Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Flight is On

Gander Mountain

It was called a vortex.  What in the world is that?  It is what the weather people were describing that was barreling out of the north into the states as deep as Texas.  Then it would move quickly to the east.   All the hunters liked the forecast of severe cold and strong north winds.  The general feeling was that the ducks would be moving well ahead of the front.  
What a beautiful morning.  But where is the vortex?

We got to the blind early.  This time "yours truly" was well ahead of the group that was coming.  Three blinds were filled.  Everyone was waiting for the vortex to do its thing and drive the birds out of the Dakotas toward the south.  The weather could not have been warmer unless it was early spring.  Sixty degrees and everyone was dressed for the coming cold weather vortex.  That term "vortex" has real power and it makes a body sit up and listen to what might be coming.  We were experiencing clear skies with warm southerly flow and wondering just where the vortex would be.
We had a few lookers, but no takers in the AM

At 11 AM, my friend John prepared a large pot of Buffalo chili.  After it had been devoured, the hunters started to leave.  They had no faith in the vortex and everyone else in the other two blinds did not either.  By 2 PM we were down to eight hunters and not a shot had been fired.  
All the comforts of a home cooked meal
  And still this powerful storm system, better known as the "vortex", had yet to appear and make itself known.   Patience is not one of my virtues.  Friends were expecting me to bolt at any minute, but the power of the arriving vortex kept me in place. 
Even the decoys are waiting for the vortex.

Then it appeared.  At first the lake went dead calm.  Then a wall of dark clouds arrived stretching from the southwest to the northeast.  Shortly after, the temperature did not drop, it plunged. It had to have plunged over 40 degrees.  That was followed by severe northwesterly winds.  We knew what the vortex was and that it had made itself known.  Wow, it got really cold and everyone was hunkered down in the blinds.  

Some geese flew over head and started to lock up, but changed their minds.  They turned and rode a northerly wind faster than any escaping bird I had ever seen.  We now had whitecaps on the lake and I had never seen it so windy before.  Periodically, it would spit a little snow that was going sideways.  We did not dare get out of the blinds.
The came, they saw, and then they got out of Dodge.

Then they came.  Ducks and geese of all species were flying just below the cloud base.  They did not come ahead of the front, but almost with the leading edge and they were really moving.

Migrating ducks are not the easiest to decoy, but when they saw the 40 acres of water we have available, they were turning from their southerly heading and dropping down to the lake.  Facing the north wind, they came down like they were on an elevator and just hung in the wind as they tried to get to water.  They were thirsty and we were waiting. 
Eight hunters limited out.

Eight hunters and we had limited out with six birds apiece in one and a half hours.  I cannot remember shooting that fast.  At times, we did not even get out of the blinds to retrieve birds.  We just let them float down to the south end of the lake where we would be exiting when the hunt was over. 

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It can't get any better than that, and it was time to head home and clean birds with my new bird hitch breasting machine. 

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Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck.   Hank


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