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A soggy opener in Atikokan

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A soggy opener in Atikokan
My family and I purchased a piece of land right beside my absolute favourite duck hunting spot this past spring. Over the course of the spring and summer, we cleared a small clearing and built a floor with the intention being that we setup a wall tent this fall and make sure that our location is "just right" before starting to build.


(We threw tarps up overtop after this picture)

"Camp Carbeen" is about 30-45 minutes away from leaving my driveway to walking through the front door of the tent, so it's quite close and accessible. Anyways, onto the duck related content.

On September 9th I trudged in loaded down with 2 packs and prepared to spend the first night there. I brushed my gunning coffin, setup the privy and was just watching the big rice marsh when I felt the rain start. I slip slided back up the muddy trail to camp and got ready for dinner. I quickly realized that I'd packed a lot of unnecessary things, and forgot some crucial items, like a can opener.



A few minutes with my Gerber Diesel had me eating. Townes, my English Springer, seemed to enjoy his supper more than mine. I went to bed listening to rain hammer onto the tarp and gusty winds with dreams of ducks in the morning...and I awoke to the same conditions.

In the dark, I fumbled with a Coleman 2 burner that was "field tested" and while I don't want to doubt my Dad because I love him, it has issues...which led to this


(Needless to say, it was taken out of service)

Not to be deterred, I drank my coffee and tried to explain to Townes that while today was indeed the day, we still had a while until shooting time. I sat under the shelter of the tent for a bit thinking up a gameplan until I thought Townes would explode with excitement if we didn't get going. I grabbed my Citori Lightning and walked out to the marsh.

We had a gusting East wind that was completely wrong for our property, but I'd dreamed of shooting a duck on my own property for 30 years, so I'd rough it out and see what happened. As I got set up, I saw another gunner paddle by on the other side of the marsh and setup at the creek mouth (always the best spot). My day to day spread consists of 3 Bean Coastal Magnum Black Ducks, 2 Bean Coastal Blacks and this year I added a Sneakbox Decoys Black. We don't get big flocks too often, mostly groups of 10 or smaller, so 6 decoys is plenty...and 6 decoys are heavy enough when they're black cork and cedar. We mainly shoot Mallards, and wood ducks early on, but they both decoy into Black decoys as well as anything else, and for me, a Black is a real trophy bird. I threw a couple plastic (gross) goose decoys to try and entice any honkers in the area.

I was counting down the seconds to shooting time, and right on cue, the creek gunner fired 3 quick shots. (He did the same thing the next day, I don't know if he does it just to get birds up and moving?). Birds are flying and I realize that my spot was even poorer than I had suspected in the dark, but, I just gripped the gun tighter and kept waiting. Eventually a pair of mallards came by and I sped them up on their way with two quick shots. Now I've had some reproachful and disappointed, bordering on disgust, looks from people in my life but absolutely none of them can compare to Townes when I miss a bird. If he could talk, I'm sure he'd have asked for a new owner. I reloaded, composed myself, apologized to Townes ("the rain is fogging up my glasses!") and consoled myself by saying "You miss the first shot every year anyways, it's okay"

A few minutes later, I catch Townes staring intently to my left and I turn, raising the gun as I do. Over the past 4 seasons if I've learned anything, it's trust your dog. A mallard has pitched wings and coming hard into the decoys. I miss the first shot, but neatly fold it on the 2nd. Townes does an almost impressively textbook retrieve and I sit back into my gunning box and admire the bird. The first duck shot on our property, a landmark duck for me.

The minutes creep back and the ducks keep flying by out of range. I decide to make a small move closer towards the end of the cattail point and it pays off almost immediately as the next duck the comes by is now 20 yards closer and a snap shot folded another mallard. Now in this part of the world, 3 ducks is a pretty solid day. Any goose is a bonus bird. So I'm thinking my luck has changed since burning up a tarp and having to knife my way into dinner the night before.

The next mallard that swings into the decoys is skirting range, but I make a nice shot and drop it. Townes makes another acceptable retrieve and I can see he's starting to forgive me just a little bit for missing earlier. Action was starting to slow down at this point and I was lounging in the gunning box when I hear a low whine from him and I look up to see a black duck floating overhead. Now I'm a slow learner, but I know from past experience if I make the mad scramble for my gun now as he's floating by, I'm going to flare him and it's going to end badly with another look from Townes. I sit tight and watch him land just outside the decoys.

I wait until he's swam away into the cattails a bit more and than half crawl out of the box and start a stalk. I have unsuccessfully stalked Blacks beyond count and successfully done it less times than I have fingers, and with Townes bouncing around in front, I figured it was a lower than usual chance. I kept shuffling forward through the muck, half bent over when I could see him through the wild rice. I haven't sluiced a bird on the water since I was 12 and as he saw me, he jumped up. I'll swear on my leaky hip boots that the bird was north of 40 yards when he jumped, but he was fighting the wind and just hanging there. I threw the gun up and at the shot, it folded as nice as any duck I've ever shot.



I decided to go out on a high point and gathered up my decoys and walked back to the camp.



I apologize that it's not a nicer picture, but when everything (including your cellphone is wet), composing a nice shot is tougher than usual.

As I sat there under the tarp, drinking scalding hot coffee, I realized that this was the life.

Hope anyone else who has an open season had a good opener, and good luck to anyone who's is still upcoming.

Cory
____________________________________
Founding & Proud member of the "Imp. Cyl Duck Club"
Subject Author Views Date
Thread A soggy opener in Atikokan Cory Jackson 1929 Sep 12, 2019, 5:44 AM
Thread Re: A soggy opener in Atikokan
Vince Pagliaroli 1842 Sep 12, 2019, 10:41 AM
Thread Re: A soggy opener in Atikokan
Phil Nowack 1833 Sep 12, 2019, 11:13 AM
Post Re: A soggy opener in Atikokan
jode hillman 1707 Sep 13, 2019, 3:57 AM
Thread Re: A soggy opener in Atikokan
Steve Sanford 1825 Sep 12, 2019, 11:53 AM
Thread Re: A soggy opener in Atikokan
greg setter 1792 Sep 12, 2019, 2:12 PM
Post Re: A soggy opener in Atikokan
Cory Jackson 1782 Sep 12, 2019, 2:50 PM
Post Re: A soggy opener in Atikokan
James Woods 1774 Sep 12, 2019, 3:35 PM
Thread Re: A soggy opener in Atikokan
Larry Eckart 1758 Sep 12, 2019, 5:09 PM
Post Re: A soggy opener in Atikokan
Cory Jackson 1709 Sep 13, 2019, 3:23 AM
Thread Re: A soggy opener in Atikokan
Paul Taylor 1703 Sep 13, 2019, 4:34 AM
Post Re: A soggy opener in Atikokan
todd tennyson 1652 Sep 13, 2019, 1:34 PM
Thread Re: A soggy opener in Atikokan
J. Overland 1626 Sep 13, 2019, 6:58 PM
Post Re: A soggy opener in Atikokan
Cory Jackson 1577 Sep 15, 2019, 3:24 AM
Thread Re: A soggy opener in Atikokan
Kristan 1551 Sep 15, 2019, 6:41 PM
Thread Re: A soggy opener in Atikokan
Cory Jackson 1515 Sep 16, 2019, 4:31 AM
Thread Re: A soggy opener in Atikokan
Kristan 1424 Sep 17, 2019, 6:29 AM
Post Re: A soggy opener in Atikokan
Cory Jackson 1409 Sep 17, 2019, 9:13 AM