Tu tene eum procul; Ego curram ob auxilium!

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.




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