Tu tene eum procul; Ego curram ob auxilium!

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.



Blogger vanckirby said...

started out bad but ended with a pretty good hunt. thanks again for the invite.

12:23 AM  
Blogger oldfatslow said...

Thanks for coming and
thanks for the pictures.

6:30 AM  
Blogger Hunter Angler Gardener Cook said...

Gators and cottonmouths? Yikes...those whistlers are gorgeous, but I think I may stick to North California hunting for the moment. No fellow predators to deal with!

11:01 AM  
Blogger oldfatslow said...

I was busy driving the
boat and didn't see
the gator from what
my boy described, it
was about a five footer.

And, yeah, between sudden
deep water, snakes, and
lizards, it can be exciting.
About the only thing we
don't really have to
fear is a freak blizzard.


2:19 PM  

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