Duck hunting report (more from I didn't shoot it thread)

Discussion in 'Cast & Blast' started by Upton O, Jan 9, 2011.

  1. It has been the strangest year for duck hunting that my buddies and I have ever seen here. The season started with lots of water in the fields and a really big storm that blew birds in very early. The hunting was great and we all anticipated an exceptional year. Along comes "Pineapple Express" and from that point on the duck hunting just went steadily downhill. And it pancaked, I mean really poor numbers of ducks in an area that routinely holds several thousand. I hadn't hunted in two and a half weeks and the last time out I shot one pintail.

    Last Thursday I decided to check out a little piece of property we have permission to hunt. I had been monitoring it for a month with no positive results so I was amazed to see that a few hundred widgeon were on one of the sheet water ponds. I phoned my buddy and we made plans to hunt the pond but weren't really optimistic for our chances given there was no cover (its a pasture field with 1" of grass cover). We set up Power Hunter layout blinds and seven dozen widgeon decoys. Then we waited for the day to lighten.

    Well, with the sun came the widgeon, many more than I had seen on my scouting trip. The birds paid no attention to the blinds so we laid there and enjoyed the show until it was light enough to determine drakes from hens. There were numerous flocks of 20-50 birds decoying and we just watched, opting to shoot singles, doubles or flocks of not more than maybe 10 birds. We were also targeting drakes only.

    The hunt lasted an hour and fifteen minutes. We ended up with 13 American widgeon and one Eurasian widgeon. I shot two hens (my aging eyes just lied to me) and my buddy shot one hen. He is 35 years younger and has no excuse.

    This was probably the finest hunt I've had in the U.S. I've had the great fortune to have experienced some wonderful hunting in Canada, Louisiana and Washington but this was something truly exceptional. We sat back and enjoyed the show of great flocks of birds dropping into the decoys. On one occasion we could have shot our limits if we had fired one shot apiece, there were that many birds settling into our spread. When we did decide to shoot, we alternated shots. I would dump a drake then Mike would shoot a bird out of the next small group. We each missed only one bird totally. And, of course, Mike shot his Eurasian for which he is really elated.

    The birds were still coming in when we left the field so we decided to do it again today. And today, well, we had no flocks of widgeon or anything else. Mike shot one drake mallard that dropped in and that was it. The weather was mild so we stayed in the blinds, chatted, snoozed, and after a few hours, we headed to our favorite cafe for a late breakfast. We found our widgeon friends after breakfast. They had taken up residence in another field about a mile from ours. Well, good luck to them. I'm indebted to them for yesterday's incredible outing.

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  2. Wow very nice!!
    Cant believe you got a very nice Eurasian widgeon! DId you or your buddy shoot it? And are you guys going to get it mounted?
    Were where you guys hunting?

    Spencer
     
  3. Top, my buddy shot it which is important to me. He's is the most avid waterfowler I've ever known and he was just over the top when the dog brought it back. Neither one of us saw it's true identity since it came in a little early to see all of it's characteristics. We knew it was a drake widgeon, it was his turn to shoot, he made a great shot, end of story. It definitely is going up on his wall. We actually saw another one in a big flock that was circling but we made a contract not to shoot the big flocks.
     
  4. Great hunt, that sounds like real Curt Gowdy type stuff... it is really strange how the birds are moving so much this season, one day its all Mallards and then three days later Widgeon and so forth, finally found the pile of Canvasbacks too probably be something else by Wed hunt.
     
  5. Congrats on a great widgeon hunt! They are a fun duck to hunt.

    A double congrats on the Euro - We seem to go through cycles on those guys. Saw a fair number of them during the mid-1980s, very few during the 1990s and now for the last few years there seeems to be more around. Seems where ever the are decent numbers of widgeon "rafted up" one can find a Euro or two.

    Agree with your assessment of an odd year duck wise (at least on the wet side of the State). Have had some great hunts and some very difficult hunts; the feeling among the long time hard core duck hunters that I have talked with is on the whole this has been one of the tougher seasons in decades. That said we have had more diversity of waterfowl species in the decoys than any year that I can remember ( up to 24 species in the dekes and 15 different species killed).

    Tight lines
    Curt
     
  6. Brazda, Canvasbacks, I've only had one shot at a Can and he's still flying along at 40 MPH as far as I know. Our hunt was like an episode on American Sportsman of the 1960's. Its that way when I hunt with Mike. We're on the same page, I appoint him "hunt captain" upon arrival at the hunting location and then I do what he asks. He is a great waterfowler and his Eurasian is going to be a real trophy for him on his wall.

    Curt, I agree with your assessment. The species diversity has been incredible, the numbers highly variable. I've tried to find bird counts for the westside without success. I've watched other forums and noticed there have been very few "tailgate" shots of a day's harvest and when there were photos posted,it was usually of divers taken in the Sound. We've had some really incredible days in the blind and other days without seeing a duck or goose. We've scouted many areas and its been consistent in the low numbers of puddlers. A typical year would present a thousand pintails and teal, hundreds of widgeon, and some mallards. Not this year. Very, very strange and I'm not sure why.
     
  7. I'm jealous.
     
  8. Karl-you lead a charmed life! Good for you and your friend! Rick
     
  9. Splendid hunt, Karl. Haven't chased waterfowl since I parted with Maggie. Pheasants have been a treat this season, however & with another weekend (plus Friday) to go.
     
  10. Rick, I have had a charmed life in spite of some of my best efforts. I think the best is I'm blessed with some guys I really "click" with, guys who are fun, not too serious, love a good time, and are truly trustworthy. All the great hunting I've had has been through relationships with these guys. I'm so very grateful and blessed.

    Jim, the one thing that is great about cold weather pheasant hunting is you are moving around and staying warm (I hope). I image the birds tend to hold in some really thick cover. Glad to hear your hunting has gone well. Somewhere there is another four-legged hunting partner waiting for you to be ready.
     
  11. Karl-my very best friends are my hunting and fishing group. There are 8 of us that do a lot of trips together, and get together each year for a blow out game dinner. These things are the highlight of my year and I'm so grateful for these guys! Rick
     
  12. All Widgeon and one Mallard hen today,,we don't shoot hens on pupose this one basically intercepted the shot while shooting at a flock of Widgeon, great head shot @ 12 ft, hence the backside view....
    View attachment 37917
     
  13. Don't you love up close and personal duck hunts? Outstanding photo and hunt, looks like it was a bit chilly on the water for you and your pup. We're hoping this rain/wind we've just had pushes birds back into our favorite spots. There are only 18 more duck shopping days until the end of the season.
     
  14. nice Brazda, what part of the river where you hunting? would love to know cause tomorrow i'm leave on another trip for the eastern clolumbia river, dont really know where yet.

    Thanks,
    Spencer
     
  15. Thanks, Karl & there may be . . . in Idaho . . . Ma Nature, the breeder, and two fine adult dogs willing. Decided to depart from Labs, tho I love them dearly & they've been my only partners over the years; since I primarily hunt Uplands now, I want to try a Braque du Bourbonnaise . . . hard to find, but loyal & versatile dogs with a Lab disposition, temperment, and penchant for learning plus a passion for water. The last Pheasant adventure begins today . . . 3 areas over the next 3 days. Been saving my best private spots for the final quest this year, tho it will be challenging in the wind today.
     
  16. Jim, well that is another new one on me. I had to look up Braque du Bourbonnaise in Wikipedia, very interesting dog. How did you come to decide on your choice? How did you learn about them?
     
  17. Karl,

    Researched a lot of gun dog articles, made a lot of phone calls, & spent a fair bit of time on-line. Originally developed an interest in the Braques Francais, slightly smaller, similar characteristics, but the closest reputable breeder is in the Dakotas. Then stumbled across an article referencing a Bourbonaise breeder near Boise & I really like the looks of both the sire & dam of the prospective coming (hopefully) litter. Hit it off very well with the breeder, also . . . I'll take a drive over & see the dogs once Pheasant season ends & the weather is conducive to the trip. Along the way, I passed on a very good Brit, but there are just too dang many burrs in this country. I've been helping a dear friend with his Griffon, so I've had ample opportunity to hunt over a pointing breed, but Sofia picks up her share of burrs even with the shorter, wiry coat; she's going to be a dandy, however . . . great nose & throws solid points. Plus she rides with her head on my shoulder which is always a plus . . . she's a sweetheart.
     

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