Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Slow December Duck Hunt

Where has the season gone?

Between work, family responsibilities, unexpected home repairs and medical issues I haven't even hit the half dozen mark for hunts! Friday night I called all my duck buddies and deer hunting was winning the list of "things to do". I found a friend who wasn't going to chase the four legged pray until Sunday and we put together a hunt along the mouth of a small creek that always holds mallards this time of year.

We've been blessed (or cursed depending on who you are) with almost 2 feet of snow in the last couple of weeks so there is a nice thick band of the powered stuff above the high tide zone. The tides were mediocre so I knew we could hunt the edge of the snow and not need white camo.

High tide was right at first shooting light, so we'd be loosing water from the start. No problems there, it would even make picking up decoys easier. We got to the spot and hiked down to the beach. My buddy and I set up our layout blinds in the snow to start with because we got several more inches of the stuff over night, but as soon as the water receded enough we jumped down into the exposed grass.

We were expecting a pretty big storm that evening with heavy snow and wind changing to rain. I hoped the first bands of weather would be a little early but it wasn't to be. The water was calm, flat calm so shooting light came and went without any activity  For reasons I can't explain, not only did we not hear any other shooting, but no one even used the nearby boat launch, which usually produces some moment in the birds.

I just lay in my blind and relaxed as I watched my mojo turn off and on. The rhythmic hum making my eyelids heavy.

Finally the birds started to move in small spurts, but nothing was interested in swing our way. A few locals walked their dogs on the beach in the distance. I hoped they would push some birds our way.

Soon we had a single goldeneye land long and swim his way towards our decoys. He'd dive for a minute at a time as he slowly worked towards the shore. When he was within range my buddy decided to move in for the shot. He waited until it dove again and rushed to the waters edge to make up some of the distance. As he surfaced he saw the silhouette of a man and took off, living to see another day as long shot strings splashed right behind him. Darn, still skunked at this point.

We didn't have to wait much longer for a pair of wigeon to swing by. I gave them a whistle and they turned. We both sat up shooting and I knocked down the right-hand bird. I brought my kayak down the hill with me so I donned my PDF and paddled out to get him. He was winged and still very much alive. I chased him down and dispatched him quickly. I later found that he was hit in the head and chest, but just didn't want to give up.

By this point the tide was receding at a pretty good clip and our decoys were half high and dry. We called the hunt and made several trips up to the rigs with gear.

Even though I would have liked to kill a pile of mallards it was a relaxing day to spent in the field. A nice respite from the seemingly endless issues that have plagued my season so far.