Some duck hunters prefer to shoot only mallards – or greenhead ducks, as they’re known – and disdain other ducks as “scrap” ducks. So what’s wrong with that?
Plenty, as Outdoor Life reports. Ducks are over-hunted, it says, and mallards are the most over-hunted of all.
Greenhead Ducks vs. Scrap Ducks
“One thing that I just can’t stand is when people call them ‘scrap’ ducks,” veteran duck hunter and guide Mike Stahlman told Outdoor Life. “If they’re just scrap ducks to you, then don’t shoot them.”
Southern hunters get most of the blame for over-hunting greenheads. And over the years, duck hunters there have kept going back to the same spots to hunt the mallards. The trouble is, the mallards aren’t returning to their old haunts anymore.
“One of the things [we] hear most often is that southern duck hunting is dead,” the magazine added. “Well, it’s only ‘dead’ because hunters aren’t adapting, or can’t get access to the places greenheads are now going.”
In other words, you can still find mallards at manicured private clubs in the South. But public lands are missing ducks because birds know those lands are over-hunted and under-tended.
Still, in other parts of the country – say, southeast Kansas or the North Platte River – mallards remain plentiful. It’s just the luck of the draw for hunters.
The Creation of an Obsession
But the fixation on greenheads is not southern hunters’ fault.
Hunting outfitters, waterfowl brands, YouTube celebrities and even recreational publications have elevated the pursuit of greenheads to an obsession. And their endless photos of dead greenheads are bad for duck hunting, Outdoor Life contends. It has left newbies with an expectation that they’ll only shoot green.
Veteran duck hunters recognize that other ducks are worth pursuing, too. And they know that ducks hate to be pressured. Hunting two weeks straight or bringing a crowd of hunters along will clear out what mallards there are.
The more experienced a duck hunter you are, the less you care about the number of greenheads you shoot, according to Outdoor Life. So maybe one day, the younger generation of duck hunters – the ones shaped by social media and its attendant greenhead obsession – will come around to that realization.