A succesful duck hunt requires balance. I see it like a side-by-side shotgun. One barrel is loaded with everything that can go right. The weather cooperates, the gear operates and the birds work right into the decoys. The other barrel is packed with everything that can go wrong. No wind, no birds and tires that won’t stay on the boat trailer. Last week, I got hit with both barrels. Some mallards were introduced to my freezer but my mojo has a broken leg, the boat trailer is in the shop and I’ve been forced to research the symptoms of a concussion on WebMD.
The Good Barrel Hunt
Early last week that low-pressure system looked downright sexy on the Weather Channel. Blizzards in NoDak turning into a snow/rain mix in the Twin Cities. The front was set to unleash freezing temps and sleet in Detroit by mid-week. I couldn’t bring myself to sit out this storm in the office. I took a vacation day, got up at 3 am and headed off to Harsen’s Island with a fellow duck slayer. We tried our luck in the drawing but struck-out. Time for plan B. Divers on Lake St. Clair.
We set the usual Muscamoot Bay spread of puddle ducks and black-and-whites along the edge of an island. Hunkered down in the tall grass, with about ten minutes before shooting time, we were buzzed by two feathered jets. These big divers banked over the spread, circled and set their feet. All we could do was watch this pair of Canvasbacks briefly dip in the water then charge off for the big lake. That got my blood pumping but when the shooting started the birds didn’t want to land in the spread. We spent the morning watching distant rafts of divers and listening to the shots from the layout boats. We managed to kill a nice drake mallard then set off back to the drawing for the afternoon hunt.
Out of 35 parties, we were picked 7th. As we headed out to a flooded corn field the weather started turning in our favor. The wind picked up. A mist slowly covered everything with miniature rain drops. We set two Mojos, some mallard and a few diver decoys in the water right next to the refuge. The next few hours were perfect. Mallards were in the air over the safe-zone all afternoon. The birds on the water called to the birds in the air creating a constant exciting ruckus. When the rain started falling the birds really started moving. Numerous singles and doubles stopped by the decoys making for some great shooting oppotunities.
We managed to add another 5 ducks to the total, 4 mallards and a wood duck. The trophy of the night was a big drake mallard flight bird. This fat northern migrator rode the front south. Hopefully his buddies will stick around for awhile.
The Other Barrel
I was totally amped up when I left work on Friday. Stepping into the parking lot I met the weekend with a few snowflakes and a biting north wind. Totally convinced the flight birds were stacked-up in Northern Michigan I rushed home, packed up the boat and headed to Lost Lake Woods Club, near Alpena, with my Dad and Zeus.
Saturday morning was bright and sunny but our favorite marsh was frozen. I broke a hole in the ice and set a few mallard decoys and the mojo on a 10 foot pole. After an hour of no duck activity we decided to scout, watch some Spartan football and head off to Hubbard Lake for the afternoon hunt. I pulled the mojo pole out of the mud and suddenly….WHACK. My field of vision turned white for a second and I almost passed out. When I came to my senses all I saw was stars and my mojo slowly sinking in the water in front of me. The little bastard jumped off the pole and smoked me in the head. It hit me so hard that one of the legs cracked clean off landing about 10 feet from the site of the attack. To make matters worse, scouting only produced more frozen backwater making me skeptical of how many birds would still be in the area.
As the Michigan State Spartans wrapped up another victory we headed off to the big water but were quickly dissapointed. There were very few birds on Hubbard Lake. The weather had pushed them south just a couple of days before I got there. We hunted until dark and saw 4 birds. Defeated we packed up and headed back to the cabin.
The next morning my head was a little foggy. The spot where the mojo smashed me was pretty sore so we packed everything up and headed for home. Just outside of Standish a truck started flashing his lights. We pulled over to find a destroyed tire on the trailer and no working tail lights. Apparently I created quite a spark show dragging the rim for miles before realizing the tire was blown. We put on the spare and two hours later I was home nursing a nagging headache.
My plans for today: 1. buy a new rim and tire 2. get a replacement licesnse plate for the trailer (have no idea where that went) 3. pick up the trailer from the shop. Afterall, I’ve got a big hunt at Fish Point planned for this weekend. I hope some birds are there but I can guarantee one thing. I won’t be standing under that damn mojo pole again.