oldfatslow

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Opening Day 2009

Well, the day turned out better
than I had imagined, but barely
better. There were few ducks and
few people hunting them. We heard
some distant shooting, but even that
wasn't very much. It was an eleven
mile trip up stream. For some reason,
I had mis-figured it at eight miles
and about a two hour journey. By the
time we got off all the sandbars we
rammed and got to our spot
(code named Deep South), we had
little time to set up. But,
set up we did. The last decoy
was out and the final bit of
camo on the boat exactly at
shooting time. We had
pretty high hopes early because
the dark was full of the sound
of black bellied whistling
ducks and mottles. The bbwds
were gone before shooting time
and never came back. The
mottles hung around, but that's
for later in the story.

The sun was at our backs. I had
coot decoys as blockers at the
upwind side of the spread off my
right shoulder. The teal and
mottle decoys were just inside
of the coots. For good measure,
I put 4 pintail dekes in the
shallows off of Jim's left shoulder.
Before us, was a nice, open landing
area.

Now, we don't actually intend to
shoot coots. The coot decoys are
there as confidence decoys. They
are wary, skittish birds that
won't ever hang around hunters.
Ducks see that and think they
are home free. So, first thing
in the AM, the only real coot
on the marsh lands in our spread
and spends almost the rest of the
day swimming amongst the decoys
trying to feel a little less
lonely. I got out of the boat
several times and we fired at
ducks once or twice. Our coot
friend was entirely unfazed.
Jenny named him Charlie. I
hope someday he finds true
happiness.

Anyway, the twilight turned
to daylight and shorebirds
by the thousands came out.
Maybe an hour into shooting
time, Jim said a duck was
flying just over out heads
and away from the spread.
I hit it a lick with the
mallard paralyzer call, it
turned on a dime, zoomed
back, and landed. I told
Jenny to shoot it since
she's never gotten a duck.
We stood up and yelled at
the hen ringer to fly but
it decided to swim for it.
Jenny fired and missed, the
duck took off, and I knocked
it down with my second shot.
At least we weren't getting
skunked.

A couple hours later, Jim
decided to go on walkabout
and see if he could scare
up some snipe. Jenny and
I stayed with the boat. Jim
was gone a long time and
never got a shot off. I
was surprised to suddenly
see a greenwing teal hen
fly up and land right in
front of Jenny. Again,
she got the first shot off.
The duck flew and we both
unloaded on it. The duck
is still flying.

When Jim finally got back,
we had to load him up with
water, it had gotten hot and
he was wearing his chest
waders and a jacket. Once
he was cooled down and irrigated
we got back to our semi-futile
hunt. Across the pond, three
mottled ducks landed. We
binoced them and waited. When
nothing happened, I got the
call back out and did a feed
chuckle and a few lonely hen
quacks. Low and behold, it
worked and all three picked
up and flew straight at us.
At about 20 yards out and
20 feet up we rose as one,
and fired. Nine shots and
all three ducks flew away.
It was pathetic.

We finally picked up and
did some snipe hunting
back down the river. I
got four and some sore
feet. Jenny and Jim
got sunburned.

ofs

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