Tu tene eum procul; Ego curram ob auxilium!

Friday, February 16, 2018

Pictures at an Exhibition

This year started crappy.  The breakdown and
ultimate sale of the Dawn Treader put me in a
funk. To top that off, the ducks didn't show.
The local WMA that has for years been a
pretty good source of birds and hunting
suffered another terrible year.  My airboat
buddy's go to spot dried up completely. 
Even the United Waterfowlers' forum
didn't have a lot of new content.  Things
were bad.

Then my buddy said he had found an
area that could only be accessed by
canoe/kayak/layout boat.  Since he
had two layout boats, we were set.

The first hunt at this spot involved
five us us: one in a kayak and four
in layout boats.  The fog was
extremely thick and there were no
landmarks to see.  We paddled what
seemed like very long distances trying
to locate our destinations with handheld
GPSes.  When finally we got our spot,
Mike (my buddy) and I settled on one
muddy, floating island to ram our boats
up in.  We put out decoys and waited
for dawn.  As hard a spot as it was to
find, we had to shine off two other
hunting parties.

I had the hot corner and Mike was
getting shut out.  While I finished
my limit (but only retrieved five),
Mike paddled back to join the other
three guys and quickly finished off
his six.  I thought my arms would
fall off on the way back.

The problem with floating islands is
that they float.  A strong front came
through on one hunt (that I wasn't on)
and rearranged the islands.  The storm
was so strong that some of the guys on
the hunt lost decoys when an island
moved over top of their spread.

Mike and I went out three more times
and limited each time.

Once, after the storm had shifted the
waterscape, we tried to find an island
that wasn't there any longer.  Instead
we found a sofa size clump of tall
hyacinth-like plants in the middle of
a large, open area.  It was Keystone
Kops trying to manage the floating
clump (that kept trying to break up),
the wind that kept moving our boats,
and the shotgun recoil that also moved

Again it worked out for Mike to move
to a mud island back several hundred yards
away. I tried to stay with the clump, but the
wind picked up and blew it and my
layout boat into the decoys. 

I finally settled on paddling upwind and
sinking the decoy sled I had tethered to
the boat and using that as a sea anchor. 
The thick hydrilla helped slow the drift,
but I still had to pull up the sled and
paddle back upwind several times. The
clump moved out of the decoys and
sailed off into the sunrise.

Mike saw me doing all the movement
and couldn't figure out what I was doing,
but it worked.  Ringers were flying in
from all directions and I was able to
drop a limit.  Mike paddled back with
his limit, we pulled in the decoys, and
had a long 1.5 mile trek back into the

We hunted this spot several times and
it was always very productive.  What I
thought was a crappy year turned out to
be pretty good when I figured up my
total of 31 birds.  It was one short of my
best year since '07-'08,



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