By Marshall Seedorff
December 14, 2018 - The hunting purity scale, popularized by the likes of the meat eater crew, is often used to describe the authenticity, challenge and grit level involved in a big game hunt. For those of us who love to chase feathers just as much as fur, I’ll attempt to apply this scale to the pursuit of waterfowl. Over the course of my life, I have hunted ducks and geese in nearly every type of hunting scenario imaginable. These are just a few of the factors that contribute to the highest and lowest rankings on the waterfowl purity scale.
#1 - Public Land Hunting
Public land duck hunting often involves the most complex set of challenges for a waterfowler. For that reason, any type of public land duck hunting tops the purity charts. Hunting public land requires scouting, advanced planning, and often a drive to go farther and work harder than the average dude. In some cases, access to public land requires an additional step of being drawn for the hunt and/or showing up obscenely early to secure a position in line. When hunting public land, you’ve got to deal with many additional factors like competition with other groups, wary birds, changing water levels and other unforeseen obstacles. Hunting public requires packing in gear, for often long distances, and then having the knowledge to select the right location and effectively set your spread. All of this in often changing weather conditions makes public land the number one contributor to boosting the purity of a waterfowl hunt.
#2 - Habitat
Hunting a piece of land in which you have been involved in creating, maintaining or improving the habitat ranks #2 on my list of factors boosting purity levels. As hunters, we always like to tout that we are conservationists. If you just show up at your buddies place or a guides spot to hunt, you must ask yourself; "Am I really doing anything for the betterment of wildlife conservation?" Due to the hard work and conservation benefits involved in habitat projects, often long before season, habitat hunting rates #2 on my list of factors contributing to a high purity score.
#3 - Permission
If you’ve gone out and secured permission to hunt someone’s land, that factor contributes positively to the purity score. Securing permission to hunt requires time, scouting, advance work and usually a willingness to do work in some form or fashion for the landowner. In the big game crazed world we live in, securing permission to hunt ducks can be easier than some people would think. If you’re willing to put in the time on the phones and knocking on doors, you can often find a place to hunt.
Quick hitters that BOOST purity score:
- Public land
- Habitat improvement
- Permission secured
- Distance traveled to spot
- Distance hiked, biked, kayaked or boated from the truck
- Use of a boat
- Decoys packed in and not left out -large spreads (goose hunting, early season duck spreads packed in) -challenging weather conditions (cold, wind, rain, snow, ice, fog) -changing conditions that create a need to adapt -homemade calls or decoys
- Blind created in natural habitat with natural materials
- Calling execution
- Use of a dog
- Dog trained by owner
- Face paint, yes you read that correctly - haters gonna hate!
- High gauge single shot, double barrel or pump style guns
Quick hitters that HURT purity score -guided hunts
- Warm comfortable conditions -lack of effective calling and effectively set decoy spreads (does not necessarily mean lots of calling and lots of decoys)
- Decoys left out in hunting location
- Hunting blinds in which you weren't involved in building or setting up
- Driving right up to the blind
- Low gauge semi-autos
- Leaving trash and not picking up shells
Low purity ranking forms of water fowling
#1- Jump Shooing
While jump shooting can be a ton of fun and I’ll never claim I won’t do it, this type of hunting falls to the bottom of the scale. Even non-hunters will regard shooting ducks on the pond as less sporty. Simply for the reason that there is no decoying, calling, and little to no leg work or skill required ahead of time, jump shooting struggles to score many purity points. While jump shooting does require some sort of athletic prowess, it doesn't adhere to the water fowling traditions that we have come to appreciate. The one asterisk I'll add to jump shooting is that there is an element of athletic prowess and coordination involved in spot and stalk shooting that can add slightly to the score.
#2- Plush Guided Hunts
While guided hunts are great fun and potentially a necessary route to access land, get new hunters involved in the sport or get mobility impaired individuals hunting - having a guide hurts purity scale.
The bottom line is if you’re getting out there and putting in the work, you should be rewarded. Best of luck this season!