The only ducks we are seeing are the locals that have been around all season long and they are extremely wise to what is going on. We need some migration ducks to come down for a visit if you know what I mean! These locals are decoy and call shy, it doesn't matter what you throw at them they are leery of anything that might bring a volley of steel at their tail feathers. I have been out with Chico Lopez one of our UNJ Pro Staffers every time I have been to Shiawassee this fall and have seen him try every trick in the book, so I thought. I have only been hunting waterfowl for three years now and I am still new to this game and try to take every ounce of info thrown my way to learn anything new that I can. When we hit the water for Wednesday morning's hunt, I was in for something new!
It all started with a friend of mine who wanted to start hunting. Keep in mind he is in his 30's, people of that age just don't pick up and start hunting so I jumped at the chance to bring a new hunter in the fold! He wanted to start with duck hunting and I was eager to help with what little I knew. I told Chico we needed to get Jeff out for a hunt since he had only been on one other duck hunt and didn't see anything at all. We set it up for Wednesday morning!
Now I hadn't had the video camera or still camera out for the last two hunts and I wasn't planning on taking it this time either. I've had the whole week off work and I just wanted to hunt. I didn't want to have the added pressure of videoing anything at all! I got all of my gear loaded up the night before and then awoke to the alarm at 2:45 am! Another short night of sleep! I met Jeff at a local parking spot and he looked to be bright eyed and bushy tailed! I thought to myself that, that was entirely way too much enthusiasm for 3:15 am! I really had high hopes of Jeff seeing something this morning to keep his hunting enthusiasm high, nothing worse than to try to get someone interested in hunting and then them not seeing anything their first two times out!
I got my sleeves wrung out somewhat and I managed to find two hand warmer packs that I immediately put into my sleeves to keep my arms from getting too cold. This would test my endurance to see how much I could stand and just how hard core I could manage to muster from within myself. Nothing like a good challenge to see what your made of, I say! Once I got all situated we still had about 10 minutes to shooting light. At about 4 minutes to shooting light I heard the amazing sound of whistling wings overhead and I saw about 50 ducks flying just above us! What an amazing sight to see! Finally what looked to be flight ducks coming in! Nothing like new birds to start the morning, this just might turn out to be a great day after all!
As the morning light grew we began to have ducks work our spread only to have two different groups of hunters across from us call to every bird that came near. With the season being so far in now, every bird that heard those calls just flared away as soon as the first note was blown. These guys just don't get it! They weren't reading the birds to see that they were scaring them away! We did manage to have two birds come in close enough to shoot, but by the time we noticed them and swung on them they had started to catch the wind and bug out. I unloaded any ways since I hadn't shot at anything in the last three trips out, man did it feel good!
After about an hour into the hunt we looked on the horizon to see the front coming in! Maybe this is just what we needed to get the birds moving. The cold rain came with the wind right in our faces! Yeah Baby! This was what we have been waiting for all season! I never thought I would stand in thigh deep water in 45 degree weather with it pouring down rain and blowing directly in my face! But this was fun! I couldn't believe I was actually having fun doing this, even with my arms soaked from the morning dunk in the water. It rained like that for about an hour or so and the birds began to fly a little more. The only problem was the two groups of idiots across from us, but it was still a great morning to be alive in the field! I took it all in and relished every moment of it! I looked over at Jeff at one point and asked him if he was having fun yet and is this what he expected duck hunting to be like? He was cool with it, but I think he thought he would rather be home where it was warm and dry. Chico on the other hand was as happy as a lark! I was half expecting him to be doing back strokes in the water and singing a song of joy all the while!
We stayed out until around 10 or 10:30 then pulled everything in and headed back to the truck. When we got to the dike everything seemed much easier to pull even though the uphill side going back wasn't as steep. I had a renewed since of energy and ambition. This hunt is exactly what I needed to get my blood flowing again. I can't explain what it was or what it did to me, but it was something that showed me I still had it in me to do something hard and still have fun while working hard to accomplish it. When I saw that weather forecast for the morning I thought I was going to be miserable out there but just the opposite happened.
Don't ever anticipate what your hunt is going to be like or expect something out of it. You might just be surprised at what the outcome actually is! It felt good to not have to worry about a camera, it was good to work hard, it was good to test my endurance, it was good to take a new guy out, it was good to experience nature's beauty of birds and weather, but most importantly it was just damn good to get out! Thanks Chico for a great week of hunting and I can't wait until our steelhead fishing trip in the morning! I don't know what to expect but I know it will be worth it!
Thanks for taking the time to read this story of mine, but now go and get outside so you can experience and enjoy what God and nature have to offer!