The last two days have been my first-ever solo waterfowl hunting (just me hunting, not being a pack mule or retriever for my boys). Like the old hunting books I'm reading told me to do, I put out a dozen magnum goose shells on one side of of me, a dozen duck dekes 30 yards on my other side, and me right in the middle (camo'd in a white painter's suit and laying flat on white bedding to blend in with the frozen lakeshore). Both days, no birds -- and there weren't many -- flew into my dekes. However, a few buffleheads swam within 15 yards of me, and a couple of greenheads appeared out of nowhere on the shoreline about 35 yards from me: VERY tempting to pull trigger on them, but it seemed kind of marginal with 12-gauge 3" #2 Hi-Speed steel, so I refrained and hoped they'd come closer, but they flew off instead. All this got me really thinking about ground shooting ethics:
ETHICS QUESTION #1: If range is close enough to ensure a clean kill, is it ETHICAL to pull the trigger on a grounded bird? If not, then why is it ethical (and apparently encouraged) to shoot at stationary big game vs. moving game? What's the difference? (I'm also a brand-new deer hunter who didn't get a single shot.)
ETHICS QUESTION #2: If it's not ethical to shoot birds on the water surface (e.g. a diving duck when it surfaces), does it become ethically OK if I jump up, wait until they lift off, and then shoot? If so, how much time and/or yardage are the birds ethically entitled to?
Incidentally, I've got a partial disability in my non-trigger arm, so I'm a terrible shot to begin with; these late-season birds mostly seem to congregate out in the lake, or at least on the other side; even the buffleheads kept their distance if I wasn't frozen on the frozen ground; the Fish & Game rules don't appear to prohibit ground sluicing; and I'm more inclined to hunt from a meat hunting perspective. On the other hand, I don't generally believe in situational ethics, and the phrase "it may be legal, but it's not right!" comes to mind.
I realize this may be a controversial subject, but will carefully consider all responses.
CdA Hunter (aka "Idaho's Worst Hunter")