Friday, October 28, 2011

Louisiana or Bust!

I'm hoping for Louisiana personally.It has been in the works for quite some time and it looks like it may actually happen.I may be going to Louisiana during their opening week of general duck season.Does this excite me,well let's just say,HELL YEAH!As an avid waterfowler this trip is on my "Bucket List".I'm fortunate to have this opportunity and although the details haven't been worked out as long as I get off this boat on time I will be in Louisiana.More to come so stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wood Duck Take 2

Hard to beat a morning like this

There is something to be said about showing up for a waterfowl hunt with just my gun,blind bag and waders.It RULES!It isn't very often that I get a quality invite so I have to go when I get the chance.If for nothing else at least for the knowledge of how other waterfowlers "run" the show.We all do things a little different and we all hope for the same outcome,birds in the boat.So the second day of the four day split took me to the upper blackwater river.As I like to call it where the river meets the swamp.After a quick meeting at the local store,doughnuts and coffee are necessary,my new hunting partner and I were on our way.With his local knowledge we ended up at a "ramp" that I would never put my boat in.Like a pro he had the boat in the water before I had my waders on,I needed to step up my game.I jumped in the boat and the sea smoke was immediately a problem.I'm not sure when the last time you went on a 5 am boat ride in the marsh but it's dark.Add some sea smoke and you get a black wall,no matter what kind of 70 dollar spot light you have,go me.It was an interesting ride to say the least but we made it to the spot and hunkered down for first light.

As we sat next t our chosen cypress trees sipping coffee we talked,chuckled and listened to the swamp.This my friends is my favorite time of day.Not just to be hunting but to be on the water,any water before most critters wake up.You almost always hear them before you see them and the wood ducks were no exception.It sounded like a group of puppies.The whining,chuckling mixed in with other swampy sounds I will admit was a bit spooky.A few minutes before first light my partner decided he didn't want to ruin this spot shooting at one or two birds.We were going to let first light ride out and try to get a shot at a group of four or more woodies.Then it happens in a flash.Remember we have snuck into the swamp,a part I had never visited,way before first light.So I really had no idea what ,my surroundings looked like.The light starts showing you plants,trees,vines,flowers you had no idea you were sitting nest to.The birds start flying and the shriek of the wood duck grew loud,quick.We were quickly buzzed by several singles but held our shots as we had discussed.Every waterfowler knows the first 15 minutes of shooting light are always your best chance to get a shot.This is even more so with wood ducks,they simply do not fly unless pressured to do so after the first hour of daylight.So we had our chances and we let them go,this is what I call pay it forward.After the morning flight we discussed our options.Bottom line was,enjoy the scenery and hope.

Seven years and this is what it's all about to me

Wood ducks fly fast,like jet fighter fast.That is if a jet fighter could weave through the trees less than a foot of the ground.So my buddy decided he would take a ride up into the swamp and check it out for future reference.Left alone on my ten foot island of mush I poured my last cup of coffee.I put my gun down and I laughed.Thinking the crap i have put myself to trying to down a single drake wood years on and off,missed shots,opportunities etc.On the verge of giving up a few years ago all the way to not having time off to even try.I stood up,looked down stream and then I saw it.Coming around the corner,side to me,white belly showing.So I did what any good duck hunter would do,I downed that bird.A few minutes later when the boat returned to Cypress Island we went over and grabbed the downed woodie.Now it's been no secret how mush the drake wood duck has eluded me.It's also no secret I have been planning to get my first drake woodie stuffed.Unfortunately when I dispatched the bird with one shot of my mossberg 935 it fell stone dead,in a mud puddle.Then it sat there until the boat returned so I could go get it.So getting a mud and blood stained bird stuffed wasn't the best option.The bird has been cleaned and is in the freezer for later eating.So that was it,one silly little bird.Seven years of trying and hoping and I had a smile on my face all day.I had accomplished more than one goal early in the season.I have met what will hopefully become some great local hunting partners and I downed a drake wood duck.This season may be short for me with my work schedule but it's looking better all the time.Bring on the cold weather!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Wood Duck Take 1

Opening morning Blackwater Swamp, Va

A few long days at work,a few technical difficulties with some new interface on here but I'm back and ready to blog.Last week I was lucky enough to be able to hunt during Virginia's early duck season and I made the most of it.After spending a few days before the season scouting I have to admit I was a little down in the dumps about my chances of bagging any birds.I do my research,I wake up pre dawn off season and get out there trying to locate my game.Most of the time I end up with little or no leads.I have been struggling to broaden my scope and spread out in search of ducks.The decision was made last month after the fiasco with some hunting "friends" and some misplaced waterfowl blinds.I wouldn't say I gave up,I just chose to move on.So during one of my outings to a nearby boat ramp I met a fella,who introduced me to another fella and so on and so on.It was really just perfect timing as he was coming in from building a stationary duck blind way up river.I was amazed to see that not only was he near my age,he was just as excited about bird hunting as I was.I knew this was what I needed,a local,my age with the same ridiculous obsession that I have,waterfowl hunting.

Boat Hide,looks good now and I hope it stays that way

Over the next few days we exchanged emails,then phone calls then we drank and told stories.I learned quickly he was a local as were the three others in his duck hunting crew.The opener quickly approached on Thursday and they all had to work but I was dead set on going so I did.Upon arriving at the dock at 5 AM I noticed another trailer in the parking lot.Odd in deer country in October.At the boat ramp sat what would become another hunting friend.We quickly exchanged numbers and he went to his spot and I to mine.Neither of us did much good that first morning,only a few wood ducks sighted.I lost a mojo wing but enjoyed the sunrise,oops.Later that afternoon my phone rang and it was quickly established that everyone I had met over the last few days knew each other.Yes it's a small town full of deer hunters so when a new duck hunter shows up the word spreads apparently.Later that afternoon we all met at the boat ramp to take a boat ride.They took me all through the swamp,showing me places that hold birds at different times of the season.Showing me roosts,good places to set up depending on wind and places not to hunt,aka private property.I couldn't believe this!A few guys I met at the boat ramp,who barely knew me,were taking me around showing me where to start my search for birds.When I asked they simply said,you look like an honest dude.The next morning we made plans on trying a new spot,way up in the marsh.I planned on hunting everyday,I knew this was my year for a drake wood duck.The question is,could I hit one?

Friday, October 7, 2011

It's Done

My seven year quest for a drake Wod Duck came to an end this morning in the swamps of the Blackwater River.With two days left in the four day early season I'm hoping for a few more but I won't get greedy.I will wait until next week to write a proper post with all the details from this weeks hunts.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Public land and the Private Blind

Leaves starting to turn,good time of the year

It's extremely upsetting to me that it has come to this but I had to build a stationary blind for duck hunting.So what's the big deal?Well for the past 5 years I have licensed my boat as a floating blind and hunted mostly public marshes and rivers.This year the other very few "grown" men that hunt the area decided to have a war.A stationary blind war,on public water at that.So a quick rundown on Virginia and it's waterfowl blind laws,this may give you a headache.Landowners have the first right to put up a stationary blind.If they choose not to then the common man has the right to pay his 23.50 to get a tag and put up a blind by a certain date,November 1.If no stationary blind is erected by said date a floating blind may be used in that area of public land.So for the last few years it worked pretty good because there were absolutely no stationary blinds.The 3 main hunters in the area would call each other the night before a hunt and discuss locations we planned to hunt so we wouldn't step on each others toes.I guess that wasn't good enough for some and here we are coming up on the duck opener and the entire stretch of river is now locked up with stationary blinds in some sort of public land stand off.One guy says everyone is hunting "his" spot to much.Another is new to the scene and jumped the gun without talking to the locals.Then there was me,little 'ol me.So I stayed on the sidelines as long as I could and then I stood up and put my big boy pants on.

Blackwater River October 2011

If you follow the blog then you know I moved last Summer and have really just started to settle in.Last duck season I hunted mostly the same areas I had grown to know,see above paragraph.This year I have made a few contacts but none have come through so far.This meant that last month while all this stationary blind craziness was going down I made a choice.I talked to the original leader of the "grown" men.It's at this point that I need to tell you that this fella hadn't said a word to me in over two years.I left messages,I was cordial at the boat ramp,I received the stink eye.Now all of a sudden I'm his buddy because he needs me to put in for a stationary blind tag to lock down this magical spot that I haven't hunted for 3 years because he said it was his.I agreed,like an idiot,I agreed.So a few weeks on the boat got me thinking,why the hell do i want to drive all the way there and have to deal with the fuss.I just couldn't see what I was getting out of it.The simple answer was maybe a few ducks but definitely a political headache.I would quickly become that guy who took the other guys side.This my friends is duck hunting in 2011 in South Eastern Virginia.It's disgusting,inexcusable,pathetic and I won't have any of it.

OK I give up,let's build this blind!

So they can have it!It took me a few weeks to come around but they can have it.One of the only places I knew I could go to and almost always get ducks and geese to work I'm willing to give up.I Duck hunt because I love the water,sunrises,sea smoke in early December and the camaraderie of friends in the blind.I don't hunt because I like harming small animals,it's just part of it and they do happen to taste good so that's not my fault.I took that stationary blind tag and I headed to my local river around my new house and my brother and I built a boat hide.Will it hold ducks?No idea and I don't care.I know that this year I will be able to go out there,watch the sunrise through the cypress trees and tell a few jokes to some good friends.Friends that don't care how much shoreline I locked up with the strategic placement of my blind.Wood Duck season opens this Thursday so it's time to do some scouting.Fall weather is here,get outside and enjoy it friends.