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Posts Tagged ‘duck hunt’


The headlights of the truck lit up the dirt road as we made our way down the hill toward the boat launch site on the northern shore of the river.

Just a few minutes had passed now and we were already parked and unloading our gear, decoy bags, shotguns and our backpacks. Prior to stepping out of the truck, I always check and make sure that my LED head lamp is placed over top my tuque and that I turn it on during morning duck hunts because we often work and get ready in the dark until we get to our hunting spots.

We removed the straps holding down the canoe to the roof of the truck, then lifted and spun it around at the same time placing it on the ground. We carefully filled it up with our gear and carried the canoe down to the water’s edge. It was a cold morning with the temperature sitting at around minus five degrees Celsius but there was no wind and the water was dead calm not a ripple in sight. The sky was very clear and had a purple color to it with the sun sitting just below the horizon, you could also see all the prominent stars.

I stood up by the canoe picked up my life jacket and turned it inside out, so that the black inside part was facing out and I then climbed into the bow of the canoe which was now facing directly south and being held by the other hunter.

We pushed off quietly and started paddling across the wider part of the bay; our plan was to cross the larger part of the bay and head in a south-easterly direction. On the other side there was a steep embankment with a trail that we could use to get to the small inner islands and end up in distributaries.

Once we reached the other side of the bank and worked our way through the trail pulling the canoe by its strap, we noticed that our primary waterway was frozen over with around an inch of ice. We now had to prepare our decoy placement, so the canoe was pushed onto the ice and as we climbed in our weight it caused the canoe to break through the thin layer of ice and then we started paddling and breaking our way through the ice moving toward the center of the waterway.

Once in the middle using just our paddle blades, we broke the ice into a very large circle shape and then placed our decoys and electronic duck Mojo into the water on its twelve-foot pole. With the decoys setup in a scattered formation, we slowly made our way back to the shoreline and to our respective shooting spots. We were about fifteen meters apart, now in a kneeling position; I collected some deadfall and several broken branches and built a small blind in front of me along with some foliage.

This would create a natural looking barrier between the duck decoys and my shooting position; if needed I could lower myself in behind the shelter so that if the ducks flew in for their initial fly over, they would not see me. One thing that I have observed is that if you call out several duck calls and attract ducks toward your decoys, mallards will fly in from several directions and quite often they are in groups of two or three and sometimes more depending on your location. I have seen twenty mallards all bunched up together in flight.

So stay low and wait for them to come in within shooting range. You need to study their flight pattern and within a few seconds judge whether you will have a close shot or you may have to take a long shot. It may seem like at times that you are anticipating and trying to interpret what direction they may take, their wings formation and shape in flight can tell you a lot about their next move. We waited for the half an hour mark before sunrise and then whispered to each other that it was now time, we started calling hard with some combo calls letting out comeback calls and feeding calls. Within minutes two mallards flew in from the south-west and came in low between me and the decoys about fifteen meters out.

I quickly lined up my bead site and released a shot of #4 my first mallard fell onto the ice surface and slid a few inches then stopped.

We kept on calling and more ducks flew in but then gained altitude and landed further to the east near the shoreline where the ice was thinner and had open spots. The other hunter on my left decided to work his way up the bank to the east and attempt to harvest the ducks that landed minutes earlier on our left.

I took a quick look around and above then called again, several comeback and feeding calls, soon more ducks came in very high from the south-west, so I released another shot, it was a miss, pumped the action and fired a second shot hitting the last duck in the group of four; the duck froze in mid-air and plunged several meters into the ice surface piercing a hole the size of the bird then got stuck below the surface.

I called again with a very loud comeback call and then waiting around ten minutes and called again with some feeding calls. Two more ducks came in from the south-west then dropped down circling around into the water hole were the decoys were floating. I fired another shot and hit a mallard hen, the bird froze in the air, dropped and landed on the opposite shore line of the water way. It was my longest shot this season and a successful harvest.

It was a fantastic hunt!

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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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