Back in the Marsh

I had a chance to get out duck hunting Sunday morning. With some overcast weather, north wind and dropping temperatures in the forecast, I had to give it a shot. I had not been duck hunting for 2 years and had not taken my own gear out for a few years. I wanted to give it a shot. I don’t have access to any fancy ground to hunt so I wind up hunting public ground a lot. I used to do the get up way too early in the morning to get in on the “best spot race”, but put that away for a few years for some archery and hunting I can do at my own pace.

The teal were flying fast and low. I was so tucked in the grass, about 6 times, I had ducks buzz through and I had no idea they were there until they were right in front of me. I had one flock of roughly 15 teal buzz about 3 feet over my head so fast I never even got off a shot.

To be honest, I had not shot my shotgun for 2 years either! I am a bow hunter at heart and I don’t get to the range much. Well, the first few groups that came through gave me a little re-educating of how fast teal fly and how much my shot gunning skills needed some sharpening.

I had a single green wing teal drop in about 10 feet in front of me. I let him land and just watched him for quite a while. I enjoy observing the ducks quite a bit. If you stop and just watch them, they really are gorgeous birds. The colors of the plumage and the way they tip wings and dip into the decoys. I saw several flocks of mallards “air brake” up high out of the cloud cover and drop. I love it when they do that and you can hear them hit the brakes.

Later I had a greenhead and hen drop in just off the edge of my spread, about 40+ yds. I could have jumped and likely got a shot off, but there was a nice group working a different party so I opted to let them sit and watched while the other party got their group in and got shots at them. I did not see a reason to take a long shot when the other party had a good chance of getting a full group in.

I had a chance to dust off the old duck call. When I hunt with others, I don’t call much. I think this is an etiquette thing to me. I am not the world’s best duck caller and I recognize that. I sure do enjoy it though. I honestly feel I can call in a rutting bull elk, or a 10 point buck better than I can call in a duck, but on this day, I held my own and was successful. The fun is in the challenge, listening to the birds, changing sounds and adapting to bring in the next group.

This was a great day for an old duck hunter to dust off some of his personal skills, go one on one with the ducks with his own gear, calls and tuck in the weeds and try his luck. Only 4 ducks lost the match this day. Many, many more won the contest. I should have had my limit that day, easily. My success was found in getting out, doing it myself, watching the birds and bringing a few birds home for some holiday treats to eat. I had an absolute blast.

I simply love it when the ducks fly and I have the opportunity to be there to see it.

~ Jon

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