Last week a good friend of the Outdoorsman, Marc Murrell, extended the offer for me to join him and his friend at their annual fall duck camp. As many of you know, I am a well know duck slut… I will do about anything to chase a duck – so it didn’t take long for me to accept the invitation.
Wednesday morning found Dakota and I up early and headed to join Marc and his buddies at the Jamestown Wildlife Area and Marsh complexes in North Central Kansas. Jamestown was recently renovated by Ducks Unlimited, and I was eager to see the improvements. Dakota and I rolled into Jamestown about an hour before Marc’s convoy, which gave me a little bit of time to drive around and look over the area. It’s just amazing how – right in the middle of drought-stricken Kansas – there is a wonderful marsh complex with ample water for hunting.
Shortly after Marc’s arrival, we set up camp and headed out for the evening hunt. Marc, Dakota and I soon launched into Marc’s boat the “Cluster Duck” and were off! As luck would have it, we were the only boat on the marsh at that point, so we had our choice of places to hunt. From previous hunting trips, Marc had a good feeling of where the birds would be coming from, so we set up our decoy spread on the first good patch of open water that the birds would see when coming off the refuge.
Once the decoys were in place and we quickly made a make shift blind it was time to kick back and see what happened. It didn’t take long for the first flock of 4 blue wing teal to come zipping across the marsh, just over the cover, and make a perfect pass into our decoys. Marc and I both pulled up and after 4 quick shots 3 birds lay belly up in the water. Dakota made quick work of her first birds of big duck season and we settled back in for more. The action over the next hour was slow with only a few birds seen off in the distance but that gave Marc and I a good chance to catch up some on how our lives and families have been over the summer, then suddenly the teal started to move! It started out with a group of 3 that Marc made a great double on and I picked up the solo bird followed by another group of 4 that all stayed. With only two bird left it took three more groups for us finish out our limit of 12 Blue Wings – thanks to some shaky shooting by your truly. Time to return to camp and enjoy some fine home-made gumbo and a nice fire full of stories from the day. As the sun was setting we watched as hundreds of teal, mallards, pintail and widgeon flew over our camp site that sits right in the flight path between the two main marshes, just and incredible site to behold.
The following mornings alarm came early after a short rest but Marc, Dakota and I where again the first boat into the marsh. With the previous evenings success we both felt it would be in our best interest if we set up in the same spot as the evening before… why try and out think ourselves?
This was my first morning in the marsh this year and it’s always amazing listening to it come to life. The hen mallards (which there where a lot of) quacking, the teal wings catching air, these are things that just never get old. From the previous evening we had noted a good number of large ducks going out into the marsh we were hunting to feed in the evening. Our hopes where that a few would stay around to visit us just after LST in the morning, but as we both feared about 5 minutes before you could shoot the large masses of Mallards all got up and headed to the refuge.
The sunrise was again one of Kansas’ best, and it didn’t hurt that a good number of teal stayed around long enough to keep us entertained. I will admit that we missed even shooting at the first two groups of blue wings that came in – so quick and so low – neither of us had a chance to see the birds before they were in the decoys. You could tell Dakota was doing her best to tolerate Marc and I as we watched them all fly away with out even a shot fired. As luck would have it, we did manage to scrape out 8 more blue wings and my first green wing of the year. The morning’s action was much slower but still, how many days do you get to watch Mother Nature at her finest? As usual, Dakota made two great fetches on crippled birds that made it to the thick cover which should of meant lost birds. All in all we ended the day with 9 more teal but on a trip like this, the number of birds seen or shot is always secondary.
I have to give a big thanks to Marc for inviting me out and showing me around Jamestown; it’s truly a unique jewel of a wetland tucked away in North Central Kansas. Marc and his friend have been having their traditional duck camp to start the season for many years and I am more than proud to say I got to spend the evening having a few beverages and telling some lies around the spoonbill lounge.