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Want To Dream A While?

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Want To Dream A While?
2021---without a doubt it has to be one of the worst years so far for my duck hunting season. So, I began looking at some of my pictures and found some that I hope maybe that you would enjoy, also. The day that I took these pictures happened to be December 24, 2017. I drove 12 miles south from our home, on Hwy #1 and entered Bosque del Apache NWR. By the way the name of the refuge refers to, Woods of the Apache.

I found this spot the day before, so I made sure to get out and enjoy that light from the east which was behind my back. The staff had told one of the guys I was sitting next to that they estimated at least 5,000 pintails were at this impoundment. It was a perfect setting for pintails.

I remember that I took a lot of pictures that morning. I had the time of my life! Some of you have already seen these or most of them and I apologize for that.
Allan

For me, it was like opening a Christmas present just a tad early.


Left click on picture to make it larger.




This was an exciting time when I took this shot. It was great to see so many hens. That is a good sign. This was just a small part of the flock.


These close up pictures are just that. I was only 30 or 40' from them.


What some say is up close and personal.


I really lucked out on this next series of shots. I had locked on to this incoming drake. Like Todd said, My best hunting gear that I used that day happens to be what I still use. My Canon 7D and for that morning I was using my long lens which is a Canon 100-400mmL IS lens. IS stands for image stablizing and if you follow the bull sprig to the last shot, with all the grass and weeds he landed in some how he remained in focus. Please note that when his feet hit, they broke a piece of skim ice and it is still hanging there in mid air. It looks as if the drake is still looking at me.






He is still eyeballing his landing spot that is coming up quickly. Look at what he is beginning to fly into. I guess you could call it a calculated splash down.


If you can look closely at his head, you can even see some grass seeds on his head and some that have splashed up when he landed. Even the skim ice has some seeds frozen to it.


I can't begin to tell you how exciting it is to see a flock of ducks spring into the air like they got shot out of a cannon. The sights and sounds of this were indeed magical moments!

Last edited by:

Al Hansen: Dec 30, 2021, 8:27 PM
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Re: Want To Dream A While? In reply to
Amazing! No you have me dreaming! Definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience for most waterfowlers, especially us DIY'ers...

Thanks for sending. Happy New Year...
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Re: Want To Dream A While? In reply to
Hey David, just so you know, the first six years I hunted in New Mexico was all on BLM land. When I started to duck hunt here I found out that there were just about 5K duck hunters in the state. Most of the guys who hunt ducks do it only IF they are not hunting doves, quail, coyotes, deer, elk, antelope, bear, sheep, and javelina. So if you are a true duck hunter where ducks come first, then you love it when these other seasons are on. Please remember I need to include the archers, muzzle loaders and or rifle hunters.

I found an area where I was the only guy going there to hunt and there were several years where it was easy to see a thousand ducks a day but for that area now, that doesn't happen any more after they made the Rio Grande look like a canal after dredging it. All those beautiful islands and small spring fed ponds that dotted the landscape are history and the only thing you see are two walls of mostly sand on either side of this huge ditch still named the Rio Grande.

When all that happened, I was fortunate enough to have two land owners along another stretch of the Rio Grande that was untouched by dredges. They each gave me a key to their property and I can safely say I hunted there for 12 years. One of the properties I still hunt because the honey hole is there which is about 2 blocks from the river. Now that I have reached the 80s, I made a decision not to hunt the river. It is way too dangerous and I do respect it more than you would ever want to know.

Best of luck when you get out to hunt ducks. I still smile just knowing that I began this marvelous sport in 1954 and as of this first week of 2022, I will make darn sure I get out at least a couple of times. Today is special, I get to go to ABQ and pick up my wife who is coming back from Wisconsin. I am just hoping that her flight doesn't get cancelled.
Allan

Last edited by:

Al Hansen: Jan 1, 2022, 6:27 AM
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Re: Want To Dream A While? In reply to
Amazing photos! Was it all pintails??
Happy New Year!


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: Want To Dream A While? In reply to
Thank you, Carl. I just noticed that beautiful blue goose that you are holding. Very nice. Carl, if you look at that last picture where the flock of pintails exploded out, look at the bottom right side of the picture and you will see two drake pintails out front. I want you to zero in on the drake that is to the left of the other one. Look right behind his neck and you will see another drake but it is not a pintail.
Allan
Left click on the picture to make it larger. It is much easier to see that other duck that is not a pintail.

Last edited by:

Al Hansen: Jan 1, 2022, 7:19 AM
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Re: Want To Dream A While? In reply to
Nice wigeon hiding in there with all those pinnies!

Yes, that was a gorgeous bonus goose I shot down on Mississippi Sound, Only one I ever took while hunting in Alabama.


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: Want To Dream A While? In reply to
Al, it is sad to hear/know what has happened to the Rio Grande over the years but good to hear the tales of what you experienced a couple years before I was even born. LOL at 64 I am feeling old sometimes when I roll out of bed at 3:30am to get first choice at a decent hunting spot back East here.
Hunting truly unspoiled land is something all conservation-minded sportsmen and women deserve to experience at least once in their lifetime. For quite a few years I had the good fortune to hunt some of North Carolina's most remote areas. But you didn't have to look very hard to see signs that within the past 100 years or so mankind had permanently altered the terrain. This past Fall I was able to spend 2 weeks hunting Upland birds in Montana. Some of those places look like Man had never set foot in. I can't wait to go back! The buddy I went with is talking about adding another week at the tail end possibly hunting NM elk. Something to look forward to...

Dave
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Re: Want To Dream A While? In reply to
Gorgeous pictures Mr. Al! I love seeing your photos and hearing your stories!
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Re: Want To Dream A While? In reply to
Great photos, Al! There is a great Aldo Leopold essay about hunting down in the Rio Grande estuary. Can't remember the name of chapter, but it's in A Sand County Almanac.

"At first blush I am tempted to conclude that a satisfactory hobby must be in large degree useless, inefficient, laborious, or irrelevant."
— Aldo Leopold
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Re: Want To Dream A While? In reply to
David, you touched on something that I witnessed first hand when I drove from Minnesota to Alaska, all because I figured that if the Pacific Flyway was hatched up there,the duck and goose hunting had to be pretty good. Doing what I did gave me an early life lesson on how to be patient for a 25 year old. That lesson taught me much and became an important part later in life. It was all about how to be patient. When I hit the Alcan Highway at Dawson Creek, British Columbia, I learned quickly to be patient. I was driving on a 1,585 mile gravel road, where you could drive 50 mph and in the time it took to say Jackie Robinson, you needed to slow down to 10 mph because of the pot holes or maybe muddy conditions. In my 8 years of living in Alaska, I had driven the Alcan 6 times and never had a flat tire. However, every time on the road I broke my windshield and at least one head light if not both of them.

I will never forget the first time I walked up to the very top of a mountain and sat down to look around. It wasn't long before I found myself almost overwhelmed with emotion. Yes, I did shed some tears. What a joy and moment of triumph it was for the former flatlander from Minnesota. There were some clouds in the area and that marked the very first time I had ever been above the clouds and able to look down on them. As I continued to soak up my brand new environment that same thought struck me, David. I had to be the first guy to ever set foot up there at the very highest point and of course the only other One was God. Well, please remember that I was younger and very impressionable.

I just had to laugh because I really haven't changed. Even here in the high desert region of the southwestern portion of the United States, I have been in spots where I have said the same thing as I did when I lived in the state that gained that status of statehood the year I completed high school and went off to Mankato State College, which was1959. I ended up teaching at Airport Heights Elem. in Anchorage which was a beautiful school built when Alaska was still a Territory.

Yes, I sure hope you and your buddy will be able to draw a tag for bull elk here in New Mexico. It will widen your horizons and I know from first hand experience that if you don't you just might try kicking your backside more than once during the rest of your life. Good luck to you.
Al
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Re: Want To Dream A While? In reply to
Paul, thank you very much for what you had to say. I appreciated that.
Allan

I took these pictures at a spot where I hunt during the early teal season (if there is water). This was taken two weeks after our season was over. I did the next best thing and that was take pictures of the teal.



Left click on the picture to make it larger.














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Re: Want To Dream A While? In reply to
Jeff, thanks so much for the information about Aldo Leopold. I will look that one up.
Allan
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Re: Want To Dream A While? In reply to
great photos as usual Al. I need to do a September teal hunt some day especially where I might get some Cinnamons.
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Re: Want To Dream A While? In reply to
Wonderful shots Al, particularly the drake pinner.

For some reason it triggered a memory of me and dad slogging through the flooded fields out near Midland (By Klamath falls.)

Dad had his calls on a lanyard and was wearing a pair of chest waders. That alkaline soil was terribly mucky and slick when they flooded the fields.

I kept hearing a pintail and another duck like bird, at least it was similar to a pintail...
as we were setting our decoys and untangling the lines etc..




I looked around and couldn't see anything flying...

Got back to working and heard it again!

Looked around never saw any ducks again!

Then I figured it out.
Dad's calls were wedged in between his waders so tight, that every time he bent down the air compressed and blew through his calls.

We got a pretty good laugh out of that.





Don't just do something, Stand there!
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Re: Want To Dream A While? In reply to
Brad, I need you to know that if you are looking for those gorgeous red feathered cinnamons, in our area the only time we see them fully dressed out for breeding season is in late January if it begins to warm up. Most of the time we see the best numbers in February and early March.


I have a friend who hunts the Imperial Valley and that might be the best choice for your hunt. They have lots of cinnamons there but once again it is always later on in the season.


Brad, there are times in September when we shoot teal that the only way we know the difference between a bluewing and a cinnamon is this. The bluewings have brown eyes and the cinnamons have red eyes.


Of course if you just happen to carry a set of calipers aka callipers with you, the cinnamon's upper mandible is a bit wider than the bluewing. It has more of that spoonie look.
Al
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Re: Want To Dream A While? In reply to
Hey Todd, you hit on something that I have often thought about on all the hunts that I have been on in my life. That is the things I remember the most actually had nothing to do with how many ducks I bagged or how large a particular Dall ram was but it was always of something else. Here are some examples.

With the sheep hunt when I had a pilot drop me off in the middle of nowhere it seemed, I spent 15 days on that hunt. It was not the ram that I shot when I began walking back to where I would meet the pilot, but it was the grizzly footprint that had been put squarely on top of my footprint in the sand when I was walking in on the hunt several days before. There is a day of reckoning when you realize how small or insignificant you truly are. I had a set of horns that I had attached to a back pack loaded down with meat and the cape, when I saw the 4" claws and foot pad that put the size 13 hunting boot of mine to shame.

As for the duck hunt, it is still the number one hunt and I remember the details like it was yesterday. I was hunting with Darren Brooks back in 2008 I believe. I had the decoys in the Rio Grande just where I wanted them to be and we still had about 15 or 20 minutes before the season opened. We were waiting for the widgeons to show up and the evening before we watched a good 750 of them loafing around and enjoying the day. We were listening for wings when all of a sudden right behind us in the bosque (woods) a female mountain lion let out a roar that made my hair stand straight up. Remember I am bald but it still stood up. Well, I still have some on the sides and in back of my head. That sound was unforgettable!

I will end with a deer hunt during the beginning of rut in Wisconsin. Our home was on a 40 acre parcel and I had about 3 really good places to hunt. We even had a nice creek that made up the eastern border of our property. That late afternoon I was up in my tree stand when I heard the feet of a deer crunching dried maple leaves that had just begun to fall. My markers on the deer trail were always set at 35 yards because I was comfortable drawing back at that range. Well, the big buck of the area had walked out onto the trail and was slowly meandering towards where I needed him to be for the best shot. As he ambled along I was standing with an arrow nocked but not ready to pull back. He got to within a few steps of where I needed him to be when all of a sudden a male chickadee landed on my arrow and was sitting right next to the those sharp razors points of the broadhead. He was singing his heart out and of course I dared not blink nor make any crazy movements. I'm looking at the bird then letting my eyes focus on the buck as he walked along the path not knowing that I was up in a tree waiting for my turn to draw back, then release the arrow. Well, the chickadee continued to sing until the buck left the trail and headed in another direction. As soon as he did that the chickadee flew away---
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Re: Want To Dream A While? In reply to
Al,

It is the real deal when you are no longer the apex predator.

You probably have some fantastic memories.

It is good that you do.





Don't just do something, Stand there!