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I got a Facebook bump today with photos from 10 years ago. They were pictures of me and my buddies, with piles of geese around us from successful early season field hunts. Boy, did the memories come rushing back! I was in college at the time at UND. How I graduated in four years with a degree still boggles my mind. We literally spent a minimum of four days a week either scouting or hunting. It was an incredibly irresponsible, exciting, fun and unforgettable time of my life (that's me, second from the left on a pretty regular hunt for our group): 

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Field hunting was literally all we did. Didn't matter the time of year or what we were after -- if it meant getting ducks and geese, it happened in a harvested field of some kind. The lone exceptions were a diver hunt to Stump Lake (back before it connected to DL) and our annual "defecate Duck Shoot," so nicknamed because we'd hit a random pond and whack whatever came by. 

Well, life goes on. Friends moved away, and I soon found myself 75 miles south and in new territory. My first few years were spent getting to know the area. I actually had a few decent field hunts, too! It was exciting times again (me with my first solo limit in the new town, circa 2009): 

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Then, son No. 1 came along. Wow....just, wow. 

I love him dearly. More than I could ever have imagined, but he quite literally turned my world upside down, especially when it comes to hunting. I no longer hunt every weekend from September to January, and when I do my days are primarily limited to half-day excursions. And my waterfowling has completely changed. I can't remember the last field hunt I was on. With time such a rarity, scouting runs are few and far between. My field decoys and layout blinds are no doubt covered in dust and home to God knows how many critters. 

I find myself, almost unequivocally, hunting water for both ducks and geese. I know this is frowned upon in my neck of the woods, especially with everyone worried about "busting the roost." However, I know that I can grab a bag of decoys and my dogs, run to a pond just before first light, and have a good chance at birds while still being home before noon. Just can't say the same about field hunting. 

It's gotten to the point where I'm actually playing with the notion of selling all my field stuff. It's just taking up space, and I likely won't be using any of it for years....if ever again. 

Plus, the competition for fields in North Dakota is incredibly fierce, whereas the myriad ponds and sloughs are virtually untouched. I feel like I'm merely taking advantage of severely underutilized resources. 

So what are your thoughts? Anyone experience anything similar? And should I sell all my field stuff or just keep it in the attic in case, one day, I get the chance to go again?

(Mandatory shots of the wirehairs waiting on some more ducks to decoy):

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Great post.  Growing up hunting in Minnesota and hunting in northern part it was all water.  I've got to field hunt in South Dakota the last few years and man is that tough, even with a guide.  One morning I did experience the most amazing display I've ever seen duck hunting.  I couldn't tell you if there were 10k or 50k ducks flying everywhere, landing in spread, whizzing by your head as we put decoys out.  We had one volley at first light and then the ducks just moved to the north and we got blanked after that.  Either way, I will never forget that.

Frankly, I'd sell the stuff for two reasons; the space field dekes takes is amazing and once you get back into it your dekes may be yesterdays news.  Take the cash and buy something you will use now.

Either way, you have some great memories and most college kids, like I did, waste time doing less productive things than scouting and hunting.

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Believe me, I know the feeling!

Personally, I would keep your gear though. Leech is right that by the time you get back in to it, your gear will be "old news" but the issue I have is how the price of everything seems to skyrocket. my guess is you did not pay $200+ for a 6 pack of decoys back then.  Add up your decoys and blinds and then go shopping to see how much it would cost you to get a comparable setup.  Turns out besides being time suckers(in a good way!), kids are also very good at reducing your expendable income!!

What is better, 10-15 year old gear that at least lets you get back out and hopefully introduce your son to the sport with minimal investment, or coming to the realization that you can not get back in to the sport due to the cost.

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You both make good points. And to be fair, I don't have any full bodies -- just shells and sillos. Really, my whole spread of 6 dozen decoys takes up very little space. 

I guess I can hold onto hope that in 10 years or so the little dude will want to tag along with his old man, and we'll be able to dig out all those "old" decoys and see if they still pull in birds!

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I think you should sell your gear at incredibly low price...pm me.... haha! Don't get rid of it! Your boy will probably want to hunt if that's what Dad does. I remember when my dad would go hunting and I was too young to go. The anticipation of being old enough to go someday darn near killed me. I understand why person get angry about roost busting but most of the time the birds that go to the field to feed mainly speaking of ducks are off the water by shooting hours and what's left is a mixed bag. Think back to your field hunting days, bet there were plenty of days where you were watching the watch for legal time to shoot because the birds were already there. Some field hunt for the passion for field hunting or like my dad he doesn't water hunt due to the work of it. Get out and hunt when you can and someday your son will be waking you up to go hunt!

 

Kettle 

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Kids are really good at altering our plans and changing our lifestyle.  While I'm not a huge duck/goose guy my deer hunting took a serious hit once the little one came along.  It went from hunting in 4-5 day stretches and hunting multiple weekends in a row to being lucky if I can get out for one weekend.  The first year after the kid was born I had a 4 day trip planned.  I hunted opening day and then the wife called and said the kid was miserable and the wife hadn't slept so I got in the car and drove 4 hours home at 9pm at night on opening day.  That was the end of my season that year.

However, its all worth it.  My daughter is now 2 1/2 and she's already asking me to take her fishing.  She doesn't even care if she catches something she's content playing with the worms we dig up together before we go.  Either way she'll still tell everyone she caught a "BIIIIIG FISH", she's a natural when it comes to the fisherman's lie.

I'm not sure how old your little one is but I bet it won't be long before they are wanting to join dad for his hunts.  I'd hold on to all that gear so that once the kid is ready then you will be to.  Once the kid can come along it gets much easier to get out since now its not just your time, its family time and its always easier to justify taking time for family time.  Also you never know when you might get an unexpected chance to hit a field again, if you do you'll be glad you have the gear on hand to take advantage of it.

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Well now you guys convinced me! Guess I'll be keeping the gear for future father-son hunts.

Son just turned 2, and constantly is begging to go fishing. He's never even gone fishing! But we do like to watch walleye fishing videos on my iPhone before bedtime. 

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I've taken my daughter out maybe a half dozen times so far starting last winter.  Usually it consists of putting out tip ups for northern while I pull her around in her sled, or digging up worms together and then fishing from shore while she pets the worms and gives them all names.

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I have grandkids now, oldest just joined the navy, and youngest is 12. I started bringing the oldest grouse hunting at 5 and duck hunting at about 8 and now we have a crew of 12-15 yo girls who are our duck opener crew! It is awesome! There definitely is time when sports or sleepovers or whatever will have you pulling your hair out when the push is on ;) but you learn to modify your trips/hunts to accommodate. Truly it is now more about the time afield with friends and family than the number of animals taken... though I love when those great shooting days still come along!

Keep the dekes, go set them up in the yard with your kid and his/her friends, they will have fun doing that just as much! That will get him excited to do it for real. Heck, back when I could not yet go fishing on the big trips with Dad, me and my brother loved "helping" Dad rearrange his tackle box, starting in January ;)

Good luck, have fun with the kids, they will be leaving home before you realize it, but they always come back! Have the dekes ready ;)

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I've taken my daughter out maybe a half dozen times so far starting last winter.  Usually it consists of putting out tip ups for northern while I pull her around in her sled, or digging up worms together and then fishing from shore while she pets the worms and gives them all names.

I remember my daughter petting the leeches and giving them names. 

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when I was a kid I put some decoys out by the swing set and threw tennis balls at geese when the flew by.  Even then I didn't lead them enough. 

You've got great times ahead, my now 16 year old son who is 6 feet tall used to go fishing with me off of the dock in a back pack style thing.  We'd just fish for anything.  He loved it.  I changed my mostly walleye habits to just fishing for anything as he grew up.  Guess what?  Best fishing ever, big bluegills, big crappies, his first walleye was a 28 incher.  

First thing you do when you take them is to not fish yourself.  Fishing with a little kid is 5 times the work of fishing by yourself, you'll only get frustrated.  Turn into your own sons "free" fishing guide.  Don't even wet a line.  The hunting will come later, although I remember carrying the same kid out of the woods after bow hunting, those little legs get tired quick.  Funny carrying a bow and your own 30 pound kid isn't even tiring, you smile the whole time

Edited by leechlake

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Field hunting has become a circus in the last few years in nd, especially in the pressured areas.  

 

If I were you I'd keep the field gear in case you get time to scout and hunt in November.  I've had incredible shoots out there right before the fat lady was about to sing and there is very little pressure at that time.  It takes a fair amount of windshield time but it's worth it when you find the mecca.

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Field hunting has become a circus in the last few years in nd, especially in the pressured areas.  

 

If I were you I'd keep the field gear in case you get time to scout and hunt in November.  I've had incredible shoots out there right before the fat lady was about to sing and there is very little pressure at that time.  It takes a fair amount of windshield time but it's worth it when you find the mecca.

That's a good point, too. My favorite time of year is Halloween. Never had a bad hunt if you plan it around the Trick'R'Treating. But I literally (not figuratively, but literally) have no time to scout. Whatever hours I get to go out are spent hunting. The best I can hope for is stumbling across a feed during travels. 

I may try running traffic this fall, just to do it. To heck with hour and hours and miles and miles of scouting. Just set up in a likely area, play the weather, and see what happens. The worst that can happen is I spend the day in a field, hunting...not a bad prognosis. 

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There are worse things than running traffic. Like you said, at least your out there. You have a better chance there than on your couch. 

And you get to watch a sunrise, get a blind/field/truck nap in, and possibly shoot a lonely goose. Nothing wrong with any of that. 

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Dont you dare sell those decoys. Believe me, your boy will want to hunt with dad. Boys always wanna do what dad loves. Wanna know something crazy? Those same decoys that brought birds in back in your college days will still bring birds in 100 years from now. The sales pitches have changed, but the birds haven't. Find the x, throw out some rag-tag shells & those birds will come in feet-down. On top of that, how cool is it gonna be to dust those old dekes off one day and kill birds over the very same dekes that you enjoyed so much back in college?! Anyways, believe me, this smile will be worth letting those ol' dekes take up your garage space 

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