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Posts Tagged ‘blue winged teal’


The front part of the keel was slicing through the water making sputtering sounds as the canoe pushed through the thick weeds with the momentum from my last powerful stroke. With my right hand wrapped firmly around the grip, I slowly lifted my shoulders and arms readying myself for the next stroke. I brought the tip of the blade down into the water once again and with my left hand at the throat of the paddle; it pierced the surface of the cold black water. As I pulled hard, launching the bow forward, I could see the reflection of my gold ring sparkle in the underwater emptiness.

Just moments before I had navigated through a narrow passage of swamp grass, and found myself in a small bay with a beaver lodge directly to my right to the south surrounded by jagged logs sticking up out of the muddy water with scattered miniature islands of weeds and bog soup.

The beaver lodge was an active one; it had several fresh mud slide markings left by the beavers belly and paws as it brought branches to the upper part of the lodge and then slid down like a child on its water slide.

There was a strong wind blowing in a south-easterly direction, pushing me along and like the current of a river and it swallowed me whole, then within seconds I could see the leaves from the deciduous trees fluttering to my right on the bank. Staying close to the edge of the shoreline enabled me to avoid a hard fight with the winds but also capitalize on the hidden ducks.

The smell, sights and sounds of the fall enriched my hunting experience and as I pushed forward and slowly disappeared in the bowels of this amazing Canadian wilderness. Memories of my grandfather and the many trips to the family camp flood my soul.

This was teal country indeed, and with my shotgun stowed by my right knee loaded with three shells which included the one in the chamber, I was at the ready for the duck flight bursts. My paddle strokes allowed me to glide several meters and with the wind at my back; I would alternate putting down the paddle then shoulder my Remington 870 for about half a minute and then switch back to the paddle once I started to lose speed.

All my senses were at a heightened state and my breathing was controlled, taking only deep breaths thus preventing myself from getting too excited ensuring safe and solid shots. Once I reached a short distance passed the lodge toward my first mini island of tall grass, I heard a sharp whistle and three teal burst into the flight to the south-east only meters in front of me.

With my Remington 870 shouldered, I pushed off the safety catch and fired my first shot at the third and last bird but he reacted to the muzzle blast and dove to the right in flight and flipped on its side and then swerved back to its left just like a rock dove and then blending in with the tree line and I lost sight of the bird, it was a miss. Pumping the action, I now changed focused on the second bird which was more than twenty meters away on my left, I gave the bird some lead and released the second shot, the bird kept flying towards the north breaking away from the group and then dropped down and lost altitude gradually then plunged into the weeds below.

I placed the 870 on safe and paddled very quickly to the spot where it landed; this triggered two more teals to burst into the flight toward the river to the south on my right but I was not at the right angle for a safe shot and my priority was to find my harvested teal. After a few minutes of searching I found my blue winged teal. They are magnificent birds with their bright blue feathers and lightning fast flight. It was another fantastic hunt and a great way to end the day.

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The cold early morning water was splashing up against the side of the boat, with my left hand tight against my thigh holding the rope which was attached to the canoe being dragged at the back with its guts filled with our decoys and kit bags. The waves were very rough and we were all taking turns keeping an eye on the “V” shaped waves which formed and were slowly tempting the canoe almost caressing it, and then every few waves large amounts of water would almost fill up the canoe, and then the bow would lift up again and the deck plates would collect the crystal like water drops.

The river was filled with darkness and the water was freezing cold, it made you appreciate the comfort of the boat. It was still very dark out and we were moving right along the shore going North West up the river toward our duck hunting spots. The lights all around us were flickering orange, red and yellow surrounded by lush forest and swamps grass. I longed for the warmth of the fireplace and a nice hot drink but the excitement of the hunt was a much more powerful attraction indeed.

It had been raining now for the last two hours and it was slowing turning into a light drizzle. After our thirty minute boat ride, we finally reached the launching spot and the pilot brought the motor almost to a stop in order to coast toward the shore with the underside of the boat slowing down with the help of the thick weeds and tree stumps below the water’s surface. The hunter at the front leaped out into the water and pulled us in using the rope to the font of the boat and then stabilized it by pushing down on the tip of the bow with his two hands.  One at a time we hoped out of the boat and then got our shotguns out of their carrying cases, grabbed some shells and then got kitted up with our backpacks and decoy bags and prepared ourselves for the crossing over land to the embankment where our respective hunt spots had been marked.

There was a serpent shaped trail of tall grass which had been padded down by other hunters to get to the embankment, so two of us pulled the canoe onto the shoreline and slid it along like snow sled on the moist grass. It was hard labor but instead of complaining about the pain in our shoulders and arms, we focused on the prize and thought of the early French fur traders who must have suffered tremendously during similar portages.

An additional twenty minutes had passed and we were all in our shooting positions and now it was time to lay out your shells and prepare your kit for the hunt. I slowly unloaded my decoys from my duffle bag and launched them into the water and tall grass. Once they were in the position, I moved back into the high grass and created a natural blind and placed myself into a comfortable shooting position. I took a few breaths in order to relax and wait for dawn, when the sun just breaks the horizon.

We did not have to wait too long and the teal starting flying in from all directions, they were incredibly fast ducks and some were flying in very low to the water, then circling around and then coming in for a landing. Just like last year’s hunt the birds flew in over top and you could hear the feathers cut through the thin morning air right above you. They were beautiful; I would compare them to fighter jets flying over head in perfect unison.

Just one week before opening day, I watched a duck hunting video produced by Knight & Hale and my focus was to improve my “Call Back” and my “Feeding” calls based on their recommendations; and it worked like a charm, the ducks came in low, reacting to my calls and then as one of them came in low to touch down near my decoys I instinctively fired a Remington #3 steal shot into the air with a slight lead and harvested my first teal of the season. It was a brilliant hunt, they are fast birds indeed. Teal’s the Deal on opening day!

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