For the Love of Waterfowl Hunting
By: Kimberly Snyder
Ever since I could remember there has always been something magical that occurs a couple times a year. Those moments are defined by what gives us that anxious feeling, the inability to sleep, the dreams that are provoked while we sleep of what is to come the next day. To many of you that feeling could best be recalled when thinking back as a child and the feeling of Christmas Eve, “When will Santa come? What will he bring me?” As a Waterfowl hunter, that exact feeling is the evening before opening day of the Season.
Waterfowl hunting has a long history and tradition, dating back to prehistoric times where waterfowl would be hunted for food, down and feathers. Most of that hunting was done by trapping waterfowl, unlike in the 17th century, where handguns and shotguns were introduced to hunters. The art and passion of waterfowl hunting evolved into a pastime as well as a means for food. In the 20th century, loss of habitat due to agricultural growth occurred and soon after a call to conservation was established by many organizations and hunters alike, once again increasing the population of waterfowl and continuing the heritage of waterfowl hunting.
Waterfowl hunting has surely evolved, yet the passion that resonates in the heart of a water fowler is immeasurable. As a conservationist and waterfowl hunter, I bring that tradition to my life, living for that opening day. All year long, we build wood duck boxes, hen houses; check on habitats and areas for ducks and geese to thrive. Our conservation efforts ensure that the tradition will exist for many generations to come. All the preparation and determination leads to that one moment, Opening day. The sound of the geese/ducks, the look on a new hunter’s face as the birds commit to our spread, the sunrise and sunsets that has been given by God to appreciate, the smell and feel of your shotgun shooting out your steel shot and the drive on your dog’s face as they retrieve your game.
The night before the season, you set out your gear, everything is ready, decoys have been rigged, shells are on standby, licenses purchased, and you dream of ducks and geese flying into your spread and giving you the opportunity to see your hard work pay off in your hunts. Passing on our passion and continuing a tradition that is older than most is everyone’s duty, it is our responsibility to keep our heritage going in a day and age of Urban America, where hectic days can get lost in a Duck Blind or on the River.
Hunting has become as much a part of me as walking or breathing. I have been able to find myself in the silence, that silence that only you know when you sit by yourself and hear your own thoughts, dreams and aspirations. I believeevery individual must confront their true self when they sit in silence. In those moments, I have found peace and comfort. I have taught myself patience, appreciation and learned to be humble. All those moments are what we’ve worked for and eagerly anticipated for not only opening day, but for the Love of Waterfowl Hunting!