Not criticizing your decision, but I think there's some faulty logic in your reasoning.
canadianhunter1 wrote:I hunt primarily to put food on the family table; secondly for the time in the outdoors. Most meat in a grocery store is laced with hormones and antibiotics so its nice to have a healthy alternative once in a while (especially for the kids). That being said here are the reasons why I do not hesitate to shoot ducks and geese on the water:
While I agree that most of the meat in the stores is laced with hormones and other chemicals, you really need to compare apples to apples. Most of the states south of the 49th parallel have recommendations regarding how many meals per month one should eat with respect to waterfowl. Some waterfowl, like mergansers, are recommended not to be eaten at all.
canadianhunter1 wrote:1. You destroy less meat. Shooting at ducks in the air (especially when they are coming towards you) tends to badly damage the breast/leg meat. I don't want to kill something only to throw 1/2 or all of the meat away.
Shooting a duck or goose on the water is no different than shooting the same bird in the air except for the presentation. And then, in many cases, the presentations are really identical. The difference is that the shot, if properly sized, has more of a chance of passing through the duck in the air than the same bird on the water. The reason is that the bird on the water has most of it's vitals below the waterline and guarded by the wings folded over its back and that backbone. Additionally, the angle of approach on a sitting duck is very shallow, so the duck's exposed body parts, except for the head and neck, enjoy the same physical advantages of sloping armor on a tank.
canadianhunter1 wrote:2. You have a far better chance of killing the bird (making it, in my opinion, more "ethical"). Shooting in the air has a far greater probability of injury/crippling; in addition leaving your blind to retrieve a crippled bird may take a long time and flush/deter any remaining flocks. *I would like to mention that killing sitting ducks can become difficult beyond 30 yards (due to much of their vitals being protected) so I always take mine closer (using full choke made specifically for steel shot, #4, aiming for the head; just like turkey hunting it works great).
This is highly debatable. As explained above, the majority of the ducks vitals are well protected. This would require going up a pellet size, at least, to ensure proper penetration. When you do this, you lower total pellet count. A lower pellet count makes the chance of a pellet striking the most vulnerable vital organs, the neck and brain, less likely. To be consistant to kill ducks on the water, you need very small pellets and lots of them. If you're using one of the heavier than lead alternatives, that isn't much of a problem. I'm guessing here, but the indications I get from your post tells me you're shooting steel. If that's the case, for large size ducks, you're going to want about an ounce of #6 shot. This will ensure the pattern density necessary to ensure a pellet strike to the head and neck and ensure a kill. But, this also cuts down the effective range. You'll need to get the birds close, like 30 yards. Sometimes that's an issue.
canadianhunter1 wrote:3. Avoid unintended kills/injured birds. I rarely see ducks arriving alone, they usually come in flocks of 3+. By putting up a cloud of steel shot at a passing flock (regardless of how committed they are, or how good your aim is) it is still possible to wound or kill birds you were not aiming for (a question of "ethics" again). Shooting on the water allows you to pick the duck you want to take, and make sure no others are too close. Which leads me to my next point.
Unless you're skybusting at birds you have absolutely no right to shoot at, this isn't how a shot cloud works. You may hit the bird further back in line than the one you intended to shoot, but it is a very rare thing to drop two birds with one shot. I have done it a couple or three times, and every time it was when two birds were exactly lined up with the shot, not when one was trailing the other.
canadianhunter1 wrote:4. It is much easier to identify the species (especially when hunting early morning or late evening). Many provinces/states have specific daily bag limits for different species depending on hunting zone. Here in Quebec (South of Montreal) you are allowed a maximum of 6 ducks daily, of which only 1 can be teal or barrows goldeneye. By taking them on the water you can be sure you are following regulations (those rules exist for a reason).
Distance is distance. If the birds are in the air, there are ways to recognize the species beyond the visual. Flight patterns, sounds and silhouettes all are part of the identification process. Identifying a hen mallard vs a black duck is sometimes a problem. But whether in the air or on the water, you still need to ba able to identify them.
canadianhunter1 wrote:5. Safer (at least in my hunting area). I hunt a small river (30 yards wide) with a blind built along the edge, and know that I am the only hunter for at least 1 km in either direction (private land that I have exclusive rights to). In addition there is a 15 ft. sandy bank on the other side so there is no risk from shot skipping across the water, as well as good visibility (I am surrounded by farm fields with minimal cover). Also, no one likes steel shot bouncing off their roofs or falling in their back yards; this avoids it altogether.
Round shot fired from a shotgun will ricochet off water as will any bullet, if the angle is correct. In fact, this is actually one of the questions on the NYS sportsman's education test. The other thing to consider is that a ricochet is not necessarily linear. The pellets can and do fly off in several directions. And a double ricochet, the pellets bouncing off the water and hitting something on the far bank, could cause them to come right back at you. If, as you say, there is nothing for at least 1km, you needn't worry. No legal pellet fired from a shotgun will travel half that distance, even with a tail wind.