Come to me - Calls and Decoys
Nothing, and everything, has changed in a thousand generations of waterfowling, writes Peter Ryan.
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.