By Steve Meyer
Aug. 1 hits duck hunters as if someone slapped them in the forehead with a 2-by-4. A panic ensues, and a flurry of activity and sleepless nights that don’t really subside until Sept. 1, the opening day of waterfowl season in Alaska.
The countdown to opening day for obsessive waterfowl hunters, and there really isn’t any other kind, actually begins Dec. 17, the day after the season closes. At that point we have 257 days to go and the panic remains in check for most of the winter, although it doesn’t keep us from reading everything available that remotely concerns waterfowl.
When spring comes and the waterfowl come through on their annual migration, we have to watch them, see how the numbers look, watch their patterns and see if the local ponds are getting much holdover for nesting — which will be an indicator of what to expect in the way of local populations come fall.
And, of course, for most of us, that is in between ice fishing, predator hunting, trapping and the myriad other outdoor activities we do. Summer finds most of us consumed with fishing, and when the final bout is over July 31, we panic.
I always marvel at the mentality that suggests there is “nothing to do” in Alaska. The real problem is there is not enough time in a day, not enough days in a year, not enough years in a lifetime, to do it all. But for waterfowl hunters, when the time comes, all else is forgotten.