For the last 15 years, my brother and I have taken a couple of weeks and hunted somewhere. Minnesota, Arkansas, Maine and North Dakota; always fun and sometimes epic.
Circumstances being what they are this year we were not able to arrange an extended hunt. So, we arranged for our families to spend the Thanksgiving holiday together here in Western Oregon.
I told my brother that we would get out for a duck/goose hunt on a couple of days on their visit. He shared that plan with his two daughters (16 and 17 years old) who decided that they should, at least once, see what this thing is that consumes their dad’s and uncle’s imagination.
I was determined to make their first hunt one to remember.
First, I went out and put an A-Frame blind. I used some camo netting I got through Abature Outpost in Duck Blind camo and raffia grass. I considered using some coffin blinds on a pond I have hunted successfully a few times but nixed that idea after considering they may not have even shot a gun before.
The A-Frame was placed in a great location on an old quarry that geese and a few ducks were using. I enlisted a good buddy to help with this hunt. Mitch is a good man, a good caller, and a good sport. I told Mitch I was going to set up the night before and then bring the girls out to the quarry and have a tailgate breakfast. Mitch, being the guy he is, offered to come out early Thanksgiving morning and set the decoys. What a guy.
I brought out a couple of gas barbeque grills, a “Duck Blind Bistro” an aluminum Dutch oven, plates, drinks and food. The predawn menu was mushroom, spinach, cheese omelets, sausage patties, and buttermilk biscuits. Let me share with you that this Duck Blind Bistro is a neat little tool. You can cook perfect biscuits, calzones, cinnamon rolls in just a few minutes with the gas grill or fire that you are already using. It is worth your consideration.
After everyone had finished and I made a plate for Mitch, my hiked the 400 yards down to the blind. This kind of hunt makes me glad to have a pair of Waterfowl Systems breathable waders. Easily the best I have ever own. They wear like pants and make the hike in effortless.
As we approached Mitch was just finishing putting out a fine spread of blocks. Forty duck decoys and 18 goose floaters.
We reviewed the safety issues of handling a gun as well as the mechanics of how a gun works. The younger of the two girls had shot clays at a shooting park once. My oldest niece had never fired a gun. I asked them to mount the gun a dozen times and concentrate on getting their face on the stock and get it tight on the shoulder. We reviewed that I would call the shot and that we would try to get some birds down on the water.
We had some birds buzz us prior to shooting time. Teal bombed into the spread and left as quickly as they arrived.
Then light spread across the horizon and shooting time arrived. And here came some more birds, big ducks; mallards.
The group of three swung wide and came around behind us. I gave a few soft quakes on my Limits Double Reed and they turned and came over low. I waited. I watched. I prayed they would land. Two started up and I reluctantly called “Takem”. Right then the third duck, a drake mallard, put his feet in the water. I was couching up my oldest niece when my brother let loose. Mitch fired off at one of the first two and both girls watched.
Within a few moments another group of teal buzzed by. I called for the shot as they came by and Mitch and my brother let loose….. without disturbing a feather.
Now it was time to have a conversation with the girls:
“Do either of you play basketball?” I asked. “I do”, Emily replied.
“Duck hunting is a lot like basketball. If you don’t shoot you never score! And as Kobe Bryant showed us at the height of his career, you should shoot soon and often!”
As the next flock came in both girls fired both barrels of their Over/Unders I had lent them. I noted both Rachel’s, and Emily’s shots were both pretty far behind the birds but both girls were smiling. They were duck hunters!
It was cloudy morning and the calls Mitch I were blowing were loud ….. maybe too loud. It occurred to me that perhaps we were blowing some of these birds off or spread by too aggressive of calling. I shared my thoughts with Mitch and he concurred. Now I have a new Limits double reed call; black acrylic it is beautiful and a softer call then my single reed Real Call. The next flock of ducks swung by closer and provided shooting opportunities for the group. A Drake mallard stayed while the rest were able to make an escape.
Mid-morning came with a couple of ducks in hand. But this duck hunt wasn't about killing ducks. This hunt was about memories.
Time to pick up and get home to help with the Thanksgiving dinner ….. or at least watch some football.
I reflected on how thankful I am. I have great friends, great family, a pretty good dog, and GREAT memories of being able to help my nieces on their first duck hunt!
Now what about a Christmas hunt?
Dave Proffitt, Owner of FOWLEDupWATERFOWLERS.com