A little late to be heading to the blind!
It's finally here. After a life-changing 10 months, it was back to the Eagle's Nest to avenge our horrible season's ending in January 2010. Everybody was up and scuttling around the lodge by 5am. The lodge is about 500 yards from the island blind, and let's just say that not everybody was in tip-top shape at 5am to disembark on a moving boat. As I mentioned in my last post, sports - and even spots - tend to have their own culture, and one part of Eagle's Nest culture is that the shooting is good enough that you don't have to be ready for the day's best shooting (30 minutes before sunrise). This is counter to everything I believe in and pursue, but hey, I wasn't driving the boat.
It did not help my attitude that while sitting on the dock at the lodge, I saw hundreds of mallards, teal or wood ducks, and diving ducks zooming around the creek in the minutes leading up to, and following, "shooting time." Grrrr. On the plus side, those are the first ducks I've actually seen in the creek, or at the farm, period. I guess I bought into the old guys' statements that, "Yeah, there are no ducks in this river - it's weird." Well, yeah, if you don't get out until the blind until 8am, you will probably not see any ducks. Now I know.
It wasn't just ducks who were flying early - these European cowbirds were moving south in a hurry!
Eventually, we all got in the blind and the setup was pretty reasonable - a half dozen mallard floaters and two dozen goose floaters. About 200 geese were roosting about 300 yards upstream and eventually they got moving. We got several close passes and good lucks, and the geese never flared, but they never committed either. It certainly wasn't the blind itself that had them hesitating...........
Ultimately, we did have some shots and mallards, despite the "there's no ducks here" rule in effect at the farm.........
Mallard drake and mallard-black duck hybrid drake
We also had some shots on geese, but of course, this occured when two guys and one dog were out of the blind, in the decoys. The other two of us took a few long-range shots (note to self - buy a tighter choke). And unfortunately, the empty spaces in my shell box is my only proof of those failed opportunities!
Lucky is ready for more shooting, less talking
Like last year, I was surprised and a little dismayed on this opening day by the lack of shooting going on around us. The fields, ponds, and rivers all around the upper eastern shore are blanketed with goose hunters and their thousands of decoys on opening day. Unfortunately, each year it seems to get warmer and warmer, which does not motivate the geese to get moving and find
imminent death a good food source. Other hunters were around our farm, too, and never fired a shot. Hey, not me. Not this time. We are all looking forward to an actual flight of actual migratory waterfowl. They'll be here. Hope I'm ready!