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Sunday, October 14, 2012

NoDak 10/01/12

We decided to give the water a shot since it seemed that the warm weather didn't really have the birds concentrated, or feeding on any consistent patterns. They were content hopping puddle to puddle and venturing out occasionally for a bite to eat. Plus the pond we planned to hunt had a good concentration of diver ducks to try and choose from.

Arriving at the spot, Rob & I pulled up the waders and began setting up an assortment of decoys. Mostly diver species like canvasbacks, blue bills, and buffleheads but we also worked in a few puddlers to the mix with pairs of mallards scattered throughout the spread. With everything set and a few minutes to spare before legal shooting light the four of us spread apart along the shoreline, tucking ourselves snugly into the reeds in order to break up out outlines and blend into the surroundings. Watching the sky start to lighten up, hearing the wing beats of miscellaneous ducks cruising overhead, and having the occasional group even splash down into the decoys was enough to make Timber go nuts. He was tucked in tightly on my left side, peering through the cattails at the nearby ripples on the water, literally shaking with anticipation on each breath exhaled.

Before too long it was "game time" and the first group of birds cut across the front of the spread catching the far end of the longline we put out, before following it right into the hole. "Kill 'em!" Boom, boom, splash, splash. Two teal were down in the water, giving Timber a couple water retrieves right off the bat. And then that was it... at least initially. The remaining birds on the water took to the air, just trading spaces here and there, but not really wanting to commit to the spread or our calls. As the sun got higher, the temperatures got warmer, and my eyes got heavier. Why fight it... then 30 seconds into my power nap, Mike calls out, "Hey Curran! You gonna shoot that bird or what?!" Timber was snoozing too, but quickly awoke when I sat up, called out to jump the bird, then shot it. At the command of "Fetch 'em up!!" He was off like a rocket to bring back the third and final bird of the morning. 3 Teal in total was all we scratched out. Our luck seemed to have gotten left back at one of the gas stations somewhere along the way.

Time to pick up, take some pictures, eat lunch, take a nap, then head out to do some more scouting for the following day.

Hitting the road in the late afternoon we ventured out into some new areas that we hadn't yet explored. The plan was to check on some of the larger probable roost ponds, scope them out for big numbers of birds, then wait until the fly out to feed and follow along to find the field they're using.

Trying to put a greater distance between our probable hunting grounds and town, and away from the number of posted properties, proved productive. We finally came into a decent amount of birds to watch for the following morning. Again, it wasn't the huge numbers of mallards that we were hoping to find, but there were still a few hundred birds working the freshly cut field, so we knew it had potential. Plus we now seemed to have some options, with another field just down the road starting to stack up with geese.

With the third morning of our hunt looking like it should hold some promise we put the birds to bed and started to make the long drive back to town. Stopping along the way to take in more of the sights from the wide open country.

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