Bucks to Ducks | It’s About the Hunting, not the Killing My dad introduced me to hunting at a very young age. I can remember him giving me toy bow and arrows and cork guns and sending me to play in the yard. Many hours were spent pretending to shoot the sparrows on the feeder yet somehow I always came back to the house empty handed. When it got closer to fall I would watch my dad shoot his bow at the target outside after dinner every night, wishing my toy bow and arrow could be as accurate as his. I can remember the tree bark camo hanging from the clothesline during the weeks before deer season and the treestands lining the side of our deck. When the season came and he would go hunting, I would wait by the window in our living room for the headlights of his truck to turn into our drive. When he finally got home I would bolt out the door to see if he gotten anything. I could never figure out how he could be hunting for so long and not come back with a deer! I understand why now. I am the son of a bowhunter, whose father was also a bowhunter. It is what I found myself as a teenager thinking about 24 hours out of the day; Where to move my stand, how to eliminate scent and most importantly, how to spend more time in the woods. Whitetails were all I knew and cared to know growing up. I had hunted for waterfowl on a few different occasions with friends of mine. We always had fun and even killed a few ducks but the thought of giving up precious time in the tree to hunt other animals seemed like a waste of time. My thinking was that even if we had a successful hunt, all I’d have at the end of the day was a few ducks. So what, right? Wrong. I met a hardcore waterfowler a few years back that completely changed the way I thought about hunting for ducks and geese. Our conversation started because of my arrogant remark about waterfowl hunting not really being hunting. Its just a couple of smelly guys with waiters and face paint shooting at birds way out of range hoping they hit one. The waterfowler laughed and said he’d heard it before and started to tell me why he hunts the birds I had deemed worthless. His description of hunting waterfowl completely changed the way I view the sport. He said “It’s not about killin’ ducks It’s about the effort put into preparing for the hunt. It’s about the comradery in the blind and those surreal moments when the ducks lock and everything else fades away. If they ain’t locked, I don’t shoot. My satisfaction comes from beating those birds at their own game. If I can fool his eyes with my decoys and camouflage and his ears with my call, I have already won. Killin’ em is just for proof for the wife that we’re not just sitting around drinking coffee.” As he was talking I suddenly came to the realization that he and I were looking for the same thing, we just chased different game in its pursuit. Whitetail hunting for me has never been about the killing. What I love most about it is the preparation, the scouting, the patterning, and the close encounters, all elements involved in waterfowl hunting and bowhunting alike. This realization has enlightened me to the fact that I am missing out, or had been until I understood what waterfowling was really about. I’m still a bowhunter at heart, but I’m working on it. The decision to stay out of the wooded thickets to slip my waiters on and chase ducks is getting easier every time they lock in on my set.