Is it true a hunter can't shoot a sitting duck?

Let’s say I go duck hunting. I get my license, permit, etc. etc.

I go to a pond and set out a decoy. About an hour later a duck lands in the pond.

Am I allowed to shoot at the duck after it lands in the pond?

I once heard (a very long time ago) that it was forbidden in every state’s hunting regulations for a hunter to shoot a duck if it’s swimming, walking, etc. I heard that it must be flying before you can shoot at it. In the above example, I would first have to throw something in the water (like a rock) in the hopes that the duck would get scared and fly off. Only once it’s airborne would I be allowed to shoot at it.

So is this true? If so, is it normally based on a state’s hunting regulations, or unwritten rules of ethics?

As a duck hunter, I am not aware that it is specifcally in the rule books, although a hunter can be cited for unsportsmanlike conduct, which this would apply. Besides that, I have never known a duck hunter who would do such a thing, because there is no enjoyment in it, and it is just plain not sportsman like.

If one is going to shoot sitting ducks, why not just go to a range and use targets.

Here’s Title 29 of the Virginia Code, which deals with hunting:

I don’t see anything in there that would be applicable, except maybe for

but I can’t find a definition of “trapping”

The US Code does say:

but that doesn’t apply to a sitting bird. I can’t find any law you’d break.

I don’t know the answer to your question, but I’ll bet it has something to do with the Feds banning market hunting and Punt guns in ~1918.

I agree it would be unsportsman-like, and I would never do such a thing. I was just curious if it was mandated by laws or regulations, or if it was something “every hunter knows.”

Or go to Alaska and shoot “stupid chickens”

In my experience, not only will they not flee from hunters, stpuid chickens will actually run towards hunters when disturbed. Aptly named critters, and tasty too.

I once knocked three of them off a tree branch with rocks.

::KLUNK:: first one dies.

Other two: “Psst, they got Lucius, but probably don’t see us. Hunker down more.”

::PLONK:: second one falls.

Last one: “Shit, they got Emilio, but I’m probably safe.”



Never shot a sitting duck, but I’ve stepped on quite a few after a meal of camp beans and hotdogs.

I believe “hunter ethic” is universal.

In England the Huntmaster will immediately call off a fox hunt when the fox is obviously pregnant, has lactating breasts, or has young in tow.

I read in a National Geographic how one S.A. tribe will not shoot the arrow or blow the dart until the prey first looks at the hunter, presumably so that the prey can properly prepare for its own death.

We can, but we don’t.

You have to give them a chance. As others have said, it’s a question of ethics.

If you can’t shoot them on the wing, you shouldn’t try.

Errr…it’s a question of “word definition”, guys, not ethics. A “sitting duck” is a duck that is “sitting” on a nest full of eggs, i.e. incubating them, i.e. a duck that is in the middle of breeding season, and thus it’s (a) really easy, and (b) not sporting, to shoot her.

Ducks incubating eggs basically don’t budge except for very short periods.

She’s not going to move unless you walk right up to her and scare her off, so she’s an easy potshot from average duck gun range.

It was probably originally “setting duck”, as “setting hen” is the term still used by poultry farmers to mean a hen that is “sitting” on a nest full of eggs, i.e. incubating them.

There is one very good reason for not shooting birds on the water, and it’s because shot bounces like a stone skipped on the surface. A hunter shooting at a bird on the water can very easily shoot another person or his dog by accident as the shoot ricochets off the water. Around here a hunter seen shooting at the water around here will get some nasty words delivered if he’s lucky. He’s a risk to every man and his dog.

It was probably originally “setting duck”, as “setting hen” is the term still used by poultry farmers to mean a hen that is “sitting” on a nest full of eggs, i.e. incubating them.[/uote]

I doubt that because waterfowl won’t normally allow anyone to see them setting. The term lame duck comes form the habit of waterfowl of staggering away from the nest as though injured to draw off hunters.

What Exgineer said. And, where I come from, it’s not limited to ducks. The same unwritten rule applies to ruffed grouse, also. Yeah, you could shoot one sitting on the ground, but, well, it’s just not done, Old Chap.

I’ve let pheasant go, too. Sometimes the stupid things just won’t fly.