Tu tene eum procul; Ego curram ob auxilium!

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Woody Whacking

Early Teal (and woodduck)
season came upon us before
we were ready. I barely
got the Go-Devil back from
its annual check up so that
we could scout.

I had missed getting a draw
for the WMA and had decided
to go to our usual Plan B:
East Marsh. That has always
been good for a woody or two
and a teal. Not much of a
haul, but at least we would
get something. Unfortunately,
our scout of the march turned
up zip. We couldn't fine any ducks
and our spot (code named Three
Islands) was overrun with
duck repelling algae.

At the last moment, I decided
to head out on the St. Johns
to a hole that has been hot
during regular season for
teal. It is code named
Big Bend.

At the launching ramp, we
were the only boat. The
river is four feet below
the 82 year median. Still,
we were able to make record
time heading down river. I
had it wide open most of the
way because the moon was
full, the river still wide
enough, and the GPS was
tuned in. Everything turned
out deeper than I had expected.

We got to Big Bend and picked
our spot. The wind was light
and from no apparent direction.
Jim told us that the prediction
was for twenty mph winds from
the east. If his recollection
was accurate, it never materialized
while we were there.

We got the decoys out (all teal),
camoed up the boat, fired up the
ThermaCELL, and got ready to hunt.
I honestly didn't expect to kill
anything. Still, shortly after
first light, a duck flew in
and tried to land between the
decoys and me. I jumped up
to shoot it, but hesitated
because it wasn't a teal.
I fact it had a big white
belly like a merganser. That
moment of indecision put
my shots behind the duck
and he got away. After,
the boys and I decided that
it must have been a wood duck.
Since I had never seen a woody
in this area, I was quite

A kingfisher worked our pond
over for a bit and then surprised
me by trying to land on the boat.
He hovered three feet in front of
my face for several seconds trying
to figure out what I was.  He took
off angry and confused.  That's
some good camo.

After a bit, a pair of woodies
came in and Jim and I knocked
them down. A brace of immature
drakes and we were on the board.
A bit later, Craig hammered
one that dropped on the land
over my right shoulder. I
was out of the boat and after
it in a flash because there
was some thick stuff in there
where a duck could easily get
lost. When I got to it, I found
a beautiful drake wood duck.
It was almost nice enough to

A little longer period and
a group of seven or eight
woodies came through. We
each popped up and fired.
A series of booms and three
ducks were dead in the water.
With that we were done, because
we filled our limits on wood ducks
and there weren't any teal to
get two of them.

Acually, that was wrong. As
we were taking down the palmettos
and picking up the decoys, a
wad of several dozen blue wings
blew right over our heads. We
camoed back up. Tossed the
dekes back out and sat bored
for another hour.

We finally picked up everything,
headed home, and showed off
our prizes. Tuesday, Craig
and I went back out. He finally
got a teal for us and I shot
two woodies - one of which got
lost in the deep stuff.

Dinner the next Saturday night
was duck and sausage jambalaya.
Wow, what a good early teal.