Saturday, December 29, 2012

Long overdue... way too long...

Arlin and Aidan in the duck blind
In life things sort of get by you...

You hash things over, talk up plans, and neglect the simplicity of follow through.

That's the case of my buddy and former schoolmate Arlin who also happens to be an avian enthusiast.

So many times have we talked gunning, but never once made good on our ideas or opportunities so often missed.  Today however, we took to my shore front and made a go for a few ducks.  What came out of this six hour hunt was far more important than the few ducks we garnered.  An opportunity to talk, reconnect, and mesh our worlds into one memorable experience resulted.  Arlin has always been a fine individual and I'm thankful we took the time to look over some bufflehead decoys together.

We have not had any quantity of sea ducks around this year henceforth my clear lack of sea duck posts.  I've opted to hunt what's out there and that happens to be mallards, black ducks, and buffleheads.  And that's what we did today...

Much like myself, Arlin is a sea duck hound who thrives on coffee in the boat while waiting for a white wing scoter to turn his way or that unique flock of eiders dropping the landing gear whilst gliding amongst the decoy spread.  We have however, never once made this happen.  Never.

Last year, we made an elaborate promise to gun sea ducks and then make way down to his family camp on Head Harbor.  Things got past us and now old man winter has suggested we try again next year.

Then we opted to try a day hunt out of my boat, but the weather and cold has left my duck boat on the trailer.  It didn't stop our conversation.  The following narrative indicates our plans over the past several days.  Our entire message thread would take a year to read...
  • dude, if you check out the NOAA extended forecast you may just cry... I know I am...
  • we are up against it buddy that's for sure...
  • Winds look favorable but it's supposed to be COLD 16 to 26 degrees, I really don't like going below freezing. We could gun off my shore mid day Saturday. There are some buffleheads buzzing around and I did see five whistlers out there yesterday. Plus if we get cold, we can walk up to the house for coffee and get warm.
  • sounds good to me buddy , only other thing I can think of is snag our 2013 licenses and try a day in there before black ducks close on the 5th but it's your call you just say when
  • We can head up to Jason's and try for a black duck anytime, problem is that last year we pulled 13 black ducks in 10 tries... this year we are 0-3... however it takes only one.
  • my biggest accomplishment besides finally getting gunning with you would be taking a drake whistler, that is one of the only species that I have not killed male and female of....
  • Let's do something tomorrow anyways, I've got buffles out here and I'll head out and scout Jab's property just in case... If he's frozen up then no black ducks will come in. I'll leave the buffles alone today so they may get comfortable... a lot of them have shown up today. I'll get back to you after I do some scouting.
  • ok buddy give me the time for tomorrow and I will meet you wherever
  • Jason's place was slushed up and I'm not sure if it cleared out. Good bad or ugly, I've set up a bunch of buffleheads so let's meet at my place for some coffee. I'd say around 8:30 a.m.
  • ok buddy would u be opposed to me bringing Aidan along to watch ?
  • You bet.
  • ok i will gather him up and we will be over in the morning

     So this morning, Arlin and Aidan (one of my farm league power hitters) arrived and we made quick action down to the blind.  Things were not necessarily in our favor in terms of ample ducks, but eventually a merganser made way to the decoys.  Without hesitation, Arlin dropped the hen and Aidan was a hard man to keep out of my boat.  Pacing back and forth, he did not relax until I presented him with the duck taken by his Papi.

    Aidan with the first merganser of the day.

     As evidenced by the above photo, Aidan (as any kid would) early in the hunt discovered his feet getting a bit cold and fingers doing the same.  He was able to hold on a little bit longer after I supplied him with some bigger boots, wool socks, toe & hand warmers, and a promise that he'd be able to head up and hang out with my girls in due time.  He readily agreed, and was up to the house in a few minutes to get some hot chocolate, grub, and some Nintendo with my pair.  I suggested to Arlin that he may not be coming back with those given opportunities.  Plus, he was a trooper and participated in a fair share of our hunt. 

    Over time, Arlin and I shot the bull and a few more ducks.  We dropped a pair of mergansers, a drake bufflehead, and then Arlin took our last merganser opportunity.  After witnessing a hen bufflehead escape certain death, we enjoyed some clam chowder in the blind made by my wife.  We were spared no struggle in our hunt, only the proper accommodations were allowed.

    Then as I was explaining how the mallards and black ducks work the shore, a pair of mallards were replicating my exact words.  We shifted spots to ready for the ducks as they swam the shoreline towards our position, then after a few minutes we discovered that they had retreated back into the head of the cove.  As we made way back to the blind, Arlin spotted some mallards making fast flight in our direction.  Within moments, our volley yielded a nice mallard which piled onto the water just off the water's edge.  I had to move quickly as an eagle thought he had a fast meal, but within minutes I acquired the dispatched duck.

    After the drake mallard and after five solid hours of quality time in the blind, the tide had receded enough to warrant defeat.  We gathered the gear, snagged Aidan from the clutches of my girls for several photos, and debriefed our hunt in my kitchen over coffee and some feeding mallards down below the shore..

    This hunt was long overdue... way too long as the post title so clearly states.  I had a blast with my good buddy Arlin and was fortunate to be able to share in a meaningful few hours over the decoys.  I look forward to the opportunities to come. 

    And for those who are interested, you would be hard pressed to find a crack shot like Arlin.  Those mergansers didn't stand a chance against the might of the one they call Farley!!!

    Have a great one,

    The Downeast Duck Hunter
    Aidan and Arlin with our four mergansers, one drake bufflehead, and one drake mallard.  A good time was had by all...

Friday, December 21, 2012

2 shots, one full limit of mallards...

The tide worked around to agree with my available time, and I knew that today would be the day.  A few mallards had shown up with the temporary freeze which meant my cove had what they needed.

The plan was to get to the shore without detection and then assess the circumstances.  If I were to be seen, then I would graciously accept defeat.  If I could negate the wary eye of the mallards, then I could be within striking range.  Today was the day that I would test my reflective practice, today would be that chance to merry the position of the rising tide, time of day, overcast conditions, and my efforts to "get onto those ducks".

It worked as I made my way down to the cove utilizing a baby crawl technique unmatched by no other that placed me just above the mean high water mark.  Then I kept concealed and studied the ducks, far more drakes than hens.  Too be so close and earn enough time to assess my shot warranted good fortune.

Today I would take a calculated shot once presented, the goal was a limit of mallards with one pull of the trigger.  Head shots would be necessary to achieve this challenge.  Once the bills presented themselves together, I would shoot down upon the unsuspecting ducks at half tide flood.

And it happened, one hen seemed to have three drakes constantly at her beckoning.  As she moved, they followed as one would attempt to cut of the other.  The hen turned towards me while the drakes lurched forward to accompany her while I drew down on the target.  Then I let the Xtrema2 with the #2 Kent Fasteel erupt with a well placed spread.  Three did not quiver whilst the fourth attempted to escape, but fell no sooner than taking off.  A second shot rendered the escapee motionless and fulfilled my limit within seconds.  The easterly wind and flood tide put the mallards on the shore in less than a minute.  As fast retrieve, it took longer for me to find my wife to take pictures than it did hunt the ducks.

I called my Dad who beamed with excitement as he told me several accounts of doubles and the occasional triple.  So often, he proclaimed, the old gunners wouldn't shoot unless the birds were on the water and would time the birds to gain multiple ducks in one shot.  To lose a duck meant less food on the table.  My shot was opportune, and well thought out while ensuring a minimal aspect of error.

I have only shot multiple birds several times including three mergansers in 2003, and several sea duck shots on the wing.  However, I almost managed to limit out on mallards with one shot.  I suppose that's an opportunity down the road, but for now I'll be happy with my four with two.

Have a great day,

The Downeast Duckhunter

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


My reason to worry.

I worry... never in my life have I been so worried...

Worried about America... it's economic woes... borrowing like a shopping addict... the fiscal cliff...

Worried about the hate... the clear partisan hate, one who wants those traditional values that propelled us to greatness... the other wanting to embrace the new, throwing caution into the wind and hoping for a better world... so many people being divided on so many fronts... my way or the highway...

Worried about our future... trying to raise my children and teach my students balance, appreciation, understanding, responsibility, and inspire them to make our community, state, nation, and world a better place...

Worried about the Newton school shooting, cried for those who died while also wondering if many good Americans will be further hated for owning firearms... In the midst of my worry as a parent, teacher, future administrator, I worry as a gun owner... and yes I can possess all those roles for concern...

I have a friend, a cohort who is certainly liberal... we tease, we joke, we talk, but we never argue... we seek perspective, reasoning, and further learning... many times we often come to a unique world where we actually meet common ground... I would like to say that this can be done at larger levels, but it can't... there are too many fingers in the cookie jar... for that I again... worry...

I believe in people, but when "ask what your country can do for you" takes precedence over "ask what can you do for your country" then we should worry... one tears down while the other builds...

I worry that a "new America" may not be able to take care of previous failures while fostering new ones... that the good fight for greatness may result in blaming the past as an excuse for pitfalls in the future... so much corruption, cheating, and coercion for benefit and greed... 

I don't believe in the world endgame, but I do believe that mankind is failing... Please try to listen more, think more, find common ground, and understand we are all people...

I don't worry about my efforts for a better world, I just worry about our world's effort... I'll do my part in my little corner of America...

The Downeast Duck Hunter

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Video removed

Veterans Day with my Dad, a great man and outdoorsman

 After less than a week and an abundance of visitors, I've opted to pull the video of the mallard double that my father took with one shot as the pair come within shooting distance after seeing the decoys in my cove.

All hunters have a perception of what is proper and improper when it comes to hunting, and I'm not really interested in becoming a lightning rod for support or criticism.  I love duck hunting and love doing it in a variety of ways in a continual process to become a more successful hunter. 

I intend to get in some sea ducking this weekend with an old friend who's goal is to look good on my website.  I promise only shots in the sky, but then again they usually are...

Until next time,

The Downeast Duck Hunter

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Mallard Double: Ambush Style

Dad's mallard double taken 12/5/2012

I found myself at home with a sick little girl today but also found myself watching the shoreline all day long.  Buffleheads dove out in the bay, the first whistler (goldeneye) arrived, and several mallards & black ducks worked the shoreline back and forth.  The mallards in particular were very interested in the three drake decoys I had thrown out just to the northwest of the bufflehead decoys.  

As the tide came up, the mallards were convinced that they needed to be in my little cove.  Once they began their migration, I immediately called my father to let him know of the circumstances.  His first response was, "I'll watch the girls and you go" but I told him to go for it.  After all, he's been missing the water frontage since we've (my wife and I) finally finished the house and he moved out of the first floor back to his first home.  He didn't seem to mind being handed this guaranteed opportunity.

Drake mallard banded in Easton, Maine 2009.

I'll just say that there are several ways to hunt ducks:  wing shooting, stalking, and silent ambush.  The silent ambush is a very difficult but often high yielding opportunity where you time the tide, wind, and your location in hopes that one may be able get a quality shot.  It's sort of like deer hunting.  My property however offers an expansive view where I can easily view all types of birds and make more predictable judgements than the average joe.  As I watch the ducks every day, I'm learning so much about their patterns.  

I'm very pleased with my father's shot.  When he was younger, he didn't have much so he always made his shots count.  For that, he still is the most amazing shot whether it be a snipe crack shot or three eiders on the wing. 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Options=Always Pick the Worst One

I should have known better...

The decoys were already set out by the blind, buffleheads were diving out in deeper water as the tide flooded, and I was fierce for some steel to fly.  All I needed was Purdy to get here, but apparently Santa was coming via helicopter over to the Coast Guard base and until that chopper took off I would not be seeing him.  Whatever, I had options and when you have options all is right with the world.  Well, so I thought...

I watched several big groups flirt with my decoys and then the text messages started.

7:42 (Jab) Iced up big time and water not running it yet.  Take your time.
7:57 (Jab) I got water flowing in now... in an hour or so u could get set up
8:34 (Purdy) Okay I will be over shortly

You see, I had options.  We could hunt below the house for some buffleheads and then head out to the black duck mecca (Jab's waterfront) for a quick shoot. But one hunt began to potentially screw up the other and one needed to go, and that became the buffleheading.  Purdy and I would venture out to my favorite black duck habitat, after all it was supposed to warm up and the ice should clear so that the ducks would have a spot to splashdown.  Two hunts became one and our chips were pushed all in.

Jab was right, there was ice and lots of it.  Within a week we had gone from no ice to push any ducks to the coast to "holy crap, look at all this ice".  Undeterred, the triad made way to a group of trees in the middle of the marsh and threw out the decoys. 

Well the ice never let go but rather continued to make while we watched the decoys hold position in the new skim.  Eventually, one black duck completely committed surprised us as we talked fantasy football and buzzed my baby MoJo.  None of us ready left none of us with a duck.  And that's all we saw.

After several hours of frigid conditions, we attempted to grapple the decoys and power the frozen spread out of the stream.  Eventually we scored the victory, but it didn't go without snapped lines and lost anchors. 

The forgotten option apparently was more successful according to my father.  Not only did he say the ducks were frolicking amongst my early set spread, but a random goose opted to visit my backyard down by the water.  He had asked my wife for one of my shotguns, but that's like asking me to find a pair of her shoes.  Realizing his window of opportunity was closing, he bolted back to his house and grabbed his shotgun and one shell.  With a speedy return, he shot the unsuspecting goose not far from the house.

My wife sent me this picture at 10:25 a.m. which included this text message-

Look at what your dad found while you were away... LOL

Isn't it amazing how your second option leaves you wondering why you walked away from the first one? 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...