Well, I’ve finally gotten out and gone Waterfowling a couple times this year….so far the Geese and Ducks are safe even if a few tail feathers are missing.
A couple weeks ago Mikey invited me to join him, Randy and his friend Logan for a Saturday morning hunt at a near by lake. This would be my second waterfowl experience, period. I got all my gear ready, made sure I had the appropriate licenses (including my duck stamp) and ammo. Friday night I got about 3 hours sleep before I needed to get on the road and drive the 45 minutes to Mike’s house. I slept right through my alarm! Luckily, I had set it early so I could stop on the way north and pick a couple things up …skipped that and got there on time…WHEW! Anyways, I got to Mikes and we loaded up his truck, got loaded and headed out. While Mikey has his driving permit, Mike had me drive while towing the boat.
We arrived at the State Park boat launch around 4am and there was one hunter already waiting to go out. We got the boat off the trailer and loaded with most the gear. The plan was to take Logan and Randy over to an island, drop them off to start setting the decoys and come back to pick me up with the rest of the gear. The only problem we had was that Mikey couldn’t get the motor started. All joking aside, Mikey pulled that rope enough times to start about a hundred or more motors. He called Mike, made some changes and BANG! It started. (See Mikey, Dad knows best! LOL).
Once we all got to the island, Mike and Logan made sure all the decoys were set in some pattern only known to them…looked like decoys on the water to me but I’ve been told there is a way of placing them that makes them work. You just can’t throw them out any which way. We “brushed” the blind in more and as Mikey and Logan were finishing up, more hunters started to arrive and soon there were another 4 groups out. The night was clear and warm so sitting and waiting for “shooting” hour to commence was a great time to relax and enjoy being out side. A bit of comical relief was thrown in as Logan seems to be still in the learning stage of applying camo face paint. Black paint (compliments of Dead Down Wind Color Wheel), applied in a heavy pattern that leaves ½ an inch of white skin around your mouth and eyes creates an almost Holloweenish type look....it’s not going to hurt getting it on your mouth or on your eye brows, lids and under your eyes… Once Mikey, Randy and I had stopped rolling around on the ground laughing, we took pity and provided a bit of advice on finishing up what Logan started. Sorry Logan, it was just too darn funny. Oddly enough, after the “paint” session was completed, the two “kids” laid down and fell asleep while the two older (barely!) guys stayed awake. What happened to youthful energy??About 20 minutes before legal shooting time, Mikey and Logan woke up and got ready to go.
TIME TO ROCK! Legal shooting time had arrived and immediately we had two ducks paddling in towards the decoys. As Mikey was telling us to get ready to flush them up, Logan jumped up and opened a rain of steel on them. Guess they brought their umbrellas cause they lifted and flew away unscathed. A few minutes after that, a truck pulled into the boat launch (we were positioned on the island were we could see the launch site) and dropped a bass boat in the water. The two guys proceeded to fish through out the zones of several hunting groups. Not the smartest idea and I’m sure it effected the flight patterns of incoming birds. As the sun started to rise more, several small groups of ducks flew past but none were interested in our decoys or landing and having a chat so several misses later the group was still birdless.
About 9am, I notice a boat heading across in front of us that looked like it had a model plane on the bow…weird until I watched it beach on the public beach area and meet several other folks all carrying planes. Oh Crap. Sure enough, they soon started flying RC Sea Planes back and forth in front of us. Now, while I can’t say without a doubt that they were engaging in hunter harassment as its all public park, there was a section of lake that is off limits to hunting that they could have been on with the same access and facilities…go figure. While I was tempted and while I did pull up on several occasions and put my bead on the planes because they were certainly in range, I never pulled the trigger. First, at times, there was a family on the beach in the direct path of any falling steel and that would have been not only dangerous but irresponsible. Other times I just didn’t have the lead time get a decent shot off. Probably a good thing as I just should have called the DNR to have them ticketed for harassment. This harassment went on until after we left for the day. Then again, I could have been distracted by the couple canoeing that paddled directly at us until they were about 35 yards away, took some pictures of us and paddle around the island…directly into the middle of another hunter’s decoy spread!
Well, while it was a beautiful day and we did get to throw some steel at some ducks, we decided to load up and head home. While Mikey and Logan were gathering the decoys, Randy and I cased up our guns and got the blind area cleaned up. Suddenly I heard a honk! I yelled “Geese”! Randy looked up and yelled “Treetop”. Luckily, Mikey and Logan had not cased up their guns yet and grabbed them quickly. Mikey opened up and missed but Logan got on a goose and knocked him down! Packing up and opportunity knocks! Go Figure. Logan got his first goose. Congratulations Logan.
All in all a very interesting day. I think that if we were not harassed we would have had a ton of opportunities to drop some ducks and geese but at least we had a good time, got a bird and everyone got to go home safe.