Duck hunting is one of the most popular hunting sports in the world. It is as much a social calling as it is a hunt, in fact, representing a whole set of cultural standards and etiquette rules that many people do not even consider. It has a whole culture all its own, from a proper dress code to duck hunting dogs and assistants. The world of duck hunting is ripe with cultural significance, but is also has a dark side and represents a less than desirable aspect of human nature. Regardless of the point of view, there is something to be learned about duck hunting that may shed some light on either side of the ethical quandary.
Duck hunting is mainly a sporting activity around the world now, as commercial duck hunting has since been banned in most of the developed countries. Duck hunting is, in fact, as old as time itself. There are early indications that ducks and geese were somehow hunted during the Ice Age. Cave drawings indicate that duck hunting was a sound practice early on in human existence, giving way to ducks and swans appearing on cave paintings in Ice Age Europe. There is also evidence of duck hunting in Egypt, as a mural on the tomb of Khum-Hotpe displays a man capturing ducks in a stream. Ducks were also likely hunted by early man in the Americas, as early Peruvian art indicates.
With this international history, duck hunting enjoys a popularity that spreads around the world. It is especially popular in North America, where the largest number of localized ducks can be located. Most ducks use the Mississippi River as a migratory guide, so many duck hunts take place along the river to use it as a guide for finding ducks. Arkansas is a major hotbed of duck hunting, with Stuttgart being considered the “duck hunting capital of the world”.
Duck hunting is often considered popular because of its simplicity. The tools of the trade are simplistic enough, from a decoy set to a shotgun and duck call. The essence of duck hunting is based around the trickery of using the decoy and the duck call in tandem to lure the ducks out and into the air towards the decoy. After this takes place, the ducks are in open range for the hunt and the firing begins. These hunts take place around rivers, streams, lakes and any other bodies of water where ducks can be found.
There are many aspects that stand in contrast to duck hunting, of course. Most waterfowl conservation experts agree that the hunting of any type of waterfowl does little to help any situation. In fact, most marsh and wetland areas are shrinking at tremendous rates, giving rise the the criticism that duck hunting effectively diminishes an already diminishing habitat. There are several organizations that constantly spar with duck hunters over this reality.
One organization is the popular Ducks Unlimited. Ducks Unlimited is an international organization that stands as the leader in non-profit marshland protection and the protection of waterfowl. Ducks Unlimited sometimes works with hunters to protect the marshlands and protect the hunter's way of life. The main goal of Ducks Unlimited is the conservation of localized habitats where ducks can be found, enabling hunters to continue protected and logical hunts of ducks and enabling the survival of more ducks by creating better places for them to live.
Still, some hunters ignore this philosophy and have no interest in any protection of habitats. They, instead, pillage the duck areas and hunt ducks that should not be hunted. Duck hunting remains a controversial sport because of this aspect, unfortunately, and will continue to have a dark side as long as hunters remain blissfully ignorant as to the realities of organizations such as Ducks Unlimited. Without the cooperation of hunters and marshland protectors, duck hunts may be a thing of the past.