Tu tene eum procul; Ego curram ob auxilium!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Hmm, That Looks Odd

Our duck hunting was horrible Saturday.
Only one teal came across the spread in
a #4 station high house shot. I whiffed
badly. I even skybusted three blackbellies
that were breathing oxygen they were so
high. Nothing.

We decided to snipe hunt and scout.
The snipe are all gone too. At one point,
we were crunching through some heavy
broom grass and smart weed. I saw
Craig jump back and point his gun at
the ground. I figured it was a snake
and yelled, "Shoot it!" He said that
it was already gone. I told him to
go around it the other direction.

Later we went up to Teal Whackin'
and saw some birds jump up. We
decided to grab a handful of decoys
and hide in the reeds in case they
came piling back in the way they did
for Craig and I several years back. I
put Jim on a point, Craig to his left,
and me to his right. Of course, that
was the end of the ducks.

I did see movement off to the right and
watched an otter come bobbing along. I
yelled to Jim to alert him. At that
moment, I heard a muffled boom from
Craig. Jim thought he had taken a
shot at the otter; I thought maybe a
stray duck had come it.

Instead, it seems that Craig said
the most dangerous thing you can
say on the marsh. He was squatting
in the reeds and happened to look
down at his foot. He saw a weird
pattern in the weeds and mud and
thought, "Hmm, that looks odd."
His next thought was, "that's a snake.
It's head is sticking out and it's a
venomous snake." He quickly jumped
out, spun around, and shot the
snake. At first he thought it was
a pygmy rattlesnake (from having
stepped barefoot on one in the
back yard) but later we determined
it was a baby cottonmouth.

Not that I think Craig has messianic
delusions, but it was interesting that
we read Gen. 3:15 in the liturgy this
I will put enmity between you and the
woman, and between your offspring and
her offspring; he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.
Craig definitely had enmity. And that snake's head
was "crushed".

As we say, "Some people have fun on the weekends.
We have adventures."



Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Diver Elimination

I have not had the best luck on the
online lottery for draws at the local
WMA, but I was on it once. For this
week I was first pick for Goodwin
Reservoir. I had my ideas of which
spot to choose, but I needed to confirm
it with the Mayor of Goodwin, Duckmanjr.
He and Jason put me on the hot spot.

Since I can only hunt three guns in the
boat, I still had an opening for one
more hunter. The only requrement
was that he have his own boat. I
picked up a guy with a canoe. We
towed him out and set him up well
east of us.

I found a spot where we would blind
up that had obviously been used by
others. I got the decoys all out and
then realized that I had -once again-
set the decoys up downwind instead
of upwind. We had to pull them all back
in the boat and switch them around.

That done, we got the boat in place
camoed up and sat down. Shooting
time was only 15 minutes away. Nice
timing. It was a cool morning (upper
40s): cloudy and breezy. Very nice.

It didn't take long after the 6:39AM
shooting time before we and the
rest of the marsh warriors were
blasting away. It was a little dark
to see at first and the temptation
is to blaze away and miss behind
the birds. But, we had them
decoying and were able to jump
them out of the dekes and splash
them there.

By sunrise, we could see pretty well
and the day looked like it would
be awesome. That's when I heard
someone shouting in the distance.
Unfortunately, he was shouting my
name. I hoped it was merely something
like, "I'm limited out and am paddling in" or
"I got the duck of ducks." Instead, it
was, "HELP! I need HELP!" I told
Jim and Craig to get out of our boat and hunt
from the reeds. I pulled the camo
netting in, fired up the Go-devil, and
headed out to find him.

Having flipped a canoe on my first
duck hunt, I knew what to expect.
The guy was soaking wet in three
feet of water. The canoe was back
upright and had his stuff back in
it, but it was also full of tea colored
marsh water. I pulled all of his
sodden gear into my boat, we dumped
and righted the canoe, and then
got him and his gear back in.
By then it was warm enough
that hypothermia wasn't going
to be an issue. I left him to
continue hunting and headed
back to our spot. I picked up
what ducks I saw, picked up
the boys, got back in our spot,
pulled the palmettos that hadn't
got caught in the prop back around,
set up the camo nets, and got
back to hunting. We weren't even
an hour into shooting by then.

The rest of the morning was
a duck here and a duck there,
but they added up. The fun
was in turning ringers with
the call. A mallard hail call
really works on them. We
also had a group of six mottles
really give us a hard look. I
was using the Duck Commander
Drake Mallard call and a
live hen in the group was
doing her best to get me to
join her. Sadly, they've been
so shot up that we couldn't
quite overcome their trepidation

We ended up with one mottle duck
more by accident. We got one
that someone else must have shot.

Our final take was 15 ringers and
1 pulverized blue wing teal. A real
Wheel O'Ducks.

The best surprise was when one of
Craig's drake ringers had a band.

That was one beautiful sight to see.
And, it shows how good our set up was.
This was a mature drake that had been
banded in Ottawa back in '07 and was
making at least his third migration.

I also managed the most beautiful
drake ringer I've ever gotten. We're
still deciding if it gets mounted.

You can just see the chestnut ring on
the bird's neck.

We had them buzzing us just about like this.



Sunday, December 20, 2009

New Species

The big storms of Friday never completely
materialized, but the threat was enough
to keep us off the marsh. So, we rescheduled
for Saturday morning.

The day was quite windy which was perfect
and a little more water was on the marsh.
We made it to the spot I had identified as
a hot spot the week before. It was perfect
depth, but an inconveniently placed island
of para grass in the middle limited the area
to put decoys, plus the hole did not lend
itself to a north west wind. Still, we got
set up and hunkered down.

Ten minutes before shooting time, we could
here folks in the distance blasting away. I
had high hopes for the day particularly because
I had a first time hunter with me. Things
eventually got going when Jim dropped a gwt
that came in from our left - the direction I
had hoped they wouldn't fly from. I got a
gwt that Jim thought was too long a shot.
Later, a pair of mottled ducks came from
off my right shoulder. They were a little
behind us. I had to stand up and turn
completely around to get a shot at the
bird on the right, But, it dropped like
a rock. When I did the retrieve, I found
out that it wasn't a mottle, but my
first ever gadwall. Woo Hoo. We
sat idle for a long time until three
more gwts came in. My friend and
I each took one and that was our

I've sure had many worse days, but
I had hoped this one would be more
exciting for my friend (who prefers



Down on the Farm

My Mom's family farm in PA.

This was my great grandparent's home

This was the log cabin where my mom was born.

This is a picture of my mom and her younger brother Jerry.
Or, so I think. If it isn't Mom, it is one of her sisters. No
mistaking the Bowman face.

This is the one room school house Mom went to. I'm assuming
this picture was taken in the late 30s.

This is my Uncle Jerry back to visit the farm
and drinking from the spring house. All
the refrigeration they had was the cool water
that flowed through this.

This is the family out house. I'm not sure who the
lucky victim was. Mom talked about having to
brush snow off of the seat.



Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Back on Track

Couldn't scout during the break and - to be
honest - the lack of birds, water, and weather
had left me less than enthusiastic. Still, the
two little boys wanted to hunt. I couldn't
think of any of my usual spots that were
appealing. So, I Googled Earthed until
I found a pond right off the river that
should still be holding water. The
recent rains gave me some extra hope.

The trip down river was uneventful.
I took a quick look in Fog Hunt, but
there was no water to float the boat
and what little pond there was was
too small for three guns. The new
area was just a small step away
and we were soon there.

I was surprised that the water was actually
deeper than I had hoped. I got the
boat up on the bank with our backs
to the coming sunrise and told the
boys to get the palmettos out while
I put out the decoys. No coots today
(there aren't any on the marsh). I
put out blue wing teal and green wing
teal in the classic J hook pattern.
I put a Mojo Teal pretty much in the
center. All of these were upwind to
our right but only about 10 to 20 yards
out. In a real shallow area off
the stern of the boat, I put some pinners -
a few of them on the bank. To the left of
the boat I put two mottled (black)
duck decoys. One of which was
had a Holy Hand Grenade.

I then came back to the boat got the
camo and the palmetto fans up and
settled down for the wait - and it was a
long one. We heard some blackbellies,
but they were long gone by daylight.
I didn't hear any other ducks. Things
didn't look good.

When shooting time came, nothing
was happening. We waited patiently
until actual sunrise and still nothing.
Finally, a small teal came zooming
straight in and over the dekes. Boom
boom and the day wasn't a total bust.
I relaxed then. A bit later a small
group of teal came in and landed
smack in the landing spot. I doubled
on a pair of gwts and Stuey hit a bwt.
We had one duck zing through that
we didn't pick up until it was long
gone. Suddenly, a big dark bird
came loafing in. There were
cormorants around, so I wanted
to be careful. But it was a big,
drake mottle that landed also in
the landing spot. Stu shot and
missed and I caught it on the
rise. The final group was teal.
They buzzed us and I gave them
a mallard hail call. Turning on
a dime the 8-10 birds came back
and landed in the dekes. Again,
I doubled but this time on bwts
and Stu dropped one.

This was Tommy's first hunt and
he wasn't comfortable with a pump
and I didn't give him more than one
shell. Since he's shooting lefty now,
he had trouble working the safety
on the Remington. I switched him
later to the Mossburg, but the birds
were done by then.

If fact, the birds started flaring off.
I now think it was the Mojo and I
shoulda pulled it in, but it's hard to
give up on something that worked
early on.

We finally gave up and packed up.
The boys hid the palmettos so we
wouldn't be advertising a good

We had watched ducks all morning pile
into a hole about 300-400 yards away.
We went up and scouted it. It was duck
central. They didn't want to fly away when
we motored in and they kept wanting to
come back while we were there. The
snipe there were thicker than fleas too.
I only managed one, but I was using #4

We decided to head home, but we know
where we're going next week.



Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Low Water

The duck hunting stinks. There are
few birds around mostly because it hasn't
been cold enough and the drought has
dried up all the water and killed
the food. Here are some pictures
from last week that show how our
boat blind works.

First, a view across the pond. This
is the way we would have been shooting
had we been shooting. Note someone
elses old blind on the left of the photo.
They had left the water full of hulls and
wads. At least some time in the recent
past it was a hot hole.

This is the view of our blind.

Closer view:

This is from the back. The breeze
flipped one of the palmetto fans

After we take the fans down, we
take off the camo netting.

From the bow of the boat, you can
see that we string long bungee cords
from stern forward and then drape
military camo netting over it all.

The netting is propped up by pvc conduit.
The bungee cords are threaded through tees
that remove from the pvc for storage.

Good look from the side:

Closer look at the bungees, pvc, and tees.

We store the nets in black plastic bags
that can be used to cover anything shiny
in the boat. We'll dry the nets in the
yard when we get home.

Then we pick up decoys. The decoy bags
are camo and used to cover the boat's gas