Duck hunting in college can be excruciating at times. I have countless examples of poor time management decisions that I’ve made as a college student who runs dangerously close to addiction when it comes to duck hunting. You’ve been there. Sometimes you don’t plan enough study time, or you can, like me, get downright lazy and choose to watch Netflix all day long.
I’m sure college would be far less stressful if I only managed my time for academia as wisely as I manage my time for duck hunting. Time management during duck season is a battle I have to fight every minute of every day. To do this, I plan out my hunts at least a week ahead. I work hard to know the general area we will be hunting, how many birds are in the area, and how early we will have to get there to get access to the prime spots.
Truthfully, my Jekyll and Hyde split personality disorder between the “collegiate version” of Wesley Littlefield versus the “waterfowl version” of Wesley Littlefield has taught me that, if I want to be successful on a continual basis, I must manage my time on campus as well as I manage time in the field.
This is the most important lesson I’ve learned while duck hunting in college:
You Must Create Time To Prepare.
The irony of that is just weird to me. Yet, it’s true.
You must plan a few minutes … to plan.
Preparation is an often overlooked, but extremely important part of school, and how did I learn that? From a diligent work ethic in planning my hunts between class work.
You can plan to prepare by gathering all the books and materials you will need for a particular class well ahead of the day before everything is due. Planning to prepare in the hunting arena means planning out your next hunt, gear needs, which buddy is responsible for what gear items, and having all the mess squared away instead of waiting until the night before the hunt and watching your phone blow up with 40 text messages that take up an hour of time as your buddies go back and forth on who is doing what for the hunt that’s coming up in a few hours.
Worse yet is when these texts come in while you are on a date, and she’s getting mad – not at your buddies – but at you!
And, truthfully, it’s not a ton of extra work to get ahead of the game. We’re talking 20 minutes of prep time that can go light-years ahead of making a hunt, or a biology exam, go so much better than it would have otherwise
To push that a bit further, I find that I do so much better in the classroom when I treat it like a hunt and designate study time on my iPhone’s calendar. I actually try to log it down for that day because I’ve found that it helps me stay focused.
You know as well as I do that if you do not know the study material, chances are you are going to fail the exam. The same is true for duck hunting in college. Study the birds; study their feeding patterns, flight patterns, and roosting patterns. I’m always surprised by how many university students don’t scout ducks at all before a hunt. I can tell it by the way they talk about their hunting experiences. It’s not a huge task; you just have to staff it to your calendar.
If you can understand what the birds are looking for and doing and why they are doing it before your hunt, then you will be that much farther ahead of all the other hunters in your area.
In the end, success in the college life and lifestyle of a hunter is about this: simple discipline.
I have heard countless economics professors quote the theory that “there is no such thing as a free lunch” – the idea being that everything, and I mean everything, has some sort of cost, whether financial or not, attached to it.
The price I pay to get up and go duck hunting in college? It means that I choose not to stay out until 2am the night before a hunt. It means that I had to force myself on a Tuesday, and I mean force myself, to write that 3-page paper a week early so that I could hunt on the weekend. It means that my buddies and I text throughout the week on gear prep instead of last-minute frenzies.
I can testify to this: when you pull the trigger and watch ducks hit the water as you and all your buddies are jacked up from the volley of ducks that dropped in your hole … in that moment, you’re going to know that the price of admission, that is, the discipline, the scheduling, the little bit of extra planning and prep, was so worth it.
Wesley Littlefield is a Senior Intern for Campus Waterfowl and attends Rogers State University in Oklahoma. Follow him and other members of the Campus Waterfowl team on Instagram.