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First year duck hunting....

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First year duck hunting....

Old 01-28-2014, 09:51 AM
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Default First year duck hunting....

Well, like most new hobbies I enjoy, I dive in full speed ahead like an addict. I really enjoy any type of wing shooting due to the nature of the hunt (hanging out with buddies, you can talk, etc.) and the opportunity to shoot a lot. Duck hunting is just that.

Well, I finally found an opportunity to hunt a beaver pond up here with a guy that said wood ducks were the primary duck there. He does occasionally see a mallard, teal or pintail, but they are rare. Woke up around 3 that morning to head over and man was it cold. It was 8 degrees that morning, but the windchill was even colder. Most of the water was frozen.



We waded out to the middle of the pond and he told me where they usually fly in from. He asked me if I had ever shot them and I told him no, I've never killed a duck or even shot at a duck. He looked worried and proceeded to tell me how hard they are to actually hit in that pond because once you see them, you blink and they're gone. Right about legal shooting light, we had a small silhouette buzz us at warp speed. Didn't even have time to get my gun up, and frankly I think it was frozen in the down position anyways. Well, as luck would have it, the bird turned and came back over and I folded it on the first shot. We assumed it was a wood duck, but couldn't tell from where it fell.

Went to get it and discovered it was a drake green winged teal! Not my target duck, but a pleasant surprise for my first duck. I wish I could have had it mounted, but I basically shot its bottom half off.



For the next 20 minutes or so, we would get buzzed periodically by small groups of wood ducks. I shot at more than I hit. On my 2nd shot at one group I saw another duck fall. I hoped it was a drake wood duck, but was happy I shot another duck, regardless. After retrieving the bird, it was what I came for!



That one has been delivered to the taxidermist. I went with a local guy that is known for his stellar bird work, so I can't wait to get it on the wall.

Here's a view of the pond, pretty much facing where they flew in from.


The total for 3 shooters was 2 wood ducks and one green winged teal.





That morning was probably a tenth of what most duck hunters consider a good day, but I was on cloud 9, and still am.
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Old 01-28-2014, 09:52 AM
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Fast forward to this past weekend.....

Since this is the last weekend of duck hunting for the season here in Alabama, I tried to get my fix one last time. Another more experienced hunter agreed to help me learn the ropes. Got up at 1:30am, drove to the water, and about 3am headed out across the iced waters. We mostly had to bust our way across to our spot. Upon arriving, we were tasked with putting out a decoy spread and building a brush blind on the edge of the point. It was pretty cool to learn about the decoy spreads and building an impromptu brush blind. About 30 min before shooting light, it was time to relax, drink some coffee and enjoy the views.




The ducks were flying all over us. Most were too high, too far, or were on us and then gone so fast we weren't able to shoot. However, I did get a nice passing shot on a group and plucked out a hen gadwall. This is the 3rd duck I've killed in my life, so just the fact that it was a duck was exciting for me.



I shot at A LOT of ducks, but I was having about the same success rate (per shell fired) as dove hunting. I made a few adjustments and didn't miss the rest of the day. A nice drake redhead fell next....



Being new to duck hunting, I can identify a duck easily, but not to the point of what kind of duck just yet. I thought I shot a nice drake ringneck, but this will do...



You know it's cold when the spent shells started freezing together on the water.



The action slowed down considerably as the day went on, but there were birds flying all day for those willing to wait it out. Boats moving around all day helped us out by jumping up ducks. During the lulls, an itchy trigger finger was remedied by shooting coots that ventured temptingly close into the decoy spread.



After a long dry spell, we had another bird come in out of nowhere to the decoys. It turned out to be a hen scaup. Not sure if it's a greater or lesser, but more than likely the latter based on location.



After several more coots were shot, I had thought I had a pretty good day. I was halfway to my limit, plus 3 coots and a drake hooded merganser. I kept a close watch on the skies and sure enough, I saw a bird come around to my left cupping to come in. One shot and I had my first drake gadwall. As wary as these birds are on open water, especially at the end of the season, this bird made my day. Beautiful birds...





The pair....



We called it quits at the end of shooting light and almost 12 hours of actual hunting. After getting the decoys up and all the spent shells we could find, it was time to head back in for the day. This is how much ice still remained....



A great day on the water!



Got home late and after cleaning the birds, I completely crashed. What an ending to the season and a very exciting hunt for this newbie duck hunter. Can't wait for next year!

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Old 01-30-2014, 11:55 AM
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Thanks for posting! What a great story and now you are addicted!!
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Old 01-31-2014, 04:32 AM
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Your 3rd pictured bird as you noted is a merganser. Not the best eating of birds but if you marinate them and grill them they aren't bad. I've been known to pot a few coots as well. They make a decent stew. Looks like a good time on the water.
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Old 01-31-2014, 06:51 PM
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That sure looks like fun to me ....................!

Hopefully you realize how lucky you are to hunt flooded timber !!!

I'm green with envy.

Last edited by Sheridan; 02-01-2014 at 07:45 PM.
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Old 02-01-2014, 04:16 PM
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Nice pictures. Looks like a nice hole your hunting in those first few pictures. Love the sound of them woodies coming through the timber.
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Old 02-02-2014, 07:15 AM
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Nice pictures and great story !

But you said, "Went to get it and discovered it was a drake green winged teal! I wish I could have had it mounted, but I basically shot its bottom half off."

"I can identify a duck easily, but not to the point of what kind of duck just yet."

"It turned out to be a hen scaup. Not sure if it's a greater or lesser."

You need to get a good Duck Identification book (booklet) and study it well before next season.
Many states have a limit on exactly how many of which species or sex can be shot -- or not shot at all.
Duck ID (before you even shoot) is your next step -- Then and only then will you be allowed to enter SODA (Society of Duck Addicts).

Keep up the good work.

.
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Old 02-02-2014, 03:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Doc E View Post
Nice pictures and great story !

But you said, "Went to get it and discovered it was a drake green winged teal! I wish I could have had it mounted, but I basically shot its bottom half off."

"I can identify a duck easily, but not to the point of what kind of duck just yet."

"It turned out to be a hen scaup. Not sure if it's a greater or lesser."

You need to get a good Duck Identification book (booklet) and study it well before next season.
Many states have a limit on exactly how many of which species or sex can be shot -- or not shot at all.
Duck ID (before you even shoot) is your next step -- Then and only then will you be allowed to enter SODA (Society of Duck Addicts).

Keep up the good work.

.
You are correct. I know the possession limits for individual birds, but it's still tough to identify them exactly in flight for me. I know what every duck "should" look like regarding feathers, etc., but I'm not shooting them in slow motion. The problem is when they're flying it's tough to discern species at what seems like mach speed. I can usually identify a duck post shot from binocs if I don't go get it immediately, so I can keep up with what I've shot pretty well. I then only shoot if I'm sure what species I'm shooting. I'm still hunting with more experienced people that can identify them for me and help me learn. No teacher like experience!

Last edited by mrl0004; 02-02-2014 at 04:00 PM.
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