Tu tene eum procul; Ego curram ob auxilium!

Friday, February 06, 2015

Yute Hunt

I took a young man and his father out
to the Youth Waterfowl Hunt this year.
Unfortunately, I didn't get him a reservation
at the WMA so we had to head out
on the St. Johns.

We all went out Friday and scouted a
good 10 miles of river.  We saw a few
mottles and one group of 8 ducks that
I wasn't sure the species.  But they
were way down river and I didn't
think we wanted to get up at 0230
and brave the sandbars to get to
the spot.  Instead, I fell back on
Fog Hunt.  That's an area that
has history of being productive
in both prior years and this
year.  We also had a skunk
there this year.

After the scout, we came home
and cut palmettos.  I also gave
them some cold weather gear,
face masks, and gloves.  Since I
was the only one going in the
water, I was the only one with

The water, habitat, and weather
were perfect.  I put 6 bwt and
one mottle out as decoys.  For
motion I put the mojo teal and
three pinners on the jerk string.

It was dead at sunup.  There weren't
even many shore birds around. No one
else was out on the marsh.  We heard
no boats or shooting.  We did hear
a distant hen mottled duck.  I hit
her with the drake mallard call.
That went on all morning.

I commented that mottled ducks
sometimes fly around 0800.  Sure
enough at 0804, the calling finally
paid off and a pair of mottles swung
out wide in front of us and came
straight into the decoys.  The young
man got off a couple of shots with
the pump, but the ducks were awfully
close and he may have nipped one
of them.

I was amazed that they went behind
us and then back up to the far end of
our pond and landed.  I intended to
sit still in case the one was hit and just
took time to succumb to the wounds.

Oddly, a third modu showed up and
they all took off.  The original two
flew one way and the singleton another.
I wailed on the hen mallard call and it
turned and followed the same track
back across the dekes that the first
pair did.  I felt so bad that both shots
missed that bird too.  With some
experience, that young man would
have had a trophy bird.  They were
big old ducks.

In the boat:
 photo IMG_1743_zpsea556b86.jpg

View behind us:
 photo IMG_1745_zpsc99db405.jpg

View of the decoys:
 photo IMG_1744_zps9b0d9fda.jpg

Action shot:
 photo IMG_1748_zps1ee78d36.jpg

I was very proud of the young man
for listening, sitting still,
taking the shots, and cycling the
gun.  He did great.  I just wish I
could have put him on more ducks.

His dad did yeoman's work with the
jerk string.  We topped the day off
with a good breakfast at IHOP.



No Whimpering, This Season Went Out with a BANG!

The last hunt of the season proved to be a
winner for the Clan.  LT hit on a draw to
Broadmoor WMA.  We were 8th pick and
figured to get a good wade spot.  We
would have tried the Broadmoor Reservoir,
but my little truck can't launch and pull out
the boat from the unimproved launching

LT went up and scouted one Thursday
by driving around.  The next Thursday
he took his bike and got behind areas
that looked unhuntable.  What he saw
was amazing.  The primo spot was
covered up in ducks - specifically

We figured that the reservoir was so
hot during the season that the early
picks would choose there.  We also
learned that the draw order was wrong
on the FWC web site and that we were
actually pick 5.  We figured that we
were set.

We brought along one of my Army
Medic son's buddies who lives locally
and had been a 240 gunner in Trashcanistan.
He'd hunted on the St. Johns River with
us once where we couldn't make the
retrieve on a mottled duck that he
shot.  We needed to make it up to him.

The word was out that guys were
parked in the walk in line from
the previous Wednesday.  At the
check station, I didn't see a familiar
face.  There were a lot of hunters
there, but it wasn't as packed as I
would have expected.  Maybe, it
was because the forecast that morning
was for 30mph gusts, driving rain,
and lightening.  Maybe, folks were
just tired of getting up so early that
late in the season.

When pick time came, we waited
anxiously.  The first four spots
chose wading over the reservoir.
We were quite surprised when
the best spot was still available for
us.  It pays to have LT scout.

As soon as we had our draw, we
drove out there.  I brought the works:
palmettos, decoys (teal, pinners, modus,
ringers, and coots), sleds, walking sticks,
stools, ammo bags, and guns.  We had to
walk along the whole south edge
of the impoundment, but didn't have
to head too far up the levee when we
turned north on the east edge.

We used our Qbeams to spot a reed
island that looked like good cover.
We faced north, but the wind was
from the west - and hard.  There
was an occasional flash of lightening,
but it wasn't close and I've hunted
in far scarier conditions.  [Although
there's nothing quite like holding a
big old lightening rod and being the
tallest thing in the marsh for a long

LT was on our left side facing into
the wind and rain.  I took the right
and put the 240 gunner on the
center seat.

When shooting time came, ducks
were everywhere.  They came through
our spread with the wind at mach
speed.  When they headed into the
wind, they practically stopped dead.
It didn't matter, my shot string was
all over two counties and I had to
lead the birds by a time zone.  I
had one fulvous directly overhead
facing the gale.  I fired three shots
and didn't even phase him.  That
wind was strong.

Our 240 gunner, shot lights out
which wasn't bad for a guy who
used to rifled bullets and not a
scatter gun.  He was limited in
less than an hour with two hen
pinners, 1 green wing teal, and
three blue wing teal - one of
which was a beautiful wall mount
drake.  He ribbed us about our
great experience and poor shooting
skills.  We spent a good deal of
the morning laughing. 

LT and I rotated to the center
seat and scratched out our limits.
ofs:  2 ringers, 1 modu, three bwt;
LT:  1 hen pinner, 1 modu, 1 ringer, 3 bwt.

Retrieves were hard, but 240 did awesome
work for a couple of mine.  

We were tired and sore when we headed in,
but we did better than anyone else we
saw.  The guys in the reservoir were
reduced to shooting coots and the guys
in the impoundment just north of us
didn't get a duck (and there were
plenty to be had).

 photo IMG_1736_zpsd441af11.jpg
 photo IMG_1733_zpse0af30b9.jpg
We ended the season with 38 ducks - a vast
improvement over last year, but still sad.  We
started and ended with LT and me limiting.
It was a fun season overall.