We were picking up decoys the other day and I remarked to my partner that if there were a Nobel Prize for waterfowling gear, I would nominate the Texas Rig. As he was a southerner and teal season was fresh in his memory, he said he would choose the ThermaCell, and I had to admit he had a point.
There have been a lot of Nobel Prizes in the news lately but once again, there is no category for “wingshooting innovations,” which is a serious oversight. So, here is my list of nominees. To be clear, the list below consists of innovations made during my hunting lifetime that make the lives of waterfowlers, upland and dove hunters markedly better:
1.The Texas Rig
Picking up decoys quickly while keeping anchor lines untangled and fingers warm and dry was a difficult task until some genius invented the Texas rig. Now you can pick up decoys in a fraction of the time it used to take, making it easier to move quickly to where the ducks want to be.
2. Breathable Waders
You had to replace old-style rubber waders almost every year, or at the very least, you had to wear them into the bathtub to check them for leaks then patch them before every season. Then durable neoprene waders came along to make life better, but they always felt clammy to me. Ever since I tried my first pair of breathable waders I’ve worn no other kind. Light, thin, supple, they are like waterproof pants with boots attached.
3. Layout Blinds
In Canada a few weeks ago we dug shallow pits each morning before the hunt, sat in the dirt and hunted, then filled the pits in afterwards. That’s how goose hunting used to be. Of course if the farmer didn’t let you dig a pit, or, if the ground was hard, you lay in the stubble under burlap or a giant shell decoy and froze. Layout blinds changed goose hunting for the better forever. With a portable layout blind you can hide almost anywhere the birds want to be and keep yourself out of the wind and weather.
4. Electronic Collars
“Never give a command you can’t enforce,” is a bedrock rule of dog training (parenting, too, but you can’t put e-collars on kids). Until the invention of the electronic collar, you could only enforce commands at arm’s length, or at the length of a check-cord, although some less-evolved trainers would “sting” dogs with birdshot. The e-collar changed all that. You can enforce commands as far away as you can see your dog. Used properly and not abused, e-collars are among the greatest aids to upland hunters ever. Early collars broke down constantly but the new ones are practically trouble-free.
5. The Mojo Dove
Dove decoys always worked, but if you put a Mojo dove in the right place the spinning wings pull doves into decoy range with a nearly hypnotic effect. Don’t get me wrong: I like pass shooting doves, too, but the thrill of watching birds decoy improves any hunt.
That’s my list. I would welcome your nominations. If response is good for this one, we’ll do shotguns and ammo another time.