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The worst kind of disappointment

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The worst kind of disappointment
Hunting continues to be frustratingly slow here in NJ. Today I forced myself out to take advantage of the non-rainy weather and the favorable tides at my spot up north. I got in well before shooting time and got setup. The magical time (just before dawn) was surprisingly quiet. A pair of black ducks did a high speed fly-by early on. The tide change proved favorable around 8am. I watched a group of 4 larger ducks work across the marsh. 2 broke away and were heading my direction. I watched and waited. They committed well. I was backed up against a sedge in my BBSB. They turned behind me just overhead by maybe 20', cupped, coming into the decoys in front of me. Both nice healthy black ducks. I waited for them both to commit. I took a shot at the lead bird. Miss. The second bird made a critical mistake and being shocked by the gunfire, actually flew back into my existing swing of the barrel from the other duck. This shot hit its mark. The bird cartwheeled down but still remained alive.

To my surprise, it hit the water and vanished. I was shocked. I had only previously experienced this with divers. I scanned and scanned. No sign of the bird. I pulled my anchor sticks and motored around. Back and forth, up and down nearby sedges, down current, nothing. This must have gone on for 20-30 min.

I have to say there is nothing more frustrating than losing a bird. I even took another 20-30 min after picking up my decoys to motor around and look.

This has been a learning experience for me this season.
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Re: The worst kind of disappointment In reply to
Jay~


Sorry to hear about you losing a downed bird. I have certainly had Black Ducks dive on me on saltwater. Worse is when they dive in the rivers hereabouts - almost impossible to recover if you're not in a canoe.


And, you did right by the bird with your extensive search time.


All the best,


SJS

Steven Jay Sanford
Pencil Brook Farm
South Cambridge, NY
http://www.stevenjaysanford.com


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Re: The worst kind of disappointment In reply to
Bummer, we all hate when that happens. But like Steve notes, you did all you could to find the bird. Don?t be too hard on yourself.


Carl
Mobile, AL
DHBP Member since 1998

"Life is too short to drink bad beer."
Disclaimer: This post and/or report is not a substantiation of or reflection on the true accuracy of the present surveying methods. It is only a report on or comment concerning local observation and/or results. Your results and observation may vary based on your location, local water conditions, food supply, weather conditions and migratory patterns "
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Re: The worst kind of disappointment In reply to
 After I lost my dog, I had to relearn rowing and retrieving. I learned at great item years ago, I use #7 steel shot made for trap to shoot cripples. Hole high on the head and you have a large amount of shot. Won't penetrate the body, but will raise heck with the head. Has been working well for me for years.
Better than shooting cripples with 3 1/2 mags...
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Re: The worst kind of disappointment In reply to
I agree I keep a box of steel 6 dove loads for swatting cripples. Work great.


Carl
Mobile, AL
DHBP Member since 1998

"Life is too short to drink bad beer."
Disclaimer: This post and/or report is not a substantiation of or reflection on the true accuracy of the present surveying methods. It is only a report on or comment concerning local observation and/or results. Your results and observation may vary based on your location, local water conditions, food supply, weather conditions and migratory patterns "
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Re: The worst kind of disappointment In reply to
Jay,
Several years back I shot a blackduck, it folded and when he hit the water he actually went under, I scanned looking for him swimming off. After what seemed like forever he blew out of the water, straight up and flew away. Craziest thing I'd ever seen.

It's always a rotten feeling when losing a bird or other game animal, but rest assure it will be eaten by something.

I second the notion of a rough year. Seems like the birds never showed.

Zane
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Re: The worst kind of disappointment In reply to
I feel your pain! If you hunt long enough those things happen. I don?t know if there?s any truth to it, but the guys I learned duck hunting from swore wounded black duck would swim to the bottom and grab something and just stay there. Not sure I believe it, but I?ve had a couple vanish like yours and it definitely doesn?t sit well.
________________________________________

My life has two seasons, duck season and carving season
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Re: The worst kind of disappointment In reply to
Last year I was lucky enough to shoot a triple on gadwalls. My dog retrieved the first two but the third was swimming and really got a long way off. We pulled the boat and chased it about 300 yards. We got close and it dove. We looked for almost an hour and it never reappeared. I was really bummed as we don?t get many of them where I hunt. Anyway. Later in the afternoon, my buddy took a pee break and yelled back to me to send the dog over. Sure enough the gadwall was running around the meadow. Just goes to show the strength and survival instincts these birds have.
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Re: The worst kind of disappointment In reply to
Cripples are the reason I got my first retriever, and why we switched from steel to Hevi-Metal for our primary loads. Crippled black ducks are notorious for diving, hanging on to submerged vegetation. They will also swimI to shore and hide in stone walls or undercut banks. I have also seen them swim a long distance snorkeling, with their bodies completely underwater with just their nostrils breaking the surface. Unless the water is dead calm, you cannot see them unless you are on top of them. A couple of weeks ago, I shot a black that dropped into a 20' wide brookway 10 yards above where it emptied into a cove on a tidal estuary. It was 20 yards away at the time. It hit hard, recovered from the stun, and dove. A gale force wind should have forced the bird further up the brook. My son was working the dog on a previous bird at the time. I kept watch while he called the dog in and searched the shore around the entire cove plus the brook. We spent at least 45 minutes looking for the bird. When we picked up, we spent another hour searching along the brook with the dog, to no avail. Sometimes, hard work does not bear fruit, but you do what you can. As someone else said, at least one of God's creatures will eat well that night. It sucks, but as long as a duck is breathing, it has a voice in the outcome.
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Re: The worst kind of disappointment In reply to
I hate to lose a bird and will spend lots of time looking for a cripple. I have been lucky enough to own some really great dogs, They have found a number of lost birds that dove and were never seen on the water again. My dogs found them on land, divers and puddle ducks. Some have run a long ways from the water, some on the edge of shore, and one wood duck drake up in a muskrat run. That wood duck hit the water and never came up. I believe an injured bird will usually head for shore in the areas I hunt. Unfortunately for me it is usually the far shore. My dogs have recovered many birds that never would have been found without them.


Why get a low profile boat and put a high profile blind on it?
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Re: The worst kind of disappointment In reply to
I have witnessed many a Black and Mallard diving sometimes immediately upon hitting the water, and I have list my share too.

Years ago, before 9/11, at our local State Park Reservoir, you used to be able to drive across the dam with your vehicle. I LIVED to do so, as that's where a kit of birds would hang out. I would almost always drive across it on the way home from hunting.

One time, as I was doing so, I witnessed a pair if guys in a boat, apparently chasing down a crippled Greenhead. From my high angle, I could clearly see the duck swimming just under the surface, with only the tip of its bill breaking the surface just enough to catch a little air. "Snorkeling" as previously described. Even though I could see it, the guys in the boat, no more than 25 yards away, could not from their low angle on the water. I watched the bird eventually beach itself into the rocks, and with my assistance, the boys were able to reduce him to bag.

I also saw a mallard dive and sink himself into the weeds more than once. I am not convinced they are conscientiously committing the ultimate sacrifice, as much as they are just naturally hiding, and eventually just dying from their wounds.

And yes, I really do hate when that happens, but, unfortunately, it is a known part of waterfowling.

Jon

"Each decoy you touch holds memories of, past, present and God Willing, future hunts. The places, birds, men, boats, dogs and days you spent doing what you so dearly love and enjoy"- Vince Pagliaorli
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Re: The worst kind of disappointment In reply to
Bob Reitmeyer wrote:
I feel your pain! If you hunt long enough those things happen. I don?t know if there?s any truth to it, but the guys I learned duck hunting from swore wounded black duck would swim to the bottom and grab something and just stay there. Not sure I believe it, but I?ve had a couple vanish like yours and it definitely doesn?t sit well.


One of the old timers I knew (he was the father-in-law of the guy who started me duck hunting) used to say the same thing about wounded puddle ducks in general. Claimed that sometimes they'd lock on tight and expire while clamped to whatever they'd seized hold of. I think that seizing onto or burrowing into bottom vegetation is probably something that a duck might do when in panicked "survival mode." I also think that depending on how hard they have been hit,puddlers can swim and stay under for far longer than we'd imagine; and as mentioned, their ability to "snorkel" for a brief second and go back down can be frustrating.

Sure makes it difficult to follow the letter of the law (....motor shut down & all progress from ceased) when chasing down a strong, diving cripple in open, deep water on a rough, windy day. Never could figure the logic in that reg.


MLBob

"Art is like an ill-trained Labrador retriever that drags you out into traffic." (Annie Dillard)

....Here's to Joe Wooster, who made me realize that the useful could and should be beautiful; and who firmly believed that decoy carvers were the last free men in America.

https://www.facebook.com/KOOIdecoy?ref=hl

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Re: The worst kind of disappointment In reply to
You can teach you retriever to dive after crippled birds. Simply start with a canvas dummy held partially underwater during a training session. Jazz the dog up by teasing it with the dummy, then pull the dummy sequentially deeper into the water on each effort to retrieve it the dog makes. Over time the dog will gain comfort in immersing its head. The next big step is when they immerse their head's deep enough to allow water in their ears. I have had a couple dogs that wouldn't go deeper, but most will gain a level of comfort to eventually go to full immersion. One of the kids I grew up hunting ducks with had a black lab, Swartz, that would swim out in Lake Michigan and retrieve rocks off the bottom in 7 to ten feet of water.

A BIG chunk of this issue is that ducks have hollow bones with air sacs within them, allowing them to alter their buoyancy to the point that, when crippled, they can remain near completely submerged. If you can, grab your binocs.to scan the water for any small movement of a head and bill breaking the surface. Steve and I lost a redhead two falls ago that was quite memorable given that we were in open water when we motored up. I had the net ready to scoop it when it dove. The surface had near-zero chop, that bird never showed again over the twenty minutes we sat there scanning with our binoculars. We were well-out from any hardstem bulrush beds.

I had a black duck I shot in Lake Michigan dive repeatedly to avoid Dugan several years ago. He
was wearing a neoprene retriever vest, so he looked like a "drunken sailor" wallowing around trying to get deeper on each occasion the bird dove as he approached. The water visibility was easily over 20' that day, so it was quite instructive to watch the two of them underwater in their "pas de deux". He finally nailed the bird by grabbing its wing tip and tossing it in the air to get a better grip when he broke the surface again. I am certain the bird could see him, based on its behavior. He had his eyes open as well under water. Dugan developed a technique where he would use his paws to search the bottom and then dive if anything moved under his touch. He was a pretty efficient cripple retriever, both in the water and on upland birds and waterfowl on dry land.
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Re: The worst kind of disappointment In reply to
I have had a few blk. duck disappearing acts this season myself. Due to large amounts of rain my river swamps I predominantly hunt have remained flooded. In normal years I,m usually dealing with extremely low water and when a cripple makes it into a dryer swamp dog generally finds them. Not this year . Had a beautifully decoying bird just yesterday fold up dead, hit water and went straight under . While lining dog for retrieve and waiting to swat what I assumed was a cripple when it reappeared it popped up stone dead.
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Re: The worst kind of disappointment In reply to
 
They hit the water, and then disappear.

Scan the area very quickly, and you may see the tip of their bill break the surface for air before they dive again.

Get on em as fast as you can. Cuz they can get out of the area, and a helluva long way from the drop zone in a short time.


After you have gone through this a few times, you can spot the bill in almost all kinds of water conditions. Sooner or later the bird will surface.

It becomes a battle of determination between the bird, and you. Whom ever gives up first.


If you gun alone with your dog, it is a challenge.

If you gun with a good partner and a dog, or dogs, each knows the drill and goes in action ASAP.


The ones that you do not retrieve after much effort are the ones you do not forget.

You are correct "The worst kind of disappointment."











"Art does not reproduce what is visible - but makes things visible." ~ Paul Klee, artist, 1920
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Re: The worst kind of disappointment In reply to
Last week hunting a flooded marsh had a pair of blks. come in. Killed the first dead and swung on second and knocked it down at a long 40 yds or so. Seen it start swimming soon as it hit flattened out and covered it up as it was going into flooded woods. Lined dog on it and sent and could here duck quacking as dog chased it thru swamp . Waiting for dog to reamerge with duck but dogs lost it. Cast dog again and as it scent trailing I see duck bill pop up for an instant then dive with dog about 25 yds behind it. See a slight ripple under water coming towards me and about 15 yds away just the top of ducks back. Swat!! and an easy retrieve finally completed. That was the Houdini duck!
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Re: The worst kind of disappointment In reply to
Thanks for all the input guys. I recently switched to only using Hevi shot. I've been using an IC choke but I think I'm going to switch to modified. Birds have been decoying well for the most part but I'd like to get a little tighter pattern to ensure more pellets on the bird. I've been shooting #3 as an all around load. The only issue with this bird was I never really had a chance to finish it off. The bird kept cartwheeling away. By the time it was on the water it had some good distance on me. I would say within 2 seconds of hitting the water it was gone.

It would have also been a really rough retrieve for the dog. The are is thick sedges with tall phragmites. Granted, it was a water landing. However, there are some really deep waters there. The channels in some areas are 25-30' deep. I've had to use all of my 25' decoy leashes. Now that I think about it, who knows where that bird went?

Learned a lot of good things here though:

1) Puddle ducks do dive and boy do they dive well.
2) These are some tough birds
3) Get on those cripples on the water as quick as you can.
4) Duck hunting and disappointment sometimes go hand and hand.

I guess if you didn't have bad days the good days wouldn't seem so good.
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Re: The worst kind of disappointment In reply to
If it was a sure thing, easy, and without any adversity, we wouldn't call it "hunting".

Jon

"Each decoy you touch holds memories of, past, present and God Willing, future hunts. The places, birds, men, boats, dogs and days you spent doing what you so dearly love and enjoy"- Vince Pagliaorli
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Re: The worst kind of disappointment In reply to
Jay K wrote:
Thanks for all the input guys. I recently switched to only using Hevi shot. I've been using an IC choke but I think I'm going to switch to modified. Birds have been decoying well for the most part but I'd like to get a little tighter pattern to ensure more pellets on the bird. I've been shooting #3 as an all around load. The only issue with this bird was I never really had a chance to finish it off. The bird kept cartwheeling away. By the time it was on the water it had some good distance on me. I would say within 2 seconds of hitting the water it was gone.

It would have also been a really rough retrieve for the dog. The are is thick sedges with tall phragmites. Granted, it was a water landing. However, there are some really deep waters there. The channels in some areas are 25-30' deep. I've had to use all of my 25' decoy leashes. Now that I think about it, who knows where that bird went?

Learned a lot of good things here though:

1) Puddle ducks do dive and boy do they dive well.
2) These are some tough birds
3) Get on those cripples on the water as quick as you can.
4) Duck hunting and disappointment sometimes go hand and hand.

I guess if you didn't have bad days the good days wouldn't seem so good.


Think through what transpired and then ask yourself what you would do differently the next time this scenario presents itself.

I would stay with IC shooting Hevi Shot over decoys...a very effective combination since it tends to pattern toward the tight end. IF a bird has its head up after it hits the water or If it rights itself and raises its head-shoot it a second time with your shotgun bead held a little over the top of its actual location, so you don't bury you pattern short of the bird. If a bird falls near vegetation use the dog, even if it means getting out and working the are with the dog. Look for any feathers that may come loose from a bird moving through cover and also watch for bubbles released as a bird moves through vegetation, disturbing plant based gases produced in association with photosynthetic activity. A bird moving through cover will leave plenty of scent for the dog...a good drill to work on with a bird that got hammered enough to become a training bird for the freezer. Leave the dog in its crate or inside the vehicle without sight access to what you are up to. Drag the dead bird on a tether through cover and the leave it. Go get your retriever and work it from heal by sending it and then stopping it with one blast of the whistle and then give it the command to "hunt dead" or "dead bird" since your dogs knows a bird's scent just let them solve the puzzle. I start with one crossing loop and then work up from there. I sometimes loop a dragged scent trail over itself several times to get the dog conditioned to figuring out that it needs to work fresh scent when you are calling "hunt dead"! Heap the praise on when the dog completes the task. Never let it leave the area of the fall unless you are convinced that it is working the downed bird's scent. If you let a dog get conditioned to switching to hunt phase again when it gets bored or confused, you are well-down the wrong path. Remember, you are training the dog, not the converse! They can't reason through a puzzle, but they can think what is the "right" course of action when you telling them to "hunt dead"! The labs I have trained let you know when they are on "good" scent, just watch the cadence of their tail's.

You will be amazed at how well a dog handles heavy cover if it is on a hot bird trail... Good luck!
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Re: The worst kind of disappointment In reply to
That sucks.. I lost one bird to many about 13.4 years ago.. Got a CBR.. Worked with him every day with the help of others.. So cool to shoot a bird and say "back" with little else to do... Now he is 13.8 years old.. On the bed and snoring as I write this... He retired himself at 10.5.. Have only hunted waterfowl 4 or 5 times a year in the last 4 years.. Like today; He cant do what he could and that is OK with me.. One day I will never see him again and want to spend as much time as God will allow.. I love to just hang out with my boy..

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Re: The worst kind of disappointment In reply to
 
John - May God Bless you and your boy with as much time together as possible.



During many years as a waterfowl and upland bird hunter. I have hunted with many good and some great dogs. All had one thing in common. They got to hunt, see, and smell many, many birds.

A Lab my buddy owned worked for years on a game farm. Pepper would run in front of running Pheasants and push them back to us, and on waterfowl she never gave up. It did not matter where we were hunting, she knew the drill.

English Setters and Chessies the same thing, lotta birds made them excellent hunters. Nothing can replace that no matter how one tries.

When I hear "Hunt Dead" it brings back a flood of memories of Good Dogs I hope to see again in The Happy Hunting Ground.











"Art does not reproduce what is visible - but makes things visible." ~ Paul Klee, artist, 1920
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Re: The worst kind of disappointment In reply to
Puddle ducks can be just as bad as divers, depending on the particular bird.

My hunting partner and I once WATCHED a downed wood duck die underwater in stealth mode, clinging to some thick matted weeds 2-3' underwater. We had to reach down with the canoe paddle and poke it free.