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Two Victories on Opening Day

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Two Victories on Opening Day
Two Victories on Opening Day

This was my first year celebrating Opening Day in North Carolina. I was here last year, but as a new resident had not yet solved the "where" of hunting. I was excited about this season as I purchased this summer a 23-year-old 16' Lund Laker to facilitate my sport.

Opening Day was on Wednesday. On Monday I ferried my Old Town 119 in the Lund to a marsh that held potential.





With the canoe I paddled for an hour in search of The Spot, testing mud (too deep!), finally finding the place I would set up.

I am 66 years old. I have been hunting ducks on and off since I was 15. As a pastor in Michigan and South Carolina, I did not hunt most opening mornings, which inevitably took place on Saturday. Most of the time I had work to do or final preparations to make for Sunday. So it was a treat now in retirement, to get ready for Opening Day. I was awake two hours before the alarm went off. How lovely to still be a kid about some things!

I can't remember the last time I drove a boat through dark-dark. My Garmin Striker Plus tracking feature provided a safe passage around stump fields and islands. Cool to see where you can't. I got "there" 90 minutes before shooting time.

Quiet. Still. Stars. No one else. Just you. The shadow of trees. For some reason even the mosquitoes left me alone.

Shooting time. Quiet still. Except for shooting all around me. Then They came. Periodically for the next two hours, singles or small groups of woodies came into ?my? pothole. I missed some, but ended with three lovely drakes. Oh, what a morning!

Victory #1.


A pic of the first two birds:





But that wasn't the only victory or the full story of the morning. About 30 minutes prior to shooting time there was a light in the darkness coming my way. Crap! Where did they come from? I heard no boat! But here they are. Two guys walking in on my spot.

I yelled and shined my light. I heard a shocked exclamation. I could tell they were talking to each other.

"We'll set up down here," they said to me.

"There's not enough room in this hole for more than one gun," I responded. They stood there for a moment and then began to walk away admitting by their action that I was right and was also there first.

As they walked away, I thought about the situation. These guys did not fight my point that the hole was not large enough for both parties. Some guys would have stood their ground and challenged me with typical opening day behavior. I decided to gamble that they were decent guys and not idiots masquerading as duck hunters.

"Hey!" I yelled. "How about we hunt together so no one loses?"

Immediate response: "That would be great!" So I met Max and Scott and their Lab Josey. Seniors like me, one of them lived nearby, thus explaining the arrival without a boat. Their company was pleasant and their appreciation for inviting them to hunt with me, obvious. Regular guys both of them, one with extensive hunting experience, the other not so much. "I"m happy to be out here enjoying a pretty spot and a beautiful morning," Max said later.

When the birds stopped flying we agreed together to pick up. They had missed their opportunities but showed no regrets. We talked about hunting and the intense pressure on available spots in the Piedmont of North Carolina. We spoke of the rancor in our country and how few people listen to each other or work together for the common good, putting aside their own interests.

My new "friends" could have become belligerent and stayed, crowding the spot. I could have insisted that they leave. Instead, we worked it out together. We agreed the day had been a kind of victory for us all.


Victory #2!

We did the "covid hand shake" and walked away, satisfied men all three.

Last edited by:

Larry Eckart: Oct 11, 2020, 4:11 PM
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Re: Two Victories on Opening Day In reply to
Outstanding hunt and gesture letting those fella's hunt with you!!!
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Re: Two Victories on Opening Day In reply to
Nice job Larry. I spent many an opener on those piedmont lakes and had a few similar encounters like you did. Also had a few shouting matches which were much less fun and productive.

Good luck the rest of the season.


Ed
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Re: Two Victories on Opening Day In reply to
You practice what you preach. Doers of the word. James 2
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Re: Two Victories on Opening Day In reply to
Larry

With age comes wisdom. More people need your attitude. Thank you for being a sportsman and a gentleman.

Eric
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Re: Two Victories on Opening Day In reply to
Eric Patterson wrote:
Larry

With age comes wisdom. More people need your attitude. Thank you for being a sportsman and a gentleman.

Eric


I'll second that sentiment, Larry! Good luck with your season!
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Re: Two Victories on Opening Day In reply to
Good morning, Larry~


Great tale - as always! I am glad you enjoyed a fine morning but really loved the example you set.


All the best,


SJS

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


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Re: Two Victories on Opening Day In reply to
Nicely Played Larry,
one for the note book on how to handle a crowd. And a great start to your new grounds. Enjoy the season with the new boat. I hope it brings you many fine hunts.
Bob
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Re: Two Victories on Opening Day In reply to
Great opening season Larry, need more people like you, Max and Scott. Hope the Carolina seasons continue to yield good hunts and friends.

Did you happen to apply for a swan permit?




Benjamin Pendleton
Northeast N.C.
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Re: Two Victories on Opening Day In reply to
No I did not apply for a swan permit Ben. I did apply for a Turkey permit on Jordan Game Land. Those seem to be as hard to get as a banded Canvasback.

Hope you are well, brother,
Larry
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Re: Two Victories on Opening Day In reply to
Well CONGRATULATIONS on the first opening day hunt!!!

Do you just leave the Lund in the marsh while you paddle a long way off from it? Does that not bother you? We used to hide the big boats in the brush but they were never so far away that we couldn't keep an eye on them.

Those are some beautiful woodducks....very nice way to start the duck season. What species do you see where you are now in NC for the most part?

Good luck through the rest of your duck season.
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Re: Two Victories on Opening Day In reply to
Larry,
If you ever apply for one and are selected then there are plenty of places to hunt them over here in the field or on water. I was able to get one this year and will be my second time having one.
Good luck on the turkey permit.




Benjamin Pendleton
Northeast N.C.
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Re: Two Victories on Opening Day In reply to
Dani,
Regarding your questions.

1) They would have to tow the boat away. My motor has a key which I take with me. And the motor is locked on the boat at all times. I am not so far that I couldn't hear a boat come forth. Nevertheless, I suppose it would be possible for low life duck hunters to make away with my Lund baby. I think even Jesus might help me find the scoundrels in that case, seeings how he was also partial to boats!

2) Here in the Piedmont mostly woodies with some locally produced mallards at this time. During the migration some ringnecks that stop here before going down your way. Closer to the coast and the OBX, there are divers and pintails and a mixture of the regular suspects.

I hope you are well. And I don't want to hear about any close encounters with gators from you this season, sister!

Larry
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Re: Two Victories on Opening Day In reply to
Larry, congrats--nice birds you got there--and an even nicer story about being a true sportsman. Seems like you are off to a good start in NC.

I lived near Raleigh for around 20 years, hunted deer more than ducks during those years. A good buddy took many bluebills before work on a regular basis at Harris Lake before SAV was eradicated from the lake. I never killed a wood duck near Wake County (only mallard) although from my deer treestands I often watched many wood ducks feeding on small acorns in seasonal ponds on Gamelands. Later 5+ years living in Coastal NC I found a lot more variety of waterfowl species and better hunting with less pressure. Moved to VA past April for family reasons but now have an excuse (and a duck hunting son/partner) to hunt both states! I hunted my favorite NC public wood duck hole past Saturday and I (almost) wished another party would have been there to keep the birds moving! Bonus is the mosquitos weren't too bad, and I saw no cottonmouths or alligators. Maybe the other guys who usually hunt there know something I don't lol.

Being a retiree sure helps hunting the days/locations that "working guys" can't. If you keep scouting in no time at all you'll have a dozen or more good spots to hunt.

Dave
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Re: Two Victories on Opening Day In reply to
Larry, that was truly a man's take on not only duck hunting but life. Thanks for sharing that with us.
Al
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Re: Two Victories on Opening Day In reply to
Well done.........