Come to me - Calls and De­coys

Noth­ing, and every­thing, has changed in a thou­sand gen­er­a­tions of wa­ter­fowl­ing, writes Pe­ter Ryan.

NZ Fish & Game - - Front Page -

I N THE NOR­MAL COURSE OF EVENTS A hunter seeks game then stalks up to it. Preda­tors of all kinds have been do­ing this since it be­came pos­si­ble for a thing to eat an­other thing. It’s one of the old­est re­la­tion­ships in the liv­ing world… But al­ways in the back­ground there has been some­thing dif­fer­ent. A hunter hid­ing on a path, or crouched in a con­cealed shel­ter, wait­ing with end­less pa­tience.

Here the skill lies in the choice of lo­ca­tion, the abil­ity to call out to prey and chance your hand in a split sec­ond. Part of that – the key part, for many – is an­tic­i­pa­tion. If you don’t be­lieve me, then try to find a sin­gle phrase any­where that car­ries more at­ten­tion-grab­bing ur­gency than “here they come”. You could say it in a maimai or at a bus stop and peo­ple will still look up, such is the power of those sim­ple words.

To­day there are still a few such mo­ments left to us. Over­seas it might be call­ing in roe deer or bugling up elk. Here, roar­ing to red and sika stags is well un­der­stood, but no mat­ter where you go in the world the most com­mon game to be sum­moned to the hunter will be wa­ter­fowl. Some duck hun­ters will tell you it’s in the blood, and that may be more true than they know. Men have sat con­cealed by wa­ter, wait­ing pa­tiently with spear, net or trap, for tens of thou­sands of years. The haunt­ing Ice Age art of Europe in­cludes por­traits of ducks and geese caught in flight across cave walls – true hunt­ing magic.

On the face of it, the task is sim­ple – pick a place where the ducks go, and wait. As real es­tate folks would say: lo­ca­tion, lo­ca­tion, lo­ca­tion.

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