Another bright, bright winter moon over the Chesapeake Bay
I broke my hunting habits and took up a year-old offer to hunt for diving ducks and geese south of Annapolis. It was with a contractor and a coworker I'd never hunted with, on a river I've never fished or hunted, in a county that I've never hunted. And yet, only 40 minutes from home. While it's true that hunting access is a real issue in the area, it remains that I need to get out more! We broke ice going out the creek to the river, watching diving ducks flying in the moonlight. Maybe we'd have a big hunt?
Bright moon, why must you torment me?
The blind was impressive and the company was great. Even though this hunt was 2 days after a nor'easter, we were blessed with a few clouds once the sun came up. Our host quickly set up his rig (he's been hunting this river for 40 years) and we got ready. Right at shooting time, a flock of 10 canvasbacks hit the water right in front of the blind. We stumbled, the other two guys got shots off (and each downed a bird - bag limit is 1 per person), and in the confusion, somehow one bird flew off. I didn't shoot because my coworker was leading his bird (the bird that got shot, fell, and flew off) and swung a little wide in front of me. A little prudence on my part. But his shot rung me pretty good, nonetheless.
It was another quiet morning - geese very settled into a feeding & roosting pattern that did not include our blind location, bluebills out in the channels, and stray buffleheads coming in and out unpredictably. We had a pair of goldeneyes (haven't seen them in five years) swing past us twice but they also kept going. Eventually a pair of canvasbacks swung through. They crossed behind us and gave us another pass. Our host told us, "next time, they're coming in. And don't shoot the hen." Like clockwork, the pair worked right in and my coworker and I shot the drake within a quarter second of each other (he shot first). It didn't get back up. The dog was happy to get some work after all of our yapping in the blind.
Beautiful drake canvasback
We shared more stories and too many donuts. Eventually, my coworker had to leave for a meeting so we called the hunt. Of course, pursuant to my last hunt, on the boat trip in we saw over 100 mallards hanging around the residential piers in the creek (thanks in no small part to our early morning icebreaking). Oh well. It was a great morning on the water with two new hunting partners, and I guess technically I got "half a limit" of canvasbacks. I ended up with the bird, and I know he'll taste amazing. This season has been a lot of work for not a lot of birds. We've had ice - and no new birds from the north - since December 1. But I'm happy that I've gotten after them, despite the results. Definite improvement from last season. Just one more hunt and we'll close the book on this season.