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Finally "it" has appeared.

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Finally "it" has appeared.
Three days ago, I drove out to the ranch that I have hunted ever since 2007/2008. The day the rancher and his son drove to our home was Saturday following Thanksgiving. He had a broad smile as he looked at me with an outstretched hand holding a key. "Al, here is the key to our locked gate. Have fun duck hunting." Well, back then I was having fun because there was still an abundance of smart weed and most of us know how much ducks like feeding on that food source. The rest of that season I kept an accurate account of when and where I was when I set up at the ranch to hunt. I do remember that I shot 188 ducks there. It was like reading about duck hunting stories that took place in Canada. But here it was happening to me almost on a daily basis save for Saturday and Sunday in the high desert country of New Mexico.

Well, now to get real because the times have been changing. As of Wednesday I took pictures of what it looked like where I was going to set up my blind. The pancaking of mostly a high content of soil and silt was everywhere. Some of the cracks in it were at least 4 to 5 inches wide and up to almost a foot deep. I had Belize with me and she had a great deal of difficulty trying to get around on it. The evidence of the dry and very parched landscape was all over the place. One thing that I noticed was how quickly the grassy areas that had been all over the area had been wiped out by the suffocating ability that large deposits of silt had on it. It will take some time for it to disappear and for the grass to come back.


I had been clearing the area of debris left by flooding this summer due to extreme rains that came during out monsoon season. The Rio Grande did flood and go over its banks in this spot and of course the drainage ditch that I hunt helped but not enough. The rancher had water back up from the river to his house which is over 1/2 mile away. However July and the beginning of August seemed to be distant memories only and we haven't had one drop of precip since.

I decided to stop for the day and drove back to the ranch house. Once there I decided to run down to an area on the drainage ditch that was easy for me to get to and it happened to be north of the spot where my honey hole blind will be. I drove on the established trail there and when I pulled up to the spot where I have hunted before I couldn't believe my eyes. I saw "it", yes, there was water in the drainage ditch. It had slowly filled up by seeping through the soil from the Rio Grande to this spot which is approximately a touch less than a quarter of a mile away. Wow, this was a mind changer that was wonderful to see!

On my way home I began thinking about all the hunts I have been on and I realized something that seemed so unusual. This was the first time while hunting ducks in New Mexico that I did not pull the trigger in November. I tried three hunts on the Rio Grande but in those three hunts I only saw one duck.

Why would ducks want to fly south when it is in the 70'sF in Montana? These weather patterns that are new to most of us will probably continue on. I still think of the meteorologist who said, "Those of you living in the southwestern part of the United States should start getting used to having a summer that lasts for 6 months." I thought about that again today as I walked about our property that we own. I observed our grapevines sending out new leaves. The ocotillo that we planted back in 1998, started to grow new leaves. I have never seen that before. Bev planted two perennials on either side of the front door to our Puppy House. Both of them just started flowering again last week.

Today while I worked on my blind at the ranch, I had wished that I would have worn a short sleeve shirt. It sure seemed warm to me. Now for the best news ever. When I got to the ranch, Tele looked at me and said, "I think you are going to like what you see when you get down to your spot. "Are you telling me that the water is there now?" He smiled and nodded his head. I did blurt out this, "Hot diggity damn!"

This is what it looked like on Friday, 12-3-21, where I am building my blind for the honey hole that usually is there normally by the beginning of November. You will see some T posts and that is where my blind will be again this year.







As you can see, Belize had a bugger of a time trying to walk out on this pancaked area. This is what a highly concentrated solution of water and silt looks like when it dries out.







When I finally decided to call it a day just because it was so warm on Friday, I made the decision to go back to the ranch so that I could take another trail to the drainage ditch that would take me exactly one mile north of where my blind will be. I can't even begin to tell you of how wonderful it felt to finally see that things were once again beginning to look like a place that ducks like to be at.. This happens to be the widest spot in the entire area other than where my blind is.

I save this spot for windy days because I do know that the ducks like being here. I usually see woodies, gadwall and mallards.







Here is what it looked like today, Saturday 12-4-21 when I arrived at my honey hole. Yes, I did have one of those mile wide smiles. It couldn't be helped!
I sure had a good time working on my blind. I'm planning on being there on Tuesday morning. I most likely will be a bit early but that is all right. I'll be out duck hunting right where I want to be.




I will add some dead branches and cut a few salt cedar branches that still have some leaves on them. I have the ability to shoot southeast, south and west. Most ducks will fly just west of me because they like following the channel north. I can also see any ducks flying out of the refuge using the Rio Grande corridor. They can definitely see this pond and hear my call if I need to try and get their attentijon. I much prefer that single or threesome that might come in to loaf the day away.
Way over on the left side you will see the silver leaves of the Russian olive trees. There is one that is right on the channel with the branches hanging out and over it. They will drop the nuts that the wood ducks dearly love to eat.
I'm betting that if I were to go down to this spot where I took this last picture, that I would be standing in water. It was only 50 feet to the fence line. Yes, this is the spot where I shoot my favorite shell, which is a 2 3/4" 7 shot steel Dove load. The other two shells are one 6 shot followed by a 4 shot. Back in front of the fence line my farthest shot which is about 45 yards. The vast majority of my shots are between 20 and 25 yards. Why, because that is what I am comfortable when shooting. If the duck or ducks don't present a good shot for me, I will usually let them make another circle to come back in. If they fly away, that is not a big deal. I can wait. Who knows, they might come back if they weren't spooked. It sure is going to be fun to have Chip in the blind with me when we get there on Tuesday AM.



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Re: Finally "it" has appeared. In reply to
Cool,,,,, Good luck
Only 2 more days left of duck season in my local hunting zone. I could travel further south within my state and pick up more days.

Take care, Huntindave McCann Smile SHELL ROCK IA. ,,,,,, "As sailors grow older, the wiser ones move to smaller boats." Thomas Firth Jones, Multihull Voyaging

Last edited by:

Huntindave McCann: Dec 5, 2021, 4:35 AM
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Re: Finally "it" has appeared. In reply to
Great improvement to your honey hole. Keep a sharp eye out for thirsty rattlers.
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Re: Finally "it" has appeared. In reply to
Well, Dave, tomorrow morning, Tuesday, I will be sitting in my duck blind with Chip by my side. This is an event that I have been looking forward to since the opener of our regular duck season which was back on October 28th. I'm all packed and ready. I'll let you know how it went.
Al


Bev and I had a nice time at Bosque del Apache NWR on Sunday.




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Re: Finally "it" has appeared. In reply to
Hey, Roy, this ranch has their fair share of snakes however, I can breathe a bit easier because it will only be in the 50's on Tuesday. The excitement is building. Hopefully there will be some significant snow storms up north to help drive down the ducks.
Al




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Re: Finally "it" has appeared. In reply to
Glad you've got some water in your spot!
Do you think it will get much higher or is this about normal leve?


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: Finally "it" has appeared. In reply to
Al, that picture of Belize in the cracked soil is kinda mind boggling to me and a bit sobering. So much of her lower leg is in that crack....is it normal for the cracks to be so deep or do you guys need water so badly that that is the new norm?

Good luck tomorrow. I hope you get lots and lots of ducks to visit!!!!
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Re: Finally "it" has appeared. In reply to
Yum,sandhill crane.
george@runamuckdecoys.com
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Re: Finally "it" has appeared. In reply to
george w wrote:
Yum,sandhill crane.



I hear thee... Smile











"Art does not reproduce what is visible - but makes things visible." ~ Paul Klee, artist, 1920
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Re: Finally "it" has appeared. In reply to
Carl, it will get maybe another 8 to10 inches before it runs out to the south of the ranch. There is normally a fairly good current so to not let it ice up when it gets colder. That,too, attracts the ducks.
Al

I got about a half mile from the house this morning, heading for my honey hole, when I noticed that it seemed pretty dark behind myt truck. Well, it was. I had not tail lights on the truck or the trailer. I made a quick turn around on the highway, and got home. Glad we don't have much traffic at that time of the morning.

Ireplaced blown fuse and will go out tomorrow morning.
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Re: Finally "it" has appeared. In reply to
I fully understand your concern. We got out of there right away. With the water now flooding the area, it will break it down so I won't have to worry about dogs.

About 15 years ago we had some Chinese scientists here studying the Rio Grande. They were interested in the amounts of silt and what happened to the soil when it flooded the land where the farmers are. I think it was the Yellow River in China that is much like the Rio Grande.
Allan

Tomorrow morning will be my first time. I was telling Carl about my truck problem.
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Re: Finally "it" has appeared. In reply to
George, my friend calls them Flying Ribeyes! Here is a picture of his son who shot a banded one two years ago. I had this young man in my 4th grade classroom 20 years ago. I think that is his 20 guage but not sure about that. He got his three that morning maybe just two miles from where we live.
Allan

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Re: Finally "it" has appeared. In reply to
Al, it is snowing pretty steady acrossthe northern tier of US. Hopeully this hs pushed some bird south to you by now.

Some of yourlesser sandhil cranes originate in soviet Siberia crossing via the Bering Straits. The USFWS was supposed to be conducting studies of annual immigration into the US in an effort to determine accurate estimates since these impact the harvest estimates that will maintain a viable or silghtly growing.
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Re: Finally "it" has appeared. In reply to
Rick, it was good to hear from you. I am hoping that snow up there did exactly what you said. Since I didn't get to hunt today because of some light or should I say the lack of light on the back side of my truck, my first day at the honey hole will be in about 6 1/2 hours when I arrive at the blind. My coffee pot is ready to perk when I get up at 4:30 tomorrow morning. I have some decoys to set out and coffee to sip on while I wait for shooting hours to begin.exaclty at 6:31AM. I can tell you that is pretty exciting when you have a small flock of big ducks making a couple of circles and while checking the darn phone for the time, sometimes you can smile when you know that it is 6:31AM and if the ducks pulled away a minute before so be it. Who knows they just might come back. What the heck, one of the best things I can do is listen to Chip especially when you hear the whistling of wings when it is dark. I'm always willing to give him a penny for his thoughts about then.

Thanks for telling me about the lesser sandhills that are hatched in Siberia. I think that there are some snow geese that also do that but have no idea where they migrate to in the fall and winter months. As for the ducks, we sure do know that a lot of pintails spend time on the western shores of the Bering Sea and Pacific Ocean. I have often wondered what duck hunting must be like on the Kamchatka Peninsula. I remember checking out the brown bear population there, also. Oh, well, it was fun to think about. I did take a picture, which I lost, of a bar-headed goose at Bosque del Apache NWR. That guy must have really got blown off course. The biologists at the refuge had my picture that I took there and surmised that most likely it escaped someone's collection who lived in North America BUT there was an outside chance----
Allan

The Taj Mahal is about done. Just a few minor things to do tomorrow. I need to carry my chair, coffee and camera on my first load when I arrive. I already have a great spot to hang the camera. There is a dead larger type branch that is much to light and shiny. I already have a can of flat brown paint for that. Time to hit the sack.





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Re: Finally "it" has appeared. In reply to
When I read through the Sandhill populations status, the one thing that jumped-out was the uncertainty around the impact of annual harvest on population growth, largely because both the size and annual scope of these immigrant lessers largely remains unknown, as well as having good population data from thier breeding area.

A friend is a anesthesiologist in Anchorage with a sattelite clinic in Homer-oddly, he just happens to have a fishing lodge and flottilla down there, in what he refers to as "real Alaska". They hunted that area about five years ago and did well on a variety of birds.

Your restraint on the opener shooting time made me smile. Steve and I used to hunt Munuscong for the opener until the "Sitka Crowd" just became too much. Even with binocs, we seldom could find the birds that elicited all that shooting, never initiated at opening time listed in the regulations....anywhere from fifteen to five minutes early every time.
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Re: Finally "it" has appeared. In reply to
RLLigman wrote:


Your restraint on the opener shooting time made me smile. Steve and I used to hunt Munuscong for the opener until the "Sitka Crowd" just became too much.


That's funny! "The Sitka crowd"

Good luck Al





Oxford, CT
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Re: Finally "it" has appeared. In reply to
Al, makes me smile seeing those places filled with water and of the great memories of you showing me around. Hope to still make it back again.

Do suspect any cinnamon or blue wings are still present in the area? How would their plumage be right now?



Teach someone to love something, and they will protect it. -Will Primos
Benjamin Pendleton
Northeast N.C.
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Re: Finally "it" has appeared. In reply to
The only thing I can relate to the Sitka crowd, Rick, are the folks from Sitka, AK. Like Mike said, could you explain that please---
Al
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Re: Finally "it" has appeared. In reply to
Thanks Mike. I spent 4 1/2 hours at the spot today, Friday, 12-10-21 and never saw a duck. We had some decent winds blowing out of the northwest and my decoys were moving about nicely. So, I guess my next hunt will be Wednesday morning. The pond is as full as it will get now. The deepest spot would be about 15". I am not figuring out how deep the mud is, though. At my age, I will walk to the south end and have that barb wire fence to help me along.Now all I have to do is remember my walking stick.

Check out the leaves on the trees here. I know the water had a ton of stuff floating on it from the wind. Normally the leaves are on the ground by the middle of November and we are now in December. Well, tonight maybe things will change in a hurry because tomorrow morning it will be 22F here where we live so at the ranch I suspect it should be around 18F. That pond will be iced over for sure.

I know that I have to be patient because it does take time for the birds in the area to come to a new spot where there has not been any water for quite a spell.









This second shot is looking southwest and is the other part of the pond. To the right of the picture is where the channel heads north for about three miles. I have two spots to hunt. One is a half mile north and the other is at one mile north where the large pond is.



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Re: Finally "it" has appeared. In reply to
Benjamin, I am just hoping that you have taken pictures of your ducks that I am guessing that you have shot already. Does you oldest son hunt with you yet? I sure would like to see what a duck looks like. Hint

As for the cinnamon and or bluewing teal, here is my take on it. Our teal come in August and September. Rarely do we see teal in October through December BUT in January when the reverse migration begins we will see quite a few cinnamon teal. Bev and I have lived here for 24 years now and I have seen only two fully dressed Bluewing teal. They just seem to be in Texas and Louisiana. Now if the weather happens to be really cold, they won't show up here until February. They sure are gorgeous ducks.

It is good to hear from you, Benjamin. I sure hope that some day you will make it back here again. We would definitely have to go look for some ducks.
Al






Here is my latest challenge, Benjamin. His name is Coal and he is almost 4 1/2 months old now. I love this young male and sure hope that by next year at this time he will be sitting with me in the duck blind. He is doing very well and is blessed with smarts. I get a kick out of his very expressive eyes.











One thing that he doing very well with is sitting and coming only when his name is called. I have Belize with him almost all the time and I will get them both to sit. Then when I call Belize's name first he is staying right where he belongs.
I like that.



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Re: Finally "it" has appeared. In reply to
Just look for the decals on their shotgun barrels...
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Re: Finally "it" has appeared. In reply to
RLLigman wrote:
Just look for the decals on their shotgun barrels...


Are we getting old? Smile





Oxford, CT
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Re: Finally "it" has appeared. In reply to
Al, unfortunately I have yet to duck hunt this year. It's been warm and dry here so the swamps I hunt aren't full of water like normal and just haven't seen much around. Even the swan that are normally in the fields behind my house in November have yet to show up, there are a few around in the river and sound and out in our "desert" which is a very large expanse of farmland north of me.

Hasn't been a very motivational year for duck hunting. I have dealt with the Sitka crowd that was mentioned. It refers to the group of hunters that buy the best gear, really don't know what they are doing, are disrespectful, and think they are better than you.

Behind my house I made a dyke in the ditch hoping to flood the field out like I did a few years ago and had several geese come to visit but it's been so dry that the couple rains only amount to about 1" in a month which is unusual for here. Normally our winters are wet and muddy. That is Jonah my 3 year old in this picture.



Enough about that though as far as Garland he has gone hunting this year and was actually able to get his first deer. He made a perfect shot at 78 yards with a single shot .223 that a friend let me borrow.



Coal still looks like a fine pup with plenty of drive. I'm sure he will be an excellent partner in the blind.



Teach someone to love something, and they will protect it. -Will Primos
Benjamin Pendleton
Northeast N.C.
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Re: Finally "it" has appeared. In reply to
Thanks for those pictures, Benjamin. Please let Garland know that I think his buck is a dandy! Sorry to hear that it is so dry in your area. Hopefully you will be getting some good rains soon. As for the Sitka crowd they will get sorted ot in the wash. I remember a guy I hunted with when I was a sophomore. He happened to be a senior and came from money. I only hunted with him once and made a vow to never hunt with him again. When we walked from the slough to his car, he raised his Remington automatic and pulled the trigger three times as fast as he could. He looked at me and said, "This is how rich kids unload their guns." I just remember thinking of how muich I could have used those three shells. Oh well!

I will be going on my next duck hunt on Wednesday morning. I will let you know what takes place.
Allan





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Re: Finally "it" has appeared. In reply to
Well, I WAS going to go on a duck hunt this morning but with the winds out of the southwest blowing at a steady 35 mph and gusts up to 55 mph, I made the decision to stay home. I can't even begin to tell you how bad the blowing sand is with conditions suach as tha. Later on this morning the winds are supposed to come out of the north at 18 mph. My daughter and her husband will be here for an early Christmas dinner or a late Thanksgiving dinner. Bev will be in Wisconsin for a couple of weeks beginning on Sunday.

I forgot to mention this. For those of you who live northeast of us be prepared for some bad news weather. I would imagine this will end up with another of the rare tornadoes in December. Stay alert please. They say this one is tracking towards Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Tim just got back from a pheasant hunt in Kansas with 3 other guys. Here is Maverick with one of his birds. He is out of Chip and Sonora.
Allan

Last edited by:

Al Hansen: Dec 15, 2021, 6:01 AM