Become a birder to be a better bird hunter
It doesn’t hurt to be a birdwatcher if you’re also a bird hunter. You learn to identify ducks and grouse better, and it gives you something to do in the offseason. But the biggest benefit comes from other birders.
You can be a hunter and also be a birdwatcher. In fact, being a birdwatcher can actually help you when you hunt. The more practice you get watching ducks, for instance, the better you’ll be at identifying them when they come into your decoys. And with the complicated limits we have to abide by these days, it’s important to be able to tell for sure what you’re looking at before you pull the trigger.
Part of birdwatching is also bird listening, too. When you spend time out where the birds are, you can’t help but hear them making their noises. Listening to ducks is great practice for calling ducks. The more you hear, the better you should be at reproducing the noises they make, and you might even figure out what noises to make depending on what the birds that are coming in are doing.
But probably the biggest benefit to birdwatching is simply networking with other birdwatchers. I subscribe to an e-mail list put together by other Wyoming birdwatchers, and I often get a heads-up when the geese are coming down from the north in huge numbers. A post a few days ago gave me that advance warning. It was by a person up in Sundance, and she said she spent some time watching a couple hundred geese rafting up on a pond up there. With any luck, there are still plenty of birds on their way. The Torrington and Hawk Springs areas usually provide plenty of food and resting places for the migrating geese, so unless the cold has run ‘em out of the region already, and as long as more are still working their way down, the next few days should be fantastic for waterfowl hunters on the eastern side of the state. I haven’t heard much from birders in the rest of Wyoming, but chances are good the geese are coming down through other parts of the state, too.
Get connected to the birdwatching world, and then get out and take advantage of what you learn.