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The Bovines of the Waterfowl World

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The Bovines of the Waterfowl World
Two days ago we drove down to see some friends who live not but a half mile from Bosque del Apache NWR. Jose' was telling me that the widgeons had moved into the pond and every day were going out to the surrounding fields of winter wheat that his brother had planted.

That quickly reminded me of a hunt I had at this pond back in 2014 for the opener of the early teal season in September. Edward had called me and asked, "Is the duck season on yet?" I told him it was going to start in less than a week. He then mentioned to me that I should come down there to hunt because there had to be at least a hundred teal in the pond. So I made plans to hit that pond on the opener. I knew right where Chip and I would be sitting and I brought along 3 teal decoys.

When Chip and I pussy footed it in to the pond I could hear the hens talking and there was a lot of activity going on. So as hard as I knew it would be for Chip, when season opened we watched every single bluewing and greenwing teal fly out of that pond heading for other spots to feed. From what I could see when the birds left, was that there must have been close to 400 of them. Well they started to come back in small groups and quite methodically I ended up with my limit of 6 bluewing/cinnamons. Chip had a great workout.

So now I found myself back in familiar territory, minus Chip, but now carrying my Canon with my 100-400 lens. I have to admit that my all time favorite duck to shoot is the widgeon. They are a very interesting duck and fun to watch.

Bev and I showed up around 3:00PM and right away we were entertained by about a 1,000 baldpates that had a great place to rest (the pond) and fields of winter wheat surrounding the pond. Nope they didn't have to fly very far to get a good meal.

This flock was heading back to the pond.










They would go get some drinks, rest for a bit, and then in small groups head back out to eat some more.

As you can see they were flying on the deck because we had a good wind coming out of the west at about 20mph. The ducks took advantage of the terrain.









Check out this group of widgeons. In the leading bunch of 6 birds, look at the hen on the bottom of the group and then try and guess how close she is to the ground. I'm betting that her wingtips had to be brushing terra firma.
I was shooting at 1/3200ths of a second.









Then back to the pond for more drinks and some relaxation.
Al








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Re: The Bovines of the Waterfowl World In reply to
Great shots, Al. I'll bet you and Bev had a ball watching and listening to the birds.
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Re: The Bovines of the Waterfowl World In reply to
Good morning, Al~


Wonderful photos! And, that's more Wigeon than I have ever seen in one spot.


All the best,


SJS

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


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Re: The Bovines of the Waterfowl World In reply to
Close but not quite. Bev was sitting outside with with her friend who were both sipping on Margaritas. Jose' was getting some corn to feed the sandhill cranes and what ever else seems to come in. I was busy still taking pictures.
Al

Western grackle



Gambel's quail



Western meadowlark



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Re: The Bovines of the Waterfowl World In reply to
I can hear the whistles from here Al. Long ago in the Imperial Valley wigeon did serious damage to the spinach and lettuce crops. They love that green food, be it lettuce, grass, sago or winter wheat.
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Re: The Bovines of the Waterfowl World In reply to
Thank you, Steve. A few years ago, like 10 or 12 maybe, Darren and I were hunting the Rio Grande when we had a flock estimated to be 700 widgeons come into our decoys. On that morning we shot 11 widgeons and 1 mallard. I have seen huge flocks in the alfalfa fields around here. However, I must say that the following year I might not see any. Once again it just reminds me of what it is like to hunt ducks in the desert!
Al

Here are some more pictures when we were visiting our friends. This time after Jose' yelled out to the sandhill cranes that it was nearing supper time. He was casting corn and they were beginning to fly to him. The car in the picture is our white Prius.

That reminds me of a young guy who I thought might only be around 40 asked me one day if it was true that I was a "tree hugger" because I was driving a Prius. I told him that I guess he must have been right because one time I did hug a tree in Kodiak, Alaska. I then told him about shooting an Alaskan Brown bear and when it dashed into the alders after my 2nd shot, I climbed up the tree and stayed there for close to 30 minutes. I remember having enough time to smoke my pipe. It was then that I asked the young guy if that story would qualify me as a tree hugger and he said, "No, I don't think so." Some times it is hard to try and figure young folks out.





I would not want to be that sandhill crane in the middle. You know, Steve, about a month ago I realized by making a mistake and clicking on a picture, that by doing that I could make it larger. I never knew that.













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Re: The Bovines of the Waterfowl World In reply to
Brad, thanks for telling me about that. I can just see them in a Popeye patch. I'll bet they loved it. Brad, do the farmers in this area use exploding devices to try and chase them off the fields? Does the gov't still compensate those farmers who sustain damage to their crops from migratory birds?
Al

These shots I took of widgeons on 2-25-18. This was at one of my places to hunt a low flow ditch.







On this second picture, 11/100ths of a second elapsed between the two pictures. I also cropped the second picture.



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Re: The Bovines of the Waterfowl World In reply to
Al, I don't think the Federal government has paid for crop damage by waterfowl in 50 years. Or at least not in most of the country. They used to get excess grain to spread to attract birds away from vulnerable fields but that has to be 30 years old now.
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Re: The Bovines of the Waterfowl World In reply to
As Steve said, "more wigeon than I have ever seen in one place."

And almost more ducks than I saw all season!

Thank you Al!
Larry
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Re: The Bovines of the Waterfowl World In reply to
Thank you, Larry. I just looked up my season from this past year and I consider myself lucky. Lucky because I hunted 7 days in October and the first half of November. I shot 18 ducks, which meant that Chip was working and that makes him happy. I did hunt from 10:30AM to 1:30PM on two days in January without seeing a duck. So all in all it was a darn good season.
Al

Chip bringing back a Mexican drake.







Chip with a good looking drake wood duck.


This is called a reality check, Larry. It rained hard last night and early this morning with thunder and lightning. Then about daylight and with the temps dropping from 45F to 25F itt began to snow.

So for fun I let Sunny and her mom, Belize out into the courtyard to see what they would do.












Last edited by:

Al Hansen: Feb 11, 2020, 11:13 PM
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Re: The Bovines of the Waterfowl World In reply to
Al,


Beautiful pictures! Widgeons are certainly high on my list as well. They are beautiful in full winter plumage, they taste great, and they usually decoy really well so they have a lot going for him.

In Saskatchewan this year we had gobs of widgeon very late. Typically I see most widget move out early October along with the pintails. this year however we killed them all the way until the end of October unt freeze up.

This was on my second personal hunt of the year between clients with a new choke I was trying out. Obviously I needed to keep swinging into the head and not stop on the body. There wasn't much to salvage on this one. Too bad because it was a prime Drake.


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Re: The Bovines of the Waterfowl World In reply to
The only place I ever saw that many Widgeon was at Deal Island, WMA . That's years ago. They were there in the thousands. Now its only hundreds. Thanks for posting the photos.
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Re: The Bovines of the Waterfowl World In reply to
Fritz Meck wrote:
The only place I ever saw that many Widgeon was at Deal Island, WMA . That's years ago. They were there in the thousands. Now its only hundreds. Thanks for posting the photos.

Funny you mentioned Deal Isl. Impound. Just got off phone this morning with a young friend that told me about his waterfowl season and killing an Eurasian Widgeon in the impound. Body booting of all things. Seems that's the newest way to hunt in there. 300 decoys deployed with an electric motor powered boat as no gas engines are allowed.
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Re: The Bovines of the Waterfowl World In reply to
Thank you, Kyle. You sure live in a very nice part of North America. Then to be able to wander into Canada every fall. That would be a dream for me. I wish you well on your new job.
Al
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Re: The Bovines of the Waterfowl World In reply to
Hi Fritz,
I am glad you liked those shots. You touched on something that I think about, also. I count myself lucky in some of the things I have witnessed when hunting/fishing/camping over the years. I remember seeing my first pair of wood ducks back on the Minnesota River and most people back then in the 50s thought I was pretty lucky to have seen them. Now to be witnessing strong numbers of wood ducks and knowing how man has helped in making those numbers higher, really has to make a duck hunter/birder happy.
Al
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Re: The Bovines of the Waterfowl World In reply to
Roy, I for one, hope you will explain to me what body booting is.

Here are some pictures of widgeons taken not to far from the 12th green at the New Mexico Tech Country Club.
Al







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Re: The Bovines of the Waterfowl World In reply to
Al Hansen wrote:

[/quote]Roy, I for one, hope you will explain to me what body booting is.

Here are some pictures of widgeons taken not to far from the 12th green at the New Mexico Tech Country Club.
Al

Body booting was made famous on the Susqueana Flats of upper Chesapeake Bay. Basically your standing in the water surrounded by decoys. They use large silo,s mounted on stakes driven into bottom to stand behind. Generally these are oversize Canada Geese cutouts made to pivot so you can keep them between you and approaching birds. Technique is employed over expanses of open water where birds usually either feed or raft up at. Needless to say it requires the right depth of water and a reasonably hard bottom to be able to accomplish. I think water depth in deal Impound allows setting on marsh seat behind silo. On the flats hunters & decoys are motored out by a tender boat that stands by at a distance to switch out hunters or make retrieves.[/quote]
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Re: The Bovines of the Waterfowl World In reply to
roy brewington wrote:
Al Hansen wrote:



Roy, I for one, hope you will explain to me what body booting is.

Here are some pictures of widgeons taken not to far from the 12th green at the New Mexico Tech Country Club.
Al

Body booting was made famous on the Susqueana Flats of upper Chesapeake Bay. Basically your standing in the water surrounded by decoys. They use large silo,s mounted on stakes driven into bottom to stand behind. Generally these are oversize Canada Geese cutouts made to pivot so you can keep them between you and approaching birds. Technique is employed over expanses of open water where birds usually either feed or raft up at. Needless to say it requires the right depth of water and a reasonably hard bottom to be able to accomplish. I think water depth in deal Impound allows setting on marsh seat behind silo. On the flats hunters & decoys are motored out by a tender boat that stands by at a distance to switch out hunters or make retrieves. Morning Roy, That's a good description of booting. I body baited when I was lot younger, its cold , wet and ahell of a lot of fun. To see birds by the hundreds come in feet over your head is amazing. Its still done on The Flats but I am way to old for that now.[/quote][/quote]
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Re: The Bovines of the Waterfowl World In reply to
Al, type body booting the flats into google and you'll get a number of links to youtube videos and articles about standing waist deep in cold Chesapeake waters waiting for the birds to decoy. Lots of videos and pictures too.
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Re: The Bovines of the Waterfowl World In reply to
Roy, I sure appreciated the explanation you gave. Thanks.
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Re: The Bovines of the Waterfowl World In reply to
Thanks for your explanation, also, Fritz. Those hunters are much tougher than I think I could have ever been.
Al
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Re: The Bovines of the Waterfowl World In reply to
Brad, I can tell you that what you said, would have never entered my mind. Thanks so much for suggesting that to me. Reminds me of a hunt I went on this past season when I forgot my camera. It wasn't until I got home that I thought of the camera in my phone. Just slow that is all.
Al

This is a picture of 13 week old Sunny. Of course she is not spoiled!

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Re: The Bovines of the Waterfowl World In reply to
Al Hansen wrote:
Brad, I can tell you that what you said, would have never entered my mind. Thanks so much for suggesting that to me. Reminds me of a hunt I went on this past season when I forgot my camera. It wasn't until I got home that I thought of the camera in my phone. Just slow that is all.
Al

This is a picture of 13 week old Sunny. Of course she is not spoiled!


Hope I wasn't being too obvious, but I couldn't figure out how to link the pictures I saw online.Laugh