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I have a confession to make. When attempting dual limits, I do not count crippled birds. I doubt that there’s anyone out there who hates crippling birds anymore than I do. I have accepted that it is a factual part of hunting but it still feels as wrong as poaching.

I will confess that on those days that I just can’t seem to miss but can’t seem to out right kill anything either, I’ll just quit hunting. I’ve even returned home from long distance hunts early, just because I could knock down birds but couldn’t seem to kill them.

My rationale for not counting cripples is simple. My usual goal on a hunt is to take a dual limit. If I fall even one bird short of that dual, I can’t start over where I left off the next day. At the end of the day, five roosters into a six rooster dual limit might as well be no birds at all. I’ll have to start over at zero tomorrow, and try to do better. So you see, if there’s time to make up for a lost cripple, without having to kill more birds the next day, I’ll not count a lost cripple and keep hunting for that dual limit. A “Dual Limit including a lost cripple” is a lie.

On the other hand, just shooting a daily bag limit of birds isn’t too important to me, unless it’s a bird I’ve never hunted or I’m a long, long ways from home. I’ve shot hundreds of limits so another one here or there, isn’t that big of a deal.

Any days that I’m not attempting a dual limit are just scouting and exploring days, and I really don’t care how many birds I take. But every day, every minute that I’m into birds, I’m studying the cover, the birds and comparing what I thought was knowledge against reality. If there’s a better way to work cover, or to put myself in a position to shoot when it appeared no shot would be possible, that’s what I work on. Because one day, it will matter. When attempting to take dual limits there will always be a day when there’s an hour of shooting time left and you need one more bird. At an hour left in the day, is not the time to be contemplating new strategies.

Bird hunting is not a mindless activity that directs me. I always strive to be a better hunter and put my dog into more birds. I know that upland birds are pea brains, but most days, in the uplands, so are we.

So go ahead and brand me an “unscrupulous game hog” if you like, I can live with that, and myself.

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