Tu tene eum procul; Ego curram ob auxilium!

Saturday, January 31, 2009


Was headed down Wickham Road to
WalMart tonight and suddenly flashing
lights came on behind me. I pulled into
the closest parking lot. The cop came
up and said, "I pulled you over because
your headlight is out."

I said, "Good, I'll just go in and buy a new one."
(I'd pulled into an Auto Zone store.)

He said, "Okay, I'll let you off then."



Last Hunt and First Duck

Today was my favorite hunt of the
year - Youth Waterfowl Hunt. Only
kids under 16 can hunt. They don't
need licenses just an adult to
supervise them. I've been taking
my kids for years and we have had
some very successful hunts.

This year was Jenny's last and Stuart's
first. Jenny has gotten short straw
many times either because she was
crowded out of the blind by her
more numerous older brothers or
sickness. She had yet to kill
a duck beyond finishing off one
of her brother Jim's cripples.

Here they are the night before
making sure they had all their

Today, was to be special. We
were first pick at the WMA and
my G2 was very good. I had a
spot where there were a lot of
ducks (mostly ringers and bwts)
and they were decoying ducks.

I was up a mite early and found
out that the two of them had
been too excited to get much sleep
the night before. The weather
was supposed to be 37 and very
windy. It actually came in at
47 and windier. At first, I was
disappointed that the weather
wasn't a little cooler, but the
wind chill more than made up
for it. It was parky to say
the least.

Still, the boat ride out was
uneventful other than the
usual problems of the boat
lights failing. But, a three
million candle power Qbeam
kept us on course and others

I scouted around our draw as
best I could, but a patch of
hydrilla laced with shotshell
wads became our final destination
I put the ringers to one side with
a bunch of coot decoys and some
bwts and even fewer coots to
the other.

Here are the ringers.

With the strong north west wind coming
off our right shoulders, the ducks
should break down right in front
of us and head for the dekes.
It actually worked for once.

The day started promising with a
lot of ducks zinging by. When
legal light came, we had to wait
a bit but started getting some
opportunities. Several small
groups came across the spread
and a least five separate times
they landed in the dekes. The
kids put up a lot of shots. The
ferric content of the reservoir
must be at an all time high.
Still, contact wasn't happening.

Stu in the boat.

And in action.

Jenny taking her shots.

Jenny was just coming off a nasty
cold and her blood sugar got way
high. She adjusted her pump, but
felt too poorly to continue. She laid
down in the boat for a while.

After a bit, a coot landed near by.
I told Stu to shoot it and get some
practice cycling the Mossburg 20.
Boom, boom and he had his first

Jenny rallied, ate a sweet and
salty and rejoined the hunt.

A large group of ringers came
flying over the decoys and past
the back of the boat. Stuart swung
on it and nailed a beautiful drake
on his second shot.

What's that in the water? A
first duck?

Sadly, Jenny didn't rally enough to get one of her
own. Still, we had a wonderful, exciting day.

Back at the ramp.

A happy little boy.

Some of my duck calling worked. Since that
and encouraging the kiddies was my job, I
came away very happy with the day.



Sunday, January 25, 2009

Deja Vu

Tommy asked me, "What's deja vu?"

I told him, "You haven't been enough
places once to think you've been there



Saturday, January 24, 2009

Not With a Whimper, but a Bang!

11 duck grand finale

Season's over. We had some good days,
but it wasn't last year's 99 duck haul.
The local WMA was down 2,00o ducks
over last season. I actually lost count
of how many we got cause it just didn't
seem to matter. I think I killed more
snipe this year than ducks.

Still, today turned out pretty good.
We hunted the TMG reservoir. I
picked a spot where I had seen ducks
last week. But, last week was last week.
They did not want to land where we were.
All but two of our birds were passing shots.
The only two decoying ducks didn't even land
in the decoys, but we swatted them anyway.

Dave and Jim waiting for sunrise in the boat

And, there's the sunrise behind us.

Watching, waiting, and whistling.

The strange thing was that last week
we were covered up in fulvous whistling
ducks (limit one per hunter). Today,
it was reversed and we were surrounded
with black bellied whistling ducks (limit
six per person). Over and over, the bbwds
would rise from the forbidden felony-to-
hunt-in zone to the west of us, fly in
huge circles around us, and then relight.
I picked off two from a couple of groups
that came nearby. It was darn nigh
close to skybusting, but they dropped
very dead. The problem was that these
noisy birds were in such big groups
that the three of us couldn't compete
with our little whistles. It wasn't until
a group of three were out there that
we turned them and they came right
over us. It was a Duck Commander
"Cut 'em all, Jack" moment. We
each whacked one. I finished my
limit with three blue wings. Dave
had a bwt and a ringer in addition
to his bbwd. Jim had another season
ending mountable drake bwt (his
third) to go with his bbwd.

Given that some folks came in
with no ducks from some of the
more productive wading areas
of the WMA we felt pretty good.

Dave shot this video of us picking
up ducks. We had them spead in
a 40 yard radius 270 degrees
around. We had no cripples and
found all of our birds. No gators
or cottonmouths today, but a
lot of fun. Sadly, my little
digital camera does not pick
up sound. You can briefly
see where we were blinded up
where there is a patch of
palmetto fans and hulls laying
in the water (we picked them
all up later).



Saturday, January 17, 2009

It Coulda Been Worse

Tough hunt today. I fretted and puzzled
about where to hunt all week. No
one hunted the reservoir last week but
I was second pick for a draw and wanted
to hunt out of the boat. I didn't want
a repeat of the blood pressure medicine
test that last week's wade gave me. So,
I decided on the reservoir.

I had planned to take Dave and Jim
with me and invite Cannon to hunt
too. Cannon wouldn't have been
able to hunt out of out boat, so
I offered to tow his pirogue out.
But, at the last minute, Dave got
called in to work and his seat
opened up.

I woke up an hour early and did
crosswords until 2:45 AM when
I got Jim up. We got started
well, but things fell apart when
Jim figured out he'd left his
license at home. No hunt
for him. He would be on
observer status. Just as
well we didn't try to brass
it out; the federales were
all over the check station.

At the check in stand they
asked me if I would let a
couple of guys fill up the
other two slots on our draw.
I said sure and was introduced
to Blaine and Brian - a couple
of real great guys. They had
a small jon boat with an out
board. They also had a dog.
I offered to tow them out, but
suggested they leave the outboard
and dog behind. Too much
hydrilla for the motor and too
many gators for the dog.

We got both boats launched,
but my battery wouldn't work.
I fell back on the pull cord.
Usually that is a bear. Instead,
it started easily on the first pull.
In fact, it started so easily that
I lost balance and knocked both
my hat and head lamp into the
water. I tried to grab them by
steadying myself with the back
light of the boat (which I finally
had working). It snapped clean
off. I retrieved the hat and
the lamp - mumbled a word
or two I shouldn't have and
started the tow out. We got
stuck in the mud and had
a little trouble getting free,
but finally got headed out.

I dropped Blaine and Brian
off at a spot I thought might
work well for them and headed
to a grass island I had seen on
a previous hunt. We got the
decoys out, jammed the boat
in the island, and camoed up.
Unfortunately, the island was
a floating island and the palmetto
fans we had cut ended up a trifle
short. Our heads stuck out.

When shooting time came, we
had lots of birds around us but
none decoying. The passing
shots came zinging through
on the pretty stiff breeze. There
were scores of fulvous whistlers
in the air. I managed to hit a
drake that came by. Cannon
had to wait longer for his, but
got his first fulvous ever as the
10 o'clock duck. It took us
all morning to finally get to
four ducks apiece with three
lost ducks. Here are mine:

I got out of the boat to do retrieves
and fiddle with the decoys any
number of times. Once I tripped
and twice I hit pot holes that
brought some very cold water
over and into the waders. I
was soaked.

At the end of the hunt, we took the boat
though all the spatterdock (big green
leaved plants in the above picture) looking
for our cripples. At one point Jim was
laying on the front of the boat moving
leaves out of the way to improve his
view. He let out a shout and jumped back;
he almost grabbed a gator by the nose.
We figured that Mr. Gator had already
retrieved the downed teal.

We met Blaine and Brian and started
the tow back in. As we got to the
final cut through in a reed wall,
Jim yelled out, "Look at that
cottonmouth!" I just got a glimpse
of it as we sailed by. Quickly, I
cut the engine and yelled for
Blaine to shoot it. Since they
were drifting in the direction
of the snake, they were
incentivized. He jumped up
and I watched him fire. Brian
said, "That thing was huge......
.........Shoot it again!."

Then we were back to shore and
done for the day.


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Mud and the Blood and the Bozos

We were first pick at the WMA. The G2
was very good on the spot I wanted. The
boys biked the area on Thursday and
filed their reports. They spotted Blue Wing
Teal as well as a large group of Black
Bellied Whistling Ducks. The four of us
would have 40 prime acres all to ourselves.

Things would be rosy. Since the duck hunting
has been poor, the check in stand was not
nearly as populated as it has been in the
past. We got our selection, put our gear
on the "hay ride," and waited to be taken
to our drop off. The weather came in 6
degrees warmer than had been predicted
and was going to rise to the mid 70s. I
decided to hunt in only a long sleeve shirt.
The boys all had jackets of sorts.

After we were dropped off, we walked
down our levee for about two thirds
of a mile, cut into the impoundment,
and then cut across another third of
a mile to the far side. The mud was
thick and pot holes abounded. Craig
found out that his waders had a nice
hole in them. Still we found the place
we wanted in the northeast corner of
our draw. Rob has identified a nice
clump of brush to hide in. The
picture is looking back at the blind
from where I had the decoys.

Here (from where I was sitting) are Craig and Rob. Jim was
visible to the naked eye a little farther down, but I
can't find him in the picture. We were well-covered
up. What helped was that we were set up in a drop
off. The area in front of us was shin deep, but in
the blind, we were almost waist deep.

I only put out four teal decoys and the mojo.
After a bit, I pulled the mojo in.

The time before shooting time was full of
the sound of whistling from tons of black
bellied whistling ducks. They are the
noisiest ducks of all. Fulvous ducks are
a close second.

Of course, they all cleared off by legal
light. Well, almost all of them cleared off.
At shooting time, we saw movement in the
dollar weed to our right. Craig thought
they might be water rats, but it was three
black bellies running through the weeds.
I whacked the one that was most visible,
but the other two disappeared. After
that, everything went cold. There was some
shooting all around us, but we didn't
have anything nearby.

Part of the problem was that some
new hunters to the area were in the
impoundment to our north. They
decided to ignore their assigned
impoundment and the rule forbidding
shooting off the levees. Two of them
were in front of us firing into our
impoundment. I didn't see them
drop any birds, but I did see two
cormorants fly over them and
then have to flair when a bunch
of shots rang out. I finally waded
near them and tried to warn them
off, they either didn't hear or
ignored my warning.

At around 9Am, the world changed.
The sky was suddenly full of dozens
black bellies flying in large groups
and all of them whistling. We got
on our whistles and tried to reach them.
We succeeded in pealing off three
from behind us. As they came up
on our left, Jim and I each dropped
one. It was a new species for Jim.

A little later, a group of five
bwt came straight at us and a little
high. Craig thought they were too
high, but I whacked one and then
forgot to shoot at the others as
I watched the slow helicopter
crash of the one I did hit. It seemed
to take forever. Really cool.

Craig dropped a black belly
out of a pair that came from
behind us too.

As we sat there, wishing the
snipe flying by were teal. Craig
saw two birds coming low, slow, and
straight at us. I wanted to believe
they were ducks, but they sure
were trying to look like coots.
But, they were ducks. A nice
pair of mottles. I dropped the
hen and Rob hit the jumbo drake.
The drake (the nasty pervert) was
a very mature bird. My hen was
quite immature. Ah, ducks are
nasty beasts.

We had to pack it in to catch
the 11AM ride back to the check
station. As we slogged our way
out, we saw the guys who had
been poaching our impoundment
try and enter our impoundment.
Little did they know there is
a twenty foot deep canal on
the north side of every im-
poundment. The boys saw one
of them "float his hat" and have
to get pulled out. Picture
me sniggering like Mutley.

I probably shouldn't have
sniggered; I hit a pot hole on
the wade out and got some
water over the waders. Wow,
that was a tough, tough wade.

Here we are on the levee waiting
for our ride.

The bbwd is dead, but it was a cool pic.

We got home took pictures of
the whole take

The bbwd is one pretty bird. Their beaks and feet
are bright pink, but the color fades quickly once
they are dead.

They also have a huge wing span. This
one was 35 inches.

Here's my bwt for comparison.

Then, we got to picking. (Earlier hunt pick picture.)

And, had a big grill out.

Not the best hunt every, but an exciting day.



Thursday, January 01, 2009

More Conversation Snippets

Dutifully, I took SheWhoMustBeObeyed
to the mall for Christmas shopping. I
grabbed a chair in the shoe department
at Pennys and snoozed while she went
looking for stuff. I caught these two
random thoughts as crowds surged
around my zone of isolation.

Guy on a cell phone: "Anyway,
you can't fight with a retard."

Girl in a family group: "You
don't have to go out with your
pants zipped either."