Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Migration Wait - Hunting the Patuxent River

Low tide exposes thick mats of aquatic vegetation - in this case, widgeongrass
So, my buddy Mike invited me on a hunt on the Patuxent River in a state blind. I was a little skeptical, but appreciated the invite, especially since Mike has the boat, and also because I knew that our duck club on the eastern shore would be overrun with Dads and kids on the weekend after Thanksgiving.
It was one of those days where we did everything right - everything. Everything was playing in our favor - the weather, the tides, you name it. And yet, we still came up empty. We saw a few scattered birds during our hunt (mallards, teal, and some geese), but all were long-time residents of the marsh who were not at all fooled by our decoy spread and calling. In fact, most of the birds did not give us a second look - they were clearly on their way from Point A to Point B, and we were located somewhere around Point F. How, in late November, could this happen?
Well, once again, we are having an early winter with temperatures significantly warmer than usual to our north. Birds of all kinds are not motivated to migrate when they have dependable access to food and unfrozen water......both of which are still in plentiful supply in southern Canada, New York, and the Great Lakes states.
And then, in mid-January with less than 10 days of a 60 day waterfowl season remaining, it got cold. Really cold. So cold that we received a huge flight of ducks and geese in just a few days, and then lost most of the ducks (to southern Virginia and North Carolina) because many of our marshes were literally frozen over. We spent the rest of the season hunting geese.
I really enjoy the experience of being out in the marsh (vs. a cornfield waiting for geese), so I hope that history doesn't repeat itself. Hopefully some migratory ducks will find their way down the Atlantic Flyway and hopefully they will stay put for a while once they have arrived. If not, I guess we'll have to do something else!

Tidal creek along the Patuxent River in southern Maryland

1 comment:

Jon Roth said...

Swamp, we are having the exact same problem here in the West. The weather has been too nice, and nothing is frozen up north. Western Canada and Washington are just now starting to get single digit weather so we are hopeful the northern birds will lose their open water and finally head south!

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