And Season’s Lessons
My Waterfowl season has come to a close. Now is the time to reflect on what I learned and what I can apply for a more successful next year.
First what didn’t happen? I didn’t get to go to North Dakota this year. First time I have missed it in the last decade. I already have informed the wife that I will not miss it next year. I have started my savings plan so when late September arrives in 2016 I will be prepared for another North Dakota adventure.
What were my surprises? Well I will start with the new equipment that I purchased that surpassed my expectations.
The biggest surprise came with my Waterfowl Wading System Waders. I initially were going to get there Hybrid model; breathable uppers and neoprene bottoms. But when I went to get them the store was out. So I went with the Northern Guide. I have always been one of those guys who would try hard NOT to wear waders. Sometimes carrying them in and only wearing while putting out or picking up decoys. I hated the constrictive feel and weight and don’t get me started on walking in a pair of neoprene waders for any length~ worse if you are carrying decoys. Upon my first hunt with these waders I knew my hunting life would never be the same. They are THAT good! Lite weight, comfortable, they wear like pants. I really love them. They are made of a heavy duty soft material combined with a CaddisDry™ fabric for maximum comfort. Large hand warmer pockets and easy-access ammo pockets on the chest offer security and convenience. They are nice.
Next I purchased a Higdon Flapper this year. I had a buddy mention that he used one with good success. Here in Oregon you can’t use and motorized decoys and I figured it is worth the price to add some movement in my goose spread and for field hunting ducks. The flapping motion is outstanding. It really does resemble a goose stretching its wings. I didn’t get a chance to use the decoy until the late season in February. These geese have been hunted since September and the predominate species is the Cackler Goose. Cacklers are a small spooky Canada goose that is tough to decoy. Most of the Cacklers I have harvested in Oregon have been circling overhead shots and the edge of range. On my first hunt with the flapper right out of the box I pulled a flock of about 150 Cacklers right onto the ground in the decoys. I was impressed. Yes I was where they wanted to be but that flapper convinced them that decoy spread was a safe harbor.
I also got some new calls this year. My Shoal Creek Black Head short reed goose is a nice deep sounding call that became a go to on my lanyard. My Baptized Goose short reed also has impressed me. A great sounding easy to blow call that covers a lot of circumstances. My best “new” duck call is a Limits double reed. What I love about the Limits duck call is it has a different sound from my other duck calls. A softer higher pitch that has worked really well for me.
First, I purchased a long tail motor kit and a Predator 6.5 HP Motor for my Four Rivers Migrator. I don’t like it. It ran ok but was heavy, had no way not to have it in gear when it was on, and the throttle kit didn’t work on the handle. All in all I felt like I was moments from having an accident when that motor was on. I am planning to have a new throttle put on and a kill switch before next season. I also purchased a trolling motor and will only use the long tail when the location requires one to move the boat.
Second, I did not have permission on enough good locations prior to the season this year. I had more permission for field hunting this season, (my second in Oregon) then last but not enough. The geese have a lot of options to hit the fields and the majority of the fields I had permission never had geese in them. Next season I endeavor to have scouted the lower Columbia basin, more river sloughs, and fields where I’ve seen notable sheet water holding ducks identified with permission granted.
Also, I learned that having a hundred fully flocked full body Avians does not help you when you have to carry everything into the field. His year I never hunted a field with more than four dozen decoys and to be honest carrying those in almost was too much. To hunt this valley of grass and mud you really need a cart. Next season I will have one.
I also had some special hunts this year. Taking my nieces on their first duck hunt was a great experience. Taking a fourteen year old neighborhood kid on his first goose hunt has a thrill too (one of two epic days of goose hunting I had this year). I started a tradition of cooking breakfast in the field this year. Really at the tailgate after set up. I take a grill, my Duck Bistro and have omelets and biscuits on paper plates before we go out. My hunting buddies love it and it is a great way to start the hunt.
My waterfowl season is done for me until about July, when I will start reflocking decoys, re-raffia grassing blinds, and shooting clays all in prep for the fall.
For now, I need to catch a Steelhead and locate some turkeys…until I see you in the field, be Safe, Be Good, AND BE LUCKY!