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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Snipe Plogging

Duck season is over, but snipe season
lasted a little longer and we tried to
end the season with style with two
back to back hunts.

Friday was an off day at work for me
and Jim got off early from college.
He met me at the launching ramp
at Hwy 50.  I had his waders, gun,
ammo, waters, and Sweet 'n Salties.

We headed upriver to some of my
favorite and most productive spots.
If only they had been productive.
We only saw 5 snipe in all the miles
that we walked and only shot one.

Even more annoying was our
visit to Snipe City.  I told Jim that
I had scouted the spot for ducks
right before that season opened.
A flock of blue wing teal had
flown directly over and landed
at the far end of the pond 60
yds in front of me.  Even as I
spoke to him, a flock of green
wing teal flew over us and
landed at the very same spot.
Where were they when we
hunted the area?  We even ran
up a flock of 16 mottle ducks
from one tiny pond.  Who knew
mottles ever group up like

To add insult to injury, I
had forgotten that I needed
to wear booties with my
hip waders and my left
heal had a blister the size
of Montana on it.

Here's a picture from the
boat ramp of the river.

Hwy 50 Boat Ramp looking south.  Note all the free range cattle.

The next day I didn't think would be
much better, but I had agreed to join
my co-worker Rich R. at the WMA
and try our hand there.  He, Jim, and
I had tried it last year, but struck out.
Turns out I'm glad we came back this

Snipe hunt days at the WMA are first
come first serve.  We were 5th in
line by 5AM.  That too did not bode
well.  Better hunting conditions are
directly proportional to the number
of people who show up.  Rich pulled
up directly behind me.  He's in BD,
so he's always upbeat and optimistic.
I don't suffer from that affliction.

At the check in station, I saw
Chuck McK.  I hadn't seen him
the few times I got to TMG during
duck season and he said he had not
been able to get draws.  We
chatted a bit and when our turn
came he recommended a spot
for us.  Now, he is an awesome
shot and I took his advice
seriously.  Eddie H. confirmed
it and we headed off.

Leaving the Check Station.  On duck days, there can be a 100 guys right here.

  It was just sunrise by the time we got
to our draw.  We were greeted by
hundreds and hundreds of ducks
taking off.  It was heart stopping.
I must reassess my hunting
decisions for next year.  I think I
spent too much time trying to hunt
with the boat.  I need to not bind
myself so tightly to that.

Our draw was 3S.  Normally, it's
a bit deeper of a spot, but the
water had been drawn down
quite a bit.  there were long,
muddy strips at the crowns that
were easily huntable.  The
lateral (hidden) ditches weren't
all that hidden, but they still
could top our hip waders (as
Jim and I found to our chagrin).

We made several passes down
one side of strip and back up
the other since we didn't want
to try crossing the laterals if
we didn't have to.  I dropped
one on the wrong side and that's
how I got water in the waders.

I had to take the waders off and drain
them out.  My booties (remembered
this time) were soaked.  Rich
had also hit a bird and I came
over to help him find it.  Belly
down, a snipe may be the most
camouflaged bird in the world.

I discovered that much of the
new plant growth in the mud was
thistles.  My stocking feet felt
every spine.  We found Rich's
bird and by then, all of us had
at least one.

 We went back to the truck for
water and snacks.  Although the
day was cool and very windy, I
was sweating out my hydration
in buckets.  I quickly peeled off
my jacket and gloves and only
hunted in a pair of long sleeve
shirts.  My waders kept my cold,
wet pants from bothering me too

We decided to make a pass down
some of the closer mud flats.  Now,
these mud flats were - as far as we
could tell - identical.  But, the one
I chose was the mother load.  I
got 4 birds and brought my total
to 6.  Jim got 2 to bring his total
to 3.  I don't think Rich had a decent
shot at any.  There were tons of
shore birds - coots, rosette spoonbills,
curlews, plovers, dowitchers, yellowlegs,
godwits, killdeer, ibises, etc. - all around
us.  I held off on one shot for fear
of killing a lot of background birds.

Turned out I made the right choice.
The game warden was cruising
down the levee.  When I finished
my pass huffing and puffing like
a train, he came down to see how
we were doing.  I had to ask him
how his CPR was.  There's nothing
like wading to test the blood
pressure medicine.  He checked
my gun to make sure my limiter
was installed.  He also checked
Jim's shells for steel and gave
Rich a complete check.  I think
the officer recognized Jim and I
from repeated checks during the
season, but didn't know Rich.

We made a couple more passes,
but the day was done.  We ended up
with a pretty nice haul.

Rich heading in

I yelled, "Strike a pose!"
Jim calling it quits

Jim and ofs in the marsh.  Gotta get the orange hat off quickly and back to a real hunting hat.

Our snipe

Rich with his first kill in 20 some years.  He's hooked now.

What Boy Scouts get when they hunt snipe

What the ofs Clan gets



Anonymous Mike Unum said...

That's a nice wisp of snipe there Scott. Looks like you guys had a great day.

10:15 AM  

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