Sunday, January 21, 2007

Finally Wearing Wool - 1.20.07 Afternoon Waterfowl

Wouldn't you know it. Less than two weeks left in the season and we finally had some cold temperatures. Three days of winter weather had some ducks giving up their northern abodes and following the flyway into Carolina. Important family duties, namely cooking waffles for two little boys, holding my baby girl and laying on the couch with my wife, kept me from the morning hunt. Mark W. picked me up at twelve-thirty and we met Keith H. at his house at one. Skies were baby blue, with a few clouds but the wind was blowing pretty good, promising the decoys would be dancing on the water.
An hour later we were heading across the lake in Mark's skiff, eyes watering as cold air assaulted exposed flesh. Luckily it was a short boat ride. After setting out a load of decoys, under Mark's seasoned scrutiny, we piled into the blind. Guns were loaded, fask masks donned and gear was stowed in its proper location.
Keith pulled out a bag of beef jerky and some other snacks and passed them around. Making small talk and picking on one another helped passed the time. There aren't many places on earth more comfortable than a January duck blind shared with good friends.
After a while my legs needed stretching so I left the blind and walked around a bit in woods adjacent to the lake. Deer and turkey sign seemed everywhere and although I didn't have permission to deer hunt this property and the season ended three weeks ago anyway, I found myself looking at possible locations to hang a bow stand. I guess old habits are hard to break. As I was admiring a huge, ancient oak several shots rang out, coming from the direction of my buddies hiding spot. Dagnabit! I'm out on a hike and wouldn't you know it, ducks show up.
I hurried back to the blind to find Mark out in the skiff, picking dead birds up, and Keith standing on the bank with a big, goofy grin on his face. Apparently two different flocks, one ringnecks the other bluebills, had come into the blocks, catching the mighty hunters unaware. Somehow they'd connected on two birds. Of course they were disappointed in their shooting but both felt fortunate to have ducks in the hand. I had a hard time feeling sorry for them!
The sun followed it's course and the hunt ended with no other ducks being spotted. We pulled up our stakes and started picking up decoys. Of course a large flock of bluebills flew right at us, trying to land among the blocks even with the boat and three hunters sitting in the way, circling once, then again before flying off. It was a quick ride back to the ramp. I pulled down my wool cap over my ears and tucked my chin down into my coat. This was what duck hunting was supposed to feel like.

Note: Make sure you're aware of the sunrise/sunset time. On this hunt we left the blind twenty minutes too soon because we didn't want to hunt after LST. IF we had known sunset time we probably would have gotten a shot at that final flock of bluebills.

No comments: