Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Last Day for Ducks!

The great thing about sporting dogs is that not only are they amazing, loyal companions, but they love to work. Jack is on edge, waiting for his chance!
I received a much-courted invitation out to a farm around "Goose Ground Zero" once again. The farm has a wetland and a pond on it, both surrounded by corn, so I was intrigued by the chance to not only pursue geese, but also ducks. The weather has warmed from the single digits to the upper 20's, so we were hoping that some ducks would stop in - recent reports were that the ducks had skipped Maryland's frozen shores during our polar snap, and had headed south to southern Virginia and North Carolina. I would not have predicted that...which is the very nature of fishing, hunting, birdwatching, surfing, etc. You just never know.

We started with about 9 dozen full body geese decoys, a dozen full body duck decoys, and a spinning-wing duck decoy out in the corn field. This "Delmarva Standard" A-frame blind is well hidden, effective, and much more comfortable than a layout blind, I assure you. The other neat thing about A-frame blinds is that their sturdy construction lends them well to relocation, pulled behind an ATV or a tractor. If the geese are using another part of the field, you just move the blind that afternoon and hunt the next morning (and hope they don't move again!).
A flock came into my end of the blind right after shooting light. I hastily raised my gun and WHIFFED three shots into the air...nothing. The landowner is an amazing shot, and he just stared at me in disbelief. 5 minutes later, three geese came in around my end of the blind. I shot twice and killed two geese. My first ever "double" on geese! The landowner was much happier and I got to relax....8:00am and already bagged out for geese! The action slowed down a little bit, and for some reason, geese started lighting on the half-frozen pond, instead of coming into our setup. To make things difficult on ourselves, we decided to pick up the field setup and relocate to the pond. I think 3 of our party were short of their limit.

View from the pond blind
Afternoon shooting was slow on the pond. We saw more ducks than any of us had seen all year, but they were in no way interested in coming down to visit. Slowly, the guys killed their remaining geese and we all got more comfortable with the fact that there would be no real duck hunt for the 08-09 season.

Here they come!
I'll write a longer summary of the hunting season but I'm happy with how it went. I was lucky enough to harvest a bag limit (usually geese) about half of the times I hunted, and had very few true debacles all season long. I had some great mornings and afternoons with friends and families, spending time in the outdoors in nature's most challenging season. Thank y'all for reading - it won't be long before you're reading about gardens, fishing, and trips to the beach on the good ol' River Mud Blog.
The morning's harvest from the corn field

Wow, maybe we should have stayed in the corn field?


tugboatdude said...

Damn I love that sound!I'm still hearing crap from the last time we went hunting!

Rabid Outdoorsman said...

Congrats on the double! Like the dog/blind pic.

That video is great . . . rarely have I ever seen that thick around here.

J said...

I have seen quite a few ducks over the last week or so. They were all in the city/suburban parks. I suspect that they were hiding out waiting for the season to pass.

Kirk Mantay said...

J - exactly. Ducks are animals who are very wary of predators. They learn quickly, and once they learn that a certain marsh or creek is not safe, they will not return - at least not for a long while. On the other hand, if they find an area, free of hunters/predators that has the 3 basic components of habitat (food, shelter, water), they won't leave. They are very good at self-preservation, and anybody who hunts them (legally) understands and respects their tenacity!

Anonymous said...

Ducks absolutely change their patterns due to hunting pressure. I have seen the exact thing many times. It is hard to do, but if you can find that out of the way place that has food and water and no hunting pressure you are in like flynn!

Unknown said...

Wow, what a great hunt. Too bad the ducks did not cooperate. It's been two years a lots has changed. Jack's getting older, maybe has one season left in him. I have a new business called, what else, but DUCTZ ( If you are of a mind, I'd love to here from you again...but I lost how to contact you when you took your new position...until somehow I tripped over your blog and said..."I know that guy!"

give me a ring sometime

Kirk Mantay said...

How in the hell did you find this post, Scott! Almost nobody at DU even knows I run this thing!

We have plenty to catch up on. I will look you up, glad your new (no longer new) company is hanging in there!

Wonderful to hear from you! Let me know if you would like copies of these photos.

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