Scotts Valley, CA - December 27, 2010 - Late last month, the California Waterfowl Association mailed the winter issue of its magazine, California Waterfowl, to its membership, and included in the publication was an article titled, "Etiquette in the Field," which is based on an adaptation of the original RefugeRat.com work, the Field Etiquette RatGuide.
The latest version of the RatGuide, formally introduced early this year, is a unique field guide to assist duck and goose hunters better understand the issues involved while waterfowl hunting on public lands, and ultimately improve the quality of their hunts.
Since the initial version premiered two years ago, the Field Etiquette RatGuide has been well received by waterfowlers of all skill levels, and continues to attract support. The guide itself is a living document, addressing a complex set of interrelated hunting issues, such as cooperation in the field, bird behavior, field travel, hunt planning, decoys, calling, shooting, and other pertinent factors.
The Field Etiquette RatGuide emerged from personal duck and goose hunting experiences while on public lands. "During our hunts on the refuges, we started to recognize situational patterns, both productive and destructive, and felt compelled to develop a resource to help other waterfowlers better understand some of the key, yet sometimes obscure issues while goose or duck hunting on National Wildlife Refuges, Wildlife Management Areas, Department of Natural Resources' lands, and other public properties," states RefugeRat.com's Brian Morrison. "Most of the challenges we directly observed, or learned about from our network of Refuge Rats, centered on a key issue - lack of information."
Until recently, there has not been a comprehensive resource for public land hunters to refer to while in the field. "Once we realized there was an information void as it relates to hunting on public lands, we felt obligated to create a unique solution. Our objectives were to bridge the information gap, and provide a practical resource, with the end goal of helping to improve the quality of duck and goose hunting for all," explains Morrison. "The Field Etiquette RatGuide is the first step towards achieving that goal, and now since the latest version has been released, sharing it with waterfowlers everywhere is a priority."
Towards that effort, the California Waterfowl Association (CWA) was approached this past summer with a concept for a magazine article based on a modified version of the RatGuide, and the initial feedback was positive. "CWA is an established and successful organization, so we were naturally pleased to find they were receptive to our idea," shares Morrison.
Courtney Ashe, California Waterfowl Association's Editor, was the first person to review the document for publishing. "When this article was pitched, one of the reasons it appealed to me was the conversational tone. Instead of a long list of rules, the RatGuide offers the reasons hunters should engage in specific field behaviors," states Ashe. "The article provided beneficial information to our readers, and California Waterfowl is always proud to publish articles that encourage ethical hunting practices and foster a spirit of cooperation among hunters."
"CWA is well respected within the waterfowl hunting and conservation communities, and to have them find value in sharing our article with their membership is a significant milestone for the RatGuide," furthers Morrison. "We are grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the content of the magazine, and together with CWA continue to help make duck and goose hunting on public lands a quality experience for all."
The article also received support from the CWA Editorial Committee, whose responsibilities include reviewing submissions for accuracy, as well as approving or rejecting articles for print. The group includes members with backgrounds at the United States Geological Survey, United States Department of Agriculture, and California Department of Fish and Game, and their professional experiences span the fields of biology, wetlands restoration management, journalism, and public policy.
During the review process, the team offered suggestions, and ultimately approved the article. "It is clear the Editorial Committee understood the issues from a quality of hunting perspective, and made some nice contributions to the piece," states Morrison. "It is always great to see other waterfowlers interested in helping to make duck and goose hunting a quality experience for all, but it was especially rewarding to have hunters as knowledgeable as the editorial team members lend their support too."
A significant challenge during the creative process was reworking the original Field Etiquette RatGuide to fit magazine space requirements. "The RatGuide is currently at about 3800 words and growing, so paring it down to one third of the size for publication was no easy task," shares Morrison. As the rewrite unfolded, one of the most helpful individuals was Ashe. "After we pruned the original document to the bare minimum, Ashe offered suggestions to polish the content, and helped produce a great two and a half page article," adds Morrison. "She is an example of the quality staff and volunteers that work for CWA, and have helped make the association so successful."
An electronic version of the magazine, which includes the printed article, will be available online at the CWA website by February of next year. In the meantime, you can visit the interactive Field Etiquette RatGuide to learn more, and share your opinions.
About California Waterfowl Association
California Waterfowl is an award winning 501(C)(3) nonprofit, hunter-supported conservation organization with a mission to conserve the state's waterfowl, wetlands, and hunting heritage. In the last 20 years, we've completed more than 800 individual projects to protect, restore, and enhance more than 370,000 acres, providing habitat for millions of birds and animals. Our Wood Duck Program has hatched more than 542,000 ducklings, while our Banding Programs have marked more than 183,000 waterfowl. Our Youth and Education Programs have reached more than 250,000 children and young adults to help to create a better understanding of biology, conservation, and outdoor heritage. All efforts are supported largely by donations and the work of over 1,500 dedicated and tireless volunteers. Please visit us online at calwaterfowl.org.
RefugeRat.com is an emerging company dedicated to serving the unique product and service needs of public land duck and goose hunters, also known as "Refuge Rats." RefugeRat.com offers its own specialty waterfowling gear as well as select partner products. RefugeRat.com also supports waterfowl related issues and causes, as well as military members through several unique programs. In addition, with the assistance of waterfowl hunters, RefugeRat.com field and prostaff, partner companies, and organizations across the continent, RefugeRat.com is driving the effort to help make duck and goose hunting on public lands a quality experience for all. RefugeRat.com resources and programs to help support this goal include the Field Etiquette RatGuide, RatSkills, RatChallenges, RatTests, Team RefugeRat, and the Perfect Hunt Initiative. Visit RefugeRat.com to learn more.