By Todd Mills
Thumbing through one of my favorite waterfowl magazines, I stumbled into the new gear section. It was impossible to turn the page without seeing something I could use. It made me wonder how we did it before all this new gear was available.
Long before all the technology and gadgets were invented and used by kids today, we entertained ourselves with things that cost less money. My family lived in a house the size of my current garage, so extra spending money wasn’t something I could scrape together. We were very creative and resourceful due to our financial reality. As a kid growing up in a small lake town in the ’70s, the passion for waterfowl hunting ran deep in my blood. Hunting was something we could do on a small budget, and it’s still true today.
There are several ways to keep your budget low and still enjoy waterfowl hunting. Here are a few ideas that will go easy on your wallet and fill a few bird straps.
While hunting teal a couple of years ago, I was in a rush to get out the door and inadvertently grabbed the wrong bag of decoys. Now faced with the reality of not getting to my spot on time if I went back, I decided to use what I had. Much to my surprise, it didn’t make much difference in decoying those teal. In fact, it made for an enjoyable eye-candy hunt as bigger ducks, not yet in season, decoyed right. The moral of the story is, you don’t need the most expensive decoys to kill ducks — regardless of the waterfowl you pursue. Keep it simple, find the right price and let your scouting skills do the rest.
KEEP IT CLEAN
You can spend a lot of money on guns. In fact, for some hunters, it can become an addiction. Not that I’m against new guns or people that own them, I’ve just always been an over-and-under guy and through the years have found ways to keep my guns clean and working properly. As my buddies’ fancy automatics keep jamming, my over-and-under keeps plugging away.
It’s important to clean your gun after every hunt. Sand and dirt buildup in an older gun can be a disaster and may lead to costly repairs. Also remember to remove moisture from your gun when you get home to avoid rust buildup. If you’re not interested in looks or having the newest and best, that old Remington 870 you owned as a kid may still be working.
Recently, I’ve reunited with an old friend on some waterfowl adventures. We had our first hunt almost 50 years ago, but seem to always be going different directions during the season. Not only is he a skilled waterfowler, he’s a magician at low budget hunting. A couple years ago, I sent him a double reed call that cost about $25. Even though he hunts often, he really never figured out how to use a duck call the right away. Much to my surprise when we got together, not only could he blow the call, he sounded pretty good. He had been practicing, and listening, and didn’t need an expensive acrylic call to fool ducks. Not only that, he had put together his own motion decoy: A pulsating goose decoy almost identical to the ones you can buy for a hefty price. He told me he saved at least $100 compared to buying one new.
Through trial and error, my friend found a way to save money and still kill ducks. And it doesn’t hurt that his scouting skills are always on point. ■