If you have ever read Lewis and Clark's chronicles about the trip up the Missouri River, what I just witnessed had to be very similar. Thousands upon thousands of ducks and geese were flying, feeding and mucking around like waterfowl do on a regular basis. What was more interesting was that there was no heavy snow cover up north in the Dakotas. The thought is that due to the drought last summer and into the early fall, the waterholes are just plain dried up. When you add the decreased production in corn and beans, there is not the usual table fare for the migrators as they travel south.
The 40 acre lake where our group hunts is probably one of the first puddles of water that they find. There is always the river, but we have not heard a lot of shooting on the river this fall. There is plenty of duck weed to nibble on. The corn crop in the area while not up to normal, still produced what would have been considered as excellent 20 years ago.
|This is the best the hunting spot has ever looked. It just makes you want to get in the water and paddle around. |
The wind moved out of the north and really began to blow. The set-up at the blinds is made for just this type of shooting. I arrived at the Big Chicken by 5:15 AM, ordered a big breakfast, stoked down some coffee, and chatted with members from the club and met their guests. By 5:45 AM everyone headed out to the blinds to get in and get settled. The lake was packed with ducks and geese. When we walked in, the noise was deafening as they left the water. The thought was, "They will be back, and we will be ready."
Right at shooting time, in came the Mallards. These were not small flocks, but big ones and they just fell into the decoys. With a total of 21 hunters in three blinds, there was plenty of room and the birds just fell out of the sky. Periodically there would be a smaller flock of six or seven that would work the area, but would not finish. They came low, but always stayed out of gun range. The feeling was these were birds that had been over the area before, and their fannies still burned. They remembered.
Now it was time for the dogs. On this hunt there was one in each blind, and each one is outstanding. Our group never loses a cripple. With a black, chocolate, and a yellow lab in the blinds, we had all the colors. Three things that everyone in the blinds are fond of is watching the ducks decoy, watching the dogs retrieve, and then dining on fresh game at home.
|Our man Junior bringing in a downed bird.|
Around 10 AM, it started. The sky became filled with Canada Geese. Flock after flock after flock began to decoy. This was not swirling around the decoys and the blinds, they would lock up, make one pass and drop into the decoys. As they approached the open water with the north wind, it looked like they were just hanging in the air motionless. With 21 hunters, this was an opportunity rarely seen. We would pick up the dropped birds, and then have to hustle back to blinds because here came another flock. These were not small groups of five or ten, but thirty and up. At one point, there must have been a flock of 300+ really big Canada Geese setting sail with their wings cupped and gliding into the lake. I did not even stand up to shoot, but just watched with my head just peeking out of the blind to watch this magnificent spectacle.
|This is only part of what we saw. Sitting down in the pit and looking straight up overhead, this was just part of the flock that started coming into the lake.|
With 21 hunters, the group had limited out on Canada Geese for a total of 63 geese harvested. Several people left at noon with a limit of ducks also, but the majority of the hunters left after 2:30 PM. The few hunters that stayed could not shoot anymore Canada Geese, but could still fill out their limits on Mallards. As we stood south of the blinds, the Canada Geese were still decoying into the lake and the remaning hunters just stood up and watched. What an exciting day!
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