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My 5th duck hunt this year

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My 5th duck hunt this year
 



I didn't realize how busy I could be now less than 6 months from being 80! Good grief, but it is challenging which makes it exhilarating and I don't know how else to say it. I watched
half the litter of pups leave our home on Saturday and then on Sunday I saw the last of the chocolates from Jalapeno's litter go to their new homes. For a fleeting second I did think of duck hunting and where I would like to go but that didn't last long.

On Monday of this week I just laid low because I was spent---very tired and needed that down time. Well, now I just remembered that on Monday evening I brought in Cayenne, our other chocolate female who is getting that very big look of a female about to have her pups. My short rest worked wonders and Tuesday was a good day getting things together for my planned Wednesday hunt. I already knew that the pond looked like it was half the size I had remembered from my last hunt. Not only that, when I checked out the Wednesday temps I found out I could be looking at ice on the pond besides. Well, that proved to be correct.

Wednesday I pulled up with Chip at my side in the Mule. To my north I noticed headlights at the side of the chopped corn field maybe only a 1/4 mile away. Way too close for me but I continued to drive to the spot where I would toss in the decoys. I used two black ducks that broke skim ice when they hit. Both of them were only 15 feet from shore because I knew I had to use my decoy retrieving stick to get them back. I then set up my Lucky Duck on dry land looking as if it was coming in towards the two decoys. Once done with that I headed over to the north side where I planned to sit with Chip.

Putting up the blind for him was easy because he was now to my left and totally covered except for his head. It looked good to me. I sat on a folding stool with my butt off the ground no more than a foot but it was just fine because I used Chip's blind to break up my silhouette. I had a couple of wild sunflower stalks to also help me out. Other than that I sat in the wide open like I much prefer to do. I just don't move and was well camo'd including the gaiter black mask that I bought from Costco about two months ago. I was going to use that on occasion when going to town but quickly found out that I could blow out a candle with it on my face. I had heard that was a product to stay away from. I was going to return it to Costco but opted to keep it because it worked so darn well as a duck hunting mask for my face. Heck, I could use the soft quack of a hen mallard like I almost had nothing on my face.

I knew from the get go that there wasn't going to be much happening just because I never heard the whistling of wings let alone see any flights of ducks traversing the Rio Grande corridor. I guess the sun was just about to peek over the eastern horizon when I had a pair of shovelers come in. One plunked down and broke through the ice as the other flew maybe less than 50 feet, made a quick turn and came in towards the one on the pond. When he was about 3 feet above the water I shot. I still don't believe what happened. I ended up killing the bird in the water and watched the one I shot at fly away. I kept following it because Chip decided to follow that bird,also. When he broke up above the level of the pond the duck was nowhere to be seen so he came back and retrieved the one in the pond. I found that whole event very interesting. I never saw another feather anywhere other than hundreds of sandhill cranes heading for the chopped corn field that was just to the north of me. I broke up camp, carried camo burlap and my seat up to the road and then headed for the spot that I had last seen the other spoonbill at. It was about 2 city blocks from the pond.

As we walked over that way, I kept on telling Chip, "Dead Bird" and he began doing what great upland bird dogs normally do in their sleep and that is work back and forth with their nose to the ground. All of a sudden I saw him get a whiff, yes the whiff of a duck and he barreled towards the source of it. In a thick spot of cocklebur plants he grabbed the juvenile spoonbill that was deader than a doornail. Never in my 66 years since shooting my very first duck, have I ever taken a Scotch double like this one. Holy cats! I fired one shell and got two ducks.

We got up on the trail and walked back to the Kawasaki Mule. I had two ducks and it had been a great morning. What made it so special is that I felt so darn good about making sure about that duck that I saw flying away. I never saw it fall but then again, I never saw it fly away. I just had to go investigate the area. Once again it paid off. I think I have told you more than once, I really hate losing ducks. I was darn proud of Chip and everything added up, making this a fantastic hunt. Oh, by the way, our last rain was at the end of July.
Al
































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Re: My 5th duck hunt this year In reply to
Al,
Thanks for sharing. I too had a rare (for me) Scotch double on a pair of Greenwing just the other day.
Good for you and your dog on tracking down that bird. I don't have a retriever right now and your story reinforces why I need one.
Again, enjoyed the read.

Take care, Huntindave McCann Smile SHELL ROCK IA. ,,,,,, "As sailors grow older, the wiser ones move to smaller boats." Thomas Firth Jones, Multihull Voyaging
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Re: My 5th duck hunt this year In reply to
great story!


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: My 5th duck hunt this year In reply to
Al,
Your stories and pictures never disappoint, I look forward to the day when I have time to train a dog and use by my side.
Looks like you had a job to do after Chip went through those cockleburs and got on him.




Benjamin Pendleton
Northeast N.C.
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Re: My 5th duck hunt this year In reply to
Thanks for the comments, Dave. If and only if you have the time, I would love to hear about that Scotch double on the GWT. I wish you continued success with your duck hunt this year.

Some day I hope you find that one dog out in this world that will help make each hunt that much more exciting for you. Each of us who hunt with dogs, know full well, those little signals/idiosyncrasies, that our blind companions give us for a "heads up---incoming!" Geez, if they only could talk. Well, now that makes me think of Belize one of our yellow females who does that to get my attention. Anyway, my first dog, Chili was always on full alert when hunting. What gave me the signal that incoming was going to be apparent was when she would slowly begin to wag her tail. All I had to do is follow her gaze and her radar equipment was first class military grade because she was always on!
Al
Dave, my first hunt was the first day of early teal season back on Sept 12th. Then I brought in Jalapeno, one of our two chocolate females who was about to give birth. My second hunt of the season was Sept. 20th, which was the last day of the teal season. Oh, by the way, on both days, Chip and I went home with a limit of teal. On that second hunt, the only reason I felt comfortable enough to leave the pups with Jalapeno was the fact that they had attained a certain age (# of days) and didn't worry about the chance of maybe one of them being suffocated by a tired mom. Thanks to my dear wife who helped me get going on that day must be noted.

Guess what? Here is a picture of Cayenne. I brought her into our home on Monday evening the 9th of Nov. She is getting that look of being bigger than a house. Daja vu---
I can tell you that with Covid 19 spreading like weeds do here when it rains, we have customers who have been on the list for a year just waiting for this moment of birth to become a reality. These pups don't know it but they will have many reasons for the comfort and love that they will be involved in. I took this shot of Caya 3 days ago.



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Re: My 5th duck hunt this year In reply to
Hey, Carl---good to hear from a Floridian. I hope you are still coping out the areas and getting some good ideas of where you might want to go duck hunting. Best of luck to you.
Al
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Re: My 5th duck hunt this year In reply to
Good morning, Ben. My gosh, I can't begin to tell you how much fun it was to think back on that day that you drove here from Roswell to see us. We sure enjoyed that time with you.
If you remember where I took you in the Mule when we drove down to the Rio Grande, then you will know where I am heading in the next couple of days. Of course that all depends on Cayenne. If she has her pups then I will just have to wait until I can go again.

As for the cockleburs, Chip can normally shake most of them off but I do help him out and make sure that I got them all. I took three closeups of him when he was coming straight at me. The first one shows a cocklebur stuck to the end of the spoonbill's beak. The second shot show how it got attached to Chip's head. It also shows you that he had to blink with his right eye because the duck's head whacked him while he was running to get to me. The third shot shows cockleburs still falling off or still clinging onto the duck. Total time lapse between the three shots was about 1/3rd of a second.

Here is hoping that you, your wife and sons are doing well.
Al














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Re: My 5th duck hunt this year In reply to
That's awesome, Al. thanks for sharing and best wishes.
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Re: My 5th duck hunt this year In reply to
I appreciated those comments, Joe. Thank you

Yesterday we drove to Albuquerque to do some shopping. It is only 85 miles away. Anyway, when we were coming home and driving across the Rio Grande just south of ABQ, the river on the north side of the bridge was loaded with mallards. My did that get me going! Then when we got back to Socorro, we stopped at the grocery store to get some milk. As I was walking back the car, I could hear light geese. Right above me were three flocks hopefully heading for Bosque del Apache NWR.

Tomorrow morning I will hunt the river. That should be fun. It will be interesting what I see.
Al
Thank goodness it snowed in southern Colorado. With some of it melting the Rio Grande began flowing again.

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Re: My 5th duck hunt this year In reply to
I've been completely out of touch at our camp on a week of duck hunting in SE Louisiana Gulf marsh. I love reading about your hunts Mr. Al! Congrats on the Scotch double!
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Re: My 5th duck hunt this year In reply to
Thank you, Paul, for what you had to say. Now that you just happened to tell us what you are doing and where this taking place, I for one, would love to find out how the hunts went. That is a hint.
Al

On Oct. 10th I took Sonora to the Rio Grande to have some fun. This marked the first time we had some water in the Rio Grande in the Socorro area. The only reason it was there is that the state stopped all agriculture type irrigation for the rest of the year. There happened to be 21 days left of the typical cycle they have used for years. This water, by the way, ended up going underground about two miles south of where I was. That meant the area where I hunt on a private ranch, has yet to get any water. That is only about 5 miles from where the water ended.

I can tell you that there is now water flowing in the Rio Grande because of the snow that has melted in CO.