OUTDOORS: Guide practices respect when hunting waterfowl
Bill Sherrill has been guiding hunters on waterfowl hunts for nearly 40 years, but it isn't the hunt he enjoys.
It's the bond he forms with the birds he hunts.
"Personally, I enjoy the challenge of hunting," Sherrill, who has had land around Eagle Lake Prairie for 31 years, said. "You have to get people in the right place, with the right setup. You feel like you outsmart them when you beat them. They are smarter than us.
"I feel like I form a bond with them and love it."
Sherrill operates a hunting guide service in Wharton County, and his land holds an assortment of waterfowl, including teal, duck and geese. There are even snow geese, which Sherrill says is one of the smartest birds around.
"People can't outsmart them," he said. "You have to get everything right, and when you do, there's nothing like it."
Sherrill's success can be attributed to some luck but also to how he operates his hunting service. He hunts with sanity, meaning he doesn't over hunt a particular pond and doesn't waste time around the area he hunts.
"I want to get in and get out as fast as possible," Sherrill said. "That way, the birds can come back, and nobody bothers them."
He also has rules for hunting. He doesn't allow people around his ponds to just look and watch the different species of waterfowl, and he doesn't hunt after noon. He also doesn't use tape recorders to hunt, which is legally allowed toward the end of certain seasons.
"That's not hunting," Sherrill said. "It should be you versus the bird."
Most importantly, Sherrill doesn't just keep his ponds stocked with water when hunting season is around the corner. He keeps them full year-round so that birds have a place to stop and rest on their migration north.
"It imprints the area in the birds, and they come back every year," Sherrill said. "Hunters do a lot that people don't really know. We do a lot of good for the birds. I just worry about who's going to do it when I stop."
It's a level of respect not often seen by hunters.
"Yes, we shoot them, but I wish it was like fishing," he said. "I wish we could catch them and then release them."