Much ado has been made about “Common Core” approaches to learning math. Well, veteran duck hunters are well versed in working out complicated math formulas and making simple addition seem like brain surgery. Most duck hunters work hard to follow the ever-increasing rules, regulations and paperwork required to be a law-abiding sportsman. Today we’ll take a look back at one of the most confusing times in duck hunting — the late 1970‘s and early 1980‘s when limits of ducks weren’t counted, they were calculated. If you hunted back then, you’ll remember. If you didn’t, add this to your list of things to be thankful for!
In those days, in an effort to provide protection to those species and sexes of ducks that they felt needed protection, federal regulations went from letting hunters shoot as many as 15 ducks apiece to a complicated point system. Different ducks were assigned different point values. When you reached 100 points, you were done for the day. The rule of the day in the duck blind was Don’t Shoot A Canvasback. Canvasbacks were 100 Points. Shoot one, game over.
Mallard hens, wood ducks and hooded mergansers were 90 points. Ducks like mallard drakes and pintails were 25 points. Teal, gadwalls, widgeons and the like were 15 points. So if you shot four teal (60 points), then a mallard drake (25 points), you could finally shoot a mallard hen (90) for six ducks. It was kind of like 1 + 1 could equal 50 or 1 + 1 could equal 100. It depended on what one was. Confusing.
The only problem was, if you shot them in the reverse order, you only got the hen (90) and drake (25), you crossed the 100 point mark and stopped or risked a hefty fine if the warden was hiding in the bushes. And to keep from depending on blind luck, no pun intended, you had to be able to identify which type of duck you were about to shoot as it flew toward you in dim light and often rain at 40 miles an hour. It may have conserved ducks, but it confused duck hunters. It did make life fun for a few overzealous federal game agents who would hide in the icy bushes and count ducks in the actual order that hunters shot them, then jump up with ticket book in hand and yell “FOWL”…I mean, FOUL. It wasn’t really FAIR.
For the most part, hunters just figured their limit by shooting up to six ducks, then “reordering” and hoping there wasn’t a warden in the bushes. In other words, they said they shot the 15 point ducks first, then higher point ducks later. This “reordering” was eventually the demise of the ill-planned system. Thank goodness. I would hate to have to explain my work on a duck hunt today, or draw a word picture to help illustrate it…