Slow Duck Season Woes

Alright Northern US…joke’s over… you can send the ducks on South now…

No seriously….please…


Frankly, this duck season has been brutal.

If anyone tells you otherwise, hunt this last week with them because they know something the rest of us sure don’t.

This season has just about every hunter I know, including myself, scratching our heads. Even some of the biggest names in the waterfowl world have called this one of the toughest seasons they have ever seen. This is somewhat comforting, for lack of a better word, for the weekend warrior type like myself to hear as it provides some reassurance that we aren’t just totally worthless when it comes to killing ducks. I would never wish a tough season on anyone and for anyone reading this that has had a good year, congratulations, you must have just figured them out better than us because we have been STRUGGLING.

This year I’ve been on the water more than ever. It took a little shuffling around to get my school and work schedule in a place where I was free to hunt some mornings during the week, but luckily things worked out where I could hunt 3-4 days a week throughout the majority of the season. We were on the water every day possible and it seemed like every time we hunted, we encountered more challenges. Between extremely warm weather, slow migration patterns, uncooperative birds, an abundance of new hunters, flooding, and the most rain North Alabama has seen in nearly 150 years, hunting has been slow to say the least.

We’ve tried it all. Big water, small water, rivers, lakes, creeks, timber holes, walking in, boating in, kayaking in, small decoy spreads, big decoy spreads, even no decoy spread once or twice, motion decoys, no motion decoys, jerk rigs, everything us public land boys could think of. One of my hunting buddies even took a four day trip to Stuttgart, the duck hunting Mecca of the world, and came back with just a handful of birds.

Don’t get me wrong, we’ve killed some birds, but I’ve been riding a two duck per day curse for the majority of the year. Just when we feel like we have something going with a couple birds in the boat, it all falls apart. Outside of some local birds and big diver numbers rafted up in the middle of the river by 30 minutes after shooting light, the numbers of quality puddle ducks just aren’t here. We’ve had some decent diver hunts and Woody shoots, but besides that, we just aren’t seeing the ducks we’d like to kill.

Regardless of the low numbers of birds on our straps this season, I keep reflecting on what the writer of the book of James says in Chapter 1, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” Life, like duck hunting, isn’t always easy; sometimes it just punches you in the face. What’s really important is how you respond to the adversity that life throws at you. Later in Chapter 1 of James the writer says this, “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love Him.”

While I wish this meant that since we have remained steadfast through a brutal duck season, we’ll be blessed with limits throughout this last week, but that’s not the point. Whether it’s a tough season in the blind, family problems, work issues, or financial troubles, the Father remains constant in His love for us. Persevere, remain steadfast, run the race, and the finish line will be all the more glorious.

Thanks for reading and good luck on the rest of your season. I’ll see you on the water.


–  Josh Vardaman


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