By Jon Comiskey
Breathe in the crisp morning air. Let it wake your body and soul. Sip your coffee. Warm your hands. Feel the water around your waders. Ignore your chilled toes. Listen to the breeze in the reeds and rhythmic whistle on the wing of your quarry. The sun has yet to break over the horizon but every minute the light uncovers more of what was once unknown around you. Rack your trusted weapon and quiet the dog. The time has come.
If you have ever been hunting for waterfowl then you know the wave of feelings, both physical and emotional, experienced in a successful morning flight. Duck hunting totally captivates me, it draws me in, and causes me to sacrifice money and sleep. These feelings make it seem like a good idea to wake up hours before the sun to go break ice on a pond, and stand in freezing water on days when the temperatures are subzero. Hunting offers close up experiences with wildlife and nature otherwise not found. You are fully awake and aware while the world rises around you. It gives you the chance to communicate and interact with animals through the use of a duck call. I have a deep appreciation for these animals; their speed, intelligence, and beauty.
Duck hunting has played a huge role in my life through my college career here at CSU. So much so that my brother in law, Connor, my “cousin in law”, Parker, and myself have started a business based on Colorado public land hunting and fishing called the Colorado Good Ol’ Boys. Many do not realize the privilege we have of being able to go out on public land and harvest renewable resources. The model that the United States uses to manage our wildlife populations and lands gives us the best of both worlds, where we get to enjoy and take part in what the land has to offer while stewarding the land and its inhabitants responsibly.
One of our goals as a company is to unite not only all kinds of hunters and anglers, but also many other hobbies and sub-cultures rooted in the outdoors; mountain bikers, climbers, kayakers, skiers and snowboarders, backpackers, day hikers, you name it. If it is an activity that is enjoyed on public lands then we want people to be apart of the Colorado Good Ol’ Boy community. While our hobbies rely on the same land, there can be much division between outdoor enthusiasts. The fly fisherman who turns up his nose at the bait fishermen, the big game hunter who considers his craft more worthy than the small game hunter, or the free climber who considers himself a purist in comparison to the aid climber. These examples are each within their own scope. The issue of division grows even more if we were to take a look at the perceptions across outdoor subculture lines. This division is detrimental to the outdoors community and should not be encouraged.
As a company that takes part in many of the outdoor activities that Colorado has to offer, we have found that most individuals who have a passion for an activity in the outdoors also have or develop a passion for the lands that they recreate on. It is our responsibility as Colorado outdoor enthusiasts to protect and maintain our public lands. Duck season in in full swing right now so we would like to leave you with a few tips and some advice:
Safety Tip: Allow one another to express when someone is being unsafe or making them feel uncomfortable. A lot can happen fast in the excitement of passing ducks so be aware of the people in your group and where others may be also hunting or doing other activities on the land around you.
C.G.O.B. Hunting Tip: Always surround yourself with hunters that are better than you. On the more concrete side, as the season goes on into late season put out less and less decoys. We have found this can help with birds that have become gun-shy in the later season.
Hunters safety license courses, which are required, can be taken in town at Jax. You can also find regulations as well as public land to hunt here https://ndismaps.nrel.colostate.edu/index.html?app=HuntingAtlas.
Good luck out there and keep your eyes to the skies!