The other day it occurred to me that there have been countless articles written on the shooting techniques a duck hunter can use to hit a duck in mid-air, but I can’t think of one that has been written on how to miss a duck.
So, in the interest of conservation, I thought I would make an attempt.
Not to brag, but I am one of North America’s foremost experts on missing flying waterfowl. I have been doing it, more often than not, for 45 years. And just to be clear, I’m not referring to just missing a lone green-winged teal, coming out of the fog, and rocketing past your ears just over the cattails. Heck, anyone can miss those. No, I have missed the snow goose I was shooting at, and the 400 or 500 behind it. I think most waterfowlers would agree that takes a special level of skill.
So far, this season, I will admit, I have been off my game. And, as a result, and through no fault of my own, my freezer is starting to be occupied with tasty ducks – including several teal and wood ducks that were hell-bent on wrecking my missing streak.
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But, normally, for me, missing is effortless. In fact, there was one season – I believe in 1978 – when I was so good at it my fellow hunters accused me of shooting blanks.
So much for credentials It’s time for solid advice. Let’s begin with the basics.
If you are not very good at missing a duck, one of the easiest ways to succeed is to see a lone mallard with cupped wings coming straight into the decoys and then confidently announcing, “I got this one fellas!”
The more fellas there are, the surer you are to miss.
A similar technique involves telling everyone in the duck blind or goose field that you have not missed a single clay pigeon the last six times you visited the range. I once tried this and missed three shots in a row on a flock of 60 decoying goldeneyes.
Those are a couple of simple techniques even the most amateurish misser can use. And they work like a charm on small flocks.
Missing your intended target in a larger flock takes a little more skill, however. One popular technique is to forget to take the safety off. Unfortunately, it is one I wouldn’t recommend because it could lead to a sprained trigger finger, when the birds are hovering over the decoys and you are wondering why your gun has not shot yet,
No, I prefer to use a technique I pioneered long ago called the sustained lag. While most hunters try to continually keep their shotgun’s bead ahead of a flying bird to lead it, a serious conservationist, such as myself, allows the bird to lead the bead. This can be trickier when a large flock is flying by. I once saw a fellow hit the third bird in a flock of three geese because he performed a sustained lag on the first. That’s why I recommend picking the last bird in any flock when utilizing this technique.
Again, I’m not meaning to brag, but I’m what people call a natural at missing. Some people have to work a little harder. And some hunters pride themselves in never missing at all. Until they say that out loud.