Okay, I have seen many posts mid-season from newBs, who get chewed out about asking for spots. I am going to post the process that I used to learn how to duck hunt. Of course I have just started to learn and still have much to learn about the sport, but I would like to post how my learning process has worked thus far. My hope is that by doing so, it will give other newBs an idea of the great latitude they have in learning where to hunt… showing that you do not need to ask strangers on an online forum for their spots. As I will show, with a little work, there are may effective ways to learn where to hunt....
Do not…. Use an online forum to ask questions that could (albeit remotely) sound like you are asking for a spot. This means boat launches, types of cover for an area, details on Conservation Areas, migration patters and updates, area depths, major water bodies, etc., etc., etc. And yes, an entire “state” is a spot, so don’t ask about a state. If you do, you will learn nothing, demonstrate that you do not deserve the information, and will anger your peers.
Do… become a member of DU and/or Delta Waterfowl and attend a local group meeting. Attending the annual dinner is even better. Even if you are low on time, as I am with two kids and lots of outside responsability, it is a great way to meet real people who want to help you those who merit help. And the ethic of supporting the national effort with cash is a respectable thing. It is an investment into the sport, and everyone benefits from that. I know that the time committment is not for everyone... I try to get to these once every 2 years and I do keep up my membership with one of them.
Do… use forums to make friends. Post ideas and opinions and overall, come across as a helpful and useful contributer. I try to post 2 answers for evey one question that I need ideas on. And "Yes", using the forums to make friends means investing some time into getting to know people on the forums and in real life. Friends are something that we in our modern world scan use more of. Which brings me to my next tip...
Do... offer to get a lunch with someone who duck hunts. I did the same thing when I learned how to fly fish. I have taken guys out for a burger just to hang out and ask about the basics... safety, gear, what to do when..., etc. Often this leads to going out hunting together. I am very appreciative to the guys who gave me thier time over a soda to talk to a newB duck hunter... and they did give me a couple of starting spots to try. Priceless, and I am thankful for those guy's investment into me!!! And yes… friends can be a great source of information on where and how to hunt. However, do not expect that new friends that you have spoken to a couple of time to be source on spots. Befriending a guy to get his spots is not very friendly or respectful. Make friends and invest into them. Freinds are worth more than a "spot"!
Do… use forums to trade trips. If you like to coyote hunt and have he spots and gear… offer to trade a hunt! Again, a great way to build friendships and learn where and how to hunt. I would love to kill predators in Feb, trading that for time on my boat in November.
Do… talk to guys you work with, go to church with, go to school with, etc. Within your network of friends, you probably know some guys who will take you out with them. Use those relationships and spend a day hanging out with someone.
Do… speak with conservation staff. These guys are awesome, a wealth of knowledge and very willing to help. When you meet them at the front of a poor-line at one of the CAs… ask them questions!!! You have them for about 5 minutes, so use the time wisely. If you phone, be sure to call them SEVERAL days before a hunt if you need info in-season. Your lack of planning should not lead to four messages on their phone system. Also, do as I do and call them with your scouting questions in the off-season. Be polite and thankful. They work hard for us.
Do… Gather maps… Get every free map that MO, ACoE,, the federal government, and nonprofit organizations have. Look for hiking, boating, canoeing, hunting, fishing, camping, and navigation map that you can find. Buy a MO atlas and other maps that are very detailed, including every specific body of water that you will hunt. (aside from spots, there are good safety reasons to do so as well). Google maps is your BFF! A sat. image give you information that a map lacks, and if you are lucky, the photo will be taken when the body of water was iced over... clearly showing where the water is.
Do… Gather online information… The info is out there so be wise and use it. The best way to gather online information is to search the specific area or body of water by name. Do this in google, MDC sites, and online forums. HOWEVER, avoid adding to the mass of data by asking spot questions. No one every answers those anyhow so don't anger people by trying.
Do…. Read magazine articles. Lot so great info is written in print. I always look at the Missouri and Midwest magazines around Sept and October for information on waterfowl hunting. Just check the cover… it will let you know if the mag is worth buying.
Do… start a filing system for your intel. This is the best single tip I can give poeple. Try it. I carry with me a black file bag with all information sorted by area name. I do the same for fly fishing. It works great and I always have it with me when I go out. If a spot falls though, I have 5 others in an area. Also, it gives you a way to manage your experience, recording micro-trends for an area related to temp, season, and so on.
Last and most important “do” to tell you… Do… SCOUT. That means taking time BEFORE HUTNING SEASON to go out to new spots, observe, and learn. When you do scout, do take good notes. See. Observe. Take in the site and the day. Who would not enjoy a drive through the dirt roads in the middle of July wiht your kids looking for animals. Cheep and fun!
Again, do not post questions on spots on online forums. It is clear helplessness, shows that you have no initiative, shows that you lack creativity, and demonstrates laziness. Best,