|Arlin and Aidan in the duck blind|
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...
- 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.
NW WINDS 10 TO 15 KT...DIMINISHING TO AROUND 5 KT IN THE
AFTERNOON. SEAS 3 TO 5 FT.
- 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 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...