|Frozen, sandy mess|
Our buddies had shot on "The Spit" in the morning. No high tide to worry about, they said. There's actually too little water, they said. They had shot more ducks than had been shot on the creek in recent memory - years - and the incoming snow storm and cloud cover offered us a near guarantee of the same.
Our first view of the inlet showed us all we thought we needed to know. The first few snowflakes of the storm. Dozens of ducks swimming casually around the duck blind. Some black ducks flew right past us at less than five yards, as we stood on the beach unarmed, and they landed behind the blind. The excitement built.
We noticed the tide trying to push into the creek - pressurized under ice in the River. There was a bit of a current but it seemed manageable. We put out a nice decoy spread of buffleheads, mallards, black ducks, and geese. The ducks started flying immediately. Our first treat was a nice flock of 15 mallards that came very close to landing in the spread. We were committed to them doing so...entirely forgetting that it was the end of January and few ducks would be so foolish. They circled three times - the last time in range, and then left without us firing a shot - still waiting for a belly-up shot. That was the last time that happened.
The snow intensified and became blinding. We lost the ability to see ducks coming into the decoys, instead only hearing the whistling winds pass by the duck blind. Geese began to sit down and chatter on the ice about 500 yards away, eventually pulling several thousand birds from local fields onto that same spot.
Then, all hell broke lose. The dog got stuck in the ice - too thin to walk over, too thick to swim through - and then I looked the other way, only to see that half of the decoys were ripping away in the current. What had been a few inches of water under the blind had become two feet of ice and salt water, and it was clear that things were changing rapidly. We used my handy decoy retrieval pole to save several, but then the pole itself was nearly ripped to pieces by another ice floe just below the surface of the creek.
|Decoys in a frozen pile|
B-Junior and I went about the process of picking up the ice-crusted decoys, several of the anchors already frozen together, and B-Senior went to retrieve the Polaris, which had earlier gotten us within 200 yards of the blind, and was parked another quarter mile up the beach, on high ground (because you never can be sure). We watched geese fly right over the blind - nearly striking it several times due to snow blindness, and laughed about the impossibility of that happening 15 minutes earlier, within legal shooting hours. I looked at the full moon and the silent, driving snow, and thanked God for another full and exciting hunting season. The peace was broken after just a moment with a brisk, "Boys, we gotta get the hell outta here!"
|Last look at the blind...|