A Duck Day to Remember!
The nose of the boat nosed through the pitch black darkness with the wind howling and specks of snow pelting your face. The sound of mallards feeding could be heard over the very quiet outboard propelling the boat loaded with hunters toward their blind location. As the handheld light was initiated to confirm our way, ducks could be seen and heard by the hundreds lifting from the flooded millet as we progressed. The anticipation of opening morning is always exciting, but this morning contained all of the factors for the potential to be the perfect hunt one can only dream about!
Once our gear was loaded into the blind and guns made ready, the short wait for legal shooting time could hardly be maintained. Our foursome contained only seasoned experienced hunters, but none possessed the keen eyesight of their younger days. A mallard flew over the blind from front to back as if unaware of the danger and with the proper swing through on the shot; the first bird of the day was down! Each of our group including Kenny Allen, Gene Schurtz, Gary Doyle and myself internally realized this was to be an exceptional day and the need to be patient and pick high percentage shots was done without any need for discussion.
The working ducks quickly ascertained the proper distance to maintain for their safe keeping although the blind was well concealed and camouflaged with natural brush from this area. Some consternation over the size of the hole and decoy placement with this heavy wind began to surface. After all, Duck Hunters are by nature constantly seeking perfection! This group understands the characteristics of each species of duck, from the single flyover of the Wood Duck to the constant swinging of a group of Teal to the agonizing tease provided by the “skirt the decoys” variety! Each hunter made individual great shots as we climbed toward our limit for the day.
The windy overcast day with moisture in the air was the essence of duck hunting but with a temperature just low enough to remind us to stay protected. Slowly our bag began to rise as Wood Ducks, Teal, Gadwall and Mallards were added to the species mix. Although birds were in flight constantly keeping us entertained with the constant movement in and around the flooded millet, this was still no easy picking!
Working the mallards was paramount and although their numbers were limited as compared to the Teal and Pintails in action, a concerted effort was made to lure them into gun range! But as always they were elusive by nature. The beauty of this hunt over and above the remarkable number of waterfowl present was the appreciation from this group over the quality of your shot selections and the pure amazing wonder of waterfowl hunting. The many blind sits will little or no action were forgotten on a day such as this!
One of the groups’ members, Jeff (JJ) Sykes, gave up his spot on opening day so I could experience the thrill of this opening day hunt. This sacrifice alone will give you the level of quality these members possess! Although this day was prime for “platooning” hunters this was not contemplated. Good natured ribbing throughout the morning kept the atmosphere entertaining and as indicated, the level of duck action never subsided. The limit was had, blind vacated and the birds cleaned and stored before noon!
The Sanganois facility is a true gem for waterfowl hunters. This year with the lack of flooding provided the opportunity to plant millet for the duck population and the results speak for themselves with the levels of Ducks on hand for the opener. Thanks to Doug Jallas, Site Supervisor, and his staff for the preparation for the opener at the facility.
Although now a deer hunter if in title only, waterfowl hunting is still the king of sports and a favorite of mine and the opportunity to partake of the sport in the company of the “Decatur Boys” is always welcomed. Let’s hope the birds continue to migrate and hold over at the facility to provide excellent duck hunting throughout the season.