The Finisher: A Better Way to Dispatch Waterfowl and Upland Birds

The Finisher might not be an advancement in waterfowl gear that’s as important as Texas rig decoys, breathable waders or … Continued

The Finisher might not be an advancement in waterfowl gear that’s as important as Texas rig decoys, breathable waders or layout blinds, but it ranks somewhere close. It’s a simple, inexpensive product that makes my hunting life better, and I’m glad I found it.

I wish every bird I shot was killed in the air or cleanly missed, but some of them come down still alive, and killing cripples is an unpleasant necessity of wingshooting. I hate wringing necks and have since I first started hunting. One day I shot a rooster that was barely alive when we retrieved it and was dying on its own when one of the men I was hunting with took it from me, whirled it around several times, and handed it back to me in two pieces: head and body. Gee, thanks.

Because I hate neck wringing, I’m not good at it, and my “dead” birds occasionally come back to life and start walking away. Last year I caught one of those wandering cripples and eventually killed it by banging it on the head with a Mojo pole. That was no fun for me or the duck, although it was worse for the duck than it was for me.

With smaller birds, I kill them by putting my hand over the back and squeezing with a finger and thumb until I can feel the heart, then I hold it for a few seconds until they die. It takes a little longer than neck wringing, but it’s a much more dignified way to dispatch a bird and it leaves a good-looking corpse with the head attached and the neck un-kinked. It works very well with doves and quail, sort of well with pheasants, and hardly at all with ducks. It’s not even possible with geese. I am not going to bite heads nor stomp them. There has to be a better way to kill crippled waterfowl.

Which brings us to the Adrenal-Line Finisher. ( You hold the bird by the bill, then feel for a notch between the skull and the top of the neck verterbrae. You stick the Finisher in – it goes in easily – turn it like a key to cut the spinal cord, and the bird dies instantly (here’s a video that shows how it works). I had a chance to use a Finisher several times in Canada last week on ducks and geese* and it was easy to use. It was quick, clean and humane. I have heard you can do the same thing with the quill of a wing feather, but I am told by those who have tried it that the feather breaks and it’s not as easy as using the Finisher, which has earned a permanent place on my lanyard.

*We shot cranes, too, and since they fight back, you can’t safely use a Finisher on them. The guides, who aren’t allowed to carry guns in Canada, kill crippled cranes with a kick to the head.