Monday, December 28, 2009

Texas Duck

I haven't had much success in Texas. In fact, the only two times I have gone have been brutal.

The second time we drove a couple of hours, then walked up and down hills for about an hour. Once we were situated, we sat in the freezing rain and saw nothing. It wasn't a total loss, however...the views were amazing.

The first time was not much better. Although much closer to home, we walked through calf-high mud to get to our spot. Once there we also saw nothing except a beaver (which was actually pretty cool) and a sunrise.

Some say that the third time's a charm. They may be right.

Dylan called me yesterday to tell me he and his dad were going duck hunting in the morning and that I was welcome to join them if I wanted. After the first two times, I wasn't overly excited. However, I knew that there would be little walking involved as Lake Lavon had recovered from its very low water level and that we could boat to where we wanted to hunt. Additionally, we have had pretty cold weather, so I was hoping we might do better than not see any ducks. I also knew that this may be the last opportunity I had to hunt this season so I accepted.

I tried to get to bed early but by the time everything was done it was around 11pm. I must have been excited because I slept like crap. After waking up for the umpteenth time, I rose at 2:11am. I met Dylan at his dad's at the predetermined time. We packed the boat and truck and were off.

Dan took us to his "good" spot. He hunted there a couple of days earlier and saw lots of ducks. We set up the decoy spread, hid the boat in the brush and waiting for sunrise. Dan was very optimistic that we would see ducks landing in the spread quite early and quite often.

He was wrong.

Although we saw ducks, they avoided the decoys like the plague. He'd call, the ducks would check us out and then leave. They often landed in areas close to us, but not in range to shoot.

After about an hour, or so, a flock of canvasbacks came in right towards us. Dan and I fired. I was to Dan's left (Dylan was back in the boat, complaining about cold feet) so I shot at the duck to the left. I hit him, and he coasted to the water. Although not dead, he could no longer fly. We shot at him again while he was on the surface. Dan and I both started to give chase while the duck swam away.

We'd run and fire again. I quickly got winded and Dan said he would get him. An hour later, Dan returned empty handed. He had walked perhaps 500 yards, or more, in 3ft deep water and never was able to recover the bird.

In the meantime, I had returned to the spread. I had no call, but that didn't seem to matter. A lone canvasback approached. I shot and missed.

Dan finally returned, but went to the boat to catch his breath. While there, a flock of eight mallards came into the decoys. I lined the closest and fired. The duck fell. It was a beautiful mallard hen.

Not the greenhead I have been coveting, but a beauty nonetheless. The blue-purple on its wings is stunning.

We finally had a bird in the boat and that seemed to do the trick. We stopped calling and the ducks started coming in.

A pair of widgeons came in. Dylan and I lined up the one on the fell. We're not sure who hit it, but it doesn't really matter. Dan missed his on the right. His continued to circle, looking for its mate, but we never got a good shot. It was amazing to see him fly around and quack searching for the one we downed.

Dan finally got his when a gadwall hen came into the spread.

We stuck around for a while longer seeing ducks, but never able to get them close. We ended the session watching a huge "V" of Canadian geese fly high over head.

I finally got my Texas duck. More importantly we had a great time on the water enjoying a beautiful morning in God's creation.


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