Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

ROBERT DeWITT: Duck Hunting a Young Man's Sport

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

ROBERT DeWITT: Duck Hunting a Young Man's Sport

Article excerpt

Editor's note: Robert DeWitt's weekly outdoors column will run Saturdays, starting with today's edition

One of the ironies for those of us who love to hunt is that New Year's Day, a time for renewal and starting over, signals the end of something we love. Hunting season isn't over, but the end is near by Jan. 1.

First winter dove season goes out. Then the season for deer hunting with dogs follows. Next it's duck season and, finally, deer season goes out. Less than one month into the new year, here we sit on the last weekend of the major hunting seasons. Some of us will be chasing rabbits, squirrel, quail and snipe for another month, but many hunters won't touch their guns again until turkey season or next fall.

Today, I'm duck hunting. Actually my first Alabama duck hunt of the year is likely to be my last, unless I find somewhere to go Sunday morning. There was a time when I never missed a weekend pursuing waterfowl.

But that's changed. I've never been one to run the rivers and chase ducks on public land and water. I've always relied on beaver dams, ponds and backwater on private property. It cuts out needing a duck boat, which I don't have.

From what I hear from the people who once followed that rigorous practice, diminishing returns have created little reason to pursue it. Most have quit or joined clubs and leases in Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana.

One by one, the private property I hunted is no longer available to me. So now, instead of ducking hunting on weekends during the season, I watch football and do chores. I really don't know what I did this year when I should have been duck hunting.

I always wondered why "old guys" gradually dropped out of the sport. I'd hear them harping about how their jobs and kids took up all their time and money. They'd talk about how they didn't feel like getting up at 3 a.m. after a hard week at work. I didn't understand. Now, I'm becoming one of them.

I'm fortunate because I usually get invited to hunt in some of the prime waterfowling spots around the country -- Louisiana, western Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi -- once or twice a year. …

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