With fingers crossed, I worked on the blind constructing it with olive drab canvas, alders, spruce, and marsh grass. It seemed like a chance, usually rain hits the coast while snow falls inland. But I knew that the opportunity could become a reality and if I found myself in school, my buddy Jab would give it a go with my father. So realistically, it became a win/win and a coin flip for me.
The weather forecast continued to cooperate with my ambitious plans and I began planning for a school cancellation. I planned on calling my buddy as soon as I got my call, and then prepare to head out to his house where we would try for the black mallard a.k.a. black duck.
Sure enough at 5:30 a.m. the call came in and the ball was rolling. Since high water would be around noontime, we did have some time to burn before the tide got up. However, we also had a little bit more snow than I wished and found myself cleaning up the driveway & vehicles. By 8:30, I stormed out in four wheel drive and made the half hour trek to the gunning venue of the day.
We quickly readied our gear and moved to the salt marsh only to find the water covered with a blanket of slush. If this snow had arrived during high water, then the water would have readily absorbed all snow. However, the snow only accumulated during the low water and floated as the tide moved in. Discouraged but not defeated, we pulled the decoys and gear out to the blind and quickly tossed five plastic black duck decoys into the slush. Just outside of our small spread lie a narrow channel of open water representing the tidal creek that drains the marsh. But the entire marsh was slush, our success seemed to hinge on luck.
|Our two black ducks await retrieval, notice the slush and the only open water.|
That opportunity came four minutes later. A pair responded to my call and arrived with full commitment. As soon as they landed, we popped up and fired leaving both for retrieval. I attempted to net the two blacks but the large tide dictated otherwise. Jab slid out of the blind to get his skiff and row out to get the downed pair.
I'll be honest a say that the slush was not easy on Jab. For every row he took, I'm guessing he made about 11 inches headway. Eventually he got out there.
Since our black duck limit had been met, we chose to hope for a mallard and set out my bufflehead decoys as well. We knew that our chances were slim, but we had the morning and figured we'd spend it in the blind.
We watched geese several hundred yards away and about twenty five black ducks inside of us working the only open water near them. Eventually cold wet hands got the best of us and we chose to call it a day. Even though it wasn't exactly as we had planned, I'll take it and be thankful.