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What Would Permanent Daylight Savings Time Mean to Duck Hunters?

A duck hunter's take on the Sunshine Protection Act.

What Would Permanent Daylight Savings Time Mean to Duck Hunters?

Rest easy, fellow hunters: Congress has your back. (Photo By: River Monster Photography-Shutterstock.com)

Last March, with bombs falling in Europe and pork rinds trading at $82 per barrel (obscene!), the men and women of our legislative branch buckled down and struck a bipartisan deal to address the problem keeping us all awake at night: Daylight savings time.

The “Sunshine Protection Act,” cosponsored by Senators Marco “Polo” Rubio (R, FL) and Patty “Patricia” Murray (D, WA), would make daylight savings time permanent across the United States. That’s right, no more climbing inside the grandfather clock every November and March to lube up the innards and crank the pully (looking at you, Uncle George). Starting November 2023, it will be DST 24/7.

Now it must be noted that while the bill WAS approved by the Senate, it has yet to pass in the House. And with most of our noble representatives preoccupied with trying to remember the password for their burner Twitter account, there’s a decent chance this law never sees the–ahem–light of day. Furthermore, the public enthusiasm that marked the initial announcement has also cooled considerably since March, due largely to young urban progressives arriving at the sobering realization that “Permanent Daylight Savings Time” would not mean flipflops and crop tops in February.

Saving Daylight for Duck Hunters

As a duck hunter, however, my view on this proposal has not wavered. I’m firmly unsure. And that’s because this proposed change forces us fowlers to reckon head-on with a polarity of needs that confronts us every autumn: Blind time vs. sleep.

I’m sure you can relate to this tension. It’s November. If this magazine is in your hands, there’s a good chance you’re a duck hunter. And if so, you are clinically sleep deprived. There’s no way NOT to be, during the duck season.

Your big game buddies know nothing of this. Those whitetail weenies whine and wail about getting up at 4:30 am to be in the tree stand by oh-dark-thirty on a Saturday and you just roll your eyes. Or you would if you hadn’t nodded off halfway through their rant. 4:30 am?! You’ve been setting blocks for an hour by then, following a one-hour hike and two-hour drive. And you’ll do the same thing tomorrow. And the next day. And the next.

But you won’t catch us whining. We cinch up our waders and find a way to cope. How many times has your wife found you in the garage, snoring and spooning alongside your Labrador? How many times have you awakened in the nursery, curlers in your hair and toenails a gaudy pink because your toddler decided to play “makeover salon” after you passed out during the bedtime book? How many times have you re-read this sentence, trying to blink your eyes alert? How many times have you re-read this sentence, trying to blink your eyes alert?

Ok, just testing you there. But this is no laughing matter. In a 2018 study by the National Geographic Association, researchers found that chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to diabetes, obesity, and even heart disease. Heaven forbid if they saw the snacks in your blind bag.

duck hunter in water with shotgun and decoys with sunrise
So, what’s a hunter to think about all this? More sleep, or more hunting? An improved overall health profile, with lower risks of serious disease and increased life expectancy….or more time in the duck blind? (Photo By: CoreyMcDonaldPhotography-Shutterstock.com)

More Time in the Blind

So, this is where the Sunshine Protection Act can provide our community with some relief. Instead of rolling back an hour each November (and pushing shooting time up from 7:15 to 6:15 am in northern climes), sunrise would just keep getting later, according to the clocks. MUCH later. In my home state of Washington, shooting light is 7:25 am the last two weeks of December in standard time. Under permanent DST, we wouldn’t be loading up until 8:25, and the sun wouldn’t crest the horizon till just before 9. That’s right: NINE AM. Banker’s hours, for a duck hunter! Who ever heard of such a thing?

Now don’t let your eager lust for another hour of slumber distract you from the downside of this. For guys trying to squeeze in a morning hunt, your blind time just got cut short. No more “quick and dirty, shoot two birdies” blind blitzes on the drive to work. No more “solid three-hour shoot and still time to pick up the dekes and make it in for the swing shift” weekday honker slam fests. If shooting light isn’t till half-past eight, then the hunter with afternoon obligations might as well keep her shotgun in the case.

Making the Most of the Time

Shoot, if you’re like me, you ALREADY feel this angst, even without the time change. As a dad with four little kids and a very attractive, understanding, thin, effortlessly elegant wife at home, every minute I stay in the blind is another minute she’s stuck with solo childcare duties. How many of you fellow dads out there were sitting in the blind yesterday, two ducks short of a limit, anxiously checking your phone as the minutes ticked by and the late morning flight picked up and you felt your soul begin to rend under the dueling strains of duck hunting passion and fatherly obligations? This is agony, for the conscientious fowler. And permanent daylight savings time would only make this worse.

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