Monday, December 30, 2013

Opening Day Goose Snoozer...

Opening day morning.

Let's rewind.  At our annual farm dinner the night before opening day, there were constant whispers about favorable weather, winds, and local birds for an opening day hunt that should easily eclipse the last several opening days (2010, 2011, 2012), which showed us thin flocks of birds, balmy temperatures and bluebird skies.

And unlike previous years, the revelry died off early, with hunters retreating to their trucks, tents, and nearby cabins to get some sleep.  Tomorrow, each of us thought, tomorrow will be one for the ages.

Turns out, we were wrong.   We guessed wrong on the wind direction.  We had competing (and unknown to us) hunting groups to both our southeast and southwest (in better winds).    I had a single ill-advised shot at a wood duck and didn't connect; my hunting partner had a near-fatal shot on a goose that gave us only a rain shower of white down feathers for 10 minutes, but no goose.   Oh, brother. Bye bye, geese.

Eventually we packed up, unloaded all the gear, and said good riddance.  Except for me; I decided to take another chance.  My hunting buddy TB had been hunting a blind under some cedars in the middle of a field.  Over 300 geese had spent the previous morning there.  Zero returned on opening day, for reasons I don't really understand.  Two good looking but non-functional hunting setups in one day.

At least I got to spend some quality time with a red cedar....

And less than a mile from the farm, I found the geese at 1pm. No hunting allowed here.  Guess the geese figured that out, too.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Late Waterfowl Season Dry Run

Not sure you can find the duck blind in the dark?  Go during the day first!
Waterfowl hunting is an expensive and dangerous sport.   Every year in the United States, perhaps a dozen duck hunters (out of ten million) die while pursuing the sport, and almost all cases were 100% avoidable.

The way that "We" (brothers, buddies, myself) try to improve our odds of success and decrease our odds of peril is to do a "dry run" hunt.   This is particularly easy to do on the east coast when we have two duck seasons that lead into two goose seasons (second and third splits).   Many of us set out into the marshes and rivers on the day before goose season opens (during duck season), regardless of whether or not there are ducks flying, and knowing full well that even if a hundred geese attack us, we cannot legally open fire on them.   The primary goal is to get comfortable with gear, dogs, and hunting partners in the boat, blind, marsh, etc., and to get a pattern down for setting up a hunt (ideally quickly in the early morning).   Mistakes and issues can be noted and hopefully corrected before the "Big Day" of the goose opener. 

So, that's what we did this year.  TB and I knew the wind was wrong, the sky was too sunny, and too few ducks were flying to have a great afternoon hunt, but we wanted to get our game together.  We set out to the island with about a dozen goose decoys and three dozen puddle duck decoys "just in case."  We fumbled around a bit with the mud motor, nearly forgot the battery, and nearly forgot to put the drain plug back in.  See - these are all great things to be happening at 2pm friday instead of 5am saturday! 

Ducks didn't give us much of a look.  Very sparse flights headed off the river, stayed high over our cove, and headed upstream into the marshes off of the farm where we hunt.    We got to adjust some of the switchgrass on the blind, re-anchor the dog leash anchor, and do a few other things before watching the sun set and then watching about 800 Canada geese pile into the cove.   A promising warm up for the next hunt.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Not the Ideal Way to Spend Late November

When it's time to party, we will always party hard!
Yeah, fun times here at the River Mud Ranch.   I've been exhausted.  I mean, having to pull over on the way home from work and sleep exhausted.  The "cold" I had was only sort of kicking my ass, meaning that I'd only missed about a day and change of work and lost a bunch of sleep due to coughing.

 But after two weeks, I sucked it up and went to the doctor, where the "medical professionals" say I have a "potentially life threatening" case of some minor thing called "spasmodic bronchitis."  Unlike acute bronchitis (which I also currently have, apparently, but to a much lesser degree, and something I've had dozens of times in my 39 years alive), spasmodic bronchitis is a non-boogery situation where for some random reason, your lung tissue becomes irritated and decides to swell up, and stay swelled up, to the point that the bronchioles are occluded and can receive no air.  Disclaimer: I only know the term "occluded" because some of our tidal wetlands at work become "occluded" from tidal flow.

So anyhoo, that whole "I'm really tired" thing is apparently an "I have to sleep every three hours because my body doesn't have enough oxygen to continue" thing.  Whatevs, my bad.

The doctor said, "Have you been taking any time off?"  I lied and said, "2 days."  He said, "take 2 more days." Ugh.  Haterz.

In addition to slowing me down on a lot of otherwise really productive stuff happening at work,  this illness has been a 20 day kick in the shins to my effort to finish my first novel in November (I began writing in September).  I'm roughly half done (30,000 words), and this illness is a real hindrance.  Why does it matter?  Because I am a world champion of getting things started, and somewhat of a court jester of getting things finished.   In addition to those somewhat important things, there's the fact that hunting season is ON....and I have no physical interest in sitting in a duck blind or tree stand right now.  And in addition to that relatively trivial pain in the rear, there's the fact that my four year old is starting to understand Christmas, Santa Claus, the actual Christmas story (minus historical inaccuracies like Jesus' actual birth date), etc.  And I've literally slept on the couch for a good two weeks of that.  Which makes me disappointed with myself.

So I hope y'all are getting outside (unless you're the jerk wad who built a secret duck blind 251 yards from mine, in which case, here's a bag of used sinus wash).  I'll take another puff puff from my albuterol inhaler, and pop another prednisone for the rest of you.  Nobody steal my azythromycins, though.

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