Well, the season's done done done now... Ducks closed at the end of last month, geese will close this weekend, and I will be skiing from thursday on, so my season is done.
My last days of duck season were exciting, I managed to really test out my new 20 gauge that i got in a raffle! Hurray for free toys! I found a new little beaver pond while scouting public land, that is approximately 2 miles from the car, and so you can imagine it never see's any people. I got in there on the scouting trip the day before the closer and managed to scratch out a limit of ringneck ducks!
I felt very comfortable with my new 20gauge, and I guess I hit more than I missed, because I came home with a lot of shells. Enough to go hunting again the following morning at least. Those little divers are very acrobatic and easy to decoy so I was convinced to leave the puddle ducks alone for the season closer and try to get another bunch of divers. I even saw a couple redheads and a few bigger divers that I couldn't identify, so I was hopeful for the next morning. I got there VERY early to find that I poked a hole in my waders making for a very cold morning. After I put decoys around the pond to plug up any hiding spots the ducks may have had, I waited for an hour and a half in the cold. I don't know why I got there so early, I suppose public land feels like a bit of a race to get the good spots, but really, who would walk so far for little diver ducks other than me? I actually shivered while waiting, which is unusual as I am like a human furnace, I guess that's what happens when you skip breakfast
Anyways, legal time rolled around and sure enough a big flock of divers circled once and committed. They must have found the only safe spot in the pond and just dove in and started having fun. So I sat as still as I could (and it was still cold, in fact my damp glove froze to the metal on the gun a couple of times) hoping that they would lure another flock in to my shooting zone. These little birds seemed to be having a good time, and I enjoyed watching their antics... Well, I sat there cold for 20 minutes and finally I could hear some whistling wings! These were not divers! Well, they were not big ducks either, but definitely bigger than divers and not coming in as easy or fast. They circled and circled, and finally started to come in nice and slow just in front and to the right. Boom boom boom! Splash splash splash! My first triple! And 3 of the 4 gadwals went into the bag after a bit of chasing for the third bird! The chase got me warmed up and I was very happy with my 1$ 20 gauge then. I hit a double the day before, and figured it would be a while before I could repeat it!
I sat in the grass for another 20 minutes hoping to get a few more birds but none came and couldn't stand the cold anymore, so I packed up and hiked out. On the way out I noticed a canoe paddle leaning against a tree, in perfect condition, so now I have a paddle, and need to get a boat to match it. I think a little paddle boat could get me into all kinds of cool spots and I could slip past sleeping birds without bothering them.
So duck season ended and I thought I had it out of my system, but I just had to go back to the lake for a little goose scouting trip. Ever since ducks closed there has been no-one at the lake hunting, and the birds have gotten used to that, so I found BIG flocks of pintails, mallards and gadwalls openly feeding just where you would expect. I also found that geese were hitting these same spots, and since the season had some time to go I thought I would give it a try, so armed with my 12 gauge (which I haven't been able to hit anything with since I started using my 20) I went out before daylight and set up in the mud where I had seen them feeding. Sure enough geese were flying around me that first outing but for some reason always steered clear of my tiny grass blind in the middle of a barren mud flat
As one of my colleges said "you proly looked like a turd in a punchbowl", I suppose I would avoid a turd in a punchbowl too. So my first outing I went home empty handed. I watched where they went and decided to try this spot for a quick hunt before work this morning. I got there early again, and setup in the dark in some taller grass at the edge of the trees where they had been coming down to feed. While setting up, I heard a few honks in the distance, so I know there must have been geese roosting somewhere nearby, possibly one of the beaver ponds up the creek from my location. Once the sun was up a few geese started passing by on occasion, out of range, but completely unaware that I was sitting there. Finally, my time was running out and I was getting anxious that I would never get my first goose. I had to be at work in 1 hour, and that left only a bit of time to get packed up and on the road... then a few honks started coming through the trees! The first 2 birds were off the line, and I had to really show restraint to not fire... I definitely could have hit those first birds, they were within range, but not what I would consider an easy shot, and I don't want to just send them away with a few pellets in the butt. Good thing I waited because another pair came up behind them right overhead. That 12 really kicks! In the past I have found that I become aware of my bones and teeth every time I shoot that thing, even with target loads, and end up with a headache if I shoot that thing too much. I really didn't notice it when I was shooting at the geese, maybe because it was more over head and the kick went to my feet into the mud or maybe I was a bit excited to notice. In either case, the leading bird came down hard into the middle of the tiny creek. As I was carrying my first bird back to cover, I heard a couple more honks. I guess some birds were tailing them from a distance. I was really out in the open; I crouched down, hoping to blend in with the mud and dead grass, but I am tall and there was zero cover. Two birds came over the trees and another single bird fell hard with a thud.
Anyways, got these beauties. Very big and very heavy to carry back. I did feel some remorse to shoot such beautiful birds, but they will be appreciated and delicious I am sure. It sure was a great season, and I learned lots... Need to clean the mud off of all my gear, patch some decoys that caught a few pellets
and think about getting a boat for my new paddle.