Michael Pearce

Last day of duck season...four out of five ain't bad

Four mallard drakes from Sunday’s final hunt of the 2013-14 waterfowl seasons.All I was allowed to shoot was a single mallard when I headed to a blind Sunday afternoon. Andy Fanter and I had hunted the same blind in the morning, when he’d taken a limit of five drake mallards and I’d shot four.

The buffet at the Wheatland Cafe in Hudson had left me literally about as full of friend chicken as I could be as I headed for the final sit of the duck season.  Friend Bob Snyder joined me in the afternoon, needing three drakes. for himself.

Scores of times in our 13 seasons of  friendship we’ve dropped the four drakes we needed from a single flock. Bob had also shot some nice full-limits of ducks on afternoon hunts several prior days. No problem, right? Mother Nature had other plans.

The ducks flew late in the afternoon, which isn’t unusual when it’s warm, and by that time the wind had totally died. Decoys looked as lifeless as lawn ornaments on the water. Calm conditions also lets the birds circle and circle a spot looking for danger.

Oh, there were a few chances.

A drake and hen flew within 25 yards of the blind just as I’d arrived, before my shotgun was loaded. Another pass was in range but silhouetted, so I couldn’t tell the drake from the hen. Yes, hens are legal, but not something we target at the wetlands Bob creates and manages.

The last half hour had plenty of ducks around, and one pair gave us several in-range passes. I passed on a shot I should have taken, and took one I shouldn’t have and missed.

…and fifteen minutes later the duck seasons that began on a hot September morning for teal were finished until next fall.

Disappointed? Nope.

Not one of my best duck seasons as far as numbers of birds killed, but still plenty of memories made.