Friday, December 21, 2012

What a Day

If you are a duck hunter, it can hardly get any better than this.  The forecast was for terrible weather with falling temperatures and high winds from a northerly direction. The best part was the heavy snowfall in the Dakotas.  It is great when they get lots of snow and we get none.  The ground north is covered up and the birds have to move to find food.  Adding to the fact that the water starts freezing up and the birds are not able to get a drink. They have to leave and head south.
Here comes our man Jackson retreiving a big northern mallard.

The club has had a phenominal season with some of the best shooting ever seen.  With the drought throughout the midwest, the potholes were all dried up. As the birds came south, they ran right into 40 acres of open water.  The numbers at the northerly reserves did not seem right.  The reserves north of us were not holding a lot of birds.  The thought was that they were strung out, slowly working their way south.  The midwest has had unseasonably warm weather and no precipitation. 
Why are these guys smiling.  It is freezing cold.

Then came the forecast.  It consisted of snow in the Dakotas stretching over to Minnesota, temperatures in the teens, and really strong winds from the northwest to north.  As I arrived at the blind, the temp was a balmy 38 degrees and with a light breeze.  The question was asked, "Where is the weather?"  A few ducks were taken, but there was no movement.  Then it hit and with a vengeance.  As I looked to the north, a gray line of clouds was working its way south.  The temperature began plunging, and the wind started blowing.  It was miserable to be out in it.
Ernie pointing out where birds have fallen.

The dogs did not do it all. 
Strings of migrating snow geese began flying over the top of us just below the base of the clouds. Then came the mallards.  Migrating flocks started locking up and coming down like they were on an elevator.  With wings cupped, it looked like they were falling out of the sky. Against the wind they were almost motionless.  To stand up and shoot was brutal because you were immediately hit with a blast of icy cold air. This is eastern Nebraska, and high humidity makes it that much colder.  The blinds are heated with propane burners so it is nice and toasty in the blinds.  As you stand up to shoot you get a really good feel as to the weather. As they came into the wind, there was little time to get off a good shot when it was called. We had to move quickly because the birds would turn immediately climbing with the wind to get out of Dodge.
The best shot in the country.  Jim has Olympic Gold Medals to his name and shoots for gun manufacturers

I never got a count of hunters, but several left between 10 AM and noon with limits of Mallards.  The excellent traffic kept it up until about 3 PM.  Most of us left with a limit of really nice northern Mallards.  What was really interesting with all the Canada Goose traffic we have had, there was not one taken.  The next day the boys got into the Canadas and had an outstanding shoot. 
Jackson's dad helping him bring in some birds.

With no snow on the ground and warming temperatures we should continue to have excellent hunting until the season ends.
Rusty is bundled up to face the elements.  He is incognito so the birds do not recognize him.

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Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck.  Hank.



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