Waterfowlers are an opinionated lot. We are usually fierce advocates for any duck name or decoy in our possession, therefore probably the most vocal critics of yours. Hunt anyplace within the nation, nonetheless, and also you received’t discover stronger opinions than what duck species price excessive marks and which get relegated to “trash-duck” standing.
I’ve hunted throughout, and whereas that does not make me an skilled with reference to top-ten duck species, it actually offers my opinion as a lot weight as yours. Some on the record are private favorites, some are yours, and also you’ll discover a minimum of one you’ll insist shouldn’t be right here in any respect.
You both love greenheads as a result of they’re your customary fare or as a result of they’re a “huge” duck you usually don’t get with out sturdy chilly fronts. Both method, they’re loud, aggressive and talkative—therefore eminently callable—in addition to stunning and fantastic desk fare. No duck reacts as properly to calling because the mallard, and no different duck’s calls will entice so many different species. In flooded timber and hard-hunted public lands, you may often blow to your coronary heart’s content material with out concern of overcalling, and who doesn’t like to listen to himself name? I’ve by no means met a hunter who complained a couple of duck strap stuffed with greenheads.
9. Northern Pintail
Modern, elegant, gorgeous with out the assistance of flamboyant plumage, the pintail drake, or “bull sprig,” is the Ferrari of the duck world. What makes a mature drake so prized, except for the 2 lengthy sprigs extending from its tail feathers, is how onerous they’re to decoy. Greatest labored with the trill of a pintail whistle versus a mallard name, these cautious birds will circle numerous occasions earlier than committing. The one place I’ve ever skilled flock after flock drifting confidently into decoys is coastal south Texas, the place these birds winter by the lots of of 1000’s. It’s actually a sight to behold.
Just like the pintail, canvasbacks are extremely sought not simply because, for many of us, they signify a fleeting alternative at an enormous, good-looking duck that’s right here in the present day, gone tomorrow. It was their “King Duck” standing throughout waterfowling’s heyday that makes them most intriguing. Throughout Chesapeake Bay’s market-gunning days, their flavorful meat introduced the very best costs in posh, East Coast accommodations and eating places. These days, with wild celery beds severely diminished, this diver could be a crap shoot dining-wise. Inland they are usually wonderful; in saltwater not a lot. Nonetheless, for many waterfowlers they continue to be a prized trophy with their distinctive russet-colored head and black sloping invoice, black breast and bright-white stomach.
7. Black Duck
One other species steeped in waterfowling historical past, the black duck is a detailed cousin of the mallard and comparable in dimension, though distinctly scarcer. Hunters alongside the Mississippi Flyway are all the time looking out for blacks touring with flocks of greenheads; East Coast waterfowlers, from Maine by way of North Carolina, see them frequently, generally in sizable flocks. Their one-bird-limit standing speaks to their decline in inhabitants courting again to the ‘50s, a results of habitat loss and interbreeding with mallards. Like their Gulf-Coast cousin, the mottled duck, these shy geese are difficult to name and decoy.
6. Inexperienced- and Blue-Winged Teal
“Buzzed” is a time period with a distinctly that means for waterfowlers. Ever since I lived in Texas within the early ‘80s, when out of the graying gentle little rockets would immediately seem over the decoys and in a split-second vanish, I’ve been on vigil, gun prepared on the very begin of authorized time for an opportunity at these speedsters. Lovely, aerodynamically agile, quick and engaging, there’s nothing dangerous that may be mentioned of teal, besides maybe the quantity of shells it takes most hunters to scratch out a restrict. Like lots of the finer-eating geese, teal require plucking, not breasting, to do them justice.
Should you hear what feels like paper ripping and also you’re in a duck blind, seize your shotgun—shortly—as a result of a flight of bluebills is about to look. These hardy geese have saved many a gradual duck seek out south, often exhibiting up mid-morning whenever you’re both choosing up decoys or significantly desirous about it. However within the higher Midwest the place I’ve additionally hunted them, massive flocks enter your world in loud, dramatic vogue, supersonic flyers that strafe your decoys with abandon and require leads you beforehand thought unimaginable. Whereas my Minnesota pals affectionately name them “butterballs” and cherish their meat, bluebills shot elsewhere might be lower than appetizing.
four. Wooden Duck
Arguably probably the most stunning North American duck, the shy and colourful woodie is greater than only a fairly face. At house in wooded swamps, marshes and beaver ponds, it streaks by way of canopies and tree boles with wonderful agility and pace, making it as sporting a goal as you’ll discover. Predominantly a pre-sunrise and night flyer, low gentle amplifies an already difficult shot, regardless of being forewarned by the hens’ high-pitched whining calls. I’ve learn their weight loss program of acorns could make their meat an acquired style, however I’ve by no means eaten one which wasn’t scrumptious.
three. Gadwall, or “Gray” Duck
You would say the gadwall is the wooden duck’s polar reverse: plain gray and with flesh that has impressed the moniker “gagwall.” Reality be informed, that description is each honest and never. To me a drake gadwall’s herringbone breast plumage is spectacularly good-looking, and the raised comb on his head splendidly distinctive. And whereas I’ve gagged on a couple of Montana birds that not even my Lab would contact, I’ve eaten many extra down South that had been indistinguishable from mallards. I’ve shot gadwalls from east Texas to Canada, however I affiliate them most with the cypress, black gum and tupelo breaks of the South. There they’re splendidly dependable decoyers, their odd, staccato grunting noises echoing by way of the timber.
2. Frequent Eider
The frequent eider of the New England coast must be on each waterfowlers’ bucket record. It’s the biggest duck within the northern hemisphere, weighing as much as five-plus kilos. Holding your first grownup is a revelation for that purpose alone. However what actually units it aside, except for the tough and rocky seascape it calls house, is its placing seems to be. Predominantly vibrant white with a jet-black stomach, wingtips and crest, the drake’s graphic design is complemented by an extended, sloping yellow invoice, a lime-green patch on the again of his head and a decrease breast tinged with peach. Even the hens are gorgeous with their chestnut plumage and black barring, making the eider a bird-collector’s dream come true.
1. Northern Shoveler
I do know. Actually? Right here’s the deal: you might denigrate this colourful duck as a “trash chook,” however I do know higher. I’ve seen you shoot lots of of them, particularly in late season when stale mallards and wigeon skirted your unfold just like the plague. Bitch about all of them you need, however your pulling the set off confirms that you simply clearly consider a spoonie in hand is healthier than nothing in any respect. In late January down South, they’re a chief species for mounting, they usually’re ubiquitous. They’re additionally good-eating birds once they frequent rice fields. And because you pool all of your duck breasts anyway, I wager you couldn’t inform a shoveler breast from a pintail’s in case your life trusted it.