Jan
10

Guided Waterfowl Hunts

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FCS goes on at least one guided waterfowl hunt per season.  We usually hunt ducks but have also hunted geese and sandhill cranes.

We have had hunts for the past several seasons with Ricky Ethridge (near Donie, Marquis, Cameron, and Lockhart), Rayce Jenkins (near El Campo), Bret Jepsen (near DFW), Jack Chamberland (near McMahan), and Matt Strayer (near Altair).  Our most successful hunts have been with Rayce, Bret, and Ricky.  Our most inexpensive hunts have been with Ricky.

We have gotten our limits several times.  Here are pictures of some of our successes:

Costs:

  • Guide fees run between $225 – $250.  Guide fees will be required in full by a due date.  Hunters who do not pay the guide fee by the due date will be removed from the list of people who RSVPed for the trip.  We recommend a 20% tip, based on the effort, not the results.
  • We’ll split the vehicle gas.  If we take a toll road, because we’re running late, we’ll split that fee.
  • We’ll eat out or get drive-through food.
  • Depending on how far we have to travel, we might stay in a motel.
  • Most guides clean the birds for you.  If they do not offer this service, that will be stated in the information about the hunt.

What to Bring:

  • Texas hunting license and migratory bird endorsement and federal duck stamp.  If you bought a super combo license it includes your hunting license and migratory bird endorsement but does not include a federal duck stamp.
  • Shotgun.   A 12 gauge piston-operated semi-automatic is recommended (but keep them clean, as if they get gunked up they’ll stop working).  A recoil (aka inertia)-operated semi-automatic takes second place (as they kick more than piston-operated semi-automatics), followed by a pump (or slide)-action.  A plug is required for semi-automatics and pumps capable of holding more than two shells in the magazine (almost all of them are) while hunting migratory game birds.
  • Camo or dull non-cloth shotgun case.  Cloth cases during waterfowl hunts tend to get muddy.  We’ll leave the cases in the bed of the guide’s truck.  If we’re hunting from a boat a floating case is recommended.
  • Non-lead 3″ (if your gun is also chambered for 3″) shotgun shells (HEVI-Steel, Winchester Xpert, or equivalent) in 2 or 3 shot – the 1550 FPS variant for steel shot and the 1500 FPS variant for HEVI-Steel) are recommended.   Randy Rowley does not recommend anything smaller than 4 shot.  10 gauges and 3 1/2 inch shells in 3 1/2 inch-chambered 12 gauges are overkill for ducks.  Steel shot (if of adequate size) will kill ducks – there is no need for HEVI-shot, Tungsten, Bismuth, etc.  You’ll pay a lot more for those shells and they aren’t needed.  You’ll not need more than three boxes and will probably shoot less than two boxes.
  • Camo or dull blind bag, shell bag, vest, or bandoleer.  If your shell bag is bright (e.g., a red HEB shopping bag) you’ll need to hide it well.  If we’re going to be hunting from a boat a floating blind bag is recommended.
  • Waterproof headlamp or cap light.
  • Camo outer hunting clothes, including cap/hat and a face mask or face paint (face coverings are absolutely essential as oily skin glows in a duck’s eyes).  If rain is predicted, bring rain gear.
  • Waders (absolutely essential except on the pond hunts).  Uninsulated breathable waders are recommended for warmer hunts.  Neoprene breathable waders are recommended for colder hunts (if you wear 5mm thick neoprene waders on an early season hunt you might cook yourself).  We don’t put our waders on until we reach the pond, lake, or river (unless you have uninsulated breathable waders).  If we’re hunting a pond bring boots that you don’t mind getting muddy, but waders will not be required.
  • Bucket, stool, or folding chair (if the guide does not have a bench in his blind; if hunting from the natural cover this is optional as you can sit on the ground, but you won’t be able to see the ducks as easily).
  • Ear plugs or muffs (electronic ones allow you to hold normal conversations).
  • Drinks and snacks (optional; drinks are highly recommended).  If we’ll hunt from a boat, there will be storage compartments to put your drinks and snacks in.
  • Non-mirrored shooting glasses or sunglasses (optional).
  • Bug repellent (optional) for hunts during the early part of the season.
  • A small or medium-sized ice chest or bag to take your ducks home in (if you get any).

Game shears, a fillet knife, a knife sharpener, a fillet board, and Ziploc bags won’t be needed, as the guide will clean the ducks and put them in Ziploc bags.

Randy has extras of many of the items that are listed above (waders, floating shotgun cases, stools, small and medium-sized ice chests, cap lights, etc.) and will happily loan things if you let him know that you would like to borrow something before we leave at randywrowley@gmail.com (his preference) or 512-922-2484.  Of course, if you borrow something and break or lose it he will expect reimbursement.

Randy usually starts out with an improved cylinder waterfowl choke if the ducks are coming into the decoys.  If all he’s getting is shots as they fly past (pass shooting), he’ll switch to a modified or full waterfowl choke.  Clay target chokes often shoot tighter with non-lead shot (e.g., an improved cylinder clay target choke will often perform as a modified choke with non-lead shot).  A choke that delivers that performance should say that on the choke.

Depending on the guide and location, you could be hunting from a traditional blind, lay-out blind, pit blind, panel blind, or natural cover.

Traditional blind (outside)

Traditional blind (inside)

1/18/16 - El Campo Duck Hunt - Ken Miller in pit blind

Pit blind

Layout blinds

Panel blind

Natural cover

Expectations

These hunts are a service to FCS members and guests, but the Event Coordinators/leaders will enforce the following expectations:

  • Follow the guide’s instructions and abide by the FCS Bylaws Regarding Conduct.
  • Pay for your share of vehicle gas and motel rooms (if applicable).
  • Help when the guide asks you to.
  • Control your dog (a dog that wants to go play with the decoys or charge the ducks as they are coming in will ruin the hunt).
  • Talk quietly, especially when ducks are coming into the decoys (ducks can hear you and will veer away).
  • Show up.
  • Be on time.
  • Don’t have a pattern of canceling at the last minute.
  • Read the Event Coordinator’s/leaders emails and don’t ask questions that have already been answered in the emails (and you would have known the answers for if you had read the emails).
  • Return the Event Coordinator’s/leader’s phone calls, emails, and/or texts, if he or she asks a question or asks you to acknowledge something.

Contact Randy at randywrowley@gmail.com (his preference) or 512-922-2484 if you have any questions.

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