It stormed the entire night and cleared up by morning. I walked outside to check to see what I would be facing in the field; it was 44 degrees with a light wind. That told me what I needed to wear under my waders. We doned our camo face paint and dressed for the weather. It took us a little longer to get loaded up this morning since we were having to pack our luggage for our trip home in the afternoon. I think we came flying into the gravel driveway sideways but still had a few minutes to spare.
This morning I let the guide draw names so that the groups would be split up and everyone would have an opportunity to hunt with someone new. This morning Gary would be guiding Kami, Maria and Wendy and Mark would guide Tish, Jodi, Jeanne and I. We made it into the blind just about the time daylight broke if not a few minutes after. I was going to get the opportunity to be on the crows nest for the days hunt so that I could try to get some film footage. I can tell right now that if I want to be the hunter and the videographer—over water is not the place to try that. Needless to say, very little footage was taken on the actual hunt, which I hate but next time I will schedule this duck hunt during early season and it will not clash with Alabama’s rut so Richard will agree to be behind the camera.
We started off with a great morning. It was exciting watching the birds in the fly zone and coming from every direction. It was also neat to watch our guide work the ducks with the calls. Some responded really well but for some reason or another they just didn’t like what they seen in our hole and would keep circling or for some other reason would not commit to landing.
Two ducks came in and Mark told the ladies to get ready. I had the camera rolling and was trying my best to keep the lens on the fast approaching ducks through the heavy cover over us. Three shots rang out and one dropped to the river. Jodi scored her a Susie.
Mark worked on several pairs, a few singles, and we even had a couple groups of five fly overhead; some came from a great distance. Mark was able to get a group of 3 mallards to drop into our set-up by using the Hunter’s Specialties Bill Collector call and several shots rang out but nothing fell from the sky. I also had the opportunity to watch Mark interact with a lone mallard that came in noisely. Mark and the mallard went back and forth for a little bit and the mallard circled several times around the set-up; finally, on his third circle he flew away from the set-up and down river. We had several instances where Mark worked ducks into our set-up or they were working their way to our dekes when another blind would shoot at some birds just up river, in front of or behind us and the ducks would flare. I was finding out that this duck hunting was similar to the thrill of turkey hunting–except you keep getting to do it over and over in a days time.
A mallard hen worked her way quickly into our set up and circled once. Mark used the call to entice her back and she came in quickly. Mark said, “shoot, shoot, shoot” and I shot and had a clean miss. I would like to say it was because Mark was in the way or, somehow, it was his fault…but it wasn’t-it was a clean miss!! LOL!! The girls in the blind never saw it coming and thought Mark had told them to shoot. The bird was too high for them to see it along the top of the picture window.
The morning got quiet around 10:00 a.m. and it was really peaceful with mild temperatures and sun shine. The hunters in our blind chatted away about their adventures and other things (what is said at duck camp, stays at duck camp). Mark and I chatted about duck hunting, decoys, and the different kind of ducks. A few ducks flew over but were not cooperative to calls. Mark called Gary to check in with him to see how his group had done. Gary’s group harvested a green head and a Susie so we were equal on harvests for the weekend; with Wendy harvesting both greenheads of the hunt–Congratulations to her for her success.
We called the hunt at noon and headed back to camp. When we arrived we took some time to take photos and to induldge in a nice warm lunch of Pinto Beans and cornbread. Gary is an awesome cook–that is always a nice quality to find in a man. My appreciation to him for making sure we enjoyed a hot meal or two. They were simply divine.
This hunt was exciting for me since it was my first duck hunt and I feel that it was a successful hunt. Our guides were good to us and went above and beyond to make sure we had a good time. They were gracious enough to serve not only one but two hot meals that we were not expecting. As is normal with hunting, not everyone will score a harvest nor will everyone totally agree on everything. I felt the hunt went off without a hitch and I grow with every hunt I venture out on. I am planning on returning next year with Richard in tow. I am thinking that a co-ed duck hunt would be a perfect event. Now, if I could only figure out how to talk Mark into letting me sit shotgun in the crow’s nest…I want to see what is going on up there in the sky.
© Nancy Jo Adams, 2010