Ethics question on guide decoys left out in the marsh

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Ethics question on guide decoys left out in the marsh

Postby Navy_Duck » Wed Nov 21, 2012 3:58 pm

I wanted to see what you guys think about something I came across when hunting opening weekend on the coast. From my understanding, you're not allowed to leave decoys out over night. Where it actually says that I dont know, just what I've always heard.

So, I drive from San Antonio to hunt the coast so naturally I dont have the ability to scout for ducks nearly as well as someone who lives closer or even AT the coast. I got down there friday afternoon and launched the kayak to scout for some ducks coming in to land for the evening. I managed to find good numbers of birds coming in, but with one problem. They were all coming in to a set of decoys next to what I presumed was a guides blind. After my initial excitement of finding birds, I realized I probably wouldnt be hunting that spot the next morning. I set up elsewhere on the large lake saturday morning and sure enough, an airboat dropped folks off at that spot I had found Friday evening.

Being public land, the old "whoever gets their first" addage applies to some degree, but I'm frustrated on a matter of principle. I realize guides make a living with this stuff, but where does the line get drawn between them getting to "stake out" a piece of public property like that and me getting out there early? I get out there early enough and set up in that spot, then I'm the butt for setting up on "their" spot. However, public land being what it is, what gives them the right to "stake out" a spot the night before?

I wanted to hunt that spot in the evening since birds were pouring in the afternoon before when I scouted, but since the decoys were still there I suspected the airboat may be coming back for an evening hunt, so I set up somewhre else on the lake again. Evening hunt was very frustrating because again, those dekes and that spot were pulling every bird in the area right to them. Air boat never showed up, so I COULD have hunted the spot. Back to the original frustration of public land, they leave decoys out because its "their spot" but then how am I supposed to know when or if they'll show up?

I'm not trying to be the butt that sets up on a guides spot and says hey, I was here first this morning. At the same time, I think its kind of crappy that a guy hunting from a kayak with limited access (compared to an air boat) gets the shaft like that. Yea, I'm being a whiney bastard right now, just venting a little since I dont get to make it to the coast that often and I thought I had really found a jackpot spot to hunt, only to be shown up by someone else already "laying claim" to it. Rant over, thanks for listening.
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Re: Ethics question on guide decoys left out in the marsh

Postby Pouledeau » Wed Nov 21, 2012 4:03 pm

Yeah ... that's pretty trashy right there ... there are a lot of guides that think they own the bay, this guy certainly seems to think he does. He might need his dekes cut ...
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Re: Ethics question on guide decoys left out in the marsh

Postby whistlin_wings » Wed Nov 21, 2012 4:06 pm

Public is public. I'd make it known to a gamewarden what you saw and ask his take on it but don't tell him where. Go to that spot the next morning after he confirms and move all the decoys that aren't yours into a pile and hunt it. Don't damage them or toss them then when he comes in throwing a fit you can't get in trouble for anything and if he continues to harass you just call the gamewarden.

Has anyone ever videotaped a guide going off on someone? I figured there has to be with all the gopros and barrell cams now.
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Re: Ethics question on guide decoys left out in the marsh

Postby Indiancreekducks87 » Wed Nov 21, 2012 4:13 pm

I'm with WW... I usually have 3-4 guys with me anyways so I'd def set up there and hunt... He may pitch a fit and such but ai t much he can do... Call to the warden and have a couple buddies on hand for safety reasons.. That's what I would do!
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Ethics question on guide decoys left out in the marsh

Postby Mojo281 » Wed Nov 21, 2012 4:28 pm

It is poor practice to leave out decoys, but it's not against the law in Texas unless on a WMA... It's merely a way for guides to stake claim to a spot!! You cannot legally touch the decoys as they are not your property, but you can hunt over them until the rightful owner comes to pick them up...

It is also poor practice to use someone else's blind on the coast... Though it is public, you put in no work and no money came from your pocket in the effort of building the blind.

I have a feeling I know exactly where you are talking about...

All this being said, I have hunted the coast for many years and I have NEVER built a blind or hunted someone else's blind and have had much success!!

Best to just leave it be... Better luck on your next trip!!
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Ethics question on guide decoys left out in the marsh

Postby whistlin_wings » Wed Nov 21, 2012 5:13 pm

Mojo281 wrote:It is also poor practice to use someone else's blind on the coast... Though it is public, you put in no work and no money came from your pocket in the effort of building the blind.

But they also built that blind on public land resulting in it becoming a public blind. We've always stayed away from them later in the year just because birds can pick them out from a mile away. But it shouldn't matter if its a burlap bag or a $1,000 blind with a heater it's legally fair game. Sure they'll be pissed but you're doing nothing wrong. Just giving in to the guides who think they can build blinds and expect them to be empty when they roll up 30 min prior to lst with people that paid is just wrong for someone who went out and scouted the spot. They shouldn't have to walk away
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Re: Ethics question on guide decoys left out in the marsh

Postby Netboy » Thu Nov 22, 2012 7:44 am

Mojo281 wrote:It is also poor practice to use someone else's blind on the coast... Though it is public, you put in no work and no money came from your pocket in the effort of building the blind.

Building a blind a particlar location doesn't mean you "own" that location. Look at all the blinds around Aransas Pass. Most were put up by 1 outfitter and they have no right to run a hunter off that location if he was there first. If it's a good area and you want to hunt there, then be the first one there and set up close to the blind. If the guide shows up and gives you a hard time... call the Game Warden.
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Ethics question on guide decoys left out in the marsh

Postby Crazy Matt » Thu Nov 22, 2012 7:47 am

Ya it's free reign on public. If they built a blind, you can sit in it. Just don't get your arse whooped.
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Ethics question on guide decoys left out in the marsh

Postby Mojo281 » Thu Nov 22, 2012 11:56 am

Guys, I understand the laws more than 99% of guys on that hunt the coast... Yes public is public, but if you plan to hunt someone else's blind or hunt over their decoys you are looking for a conflict! And calling the GW everytime you have a conflict pulls the state's resources away from more important issues then a public land pi$$ing match!!
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Ethics question on guide decoys left out in the marsh

Postby whistlin_wings » Thu Nov 22, 2012 2:35 pm

So we should let the guides win and they can claim all the good spots?
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Re: Ethics question on guide decoys left out in the marsh

Postby Netboy » Thu Nov 22, 2012 2:50 pm

whistlin_wings wrote:So we should let the guides win and they can claim all the good spots?


This ^^^^^^^

If that was the case, then there would be NOWHERE left to hunt around Aransas Pass. I've heard that 1 particular outfitter has more than 50 blinds built out there. They are on EVERY lake and pond.
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Ethics question on guide decoys left out in the marsh

Postby Mojo281 » Thu Nov 22, 2012 4:24 pm

I hate the "guides" as much as y'all... I wish Texas would adopt a "no permanent blind on public land law"!! Not only do the guide build blinds everywhere, but they never tear down their old blinds from past years... The entire Texas coast is littered with blinds!

I've just learned that no conflict is the best conflict! We have run ins with guides every year when hunting natural vegetation within 200 yards of a guide's blind. If approached by a pissed off guide, pull out your phone and video every word he says and the manner in which he says it. By the time they realize they are being filmed, they will tuck tail and run bc the can't afford to get in trouble with the state. But calling the GW every time there is a small conflict burns resources that should be focused on catching poachers and people who are purposely shooting over their limits!!
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Re: Ethics question on guide decoys left out in the marsh

Postby Duck Collector » Thu Nov 22, 2012 5:40 pm

I like the set up we have over here. Theres public land for hunting and every blind is fair game, but theres also an area for permiting. You can have a blind put up on the permit but at the end of season it must be removed, if you show up and someone is there you can tell them to leave. It goes on a drawing system like first come first serve.
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Re: Ethics question on guide decoys left out in the marsh

Postby bighop » Mon Nov 26, 2012 4:31 am

Mojo281 wrote:It is poor practice to leave out decoys, but it's not against the law in Texas unless on a WMA... It's merely a way for guides to stake claim to a spot!! You cannot legally touch the decoys as they are not your property, but you can hunt over them until the rightful owner comes to pick them up...

Pray-tell, in your 99% understanding, what separates those decoys as private property that cannot be touched from the blind itself, which is public property and can be touched?

Both were paid for and transported by someone, then anchored and left unattended in the marsh.
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Re: Ethics question on guide decoys left out in the marsh

Postby Mojo281 » Mon Nov 26, 2012 8:53 am

bighop wrote:
Mojo281 wrote:It is poor practice to leave out decoys, but it's not against the law in Texas unless on a WMA... It's merely a way for guides to stake claim to a spot!! You cannot legally touch the decoys as they are not your property, but you can hunt over them until the rightful owner comes to pick them up...

Pray-tell, in your 99% understanding, what separates those decoys as private property that cannot be touched from the blind itself, which is public property and can be touched?

Both were paid for and transported by someone, then anchored and left unattended in the marsh.


I have spent quite some time down around Seadrift making friends with and having long drawn out discussions with Game Wardens and even GLO Surveryors. I have specifically asked Texas Game Warden Mike Mitchell about people leaving decoys in the marsh and if I could pick them up and place them next to the blind, as to set an example. His response was that I'd better not touch or remove any decoys from where I found them. I was getting tired of watching birds bomb into a spread out in the middle of Dewberry where there were no hunters in the blind, causing the birds to kinda artifically start rafting up there all because of this unmanned spread. My thought was to pick up all decoys and place them in the blind so that the birds wouldn't start rafting up there...

Mike was basically explaining to me that if I picked up the decoys and the owner believed one to be missing, that I would then be liable bc I was the last person to touch them. And you never know a guide's reaction to someone messing with their stuff!! Again, the best conlfict is no conflict when out on the water...

Just like decoys, you cannot remove or cause any damage to a blind bc even though it's on public property, someone still owns the materials it is built from.

If you want to discuss this any further, I'd be happy to talk with you on the phone so that you may have a better understanding (PM me for number). Or better yet, call Mike at 361-649-2482
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Re: Ethics question on guide decoys left out in the marsh

Postby Duck_Happy » Mon Nov 26, 2012 10:09 am

just set up less then 20 yards from his blind
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Re: Ethics question on guide decoys left out in the marsh

Postby Pouledeau » Mon Nov 26, 2012 10:30 am

bighop wrote:
Mojo281 wrote:It is poor practice to leave out decoys, but it's not against the law in Texas unless on a WMA... It's merely a way for guides to stake claim to a spot!! You cannot legally touch the decoys as they are not your property, but you can hunt over them until the rightful owner comes to pick them up...

Pray-tell, in your 99% understanding, what separates those decoys as private property that cannot be touched from the blind itself, which is public property and can be touched?

Both were paid for and transported by someone, then anchored and left unattended in the marsh.


Nice $4 dollar word boss - the difference is that the decoys are NOT affixed permanently to land owned by the state, local or Federal government.

As for the rest of this thread (and as my initial post was mostly a joke). It is ABSOLUTELY poor form to hunt another hunters blind, guide or not, public or not and further ... if you're of the mentality that "wow I'm running late, I should hunt this blind cause it's here and empty" or even think that hunting one of those blinds is where you should set up - you're not doing it right. We all very much understand that public is public, and the other more common nomenclature "public water public blind" and guess what - the people that are TRULY successful on the coast won't go anywhere near those dead palm leaf covered hot-dog-stand travesties. Can you kill birds from them? Yes. Can you kill limits? Probably. Will those birds resemble the smoldering compost piles your dog leaves in the yard? Yes.

And NO, you should absolutely NOT give in to the guides, they’re using strong arm tactics and bullying to FUND their game, their ego, and their “ownership” of bodies of water. If you run into a conflict in or NEAR a blind (and God knows we’ve seen our fair share of the latter) – it is within your right to video the event and call the game warden KNOWING you’re pulling resources off of more NECESSARY topics when you could have just moved to a better location and been more successful. Why sit there and argue with someone during some of the best shooting? If you can’t agree with that, then you’re flat out not using your head. Period. End of story. Common sense seems to fail a lot of you.

HOWEVER, it is sometimes necessary to call the game warden and if necessary YOU SHOULD, but use some digression, the game warden isn’t your litigator. Should you need (and I stress NEED) to call the game warden, know that if you move ONE INCH away from that argument in the marsh, you LOSE your case unless it’s on VIDEO. Now, back to the strong arm guide tactics – a few of these videos and a couple of hunter harassment suits would go a long way in keeping this crap from happening.
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Re: Ethics question on guide decoys left out in the marsh

Postby bighop » Tue Nov 27, 2012 12:52 am

Mojo281 wrote:Mike was basically explaining to me that if I picked up the decoys and the owner believed one to be missing, that I would then be liable bc I was the last person to touch them. And you never know a guide's reaction to someone messing with their stuff!! Again, the best conlfict is no conflict when out on the water...

Just like decoys, you cannot remove or cause any damage to a blind bc even though it's on public property, someone still owns the materials it is built from.


Look, first of all, I don't disagree with anything y'all are saying or doing, and I do it just about the same way. I shake my head and move on. I hate the lagoon mud anyway. I'll play devil's advocate though.

Him telling you you ought not touch them and it being illegal are entirely different. I'd like to see them even attempt to make a theft charge if a decoy was claimed missing. He'd have to prove inventory when placed and when picked up. Decoys have a way of drifting across lakes in the 3hrs I sit in front of them, much less if left for days of tide and weather changes. For that matter, what proof of ownership does he have? He drove up in a boat to a preexisting flotilla of decoys and claimed they're all his? Uh huh, right...

Blinds, decoys, and the like, when left unattended, begin very quickly to enter the legal realm of marine debris, not property. Flotsam, jetsam, and ligan only have legal claims to ownership because they are thrown from a ship in peril to avoid sinking. If you throw something off a perfectly good boat and leave it there, you have only littered.

Every commercial and sporting activity that I know of that involves legally leaving items in the water unattended requires a gear tag to be placed with name, address, and date. Each item has a maximum amount of time it can be left in the water. That's why you can't go raid crab pots, perch traps, jug lines, or trot lines, they're tagged and dated. If the date is out, they can be removed by the proper authority, or you if it's February.

If you place barricades around your home and property and someone careens off the road and damages their car on your barricades, you can be held liable for the damage. If blind materials still belong to the builder, someone owes me damages for a couple transducers and a prop caused by their property left in the marsh.

Pouledeau wrote:Nice $4 dollar word boss - the difference is that the decoys are NOT affixed permanently to land owned by the state, local or Federal government.

Hey, thanks man. I try to get by with the little vocabulary I managed to glean in my 24 year long education. But, FWIW, I wouldn't give "pray-tell" more than a sixpence.

Define "affixed permanently." Most of those blinds are just set in the mud. The decoy anchors are just set in the mud. How heavy does something have to be before we define it as affixed permanently? Why aren't the decoys defined legally as mislaid property, which is supposed to be turned in to the authorities so that they can advertise for return to their rightful owner? Why aren't they classified as abandoned, then whoever finds them is the new rightful owner? Leaving a spread in the marsh is hardly common practice, so an unattended spread can hardly be assumed to be "owned." Now, I'm not saying you can or should go and pick up all those decoys and make them yours, but legally speaking, the owner has little retort.

I've used a blind exactly twice, both times during my first year hunting the coast, once when I waited and started late morning, and once for an evening hunt with my wife. I have, however, hunted a few times within 50yds of one in a place that I and my hunting buddy have hunted multiple years, but only because it popped up this year. Why leave a proven spot because some fool put an ugly blind up next to my mangroves in order to appease his clientele who don't want wet feet. I don't recall shooting uglier birds there after the blind was built. Luckily, we usually hunt during the week and can move further down the island than most to escape the crowds come Saturday.

Like I said, I don't do anything different from what y'all are proposing, but we all have to admit that these courses of action are small concessions to the bullies of the marsh, even if you claim the guise of moving to another spot as doing so to be more successful. We've let them do it long enough, and they'll push their boundaries further if all we do is act so as to avoid conflict.

It's not a public land pissing match. It's a hunter harassment pissing match.

I've never called a warden, using either my discretion or digression. That said, I've been spotlighted off a few times, spotlighted a few people off, and been setup 100yds behind and rained on repeatedly. None of those incidents ended up in a conflict. Bottom line, it is what it is, do what you can to kill a few birds, be thankful your life doesn't depend on the bounty of your harvest, and figure out how to do better next time. It's still better than being at work.

But since you asked about the ethics, not the legality, just move along and thank the Lord your daddy raised you better than that ass that left his decoys out...
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Re: Ethics question on guide decoys left out in the marsh

Postby Pouledeau » Tue Nov 27, 2012 8:32 am

bighop wrote:But since you asked about the ethics, not the legality, just move along and thank the Lord your daddy raised you better than that ass that left his decoys out...


Ok, true ... (excellent retort by the way, I really couldn't agree more) ... we're all way off topic in a way.

So ethics. I liken the blind issue in a roundabout way of leaving your wife or girlfriend at the bar out with her girlfriends - that doesn't make it ethical for another man to try and pick her up. Even if you left a ring on her finger ... !

:biggrin: :biggrin: :biggrin:
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Re: Ethics question on guide decoys left out in the marsh

Postby whistlin_wings » Tue Nov 27, 2012 8:56 am

Pouledeau wrote:
bighop wrote:But since you asked about the ethics, not the legality, just move along and thank the Lord your daddy raised you better than that ass that left his decoys out...


Ok, true ... (excellent retort by the way, I really couldn't agree more) ... we're all way off topic in a way.

So ethics. I liken the blind issue in a roundabout way of leaving your wife or girlfriend at the bar out with her girlfriends - that doesn't make it ethical for another man to try and pick her up. Even if you left a ring on her finger ... !

:biggrin: :biggrin: :biggrin:

So the guy setting up in her "blind" would be the same as hunting out of an empty blind?
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Re: Ethics question on guide decoys left out in the marsh

Postby Pouledeau » Tue Nov 27, 2012 9:00 am

whistlin_wings wrote:
Pouledeau wrote:
bighop wrote:But since you asked about the ethics, not the legality, just move along and thank the Lord your daddy raised you better than that ass that left his decoys out...


Ok, true ... (excellent retort by the way, I really couldn't agree more) ... we're all way off topic in a way.

So ethics. I liken the blind issue in a roundabout way of leaving your wife or girlfriend at the bar out with her girlfriends - that doesn't make it ethical for another man to try and pick her up. Even if you left a ring on her finger ... !

:biggrin: :biggrin: :biggrin:

So the guy setting up in her "blind" would be the same as hunting out of an empty blind?


YES/this can only get worse (or better) from here ... ha ha ha ha ha ...
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Re: Ethics question on guide decoys left out in the marsh

Postby Crazy Matt » Tue Nov 27, 2012 9:14 am

This has been amazing :lol3: :lol3: :lol3:

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Ethics question on guide decoys left out in the marsh

Postby bighop » Tue Nov 27, 2012 10:30 am

Pouledeau wrote:So ethics. I liken the blind issue in a roundabout way of leaving your wife or girlfriend at the bar out with her girlfriends - that doesn't make it ethical for another man to try and pick her up. Even if you left a ring on her finger ... !

Damn guides must all be Mormons, keeping 20 blinds at a time....
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Re: Ethics question on guide decoys left out in the marsh

Postby stumpjumper1590 » Tue Nov 27, 2012 11:32 am

With that many (blinds) one of them is gonna get lonely eventually :thumbsup:
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Re: Ethics question on guide decoys left out in the marsh

Postby CCducker » Tue Nov 27, 2012 11:56 am

I have held off on entering this thread-but I think ill finally have to weigh in after work today... :boxing:
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