Voluntary Restraint (VR) is a Delta program that promotes and fosters a quality ethic amongst waterfowlers. VR was initiated in 1989, when waterfowl populations were at an all time low and hunters were leaving the sport. VR asks hunters to focus harvest on drakes, especially among sensitive species like pintails, canvasbacks, and bluebills.
VR is based on the premise that in most duck species, drakes outnumber hens, and that focusing the harvest on drakes and passing on hens may have the potential to improve the number of hens returning to the breeding grounds each spring.
Hens do all the important work in the duck world. They are entirely responsible for laying a clutch of eggs, incubating them until hatch, and caring for the newly hatched brood. As such, efforts to focus harvest to drakes should be encouraged.
Delta recognizes that there is a long running debate about the impacts of hunting harvest. However, the wide spread adoption of a Voluntary Restraint conduct has no negative consequences, and many hunters today have adopted the “Look for the Drakes” philosophy. While it is unclear what biological implications this may have, it is an issue of personal choice and perhaps the hen not harvested will return to the breeding grounds and contribute to next year’s fall flight.
If you are a waterfowl hunter, try to uphold these top VR standards:
2. Practice good field identification techniques: learn to differentiate between species and sexes in flight, position yourself with the sun at your back, use decoys, and wait for birds to come within range. Focus on identification of birds at all times, especially during low light conditions. (Test your identification skills with our Duck Quizzes)
3. Make every possible effort to avoid losses. You can greatly increase the number of ducks retrieved by hunting with a well-trained dog.
4. Lead by example. Take a young person duck hunting, and help them improve their identification skills. Encourage your peers to use good conduct in the field and be ambassadors for waterfowling.
5. Support waterfowl conservation efforts by joining organizations such as Delta Waterfowl, and other waterfowl organizations.