Monday, December 14, 2015

The Mallards and Canadas Arrive

Gander Mountain

Eastern Nebraska produced in mid November some really nice weather.  It is nice if you want to golf or work in the yard.  None of those things are important.  It is the smell of freshly fired gunpowder early in the morning that fires the blood up.  A frontal movement finally came out of the north with driving winds, rain, and snow mixed.  It came down from the Dakotas.  That was all that was needed to bring in the big birds.  We have all had enough of Gadwall, Widgeon, Pintails, and Teal.  It is the big ducks with their fine looking green heads we are after now, along with the big Canada geese. 

When I was a boy and hunted with my Dad, it was unusual to see a Canada goose, let alone shoot one.  Your limit then was one Canada goose per season.  We always hoped we would have the opportunity to bag one, but it never happened.  Later in life, I hunted in N.W. Missouri southwest of Squaw Creek Refuge for Snows and Blues, and we would periodically have a Canada goose opportunity.  It was very rare that this would happen.  Now, the Canada goose hunting is on the same par in our area with the big ducks.  What is more interesting is we never are able to decoy any snows or blues.  We see them in huge flocks way up in the air migrating south.
Looking Northeast just before shooting got hot.

Up at 4:14 AM the weather was cold and the wind was beginning to pick up.  The front had not gotten here yet, but would be soon arriving.  Gathering at the Big Chicken in Tekamah, Nebraska by 6 AM for cholesterol and coffee, sixteen hunters were ready to hit the blinds and wait for the onslaught that was sure to take place.  It was cold, the perfect weather to hunt ducks and geese in Eastern Nebraska along the Missouri River.

Benelli Super Black Eagle II Realtree Max-4 ?Semi-Auto Shotgun - 10101
This is the gun I shoot. Click on the link or the pic to buy. 

Inside the blinds the weather still had not nailed us, but the clouds that were forming and blocking out the moonlight told us that we were going to be hit is a blast of weather.  This was what we wanted as the birds would either come before the blast or with it when it hit.  Our shooting sticks were loaded up with the big shells and everyone waited patiently for shooting time to start.  In the meantime, birds came and went from the swamp.  Some came and stayed while others landed and took off.  They were the smart ones as they may have been at the blinds before.  You can always tell which are the local birds.  They just circle the blinds staying out of range, and then leave.  It must make their butts ache to fly over the swamp.

HEVI-Shot HEVI-Metal Waterfowl Shotshells
I shoot this shell  Click on the link or the pic to buy.
As shooting time arrived, the birds that had never been at the swamp before or had never had their tail feathers disturbed, were promptly jumped and dispatched.  There is nothing like having a couple of good shots to open the morning at shooting time.  The weather slowly began to deteriorate and the wind started picking up.  With the pick up in the wind came the Mallards.  They were not in big flocks but small groups and there was very little circling.  They would hook once into the wind and then drop like an elevator, feet out and heading to the open water.  The good news was we had some shots.  The bad news was the wind became westerly and the decoys needed to be moved closer to the bank so that the birds would be heading for the calm water.  Our blinds lay on a peninsula that extends north and south right down the middle of our 40 acres of water.  Calm water would be in front of us and the water behind us was starting to form some heavy wave action.

Duke bringing in the bacon

We used three wing duck decoys plus three duck butts that have their heads down.  With two spreads of duck decoys close to the calmer water, this made all the difference in the world.  The next few small flocks came to us closer and gave better shots.  I should point out, we never lose a crippled bird.  Several of our members own really well trained dogs.  I don't know what I enjoy more.  It is either the decoying of the birds or having the dogs head to the water and retrieve them.  When their owners let them out of their pens behind the blinds, on command they are so excited and just jump into the water to gather up the birds.
The Mallards either turned off or we just ran out of birds in our area.  Several of the other hunting spots in the area were getting some shooting, but it shut off for us.  Then it changed.  I remember looking at my watch and seeing 10:15 AM.  The wind was really pounding away, but we were below ground level so it made no difference.  

Here came the Canada geese.  The first flock of 20 to 25 just locked up and started that long beautiful glide into the wind toward the decoys and the open water.  About 25 yards out when the birds were in range, the call went out to "take em."  Sixteen hunters rose and got off at least one shot.  With the wind blowing in excess of 30 MPH, we rose up.  Before we could get our guns to our shoulders, they were riding the wind skyward and away from the blinds.  We only had one opportunity for one really good shot.  That was just fine because we all knew this was the start of a lot of birds decoying to our blinds.
It was a good day.

By 3 PM well before shooting time was to end. we were done for the day.  It can't get much better than today.  

Gander Mountain

Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck.  Hank


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