The 2012 Youth Waterfowl Weekend came swiftly upon us, on the heels of what is traditionally a very busy Fall – September and October – months of target shooting, dove, early teal, DU events, multiple weekends of blind prep, and usually still trying to squeeze some fishing in here and there.
This was neither unusual nor unexpected. It is the last bastion of freedom, the last weekend between now and my birthday in February that I am not chasing a feathered critter of some kind myself. The final milestone in our countdown to the 2012-2013 Kansas Waterfowl season. And one that I typically look forward to a great deal. Getting the kids interested – and involved in waterfowling is something I enjoy personally, but also see as critical to the future of our outdoor traditions. That is, in fact, a soapbox that deserves its own post for another day; for now, suffice it to say that this is one day that I like to make all about the kids.
After a fairly successful early teal season, and pretty positive scouting on both teal and geese in the area, we came in with somewhat reasonable expectations of at least getting a look at something. We had a morning that was dipping into the upper 40’s, but otherwise clear with no wind. Not the duckiest of days, but comfortable at least. I had my own personal hopes up – more for my nephew than my son, as my son was able to enjoy some pretty decent shooting during the early teal season. But this was a unique opportunity for me to spend some time with my nephew, extending and sharing traditions I hold dear with him for the first – and I’ll hope not the last – time.
With fellow KS Outdoorsman & Duck-Blind-Pancake-Chef Extraordinaire along for chefing duties, as well as retriever support, we enjoyed an awesome morning breakfast of pancakes and sausage. There was certainly warm intentions with the hot chocolate. It just didn’t quite survive the 10 minute car ride from home to blind, with two empty mugs by the time we started our morning.
Talk of what and how and where and when and all things needing to be imparted on a new duck hunter were part of the relevant discussions we had. Additional, irrelevant topics, banter amongst two teenage cousins, occupied any remaining quiet space, while eyes scanned the sky, finding nothing of the appropriate variety.
We all missed the snipe that made himself comfortable within the protection of several full-body Canadas. It did not take long, following a conversation about a bacon-wrapped version of the tiny critter, for it to be determined that an investment of a shell might be grill-worthy. While this particular snipe lived on to tell the tale, it was certainly not for lack of trying.
Eventually, not a fowl in the sky, our retriever support was to be pulled, as other obligations necessitated Nick & Dakota’s departure. And as fate – along with certain inclusion somewhere within Murphy’s Law for Duck Hunters – would have it, our chance at ducks came before they could even get out of the pasture.
As we shifted seating a bit to better position ourselves with Nick leaving, my nephew asked, curiously, “hey, are these ducks?” – I looked up to see 3 teal in the decoys, with another 3-4 in the air about to land. The boys were both able to re-position themselves and prepare for shots, and they each dropped a green wing. Of course, with the dog gone, we had to have a cripple. This would be my son’s first fetch work, as he rounded the pond a couple times before dispatching and retrieving the second.
That would mark the only birds we saw that day. We did hear geese in teh distance on several occassions, but never saw anything outside fo the teal. Not necessarily a banner duck day, but it was a successful youth hunt, for all of the reasons it was supposed to be. Introduced a nephew to waterfowling – his first exposure, and he shot one. Pretty sure he had a good time. And we don’t have to tell him that we don’t fix pancakes EVERY time, now do we?
Between breakfast, acting goofy, and getting to plink gopher targets with the .22 AR afterwards, “shooting ducks” was – and appropriately so – relegated to just one part of a fun day outdoors. Which is exactly how I want “youth” day to be.