First the moral of this story: I believe hunters make better pest managers because they are intensely alert and vigilant, and they prepare for success.
I was recently sitting in a duck blind waiting for birds to fly by when a thought popped into my mind: “The preparation and energy that I just put into this hunt is much like pest managers and fumigators put into their job.” Let’s examine this statement.
I set the alarm clock for 4:30 a.m. I had a good breakfast before I started out. I packed the truck with decoys, my hunting license and my new shotgun that I sighted and practiced shooting prior to the hunt. I had my black Labrador named Buddy excited and well trained prior to the opening day. I carried dog treats for those times when a pat on the head was not good enough. I knew exactly where I was going and what time I would arrive. Prior to opening day I had secured permission to hunt at this location.
My “bucket” had a box of steel shot shells, a knife, a leash, a good flashlight and a backup flashlight with new batteries. The clothing was the correct camo for this marsh grass background. My waders were checked for leaks prior to leaving. My duck and goose calls were tuned up and ready to coax those wary ducks back within range of our duck blind.
It is dark in Indiana at 6:00 a.m. in November, but the sun starts creeping up the eastern horizon about 6:15 a.m. The first 30 minutes of duck hunting is when the birds like to stretch their wings and look for somewhere to feed. A dozen decoys may attract them to take a look or better yet, set their wings to land in your decoys.
The hunter is on constant alert and ready to shoot in any direction. The biggest question is, “How far do you lead a flying duck?” The reaction of pulling the trigger, the shotgun shell discharging, the flight of the shot through the barrel and then 40-50 yards toward the fast-flying duck is always a mystery and challenge.
After I shoot a duck flying by, it falls into the tall marsh grass. I don’t know if it is crippled or dead. Now is the time for my dog to do his job. Without a hunting dog the chances of finding this downed duck would be slim.
PREPARING FOR SUCCESS. Just like with hunters, the equipment pest management professionals gather prior to the job makes them more successful. Identifying the pest is half the battle when controlling pests. A hunter doesn’t want to shoot an eagle when he thinks it is a goose or a grebe when he thinks it is a teal.
Hunters have the correct equipment and clothes for the outing. Flashlights are key to the success of the pest manager so don’t buy a cheap one. Buy a professional one that performs in all situations. I would not want to take an undersized shotgun and shells to the field. When your customers need a fumigation, you don’t sell them a fogging.
Pheromones (OK, you knew this was coming) are lures like duck or goose calls or authentic-looking decoys. Some pheromones work better than others, just like well carved and painted decoys in the correct place will look more realistic than others.
I have hunted waterfowl since I was in college. The crisp morning air and the awakening of the marsh with a new day is exhilarating. It makes you feel alive. Working with your partner, like my dog Buddy, creates a close bond that is hard to describe. It is not about the wild game that you bring home to eat at the dinner table. It is some ancient desire that you feel that wants you to wake up at 4:30 a.m. tomorrow and do it again. I believe hunters do make better pest managers because they are intensely alert, educated, vigilant and they prepare for success.
David Mueller is president and founder of Insects Limited. To receive Insects Limited’s quarterly e-newsletter, from which this article was excerpted, visit www.insectslimited.com/newsletter.