Monday, December 17, 2012

No Migration, Plenty of Resident Geese

I'm not going to complain.  Not going to complain.  It's 20 degrees cooler than last year.  Not going to complain.
Oh, hell.

It's officially mid-December and late waterfowl season is open.  20 years ago, even 10 years ago, duck and goose hunters in the Mid-Atlantic would wait for a giant freeze in the first 10 days of December that would lock up swamps, creeks, and marshes from Quebec to Ithaca to Allentown.  Then, around December 10th, late waterfowl season would open and offer up world-class wingshooting for ducks, geese, and even marsh birds.   Those days are gone.

I spent 2011 New Year's Eve in the swamps of Virginia, under sunny 77 degree skies.  This December has proven to be cooler, though not quite the December of distant memories.  Creeks and small wetlands, the critical harbor for "new" migratory birds in the area, remain free of ice from Florida to central Canada.  Yet, our weather has delivered nights just above freezing, and daytime highs below 50 degrees, and that's been enough to make our resident ducks and geese feed with some regularity.    And so, while we dream of Canvasbacks from the Canadian prairies, we gear up to shoot 16 pound resident geese and mallard ducks who have made themselves fat on local acorns and suburban bird food.

The opening day of late waterfowl showed unusual promise for these recent warm years - 37 degrees, and mallards decoying into our spread just a few minutes before legal shooting time.   They were wise enough to stay away after first light, but the daft little buffleheads came in for several visits, streaking into the decoys at speeds above 50 mph.   We never got a shot off, and as some of you know about diving ducks, there is no getting them off the water once they've landed.  And no, I'm not shooting a bufflehead on the water.

The River is a big river, and the mallards use its entire width when they prefer.  Not so with resident Canada Geese.  Fooled by our decoy spread that held promise of free, easy food in shallow water, a pair of absolutely huge resident geese decided to land just outside the decoys.   We were shooting Hevi-Shot. They both hit the water upside down.

Trouble comes back with the first goose

Long swim with a big goose

Old Man and the Geese

And like that, it was over.  The north wind picked up and the other geese hunkered down for the day.  An action-packed day of hot wing shooting? Nope.  But I'll take it.   Winter - or something like it - is actually going to come to the Mid-Atlantic this year.


Eastern Shore Outdoors said...

Great post and pictures. I hope that the mercury drops soon.

The Reverend Fowl ™ said...

Yup, nice Black and White Photo. Snow Camo for Christmas?

Kirk Mantay said...

I would gladly go spend $100 on snow camo if it meant that we could have a real migration and real winter weather!

Main Line Sportsman said...

I am heading to our Club near Bombay Hook on Thursday to put out the blocks early for ducks and then afternoon for geese. I am not too hopeful but I cannot shoot 'em from my office. I like the content here and just became a follower!

Kirk Mantay said...

One of my favorite hunting spots EVER was an informal "club" down in Bowers Beach DE. Loved it there. Bombay is nice, I know a lot of the landowners there but they are at a "different level" than I am, so I rarely if ever get an invite.

Kill 'em!

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