How Do I Hire A Wingshooting Guide?
Anyone who has spent time bird hunting knows how thrilling wingshooting can be. Whether you're hunting Sharptail grouse in North Dakota or mallards in Louisiana, getting into birds plus having some luck with your gun means equals a day you'll remember forever.
Unfortunately, the first part of that equation—getting into birds—is the biggest problem most bird hunters have. If you're new to wingshooting, or an upland pro travelling somewhere new, here are some ways to find game:
Of course, there is a simpler way get into game: Hire a guide. With a guide, all you have to do is write a check, show up, and be ready to have a great time.
A guide to guides
A good wingshooting guide will know the ins-and-outs of the terrain in their area and get you into birdy spots right away. Other than your hunting clothes, your shotgun and some shells, they'll have all the gear you need—including a dog. They'll also show you where to stand to get the best shot, spot your downed game, and keep you from getting lost.
A great wingshooting guide does all the above while also acting as a mentor and friend for the day. Instead of bringing a single dog that will tire out as the day goes on, they'll bring a string of canines and swap them out every few hours.
Great guides also teach you about bird cover, answers your questions about plants and vegetation, and carry on a conversation at lunch (if conversing is your thing). They clean and pack your birds for you, too.
If you're hunting all day, most guides will offer you lunch. The good ones give you a sandwich, chips and a soda maybe on the tailgate of their truck you drive or between spots. The great ones turn lunch into an experience by setting out chairs, building a fire, and preparing a hot meal.
Find a great guide
Most parts of the U.S. and Canada with decent populations of wild game birds also have guides willing to take you out to hunt this quarry. In some places, these guides are licensed and required to display a certain level of outdoor knowledge and first aid skills, from navigating with a compass to performing CPR. These guides also required to know the local laws and hunting regulations, like possession limits, land access rules, and shooting restrictions. In other places, guides are not licensed or regulated in any way. You're on your own when you hand them your money and you head out together into the field.
When looking for a guide, here are some things to ask before you book a slot for the upcoming season.
Be a great client
Just like guides, there are all kinds of clients, from PITAs to ones who are a pleasure to take into the field. Here are some tips on how to stay out of first category and remain in the second.
Whether you're just getting going as a wingshooting or you're an experienced hunter trying something different, hiring a guide is a great shortcut to having great time. By asking the right questions before you go, and acting the right way when you're in the field, you can be sure everyone has fun.
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