I finally got out to participate in the biggest shoot the club has ever seen on the opening days of the season. It was like Teal city along with some Gadwall, Wigeon, and Pintails, but teal make up most the the ducks in the area. The amazing thing is we have never seen such big flocks. Each day after the opener, club members and their guests continued to have some excellent small duck shooting. They eat just like the big Mallards, but you have to cook more of them to equal the Mallard.
|Right after shooting, the lake looking straight east from the blind.|
With northerly winds the shooting was excellent, but when we had southerly flow, with clear calm days the shooting was non existent. If I want some great dining, I am always willing to take limits of small ducks if the big northern Mallards are not down. Checking with Sand Lake refuge near Aberdeen, South Dakota, there was little evidence of any of the big Mallards coming out of Canada on their way south.
|Changing the decoys. It just seems to be a never ending job. Somebody always says, "We need to move the decoys." Everyone agrees. It is tradition.|
We had breakfast at the Big Chicken in Tekamah, Nebraska by 6:15 AM. Then we drove to the blinds by 6:45 to settle in and wait for shooting time. On the day that I went up, we could shoot at 7:22 AM. Walking to the blinds by 7:00, the lake was full of ducks and geese. There was something else on the lake that I could not make out, but it was really big and white. There was no noise coming from these flocks and they did not jump and fly off as we walked to the pits.
|The Pelicans circling the lake. They bothered no one, but we were all amazed they just hung around even after the shooting started.|
Settling in and with a little light, we could see the lake was packed with Pelicans. They must have migrated into the lake during the evening, spent the night, and would probably keep going south after sunrise. They did not leave but just hung around. What was amazing was when we shot, it did not bother them.
This was a repeat of the previous days, but not near as heavy as the opener. We stood up, laid our guns out along the blind and at shooting time we took our time and picked a couple of birds from each flock. There were only five hunters, so the shooting was light. The teal would whistle by first, heading south and riding the north wind, then hook back to land with the decoys. It was at this time we took our shots when they were right south of the decoys. It was quick, and you were lucky to get off one good shot. One shot, one duck, and skip trying to hit another with a second shot. This would only produce a cripple. Then the dog would spend time chasing it down or we would lose it. In some cases hunters would wade into the lake and scout around the bank. This is a bad idea and has bad outcomes with big flocks starting to decoy. Stay in the blind while the hunt is on.
|Junior bringing in a duck and swimming through the decoys.|
Just as before, as the sun started to sneak up on the horizon, the action slowed. In addition, the ducks became more wary and would approach the lake much higher than before. Still we were able to get some of the flocks to decoy into shooting range and were able to finish out the morning.
The interesting thing was the pelicans. Everyone thought they would pack their bags and head south in the beautiful clear skies, but no, they stayed around periodically getting up to fly around and then settle back onto the lake. During all the shooting, they never left the lake.
This was a great morning, and I left by noon. The only way it will get better is for the big Mallards to head south out of Canada.
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Good hunting good fishing, and good luck. Hank