|Ice ice baby, too cold, too cold|
|Frozen brain...or osage orange|
|Second step's a doozy|
I was set up on the downwind edge of the hole in the ice, where we'd seen several groups of ducks land the prior evening. Our three other hunters lined shrubs and trees along the open watch patch next to the beach. We hoped for decoying birds but got dive-bombers instead. A duck would decide to cruise the inlet at 50mph and 10 feet off the ground and "BOOM.......BOOM.....BOOM!" would result until the bird escaped or was knocked down. Some gadwalls escaped, some bluebills, buffleheads, and mergansers did not. Always good to have birds in the hand.
Around 830am, it became clear that I had underestimated the seriousness of the weather. It was 32.5 degrees and the half-frozen precipitation was starting to make its way down my neck, into the wrists of my gloves, and everywhere else. I started getting cold. Worse, the dog started getting cold. While conditions were really perfect for an all-day duck hunt right there at that spot, we had no real protection from the elements and were simply not prepared (i.e. back up gear in dry bags, firewood, etc) to spend all day on that beach in the raining ice / icing rain. At 900am we called "retreat" to the upper fields, hoping that we could stay out of the weather in a goose pit and of course, hope that a goose might fly over.
Yeah, bad move. The goose pit steamed as our body heat boiled off the water in our soaked gear. Worse yet, the relatively warm air and ice pack offshore brought in an enormous fog bank. It was serious stuff. We heard the geese get up off of the ice and leave, but never saw a single one. Around 3pm, we ended the hunt with the same number of birds we'd had in-hand since 8:30am.
This was one of those hunts that gave me a lot to think about. Thank goodness we didn't spend all day in the goose pit. And thank goodness we didn't stay on the beach.