A duck hunter in camo stands in a marsh in the early morning

Making Time to Hunt Ducks

With a little creativity, you can find time to chase ducks without spending all of your vacation days

There is an unfortunate and pervasive sentiment among many in the hunting community, “I just don’t have time to travel to hunt.” Others believe that you can only hunt on the weekends.

Do you have time to chase birds across six continents or take three solid weeks off to go hunt birds in Canada? Probably not.  However, with a little creativity and enough desire, there are ways to make that out-of-state trip happen or even just get into the local blind more often this coming season.

If you think that you don’t have time to hunt, let alone travel somewhere to hunt, you’re right. But traveling to hunt does not mean that you have to take a whole week off and burn all of your vacation time, stay at a premier lodge, and spend thousands of dollars on guides and gear. Traveling to hunt or finding more time to hunt locally might mean having to be more creative with your work schedule, doing more homework in advance of your trip, and being willing to lose a little sleep along the way. . . all for the sake of ducks.

Here are a few tricks that I’ve learned to help me travel more and make more time to get out into my local duck hunting spots.

Leverage work trips to get you close to a huntable area

In a normal year, if your job requires you to travel and allows you some flexibility in the destination, try to travel to places where you are reasonably close to a huntable area. In addition to my work as a photographer, I’m also an accountant. While that might not be very sexy, it does mean that I can work remotely and requires some domestic travel. 

Fortunately for me, our team was required to make annual site visits for our clients. These trips took place all across the country. I was able to choose the central region which included Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma. Most of my team had no desire whatsoever to visit Kansas in November, whereas I very much had that desire—much to the bewilderment of my colleagues.

Because I was traveling for a business trip, my company paid for the airfare, hotel, and rental car while I was working. I decided to take advantage of the opportunity and fly up early. I hunted all weekend in Oklahoma and Kansas, then hunted Monday and Tuesday morning as well, without taking any time off of work. It was a quick trip, but I found a way to make it work. I only had to pay for the extra day of the rental car and an additional night in the hotel.

With all of the training, conferences, and site visits that many of us are required or asked to attend throughout the year, there is more opportunity than you might think to get on birds all over the country. You might just have to be persistent and work for it.

Work remotely

If your job doesn’t require to you to be physically present at all times, consider jump-starting your hunting weekend by traveling to your destination early and working remotely.

As frustrating as the disruption of COVID-19 has been to our work, daily life, and hunting plans, there are a few unforeseen benefits that can work to the advantage of hunters. Work-from-home orders have required many of us to work remotely which has changed the ways that our employers view how we work. Use this to your advantage and make the most of the flexibility that this can afford you.

Hopefully, you have demonstrated to your employer that you can grind away and get the job done without having to be in the office every day. If you’re creative, you’ll see that there is a world in which you can travel to your hunting destination, hunt in the early mornings, and then work in the afternoon at the hotel or local coffee shop.

As I mentioned, my work as an accountant allows me to work remotely and still be able to fulfill my duties. I did this just last year when I went to Kansas to hunt. I arranged it with my employer that I would be unavailable in the mornings, I would get back online around 1:00, and I would work until about 8:00 at the hotel. That freed me up to hunt in the mornings and then get my work done in the afternoons. It was an effective arrangement.

Is it a perfect and relaxing get away? Not exactly. It can be a bit of a grind and sometimes you can feel a little rushed to get back to the hotel. It also makes for long days. Hopefully, you’ve established a track record of keeping your commitments and taking care of business so that your employer will be open to this kind of arrangement.

With a little bit of forethought and planning, you could easily arrange a Wednesday-to-Sunday hunting trip without taking additional time off. For example: hunt Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday until noon. Use the time from noon to 1:00 to grab some lunch and book it back to the hotel. Then work back at the hotel until the evening on those days. Use your mobile hot-spot in the car if you want to do a little late afternoon scouting.

After you wrap it up on Friday, you are ready to enjoy two full days of hunting without any other obligations. That’s five consecutive days of hunting without taking time off. It’s totally doable.

Communicate with your employer

If you do not communicate with your employer about what matters to you, then you are doing yourself a tremendous disservice. I started a new job earlier this year. Before I even accepted the job, I negotiated an arrangement where I could work four days a week during the waterfowl season. Now, I still have to get my job done and I take that very seriously, but a few conversations—especially before you’ve signed on the dotted line—can go a long way toward making a mutually beneficial arrangement that satisfies your priorities.

Communicate early. You’re as much of a duck hunter in July as you are in November. Go ahead and talk to your manager ahead of time about your plans to be out for three consecutive mornings in November with remote work during those afternoons. They will be much more likely to agree to something like that during the summer (with plenty of notice) than they will be during the season. Ask early and document the agreement with an email.

In general, don’t get caught up in the notion that “I just don’t have time to hunt.” Don’t resign yourself to that. Be creative. Work hard. Make the time. I assure you that you’ll find the time you need for the things you truly care about.

Last modified: July 19, 2022

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