Saturday, November 5, 2011

Suprising Start to the Duck Season

When I was a teenager I always knew I would live close to rivers and marshes where I love to explore, hunt and fish. Time and life have a funny way of changing youthful dreams. I have lived the last 20 plus years in one of the drier states there is. The desert is a beautiful place to live and contrary to popular believe there is water here. The Salt River has a series of four dams that store water for the use of the greater Phoenix Valley. This water combined with mild temperatures then provides the end of the line for many ducks migrating south for the winter. Two weeks after the season opener and higher than normal temperatures (i.e. 100 plus Fahrenheit), and more importantly, early morning soccer games, I finally had a chance to get out and hunt ducks. I am usually very good about having everything prepped and ready to go weeks in advance, not so this year. So late at night I rigged decoys packed bags looked for shells until late into the night. All of this was done thinking that the weather and water levels would make for a not so good hunt.
Morning arrived and we headed to the river for the start of the 2011 duck season. As we pulled up to the parking spot, there were already three cars parked. I hoped that they were there to fish, but as we got closer to the river, it was apparent they already had a spread of decoys in the water and were ready to go. I have hunted the river for a lot of years and have plan B and C always ready to go. So plan B was a small spread of 9 decoys, and then wait for the ducks to be pushed in front of us for pass shooting.  As shooting light arrived it was obvious I had made the right call on plan B, ducks came into the first parties decoys, shots were fired the ducks retreated back up the river to us and I shot the first duck of the season at about 15 yds. I thought this is a great start to the season but that ended up being the best action of the morning. I dropped one teal across the river after that and my hunting buddy Josh missed an easy one I sent his way. As the sun came up the temperature did too and we cleaned up the decoys and called it a day.
Packing up gear I told Josh I would be heading down river to scout a few other spots that can be productive ,so we split up and I headed down the river a couple of miles. The lower section had even more hunters there, I don’t recall a year when there where so many people hunting the river. Scouting along the river I carried my gun in hopes of possibly jump shooting a few more ducks. Heading across river through a large stand of cattail I was not disappointed when a teal flushed in front of me giving me a great shot which I took advantage of. Upon retrieval of the bird I was shocked to find out I had just harvested my first Blue Wing Teal. I have hunted ducks for 30 years and have only seen a hand full of them, all of which was well before the season opener. This is one of the joys of being outdoors, the unknown adventure that stirs the soul and imagination to reveal new secrets on every outing no matter what our experience level.

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