It is 4:30 in the morning and the temperature is 31 degrees. The wind is blowing from the northeast at 15 mph with gusts up to 25 mph and wind chill at 15 degrees. It is humid and that makes it colder. The overcast is one to two thousand feet, and it spits a little snow, sleet, and rain. The precipitation stings when it hits you in the face. This is duck hunting along the Missouri River in Eastern Nebraska, and it can’t get any better than this.
How many times a year do you sit in a blind and only see blue sky with the wind switching to the south, but on a day like described, it is time to head to the blind. A blizzard is sweeping across South and North Dakota with freezing temperatures. The mallards have had enough of Devils Lake in North Dakota and Sand Lake in South Dakota. Here they come. With six inches of snow on the ground 50 miles to the north, the ducks will be hungry and thirsty when they cross the snow line. We have it all for them when they arrive: open water and plenty of food in the fields.
It is still pitch black when everyone is settled into the blind. The birds that were kicked up when we walked in, are returning with more locking up and floating in against the wind. You can hardly see them, but there is plenty of racket above and around the blind. They came in during the night, found the open water, and dropped in for a drink and a rest.
Count down is on to shooting time, and at the right moment eight of us all stand up. Up they come, and each of us pick out a drake for the first of many shots that are sure to come. As it gets lighter, you can see the migration is in full swing, and the birds are decoying right to the swamp for a drink after feeding all night. As they swing and circle the blind, locking up with their wings cupped, you can see the mud hanging from their feet. They are thirsty. It just can’t get any better than this and by noon we are limited out.
What is always amazing, when they are decoying, is that you can be outside picking up birds and they still are trying to come in.
If you have an interesting story, e-mail it to me along with pictures and it will be posted on the site.
Good fishing, good hunting, and good luck Hank.