Wednesday, January 21, 2015

weekend recap: winding down

Can you believe duck season is almost over? Like, this. weekend. I always have this tug of emotion in the last week or two - I am, on one hand, pretty tired from traveling every weekend plus every Tuesday/Wednesday and look forward to actually sleeping in on a Saturday rather than hitting snooze at 5 am. I know, I know... There are worse problems to have! On the other hand, I know that this time next week, I will be bored, wondering when I will get to hunt again and wondering why I ever even remotely wanted duck season to come to a close even a little bit. That said, the season is winding down, so we're going to make the most out of our last hunts. Ducks or no ducks, we'll be out there!
"No ducks" pretty much sums up last weekend's hunt. At least, very few ducks. And the thing is, no one seems to have any either. It appears that they have all moved on to greener pastures colder ponds. Still, we geared up and headed out early Saturday morning. Parker (my father-in-law) was kind enough to spend the morning with an eye behind the camera lens, rather than the barrel of his shotgun. He got some great shots, even if we didn't!  
I know I've made it sound like zero ducks were killed, but that's not the case. We were still able to see a few ducks, even if we didn't get a shot, and a few other blinds knocked down a handful of birds (mostly ring necks, if I remember correctly).
By 9 o'clock, we stopped seeing ducks in the air, and we didn't hear any shooting from the surrounding properties, so everyone decided that it was time to head in. Hot breakfast, hot coffee, and (ok, fine) cold beer & Bloody Marys were calling our names. Wouldn't you do the same?
The rest of the morning was spent hanging out, reliving the hunt and telling other old, funny stories of past hunts. I'd do it all over again in a minute, ducks or no ducks.
There was a certain someone who wasn't quite ready to call it a day when we did, though...

Don't worry, buddy, we'll try again this coming weekend!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

weekend recap: #tbt to the last of deer season

I know... It seems like I let deer season go out with a fizzle, and not with a bang. I did do a fair amount of hunting after the big doe I shot, and had my sights set on ending the season with a really nice buck. My efforts proved to be futile, though, as I saw only does on the remainder of my hunts. Plus, nothing too exciting happened on them, so taking photos/recapping each hunt wasn't a big priority. You'd have been quite bored, I am sure.
On the last weekend of the season, I decided to give it one last try. Two, to be exact, but the first was much more exciting than the second. I needed a fresh breeze and some activity, so rather than sit in a stand and not move for 2+ hours, I decided to throw my rifle over my shoulder and try my hand at stalking. Not creepy-mustache-windowless-van stalking, but quietly making my way past the ponds & through the woods, pausing every hundred yards or so to watch & listen, hoping to jump a deer. I took my time by the duck pond, having spotted something interesting. Widgeon and gadwall and...
Gators, oh my! We had some warmer days around Christmas, and apparently a few these guys decided to enjoy the weather as well. Who wouldn't want to troll around the pond with a few dozen ducks for company? It was a little strange seeing the alligators out in late December, I have to admit. Mostly because THIS IS WHERE WE DUCK HUNT. As in, how much extra protection do my waders give me if a gator decides to attack while I am out in the water picking up a duck? What if a gator decides Prine looks like a tasty mid-morning snack? Yikes! I know, I know -. Probably a little dramatic. They move so slowly during these colder winter months. But... What if one decides to sunbathe in a duck blind? Does that seem crazy?
Yea... Not really, huh? That's what is left of an old duck blind, and it seemed to be the perfect place for Mr. Chomps the Alligator to spend his afternoon. Pretty cool sight, however frightening it may be for a duck hunter! After a few minutes, I continued on my way. Around 4 miles later, I didn't have much to show for my efforts, aside from finding a really nice rub from earlier in the season. Well, I did have a little bit of excitement.
That excitement came from jumping a group of does that got away before I could regain my composure. Honestly, I am not sure who scared who more. I was sneaking along the edge of some woods between a few low areas when a patch of bushes about 20 feet away from me started rustling furiously. Out jumped 2 does who did not look twice before taking off across the land. I was so startled that I barely got my gun strap off of my shoulder before they were 100 yards away. Then, just when I thought I had lost sight of them, 5 more does jumped out of the same bushes and took off after the first two. What?! I threw my rifle up and tried to get one in the cross hairs, but those deer were bounding and zigging and zagging so fast, I just couldn't get a shot. Ugh. Honestly, if I'd had my shotgun with some buckshot, I probably could have knocked down two deer. They were ssooo close... It was perfect for buckshot. Less than ideal for a .308 caliber rifle.
I tried again the following day, trading in my rifle for my 12 gauge and some buckshot, but I didn't see one deer. Didn't even hear one. Ahh... Such is life, I guess. Maybe next season I will take both guns. Just in case.

Until next time, enjoy the last two weekends of duck season. 
I know I will!    

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

weekend recap: trophies

Ugh. The weather. Is anyone else over this rain? I know I am! If it's going to rain in January, I think it should just go ahead and snow. Anyone with me on that? Thankfully, we had good weather over the weekend to do a little duck hunting  in Georgetown. We didn't anticipate a crazy, barrel burner of a hunt, but knew there were some ducks on the pond and knew it would be worth a try. At the very least, it was shaping up to be a beautiful day.
A few blinds got some shooting early on, but John and I were having a pretty slow morning. We moved to a few different spots, but our luck did not improve. He had killed one duck, and I had not pulled the trigger. Woof. 
Feather in the sky

But! Our morning was about to change. As we were walking back towards the truck, ready to throw in the towel, we jumped a group of ducks. A reddish head + light grey back or two was amongst them (!!!). John made the first shot, knocking on duck to the water and hitting a second. I noticed he had wounded the second, but that the shot was not a fatal one. Being the oh-so-helpful-and-generous wife that I am (teehee - insert devilish laugh here) I decided to be just that and back him up. I took my shot at the duck, and we were in business. Two on the water, and Prine headed into the pond to make the retrieve. It wasn't until he made it back to land that we realized what we'd just done...
In the perfect storm of events, John and I had successfully killed one stud of a drake canvas back, together, and Prine had made a great retrieve. How about that?! We rarely see cans around the area, much less get a shot at one. I'd never killed a drake before, and the only one John killed was in North Dakota a few years ago. Woohoo! Quite the family event, huh? Needless to say, we were super excited. And, wouldn't you know? The excitement didn't stop there...
Oh yes. When we finally did make it back to the truck, we were greeted with more exciting news - Parker had killed an incredible drake pintail that morning! John and I had seen a group of 7-8 of them earlier in the morning, but they were no where in range for us to even attempt. Luckily, someone else was able to make a great shot on a great bird. Congrats, Parker!
Talk about some trophies, right?? Other ducks killed that morning included ring necks, a ruddy duck or two, and gadwall, but these two really took the cake. Coming out with a duck like this definitely makes it worth the price of admission for a slow hunt. I've been after a trophy duck all season, and now I have it. Actually, we have it. Pretty great morning, if you ask me.
Our day of duck hunting didn't stop there, either. A buddy of ours from college was in town with two of his friends for a duck hunt elsewhere that morning, and they came out to hunt with us in the afternoon with a few other guys. It wasn't a successful hunt (only 1 gadwall between all of us), but we had a really fun time just hanging out in the blinds.
Par for the course, the ducks started coming in about 2 minutes after legal hour, so we hung around (with unloaded guns) for another 10-15 minutes watching them cup up and light in a few of the ponds. We even saw one massive group of ducks - I am talking 500+ - heading out towards the bay and (I assume) on to the ocean. I have never seen that many ducks at one time, and it was really a cool sight.
Someone was over it by this point...
Not a bad day of duck hunting in my book. Since it was the first duck hunt there without her, we like to think Scotch was the one who made sure we had a good one... And that, we did!

Has your duck season been a success so far?

Friday, January 9, 2015

just before the freeze

Happy weekend, friends! I hope everyone is staying warm during these chilly, chilly days... Brrr! There's something unsettling about needing to wear the same fleece-lined leggings to work that I typically wear when I am duck hunting. I know, I know... If I am not hunting, I am a complete wimp about cold weather. But 18* yesterday was cold for the Lowcountry!
That's why I am so glad I was able to get a mid-week duck hunt in on Wednesday, just before the freeze came. It was still nice and chilly, with the temperature actually dropping as the morning went on, but boy was it pretty.
It wasn't quite as good as last week's hunt [read: I apparently couldn't hit the broad side of a bard for the first 30 minutes], but we finished strong and both Dad and I came out with our limits - mostly ring necks, and a mallard here & there for Dad. Hey, slow and [mostly] steady or barrel-burner - I won't turn down a duck hunt!
Sorry for the foggy photo - warm-ish hands and 35* phone = extra foggy. Oops.

Are you hunting this weekend? Stay warm out there!