Tu tene eum procul; Ego curram ob auxilium!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Bad Ju Ju

Went scouting yesterday afternoon. We
saw a few ducks and found a couple nice
holes. I figured things would be mostly
okay. When we got back to the ramp,
I found the remains of a rooster that had
been sacrificed there the night before.
This must be a popular spot for Santeria,
cause we've found one there before.

Hey, I don't believe that stuff. How
could that hex my hunt? When I got
the kids up in the morning, my #4
boy said, "My stomach really hurts;
I don't think I can go." Fine, more
room in the boat for the rest of us,
I think.

Boys #1 and #2 and I got dressed,
ate breakfast, got our waders on and
started to put the guns and ammo
bags in the boat. That's when we
heard boy #4 ralphing up his guts.
SheWhoMustBeObeyed came out and
let it be known that she'd be really
bummed if I went hunting and left
her with Barfing Boy. So, we called
off the hunt.



Friday, December 28, 2007

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride (or Murphy's Law Strikes again)

Thursday, I went out with a friend
for a hunt out of his airboat in
Mary A. Things went fairly well
to start with. We got launched,
crossed the first airboat jump,
and tooled down C40 canal to
the levee crossing into Mary A.
This crossing is definitely
"unimproved." It was a high,
muddy run up and over a 20ft(?)
levee. I got off the boat and
waited on the top of the levee
as my friend got a good running
start. Almost at the apex of
the jump, he started sliding
sideways. The boat ended up
teetering precariously on the
edge of the levee. My friend
fell off and down the hill into
the thick para grass below.
I ran and grabbed the high
edge of the boat to keep it
from flipping over or sliding
down on top of him. Once he
was able to crawl up the hill,
we had to puzzle out how to
turn the airboat off. Finally,
I climbed up the edge and flipped
the three switches and shut it down.
Thankfully, two other airboaters
came down the canal. They helped
us push the bow around and slide
the boat back down the hill. My
friend fired up the boat, swung
it around, and came back up and
over the levee. Whew!

We got out in the marsh where he
had seen lots of teal the previous
day. We turned the boat off to
toss out the decoys. When we
went to fire up the airboat to
run it back in the reeds and hide
it, the engine wouldn't start.
Right then, another airboater
came by. We signaled to him, told
him our woes, and asked him to swing
by when he was done hunting. My
friend and I pushed the boat as
best we could up in the reeds and
tried to camo up. It was tough.
We did get a few shots. He and
I each killed a ringer. I also
lost one in the reeds.

When hunting was done the other
boat came back, helped us take the
starter and solenoid off, and loaded
us into an already full boat to
go back to the launching ramp. I
love instructions like, "If we
start taking on water, bail out."
We made it back, took the parts in,
got a replacement solenoid and a fix
to a starter cable connector.

Our rescuer was waiting at the ramp
when we got back. Took us out in the
marsh again, helped us reconnect
everything (not without incident),
and then had to hotwire the boat
to get it going (good thing he's
an LEO). We got out and back in
one piece. I then proceeded to
lose my car keys. I searched and
researched everywhere. Finally,
I had to call SWMBO. Right before
she arrived, I found the keys
where they were supposed to be and where
I had searched twice - the pocket of
my ammo bag. See doing the same thing
repeatedly hoping for a different
outcome sometimes doesn't prove

I told my friend to buy a lottery ticket;
he's got some luck coming. And! I claim
to be a Calvinist.



Saturday, December 22, 2007

Lonely Hunt

I was going to try a walk in at TMG
with Craig, but we decided to take the
boat out on the St. Johns and give that
a try. I've mumbled about the river dropping
before and I really wasn't sure where
to try. Craig and I had done some
scouting last Monday, but hadn't seen
any ducks. Still, I've had success
there this year and wanted to try

We were the only boat at the ramp.
That's not a good sign. But, the
weather was perfect: blowing wind,
spitting rain, and darkly overcast.
Miserable is the best way to describe
it - almost ideal duck hunting

We headed out on the river at a brisk
6 miles per hour. Craig manned the
Q-Beam and I kept my eye on the GPS.
I was torn between three different
spots. None of them seemed ideal.
I passed the first one because I didn't
have the side channel it was on in the
GPS. The third one I talked myself
out of because I didn't like the feel of
if (sort of a Gandolfian experience in
the Mines of Moria). So, we chose the
middle way (I am Anglican after all).

We ran the boat up in a little cut and I
went to find a spot. I found a little
pond surrounded by dry land. There was
a little clump of plants mostly stripped
clean by free ranging cattle. We put
the blind in there. Here's Craig putting
up his palmettos.

I loaded the far section of the pond with
coots and put teal and pinners up front.
I left a landing zone on the left that was
about a 20 yard shot. Here's the layout
from the blind.

We didn't get much action at first. But,
finally some bird flew in. It came in so
slow, that at first, I wasn't sure it was a duck.
When it put its feet down I changed my mind and
shot it. The day started with a nice hen pinner.

Craig and I decided that we couldn't shoot any thing
over our heads; the river was only 10 yards
behind us. Still, two blue wing teal came
from Craig's right straight over us. He
shot the one on the left cause it was the
safest shot. It landed in the river, but
we were able to easily retrieve it.

There were dozens of shore birds: white ibis,
glossy ibis, every variety of heron, even
more varieties of sand pipers, and rosette
spoonbills around us, but precious few ducks.
After a bit, 4 gwt landed 90 yards out on
the bank of a side channel. Their heads
were tantalizingly visible. We peeped softly
and did some mallard feed chuckles. After
10 or 15 minutes, they took off and flew to our
spread. I whispered to Craig that they were coming,
but he didn't hear me. I shot the drake and
two hens for my first true triple. Craig
got the other hen before it got away. A "Cut
'em all , Jack."

There were some other ducks - a flight of
mottles and some widgeons(?) that came by
but couldn't be tempted in range. I
finished the day with a stray hen gwt.

We killed every duck we had a shot at today.
A lot of fun.

Here's a shot looking back at the blind.

Here's what 8 palmetto fans will do. This is
a picture of Craig in the blind.

Here are some of the wild or not so wild
horses that wander the river. We scared
a herd of cows that swam the river in the
dark. Really neat.

Here's the final take:



Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Just Another Tuesday

Craig is back from Idaho and is trying
to adjust to the warmth, sun, and 3
hour time change. He and I went
scouting/snipe hunting on Monday.
He has lost none of his skill with
that stubby little o/u Beretta. He
got two snipe (with #4 shot no less)
and finished off a crippled blue wing
teal hen we found. I knew I'd have
my work cut out for my on Tuesday
when we went to Broadmoor for a hunt.

We had a special guest, Cannon, who
I met off the internet. It was his
first time hunting TMG/Broadmoor.
I'm guessing it won't be his last.
He took all of the following pictures
because he finished his limit way
before the rest of us were done
hunting. Never trust anyone who
says their shooting is only "fair."

The hunt was a very successful.
Cannon limited out early on teal.
Dave and Craig were both shooting
well, but the teal weren't quite
as willing to fly across in front
of them as they had been in the
same spot the week before. Maybe
the ducks remembered "death in
the para grass" at that spot.
Still, we were clicking along.

We ended up the day with 22 birds.
Cannon's 6 teal, Dave's four teal
and a ringer, Craig's 3 teal, 1
spooner, and 1 pinner. I had 4
teal, a spooner and a mottle.

We finished up with lunch at
Marsh Landing where we ate with,
A lot of friendly kidding, good stories,
and really slow service.

Decoys spread


Craig in the blind

ofs and Dave

Craig Retrieving

ofs and the boys

Cannon and the boys

My pic of all our ducks. Sadly, one of my drake
green wings disappeared between the check in stand
and home.



Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Tuesday Hunt

I had a draw at the Wildlife Management
Area today. I made a mistake with my entry
and got a Tuesday instead of a Saturday.
Originally, Dave and Jim were going to have
class and wouldn't make it, but their classes
were canceled and the hunt was on. We got
up on time, got to the check station, and waited
our draw. Jason C. didn't have a draw for
today, so we invited him to join us. Joe
Richter gave us valuable advice on what spot
to choose and off we went. It wasn't a hard
walk or a tough wade. We set up with lots
of time. Jason had a mojo and a bunch of
Herter's bwt decoys. I had my old Carrylites,
a bunch of coots, and my holy handgrenade
powered flashy wing wobble duck.

There were clouds of teal buzzing us in
the dark and flocks of whistling ducks
all around. It was exciting.

The action started fast and furious and
all teal all the time. We ended the
day with a limit for Jason and me, Dave's
first limit ever, and Jim's first green
wing teal ever. In all, we had 22 ducks.
What a day!


Sunday, December 09, 2007

Weird Day

Per Van's request ... be careful
what you ask for:

Yesterday's second phase opener was
strange. The last weather forecast
I saw on Friday had the dreaded word
FOG in it. On a twisty river with
a million sub-channels, fog really
complicates things. But, I've had
some really good foggy day hunts too.
So, I went to bed hopeful.

I woke up at 1:30AM and checked emails
until 2:00AM when I got Dave and Jim
up. We were dressed and out the door
by 2:30AM. I got coffee at the RaceTrac
gas station (they must love it when
camo clad men come into their store
that early), and headed up I95. At
one point, I saw the car ahead swerve,
I should have paid more attention. I
hit the huge remains of a semi trailer
tire. It didn't seem to do any damage,
so I kept going. [Side note: It is
family tradition to call those Gila
monsters after my Mom's misidentification
of dozens of them on a cross desert
drive back in the early 50s.]

We got to the launching ramp. We were
the only boat. Last year, this was
the tell-tale sign that there were
no ducks. But, Friday I had scouted
and saw piles. I put Dave in the bow
with the Q-beam and I manned the tiller
with my GPS in hand. We averaged 4.5 MPH
as we navigated in what was indeed fog.
It was an odd fog because it only went
horizontally. Straight up, we could see
every star in the sky and dozens of
shooting stars. I tried to hug a
bank, cause it was the only way the
Q-beam could find anything. Once
Dave shined the roots of an over-
turned cypress tree. It was right
next to me and looked like some
critter about to come in the boat.
I jumped a little. We now call
that the El Chupacabra tree.
[It doesn't help that we listen to
Coast to Coast on hunt day drives.]

Somehow we made our lonely way up
river. When we finally neared our
spot, the banks were lit with
headlights from cars and trucks.
Someone had a way to get where
we wanted to be without a boat.
I got nervous that someone would
already be set up in out spot.
But, the other groups were
set up either well north or
south of us. And, our spot
was open.

We unloaded all our gear.
The river has fallen so much
over the last weeks that all
the cover was 100 feet back
of the water's edge. We
created our own cover with
palmetto fans on dry land. I
tossed out a pile of green
wing and blue wing teal and
a half dozen pintail decoys.

The boat I drove and dragged
about 300 yds away. I covered it
with some camo netting and
slogged back to the boys. Our
slow trip on the river had taken
almost two hours. Getting set
up had taken even more time.
When I finally got in my blind
and sat down, I only had 20
minutes to shooting time. As
we sat in the dark - Dave on
my left and Jim on my right -
we could hear birds land in
the water to the right of our
decoys. Other people must
have had birds land in their
decoys too - they started
shooting well before legal
light (6:34AM). Even if I had
wanted to start early, it was
still too dark for us to see
where the ducks were. Plus,
my glasses were too fogged
over from the humidity and
exertion I had put in so

Finally, a bwt came flying
in on our right. Dave jumped
up and shot it. After a bit,
he did it again. Then again.
I got really nervous by then.
Jim and I'd had some shots, but
my shooting was stinking. I
was very happy to finally get
on the board with a teal for me.

One thing that helped was making
a decoy change. Every group of
teal had flown over a small circle
of water with a 30 foot diameter.
I moved all of the bwt decoys to
that hole. Now, when the teal came in,
they had to think about where to land
in that crowded spot. Never be afraid
to adjust decoys. Make a quick decision;
it may make your day.

The sun was well up by now and
the fog was gone. We heard
a boat pull up to the group of
hunters to our right. After a
bit, it pulled off and headed toward
us. The boat scared up three gwt.
They came on Dave's left. He
fired all three shots and clipped
one. It swung back around over us
and I finished if for him. I told
him to leave it, cause it hit the
water dead.

We sat back down and waited for the boat
to pass. It did, but I could see it
was a FWC officer. I stood up
and waved. Might as well be friendly,
cause he's going to check us anyway.
He pulled up south of us. I told
the boys to unload and I went to get
Dave's teal.

Officer Riley checked our shells
[must be steel shot], magazines
[plugged for two shells with one
in the chamber], ducks [less than
six ducks per hunter], and licenses
[hunting, wildlife management area,
Florida Waterfowl, HIP, hunter safety,
and Federal Waterfowl.] Jim forgot
his hunter safety card, but he doesn't
really need one. I was clean. But,
Dave didn't have his safety card and
he apparently didn't buy the right
licenses when he went to the county
extension office. I had never followed
up to back check him. Dave's failed life
of crime continues. The officer
was cool and only issued Dave a
warning. I appreciated the compliment
he payed us. He said, "I saw your
boat, and your fake ducks, but you
have really good camo; I didn't see
you at all."

As he sailed off, we headed back
into our palmetto fan blinds.
The sun was up, it was getting hot,
we'd had a brush with the law, but
we only had four ducks. SheWhoMustBeObeyed
and the three little kids were at Sea
World, so "On we hunt." That turned
out to be a good idea. Lots of boats
started working through the area.
That helped kick up some birds. Several
more small groups came through.
Dave shot a bwt over the dekes while
Jim and I were watching a larger
group working our way. At last,
a group of 8-10 teal came across
our decoys. Dave finally choked
but Jim knocked down a duck while
I hit a double. That turned out to
be the last of the day: eight teal -
all hens. Oops.

For the first time, Dave outshot me.
I hate children. Thus far,
Jim is tied with his entire last year
bag. I'm doing okay. And Dave seems
to have figured out the Mossburg 20.

We tried snipe hunting on the way
down river, but my reaction time
and #4 shot didn't connect. That
was the end of yesterday's adventure.



Friday, December 07, 2007

2nd Opening Day

Phase II of duck season starts tomorrow.
I went back to the St. Johns and scouted.
The ducks were fairly concentrated in
open, shallow water. It's going to be
very hard to get out to them and appear
like a normal part of the vegetation.
We've decided to use some milk crate
file boxes as seats. We'll jam some
palmettos in around us and hope the
teal don't think it looks too odd.

The weather is against us. The low
is forecast to be a scorching 61
degrees. Lest you think that's
an exaggeration, try slogging through
the mud in chest high waders at
that temperature. The river (see
link above) has fallen from 13
feet when we hunted 1st opening day
to 11.5 feet. The spot we had for
opening day is now a snipe bog.
I can't wait for this summer so
we can start work building some
layout boats. Those are the bee's

The river has dropped enough that
there are banks for the gators to
lay on. There were dozens and dozens.
As I went by in the boat, they would
slide, jump, splash into the river.
It was like a scene from the African
. Very disconcerting. I hate
gators. But, tomorrow at 4:00 AM, I'll
step again into the tannic acid coloured
waters of the St. Johns.

As Joe Richter (duckmanjr) said, "You
gotta real hate ducks to do this."



More Tebow

Thanks to Brother Day for this:


Thursday, December 06, 2007

Foul Hooked

Eventually, a fisherman will see
someone get hooked, hook someone,
or get hooked himself. The link
above shows you a great way to
deal with the problem without
heading to the ER. When my
dad and I were at the old
Club Pacifico in Panama, one
of our guides ran a marlin
hook in his leg. He further
injured himself by pushing the
hook all the way through,
clipping off the barb, and
then pulling the shaft out.
It doesn't have to be done
that way.


Sunday, December 02, 2007

Why Tim Tebow Should Win the Heisman

These were culled from several people on the
American Waterfowlers - Florida Football Forum.

Tim Tebow CAN believe it's not butter.

Tim Tebow has counted to infinity... twice

Tim Tebow once got Blackjack with one card.

There is no theory of evolution. Just a list of
animals Tim Tebow allows to live.

When Tim Tebow pisses into the wind, the wind
changes direction!

Every mathematical inequality officially ends
with "< Tim Tebow".

You can lead a horse to water. Tim Tebow can
make him drink.

Tim Tebow can get McDonald's breakfast after

Superman wears Tim Tebow pj's to bed.

When God sneezes, angels say, "Tebow Bless

When Timmy falls into water, he doesn't get
wet. The water gets Tebowed.

A picture is worth a thousand words. A Timmy
Tebow is worth a billion.

While urinating, Tim Tebow is easily capable
of welding titanium.

Tim Tebow doesn't read books. He stares
them down until he gets the information
he wants.

Outer space exists because it's afraid to
be on the same planet with Tim Tebow.

When the boogie man goes to sleep, he
checks his closet for Tim Tebow.

Tim Tebow can touch MC Hammer.

Tim Tebow saved the manatees. Then he stiff
armed them back on the endangered species
list so they wouldn't get cocky.

Tim Tebow can eat just one Lay's potato chip.

Tim Tebow has the greatest Poker-Face of
all time. He won the 1993 World Series of
Poker, despite holding only a Joker, a
Get out of Jail Free Monopoloy card, a 2
of clubs, 7 of spades and a green #4 card
from the game UNO.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Barking Snipe

Went out to do a little scouting for the
next Saturday's second phase opener of
duck season. Did see one really large
group of bwts. I just sat in the boat
and glassed them for a while. It was
a ballet.

I was also out for some snipe hunting.
The wading and the hunting were hard,
but I managed 4 snipe. My shooting
wasn't the best, but I didn't have
any cripples and I didn't loose any.

Here's me with the take.

The one on the left was exceptionally
pretty. The photo doesn't do it

It was a lot of work for not much meat,
but snipe is really really tasty.