Monday, December 26, 2011

One Last Widgeon

The day after Christmas I had planned a duck hunt with my friend Josh, and then he informed me that an old hunting buddy of ours, Todd, was in town from Utah, so that made it final. We got up early in the morning and headed out to the river to set up the decoys hoping that the wind would not be blowing this week. The forecast was calling for a high pressure system to move into Arizona creating deep blue skies, and a gentle morning breeze, not exactly good duck hunting weather. As the sun started to make its presence know, it was apparent that birds would not be moving near as often as usual. Birds that we did see have been in the area for quite some time, in that they were more decoy shy, aka, educated than in previous weeks. Fortunately Todd was able to capitalize on a high flying Ringneck drake early in the day to avoid being skunked.

Todd with Ringnecks

Pair of Drake Ringnecks
After some time with no birds flying Josh decided to go see if he could jump shoot some birds down river from us. Some time later we heard several rounds of shooting, hoping that Josh had connected on some birds, I said maybe some will come our way. We prepared for ducks to arrive, but they never did. Josh returned back to the blind to tell us he had dropped a pair of Ringnecks. As the sun started to heat up the desert we decided to head for home, I thought I need some good pictures to post on the blog and we have an extra now to take them. So we packed the decoys into their bags and proceeded to take some pictures.
Whos Standing in a Hole

Is that A Duck Coming in
Having hunted ducks for many years now. I sat my gun to the side in a safe location, but still ready to go. We took several pictures when 10 plus ducks appeared down river. A quick dash to the gun then two steps to the river and I was good to go. As soon as we were set, one of the birds cupped up and committed to the duck hole. This bird was on a wire, and as I whispered don’t shoot, don’t shoot; I could see it was a nice drake widgeon. I won’t claim to be trying to get this duck solely for me, but funny enough that is how it worked out. As I went to call the shot it saw me move, it flared, I fired and the pictures tell the rest. This bird is a beautiful bird and will probably end up mounted on the wall as well as the dinner table. In the end it was a great day hanging out with friends and hunting ducks.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Water Fowling with my Son

As a young boy I remember some of my first duck hunting trips were with a friend whose older brother had a dozen decoys. At age fourteen we would catch a ride from his mother out to his grandma's house. From there it was a mile walk down to a farm pond were we would set the decoys and wait for the occasional visitor to the pond to drop in and feed. We never had anyone show us how to shoot at moving birds, so if the ducks didn't land on the water we came home empty handed.

I had a chance this Saturday to take one of my twin boys out hunting with me, and the two of us had a chance to shoot at ducks. He had gone out twice before but the hunting was poor. After some of the success I've had this year he wanted to come out with me, and I readily agreed. We set our decoys out on the water and as the sun came up, the ducks started to slowly move. We had a duck come into the decoys early that provided him his first duck in his life. About a half hour later he downed his second duck, I sat there and thought at fourteen I would have been so excited to have two ducks in one day. As the morning wore on the wind picked up so we moved to a different spot on the river.

A lot of ducks for hunting with someone who had never harvested one before
Once we settled into the new spot had about an hour left, so we put out two decoys in the small pond and took a seat and waited. It wasn't long before a flock came by and he dropped #3, shortly after #4 went down, followed by #5. At this point I had stopped giving him all the easy shots and put him on a level playing field with me, birds came in I called the shot and we let it fly. As we were about to leave a flock landed down river from us, I told him we would wait and see if they came up river toward us, after about ten minutes something spooked them and up the river the came I told my son to shoot. He fired one shot at the lead bird and it and the bird directly behind it crumpled and hit the water. Wow! What a way to end the day a double on a single shot and a limit of birds to boot. He is off to a great start in water fowling, and I look forward to many more days hunting with my son.

My Son and Me
(P.S. see this photo on Rig' Em Rights Fan Photos on facebook and Like)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Perfect Fall Day for Duck Hunting

Perfect Fall Day
 I was reading a story the other day on Mysteries Internal Worth One Thousand Words; or, Life Abbreviated. (great read) and thought about how good story telling affects each reader differently. It gives us the chance to paint our own pictures from the experiences that each of us has been through. Unlike Erin, I am not the best story teller so I like to combine photos with my stories. The photo above represents a snapshot of my hunting experience from Saturday morning. I have been asked why I like to hunt ducks, there are many reasons for this, but mostly I enjoy being outdoors, on the water, and I’m definitely a morning person.

This morning found me up hiking in the dark before the sun came up. I was excited about the day and left the house earlier than normal. The air was cold for the desert, lining the cactus with a thin layer of frost. A cold front had just blown through the state and I was hoping it had brought ducks with it. The work of setting up decoys in the predawn was keeping me warm, and as I neared the end of my task I noticed some small snow crystals floating in the headlamps light. Once the decoys were placed and I had settled into the cattails. I checked the clock, twenty minutes till shooting light. Sitting on the edge of the water motionless, the cold started to creep in through my hands and face. The first rays of light started to appear I heard a flock of divers coming down from the lake, the wind of their wings like the sound of a distant jet as they passed over me. After another ten minutes it was time to shoot, and right on cue a flock swung past the decoys, after a single call, they turned around and cupped there wings committing to the decoys. I knew after firing two shots it would be a special morning as two drakes hit the water.

Desert Duck Hunting
After an hour of exciting calling and shooting, I had one bird left to reach my limit. I sat there and just listened to the sounds around me and noticing the display of colors as the clouds broke up the suns rays. The leaves on the cottonwoods had begun to turn a brilliant yellow. The tamarisks had taken on the orange of winter and the cattails were a transitory green tan. This mixed with patches of deep blue sky and heavy gray clouds made the river a beautiful location to be. This is something even with pictures and words that should still be experienced by everyone. It does not matter if it is with a shotgun or fly rod in hand, or from a bicycle or hiking boots. Being outdoors at these magical times of the day and seasons are what recharge us, the activity is just the excuse to get there.
Limit of Divers