Duck hunting Alaska

Special Pintail "crossing T set"

                 (useful on Big water rigs but with limited decoy)

My goal is to try to bring something different and unique to modern waterfowling.  I believe that we are quickly losing the great American traditions that made wildfowling in North America so very special and great.  I think we are losing the time honored ways and methods of hunting and depending too much on technological gear and gizmos.

Long time Alaskan guides know that waterfowl hunting and living off the country "back of beyond" is not about Beards, Bling and BS.  It is not about burdening yourself with heavy gear, big motors and the latest and greatest. 

The less gear that a northern back county "bush rat" has the more happy he is.  Less weight means less work.  Hard work is required to get into the more productive wildfowl country. Less weight means areas will be open to you that more burdened hunters will be forced to pass up. What works for the Native Alaskan Indian and Eskimo is "the path of least resistance" and learning to read the waters, the game and the land.  The savvy white hunter learns from this.

The Alaska guide has to work harder and be tougher than their southern counterparts who guide in places like Louisiana.  Distance is long here, weather is short.  Waterfowl are on the move in the north, not concentrated in continent long flyway ends in fields full of grain. In Alaska, just before freeze up and beyond, weather can be an enemy out to get you if it can. 

Maybe in some areas of the country some modern methods are needed and have their place.  I know that in Alaska, traditional methods still work well.  There can be a great sense of achievement learning traditional duck and goose hunting skills.  Learning to read the sky, the wind, the weather and the land give the hunter a unique sense of self. 

Modern waterfowl guiding and much hunting and fishing guiding in general has also lost the aspect of teaching.  Many times I know in Alaska, fishing and hunting guides are college students hired for the season in remote outfitter camps.  Lost here is the tradition of handing down hard won knowledge for those who want to learn time-proven hunting methods from very experienced hands.

Like so much knowledge in our modern era, youth learn about various interests, hobbies and activities thru the media.  With media, there is almost always an advertising angle of some kind, a basic need to sell some product.  This tends to pervert the activity in the sense that to be effective advertising, there needs to be excitement, entertainment and a fantasy appeal.  Often the deeper meaning of an interest, sport or pleasurable pursuit is so taken out of context that the activity soon gets boring because real reasons to pursue the activity in the first place was never evident.

In the near future, we will need more waterfowl hunters to replace an ageing baby boomer population.  The drop in waterfowl hunting participants is already occurring.  Younger peoples minds are already filled with all the technology they can acquire.  Offering young hunters something different, unique, timeless and traditional may be the answer to get new hunters involved.  Just maybe some are tired of the often empty and meaningless  experience that constant technology offers.

This passage below was  written by one of Americans premier adventure writers. Russell Annabelle wrote many years ago in all the classic American outdoor magazines.  Sky full of Bright Wings was written in the World War II era about the historic Matanuska Hay Flats and describes the lure of wildfowling perfectly:


All about us the hazy sky was crisscrossed with the cobwebby patterns of waterfowl on the move. There was white weather from Point Barrow to the Yukon basin, and ice was making on the untold numbers of unnamed lakes and streams forcing the birds south.

The next few seconds held the reason why grown men sit in cold, wet, windy blinds on forsaken swampy points hour after hour, neglecting their families and their business affairs, taking a chance on hypothermia, to take a few pounds of meat that could be purchased in the warm comfort of any meat market.

‚Äč‚ÄčAlaska Traditional waterfowling