by Bill Miller
Most often when a conversation turns to guides and outfitters, it’s big game hunting that’s under discussion. That’s especially so when a non-resident alien is considering a big game hunt in Canada. We American’s are required to use a guide for big game hunting there.
However, searching out and paying top-quality outfitter for his/her services when it comes to waterfowl hunting is nearly always time and energy well-spent, too. With as many years experience as I have chasing ducks and geese the length of North America, I still find hunting web-foots with an outfitter to be an enticing and enjoyable proposition.
Let me tell you why! There are at least as many good reasons to consider using an outfitter/guide for your waterfowl hunting as there are for big game hunting. Here are some of the biggies:
Top-Quality Equipment — Waterfowl hunting is a gear-intensive pursuit. Decoys, blinds, boats, motors, ATVs, trailers, calls, waders, more decoys … and more decoys. The list goes on and on. If you’re schedule can only permit one or two waterfowl hunts per season, does it really make sense to acquire, maintain, and store all of this gear? For far less money, you can book a trip with a quality outfitter and enjoy using his/her top-quality, up to date equipment.
Access — With each passing season, it becomes more difficult and/or expensive for individual hunters to access prime waterfowl hunting habitat. Quality outfitters and guides own or lease access to great hunting ground available exclusively to their clients, and they know the ins and outs of day leasing to keep their hunters in the hottest honey holes. Weekend warriors or even waterfowl hunters who make a weeklong expedition to new territory have to spend so much of their valuable hunting time just finding places to hunt.
Skill and Knowledge — If you only make a few hunts a season, it’s difficult if not impossible to maintain keen waterfowling skills. Sure you can practice your calling in the car every day on the way to and from work like I do, but you have to develop a thick skin about the looks from other drivers. And, of course, there are many more skills to acquire than just calling. Duck and goose guides hone these skills in the field every day of the season and then some. You can count on their sharp skills to boost your success duirng your precious hunting time.
Pure Enjoyment — When you’re on a guided waterfowl hunt, you can choose to participate in the hunt to whatever level satisfies you. I love the strategy and physical activity involved in setting decoys on frosty mornings whether in the field, in the marsh, on a river or out in big water. So I get up each morning with the guides and join them to set the spread. Other hunters relish the sleep they get away from the responsibilities at home, so they sleep in and get to the field just in time to enjoy the shooting. Hunting with a guide/outfitter allows these kinds of choices so that you can enjoy each hunt to its fullest.
And after years of “thrashing” for our ducks and geese, us older guys like to be pampered … at least once in awhile!