do believe they may relate to a spinner but I don’t feel like it’ll make them detour.


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 Post subject: Re: Decoying for wood ducks
PostPosted: Sun Sep 13, 2020 4:26 pm 
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It it were me I wouldn't bother with a bag of decoys, the less stuff I gotta haul through the woods the better. I would definitely use a wood duck call.

If the woodies are not coming close enough, I might use one wood duck block on fifty feet or so of string. Chuck the decoy out there into open water and when you see a flock in the air give a whistle and drag the decoy across the water. Tells the woodies right where they need to land.

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 Post subject: Re: Decoying for wood ducks
PostPosted: Sun Sep 13, 2020 7:41 pm 
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Joined: Thu Oct 11, 2012 12:12 pm
Posts: 402
Thanks for your thoughts. I may try the single decoy. Our walk in is a little rough so the less stuff the better. If I needed to do a set up, I was going to do it weeks in advance. Any recommendations on a wood duck call and video? Thanks again

Woody


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 Post subject: Re: Decoying for wood ducks
PostPosted: Sun Sep 13, 2020 9:19 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jun 15, 2004 11:55 am
Posts: 5529
Location: Hemingway, S.C. 29554
I have rarely targeted wood ducks with decoys but they have generally decoyed pretty readily, provided the deeks are in an area where they want to go. I don't think you need a bunch of decoys but I never saw them shy away from a big spread! I would definitely use a few! A wood duck whistle works for me.


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 Post subject: Re: Decoying for wood ducks
PostPosted: Mon Sep 14, 2020 8:35 am 
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Joined: Sat Apr 20, 2013 7:43 am
Posts: 709
We have a good population of Wood Ducks along the rivers riparian forest where I hunt and
with a dozen or so Decoys away from our normal spread , we can get woodies to react to them ,
mostly with close flybys but on a few occasions they will drop their landing gear and hit the water .
We seldom shoot the Woodies as there are many hunters that do . We prefer the Mallards and
Greenwings to fill our straps and sometimes a Bull Sprig . Just having those Woodies close by
to listen to their cry and enjoy their colors is all we asked , rather than having their feets stickup
out of the rice ......like we once heard !


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 Post subject: Re: Decoying for wood ducks
PostPosted: Mon Sep 14, 2020 8:59 am 
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Joined: Mon Oct 31, 2005 11:17 pm
Posts: 735
Location: sw Ill
We’ve had woodies drop into our mixed spread of decoys. I can’t say it was due to our calling though. When we hunt in an area where wood ducks frequent we will blow a wood duck whistle a few times before shooting time just to let any ducks in the area know where we are.
If I were in your position I would put out a half dozen decoys with a couple of them on a jerk string to create movement.
Good luck. Woodies taste great!

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 Post subject: Re: Decoying for wood ducks
PostPosted: Mon Sep 14, 2020 11:42 am 
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Joined: Sat Nov 05, 2016 11:45 am
Posts: 2075
Wood ducks are my favorite waterfowl to hunt. They go where they want and they won’t be discouraged by a few shots dropping a couple. We’ve had them swing by three or more times after dropping some.

A place like that is probably a loafing area, I imagine they go out to feed.


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 Post subject: Re: Decoying for wood ducks
PostPosted: Mon Sep 14, 2020 11:45 am 
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Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2008 10:15 am
Posts: 10721
Ravenanme wrote:
We have a good population of Wood Ducks along the rivers riparian forest where I hunt and
with a dozen or so Decoys away from our normal spread , we can get woodies to react to them ,
mostly with close flybys but on a few occasions they will drop their landing gear and hit the water .
We seldom shoot the Woodies as there are many hunters that do . We prefer the Mallards and
Greenwings to fill our straps and sometimes a Bull Sprig . Just having those Woodies close by
to listen to their cry and enjoy their colors is all we asked , rather than having their feets stickup
out of the rice ......like we once heard !


That's cool.

I like just watching them too, sometimes.

What's a Bull Sprig?

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Just because government took control of one's actions does not absolve one from individual responsibility. Better to be in trouble with government than to commit evil.

In God We Trust.


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 Post subject: Re: Decoying for wood ducks
PostPosted: Mon Sep 14, 2020 11:57 am 
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Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2008 10:15 am
Posts: 10721
McFarmer wrote:
Wood ducks are my favorite waterfowl to hunt. They go where they want and they won’t be discouraged by a few shots dropping a couple. We’ve had them swing by three or more times after dropping some.

A place like that is probably a loafing area, I imagine they go out to feed.


The resident woodies where I live figure out where the resident blinds are located just after the first couple of days open. I like it. One lake I hunt there is this pot in the cat tails we call "the wood duck cave" All the local wood ducks pile in to roost in a little patch of water deep in the cat ails. You can't see it unless you are on marsh skis or in an aircraft. But I have counted two-dozen or more wood ducks a night piling into that cave.

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Just because government took control of one's actions does not absolve one from individual responsibility. Better to be in trouble with government than to commit evil.

In God We Trust.


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 Post subject: Re: Decoying for wood ducks
PostPosted: Mon Sep 14, 2020 3:38 pm 
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Joined: Thu Oct 11, 2012 12:12 pm
Posts: 402
Awesome info guys! Thanks for the help

Woody


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 Post subject: Re: Decoying for wood ducks
PostPosted: Tue Sep 15, 2020 12:19 pm 
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Joined: Sat Apr 20, 2013 7:43 am
Posts: 709
oldthompson wrote:
Ravenanme wrote:
We have a good population of Wood Ducks along the rivers riparian forest where I hunt and
with a dozen or so Decoys away from our normal spread , we can get woodies to react to them ,
mostly with close flybys but on a few occasions they will drop their landing gear and hit the water .
We seldom shoot the Woodies as there are many hunters that do . We prefer the Mallards and
Greenwings to fill our straps and sometimes a Bull Sprig . Just having those Woodies close by
to listen to their cry and enjoy their colors is all we asked , rather than having their feets stickup
out of the rice ......like we once heard !


That's cool.


We call Drake Pintail ,Bull Sprig ! It's a old West Coast trophy Bird as in the old days
we were able to take a full limit of them ( 7 birds )

I like just watching them too, sometimes.

What's a Bull Sprig?


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 Post subject: Re: Decoying for wood ducks
PostPosted: Sun Sep 20, 2020 7:08 pm 
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Joined: Sun Mar 07, 2004 8:09 pm
Posts: 726
Location: Oklahoma
I have seen that wood ducks will either land or buzz by, never circle like mallards or other ducks. I rarely see them anymore but they are sure fun to hunt in flooded timber. Good luck


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 Post subject: Re: Decoying for wood ducks
PostPosted: Mon Sep 21, 2020 8:38 am 
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Joined: Tue Jun 15, 2004 11:55 am
Posts: 5529
Location: Hemingway, S.C. 29554
Never paid a lot of attention to Summer ducks (woodies) but I think I'm overlooking some great sport as we have a lot of them in the swamps around here. The best decoy for woodies, aka: acorn ducks, is corn. A lot of people use that but personally, I wish the game warden would catch them all! It's like people running the motor shooting marsh hens. I think I'm the only person in coastal SC that hunts them legally! If you can't kill a fr$%@#n rail without breaking the law, what kind of hunter are you? The fine for killing over the limit was $15 per bird per person (for everybody in the boat), I don't know what it is now.


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 Post subject: Re: Decoying for wood ducks
PostPosted: Mon Sep 21, 2020 3:15 pm 
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Joined: Sun Sep 20, 2020 9:08 am
Posts: 3
We still have TONS of woodies at the family farm which is adjacent to a major river system. We like to find where they roost and then where they RAFT during the day. It makes the morning and afternoon hunts much more predictable but rarely do we use any more than a few woodie decoys mainly as a point of reference for them


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 Post subject: Re: Decoying for wood ducks
PostPosted: Mon Sep 21, 2020 4:08 pm 
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Joined: Sat Apr 20, 2013 7:43 am
Posts: 709
We have a conservation effort with 80 + Woody boxes along the river that borders the ranch .
The last of the Riparian Forest of River Oaks , Willows and Cottonwoods are here along with
miles of Almond Trees , which the woodies don't seem to mind .
They're such a soothing bird to hear as their cry is only to say , don't shoot , don't shoot
but I agree , they do taste good !


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 Post subject: Re: Decoying for wood ducks
PostPosted: Tue Sep 22, 2020 7:03 pm 
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Joined: Fri Nov 14, 2008 8:49 pm
Posts: 999
Location: Moncks Corner, SC
I wrote this for another site but this thread seemed like a good reason to post it here. It's an awkward attempt at sharing what I've learned about hunting wood ducks over the past 42 years...I hope this helps or at least gives you some ideas...

Conversation with a Kid

It is the middle of May but I dreamed that I had traveled back in time and was duck hunting on the blackwater creek of my youth where I first took up the sport. As a way of connecting with my past, I still hunt this creek a couple of times every season so it felt more real-life that dream-like. Surprising, the old haunt hasn’t changed much even after being hit by a Cat 4 hurricane so I didn’t notice, at first, that the universe’s clock had been turned back 40 years. It was when I saw the teenaged version of myself round bend of the creek’s hairpin turn that the connection with the past, all the sudden, became more literal than poetic.

It was the boat not the driver that first got my attention. I had spent so many hours of my growing-up years in that old boat that I recognized it immediately and knew who the driver must have been. I, I mean, the driver was surprised to see someone else on his creek too. He throttled back then slowed to a stop parallel to where I was in the creek. “Good Mornin’,” he said. I don’t remember sounding like that but the bulging Adam’s apple centered in the youthfully skinny neck and that stupid hat were unmistakable.

I know enough about not affecting the space-time continuum that I tipped the bill of my cap to somewhat hide my face and keep him from possibly recognizing his older and fatter self. Avoiding eye contract, I could see the old brown and tan gun case lashed to the rail on the middle boat seat. I knew that inside the case was my granddad’s Remington 1100 that had been given to me when I was twelve. The rubber hip boots the boy was wearing were familiar too. They had once belonged to a friend of Dad’s who didn’t need them anymore because he had given up duck hunting. I never met dad’s friend but I remember his name because it was written in blue ink on the inside top of each boot. Times really have changed, I thought. At this point in my life I would never wear another man’s boots but it didn’t bother me back then. Actually, I was glad to have them especially since they didn’t cost me anything. I smiled when I noticed the top of a burlap feed bag lying in the floor of the boat. I knew it contained either two or three Victor mallard decoys depending on whether the boy’s half of the dream happened before or after the bike wreck that broke the bill off of one of the hens. The decoys, I remember, were wrapped with 6 foot of waxed garden string and finished with spark plug weights that I had dug out of the trash can after a tune-up of the family car.

“’You get any?” I asked the younger me.

“Naw but I got a few shots,” young me replied through that giant Adam’s apple.

I don’t remember the exact day, of course, or even if it was a real day but I wasn’t surprised by the answer. I had hunted that creek probably a hundred times between when I was 14 and when I headed to college and probably killed less than 20 wood ducks the whole time. Most of the hunts were in the afternoon where getting a shot was rare but I usually got at least of few passing shots on the morning hunts like this one. I thought about calling him over and telling him what I have learned about hunting wood ducks in the intervening 40 years but I considered the space-time thing so I resisted the temptation.

“’You do any good?” he asked me.

I quickly glanced in my own boat to see how to answer his question. There was a pair of wood ducks on the boat’s back seat next to a dozen ringneck decoys each wrapped with 20 foot of premium decoy line and heavy leaden weights that I had dipped in vinyl. Somewhere between his future and my past he would learn that ringnecks make the best wood duck decoys but he will have to learn that on his own. All the sudden, I worried that he might notice that my decoys were probably 20 years ahead of anything available to him but he didn’t mention it if he did.

“Yeah, a pair of woodies,” I told him as I blended the visual search of the boat with a head nod to make it look like I was motioning to where the birds were laid. He looked as surprised as I was.

“Funny. I didn’t hear you shoot,” the teenager told me.

Again I had to fight the urge to tell him what was happening and share the things I had, embarrassingly, only just recently learned about hunting wood ducks. But, it wasn’t just his future I would risk but my own past so I kept up the pretense. Still, I really wish someone had jump started my understanding of this overly common but unique species of duck. The distraction of all the thoughts in my head created an awkward pause that lasted long enough that the boy finally said, “Well, good luck,” and put the boat in gear.

“Thanks but I think I’m heading home myself,” I was able to say before he throttled up and headed to where I knew he lived.

With the boy gone I was able to look around a little more myself. It was definitely my current duck rig with its chartplotting GPS, USB charging ports and LED nav lights. The only clue that things weren’t quite right was the blank constellation on the GPS screen. It was searching for satellites that just weren’t there. My digital SLR camera was in its case so I opened it up and tried to snap a picture of the pair of wood ducks that I didn’t remember shooting. The camera worked just fine but the shutter snap blended in with the alarm that woke me up.

Dreams are easiest to remember when you first wake up so I kept my eyes closed as I hit the snooze button and replayed the weird dream in my head a couple of times to help me better remember it once I was up and moving around. I still couldn’t shake the feeling that I should have told the kid more about hunting wood ducks because it would be so long before I, I meant, he would figure things out for himself.

For most of my early years I consciously separated hunting other ducks from the times when I shot wood ducks. I was keenly aware that, even though wood ducks were one of the most common birds in my bag, I had never really learned to hunt them. I was careful to always say I shot wood ducks instead of 'hunted' wood ducks. I pass shot woodies in the mornings and jump shot them off of creeks in the afternoon. Occasionally one would stray into my mallard spread and get shot but I was always aware that it wasn’t on purpose. If I ever found a place where they were feeding I would get there before daylight and shoot them as they arrived for their usually early breakfast but I still didn’t really know how to hunt them. I was bothered by this gap in my duck hunting knowledge but didn’t know how to fill it. It wasn’t because I hadn’t tried, though.

Dad gave me a Faulks wood duck call in 1979 and I learned to perfectly duplicate the slurred “yyuuuuupp, yyuuuuupp, yyuuuuupp” of the morning hens’ flight call but never got a reaction for my efforts. I bought wood duck decoys but, like the call, they were ignored too. I started to believe that wood ducks were uncallable but that just didn’t make sense. Woodies are one of the most vocal of duck species. There has to be a reason for all the chatter but it remained a long unsolved mystery.

On mornings where work or family obligations didn’t allow me time for a mallard hunt, I would slink off to my blackwater creek and try to shoot a few wood ducks for old time’s sake. It was one of these mornings when the puzzle pieces began to fall into place. I’m a much better shot than I used to be and had already pass shot the usual daylight wood duck pair but the morning was so pleasant that I just couldn’t bring myself to leave. About 9 o’clock a drake hooded merganser and his three hens swam around the bend in the creek and past just past my partially hidden boat. With no intention of shooting a merganser, I stayed stock still.

A wood duck flight call broke the merganser trance as a pair of wood ducks, presumably flying back from their morning feeding, crossed over the creek. While crossing they saw the mergansers swimming in the middle of the creek. The wood duck hen, again, squealed and the pair whiffled, half-circled and just about knocked my hat off from behind as they came in to land in the creek. I finished the 3-bird limit with the wood duck drake. His newly liberated hen left with the mergansers. The echo of the gun shot had barley faded when I heard another woodie hen. Like the last pair they crossed the creek without any appearance of wanting to land. This time, though, it wasn’t mergansers but the death throes of the just-shot wood duck that drew their attention.

Like the earlier pair, they whiffled, circled and came from behind me to land in the creek. Unlike the last time, I didn’t shoot because I had the limit. The pair barely noticed the quivering drake after they had landed and promptly swam under some of the vegetation overhanging the other side of the creek. I felt a little stupid for just now bothering to pay attention to what wood ducks are actually doing so I remained a passive observer and let the morning continue.

I barely had to time collect my thoughts before I heard more wood ducks coming. It was four this time. The creek was now void and motionless but my lesson in wood duck continued.

The hen on the water but hidden by overhanging vegetation seemed to answer the flying hen with what I think of as the “bur-uh” call. With the advance notice, the wood duck quatrain easily glided to the water in the middle of the creek. One of the drakes wheezed a “ziiiiipp” call and a hen gave a “yep, yep” call that was answered again with the “bur-uh” call from the veiled hen. The new four swam off to join the hidden pair.

Best I can now figure, the early morning flight call I think of as a slurred “yyuuuuupp” seems to be a flying invitation to have roosted birds join in with the morning flight. It is their version of “hey, get in the car we’re going to get breakfast.” I can occasionally change a mallard’s mind with some sweet talking but if there’s any way to change a woodduck’s made-up mind I don’t know it and they usually seem to have their minds made up when they are heading out to a first-light breakfast spot. The same flight call is given when the birds are fed up and looking to sit quietly (and safely) with company. That same flight call given later in the morning is the question “is anybody there and do you want company?” “Bur-uh” is the wood duck’s version of “yes”. Once landed the drake’s wheezy zip and the hen’s “yep, yep” call seems to be “where ‘you at?” The “bur-uh” call now means “over here” in wood duck.

I decided to test my theory the next time I hunted the creek so I took a depth reading before heading home – 16 feet, I’d need a lot of line. The next time I hunted the creek I left the wood duck decoys at home. I don’t have merganser decoys so I thought ringnecks would have to do. I brought my ringnecks, their 25 foot of line and heavy weights would more than reach the bottom and hold in the swift black current. I also brought my 20 gauge. Its light loads and open chokes would reinforce the need to wait for a decoying shot. I let the morning flight go unmolested and waited for birds to start trickling back.

It actually worked. About 8:30 the first pair of wood ducks flying the opposite of the morning flight saw and called to the plastic ringnecks. I answered with a “bur-uh” call and easily shot a decoying pair. After 30 years, I had just hunted my first pair of wood ducks.

I have started paying even more attention to wood ducks and was taught a lesson about afternoon hunting the iridescent beauties by a crusty old gator but that’s another story.

I don’t usually set an alarm when it's not during duck season but I had planned to meet another birder and look for spring warblers. I like to start my birding days with a clean SD card in my camera so I checked there was only one photo. Strange, though, duck season has been over for more than four months and I don’t remember shooting those birds…

Image


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 Post subject: Re: Decoying for wood ducks
PostPosted: Wed Sep 23, 2020 6:34 am 
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Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2008 10:15 am
Posts: 10721
Good story Rubberhead!

I don't hardly make hen calls, not for any duck. I think I might have mallard high-balled once or maybe twice all last season and that was only to get some gadwall to finish. Same with woodies, no "Kree,kree,kree" coming out of my whistle. Just my imitation of the drake woddy's "krak,ka,kee".

While I don't really have a good ear for it Imo in order to be an effective caller you gotta listen to the ducks, not Joe Blow across the marsh who repeatedly plays mallard highballs like his kazoo is stuck on stupid. Nothing and I mean absolutely nothing flares the duck like a highball pointed right at them.

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Just because government took control of one's actions does not absolve one from individual responsibility. Better to be in trouble with government than to commit evil.

In God We Trust.


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 Post subject: Re: Decoying for wood ducks
PostPosted: Wed Sep 23, 2020 8:19 am 
Crown Grade

Joined: Tue Jun 15, 2004 11:55 am
Posts: 5529
Location: Hemingway, S.C. 29554
Pop use to say that the duck call is the best wildlife preservation tool ever invented for ducks as people that have no idea how to use one have saved the lives of countless ducks!




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