oldfatslow

Tu tene eum procul; Ego curram ob auxilium!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Back in the Saddle

It's been so long since we killed a duck that
I was beginning to think I'd forgotten how.
Whiffing on early teal and having the boat
in the shop for weeks (my mechanic was
in a bad car wreck and lost time) didn't help.
But, we finally got a new carburator (last one
on the East Coast), new battery, new shaft, and
a new prop installed with a day left to scout
before the regular season opener. 

LT and I got the boat out on the St. Johns and
enjoyed the 15mph speed to get up river and
do some serious scouting and a little snipe
hunting.  We got three snipe and found a
lot of teal.  The teal we found at a spot we
had been told about last year.  It was very
heartening. 

We decided to get up at 2AM and beat
the crush at the launching ramp especially
since we saw people heading out the night
before planning to camp in their boats. 

We were the only folks launching when
we got there.  I dialed in the GPS and headed
south.  The river is still up high enough that
there is no channel to follow.  At one point,
I lost the trail and was heading south east
instead of along a west bend in the river.
It took me a little time to get realigned,
but it was nerve wracking.  We got to
the general area of where we had scouted,
but I hadn't had the GPS with me the
day before and hadn't marked the X.

We noodled around for a bit before we
settled on a shin deep hole that backed
up on a low mud island.  There was a
stiff easterly breeze and I hoped to set
up with my back to the north and catch
the birds landing into the wind, but the
hole just wasn't laid out that way.  So
we blinded up backs to the wind.

c c
 c  c
      t  t  t
c   c t  t t   m                     p    p               w   w
 c   c c t                                 p                 w             
c c      
                                                    md md
                        Boat
                           ^
                            |
                            |wind

c = coots,   t = couple dozen teal, m= mojo,  p= pinners
w= woodies,  md= mottleds


We set the decoys up so that the landing area
would be right in front of us about 15 yards
away (I hate long retrieves).  I covered almost
all the bases with the decoys because I didn't
know what other than teal we might have
shots on.

Two boats wanted the hole we had picked
and we spent twenty minutes shining them off
before they picked up and headed off.  Several
other boats set up near us, but well out of
range of the steel rain of pellets.


Shooting time for some folks was 17 minutes
before legal light.  We didn't have anything
to shoot at to even tempt us to shoot early.
But, by legal light we started having shots.

Instead of the big groups of teal, we had
birds coming in one at a time.  I can't tell
you how many came right at us and landed
in the spot where we wanted them to.  I
can't remember a time when so many of
our shots were on decoying birds.  My
first and last and one of Jim's birds were
spoonies, but the rest were all teal.  We
didn't see a big duck all day. 

3 Spoons, 3 GWT, 6 BWT

This may have been the first time we
ever limited on opening day. 

When we got back to the ramp, several
other boats were there.  None of them
had done as well as us.  Most only had
a duck or two for the whole party.  For
once I got to look like I knew what I
was doing.

Picking the ducks later in the day was
a family event, and we had a lot of fun.

ofs

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