What To Look For In Duck Hunting Guides
Of all the elements of any duck hunting trip, probably the most important factor that can make a hunt great or awful is the guide. Most hunters use duck hunting guides to supply access to the hunting grounds and water, but more than anything else, hunters rely on the guide to provide knowledge and experience.
How can a hunter know that a guide is a good guide with first-rate knowledge and skills and people skills to make a hunt successful? That’s a tough question, and it is not easily answered. The truth is, some hunters want a guide to also provide entertainment, amusement and good stories. Other hunters want a guide who will put everything and everyone in position, and then sit back and be silent and not intrude on the hunter’s thoughts.
Looking for a good guide, to tell the truth, depends just as much on the client as the guide. That is, not every guide will suit every hunter.
To get some good first-hand knowledge of what makes a good duck guide, we spoke with Logan Meaux of Mallard Bay Outdoors who shared his ideas of what makes a good guide, and how he chooses the guides used by Mallard Bay.
What Are The Needed Skills Of Good Duck Hunting Guides?
“Number one is scouting because without spending enough time scouting you won’t end up in the right spots. Number two would be calling. The ability to know when not to call is more important than just being able to call well. If you call at the wrong time, it could scare ducks off. Number three would be the ability to change and make adjustments on the fly. Will the guide accept when something is not set up right and make a change? Putting people in the right places is an important part, but not the only thing a good guide does,” Meaux said.
“Guides often have to make sure that hunters know where the birds are going to be coming from, calling the shot (knowing the right time to shoot), making sure the hunter has the best chance to kill in the moment and calling out directions while the hunters have his/her head down,” Meaux explained. Knowing when to correct the hunter on something in regards to safety and hiding effectively is also important.”
What Equipment Should The Guide Provide?
“Guides provide almost everything needed for the hunt- location, decoys, blind, chair, calling, and often a dog. Sometimes gun rentals, lodging, and ammunition can be added on to make the experience easier for the hunter. The hunter as the client is responsible for personal gear, jacket, boots/waders, pants, blind bag, and most often, ammunition and shotgun,” Meaux pointed out.
What If The Hunter Is A Total Newcomer To Duck Hunting?
“If a client is a total newcomer, the guide can help most only if the guide is aware that the hunter is new to the sport. Asking for help is the best thing the newcomer can do; the worst case is when the guide expects the hunter to know how to do something when the hunter just doesn’t know. Most importantly, gun and blind safety as well as general tips for when to shoot and the set-up will affect the hunter’s ability to shoot,” Meaux said.
What Makes Mallard Bay Guides Top of the Line?
“Guides working with Mallard Bay are expected to provide the best experience possible for our clients. Our guides are able to go the extra mile and focus on the things they can control about the experience, like how easy it is to settle up after the trip instead of spending time dealing with the back office things before the next group arrives. They can spend more time making sure you’re having the best experience possible,” he said. “The alignment of incentives with outfitters is what sets us apart from the rest, as well as our vetting process.
“We are there to help you every step of the way and in the case anything is not as expected. No guide out there should be promising limits, and we don’t expect that from our guides. We want to focus on giving the hunter the best chance possible at success and we want people to understand that the definition of success varies by the client. If a hunter’s definition of success is a fun hunt, good food, great guides and excellent customer service, we will provide that. Birds will be birds, and sometimes the client might not get a limit, and that should be OK,” Meaux advised.
“Help us understand your definition of success and we will make a recommendation based on your needs and desires- no one else’s,” Meaux concluded.