As the fist of September rolled around as usual my anticipation was at an annual high for the fall. Based on recent past seasons, hype in the print media, the absence of rainfall, friendly conversations between bar stools and pure logic, or so I thought deductions were as follows. 1. With a lack of water my
Now with Halloween less than a week away a look over the shoulder into the reality that was paints a much different picture. It’s probably not that surprising either. Prior to the waterfowl opener my walks/scouting took me to mostly dried up potholes, larger water with little cover, deep watered cattail rung sloughs once inaccessible to wader clad hunters now showing mud-exposed areas between vegetation and what’s left of open water. I could find speedy flocks of green-wings and erratic flying blue-wings but noticed an absence of mallards. That is until the Thursday before opening day when on the other side of a hill I came across a wild rice covered large slough. A stroll to the edge brought flight to literally a thousand or more mallards. Quite a sight to just see along with being a great find. Within an hour they were dropping back in from all directions. Hmmmm plans for the opener were fluid and changing. After a call to Erik and Nolan they made a bee line to the area the evening prior to opening day making their own plans. A small cattail surrounded slough near the rice-filled water with ducks constantly dropping into it as the sun set would be the opener spot. It proved to be a better choice than my suggestion since they were limited out by 7 and me on the air for yet another hour. On my arrival I was still able to manage 3 before the birds settled in remote locations for the rest of the day. After an evening of scouting again our plans changed bringing with it another move for day 2. A good choice with mallard limits and a pair of woodies by early afternoon. The next time out proved much the same although but instead of standing on a floating bog we settled on hard ground again a different location found scouting. With a number of delicious duck meals for friends and family thus far the waterfowl season has been one of the very best in a long time. Who’da thunk!!!!
Number two from above was pretty much right on. Too dry or we simply missed the woodcock when they came through. Although I’ve gotta admit I spent very little time looking too.
Now on to the much anticipated pheasant opener. Another surprise! My preseason scouting found numbers of birds on the same WPA we’d hunted the last couple years. Each of the past two saw numbers of flushes, good dog work and adequate shooting along with a tailgate of birds. This opener brought plowed adjacent corn fields, crackling dry dusty conditions and one missed shot. Our 8 man total, hunting in groups of 2 or 3 managed at day’s end six birds and limited flushes. Running birds, extremely difficult scenting conditions for the 9 dogs and a common thought between us of “What happened to the birds?” Still great fun and great company expectations were much different than reality although on day two I watched
As I write the rain is falling mixed with snow flakes. The best day this season to date has been a mist filled Thursday early afternoon. Birds sitting tight and grouped up for Snap and Tess. There’s only one problem – me! Even knowing the birds are there they still startle me to the point my misses are thus far more common than hits but that’s ok because the experience sure beats simply downed birds and an early trip home. After all I’m “hunting!”
I’ll be back out there tomorrow. The grass should be damp and the dogs well-rested!
See ya afield and good huntin’!