Tuesday, February 21, 2012

If I lived in 1901...

I would certainly have enjoyed myself when it came to North Carolina Duck Hunting! Market gunning was at it's peak. Duck numbers were probably unimaginable, and even Durant's Island had ducks and a duck club. There was even a club called Gooseville near Hatteras where Van Campen Heilner was a member. Well, that came later on, but you get the point. It was so good in North Carolina that it was considered the premiere place to hunt waterfowl. Even more so than the vaunted Chesapeake Bay. Currituck was filled with fresh water and the wild celery was so thick that navigation would have been tough with a motorized boat. The only downside to the early 1900's was that if you moved your boat, you did it by sailing, pushing, or rowing. But at least that warms you up.

Lots of things that hunters did back then are now illegal, which meant they worked. You'll have to believe me when I say I'm not a killer. It doesn't matter to me how many ducks I kill. I measure the success of my hunts by how many ducks I have over the decoys. Decoying several flocks of wild divers that are 30 birds strong would be a good day for me. Actually, a great one. This was the norm back then, though. Of course, the work to bring these ducks to bag was much more intense. Today, there are very few waterfowlers that would carve 200 decoys from wood, cast their own weights, build their own boats, row said boat, sit in said boat with less than modern apparel, bear the brunt of a battery or punt gun, load their own shells nightly, then pick up 100-200 ducks. Oh - and row them all back. But back then, it was much better than farming with a mule.

But back to the banned practices. It would be an honor for me, if it were legal, just to shoot until 30 minutes after sunset. It would be a pleasure to hunt from a genuine sinkbox with a pair of 8 gauge shotguns shooting lead shot. It would be a romantic evening, if I could spend it firelighting with my ladyfriend. And pouring out corn to entice birds, well, I suppose I'd giggle until the livestock came home. But these things were legal, or at least allowable in those times. It's so easy for fellows to go duck hunting now, that officials must stack the odds in favor of the ducks. Pouring out corn is not fair. Firelighting is dangerous and very unfair. A sinkbox is dangerous, unfair, and uncomfortable. these practices, though, were so effective that the Gun Clubs felt that it devalued their hunting leases. And rightfully so. At this time, any blind permit holder from anywhere can build and hunt a blind in Currituck County. Blind permits aren't easy to get, but they are apparently not difficult either. However, the 19th Century saw a ban on all out-of-state hunters. How would that be today?

Humans have always been crafty when it came to turning a dollar utilizing our natural resources. Some mine coal or natural grass. Some grow grass. Some use the creeks and rivers to quench the thirst of cattle and other livestock. Others, sell opportunities at wild game. They are called guides. Ducks have been marketed for their meat, and now for their sporting qualities. Back then, the feathers were valuable, too. Today, they're just as beautiful, but not in a hat!

Still, you're crazy and a liar if you don't think that it would have been very cool to slip up on a raft of ducks, in the dark, with a battery of guns loaded and lined up on the bow of a wooden skiff...with a blinding lantern shining on the ducks while they have nary a clue of what in the heck is going on!

You're also nuts if you don't think it would be neat to hunt over a literal mound of corn protruding from the surface of the water. We don't know why, but we can imagine the possibilities. Unfortunately, most of us are never happy with a full limit of teal. We'd always like at least one pintail or one canvasback...wouldn't we?

No comments:

Post a Comment