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Duck hunting

NoDak 2011: Limit at Dawn

I didn’t know what to shoot first. I shouldered the gun two or three times only to lower it and grab my call. Dusty and Zeus were tracking a crippled pintail not even 50 yards behind me. The birds could see them and still wanted in. I threw down a feed chuckle rolled into a few low quacks. My pulse was racing. Flocks of birds dove into the decoys. I was surrounded. I couldn’t take it anymore. I stood up and dusted a shoveler. Continued the swing and folded a drake Greenwing Teal.

Ten minutes in and three in the strap. This was going to be the morning we drove 1,000 miles to see.

The day before we watched the birds filter from the feeds into this flooded field. It only took a few minutes to fall in love. I didn’t want to leave but we had to keep scouting. I couldn’t wait to be reunited. I woke up once an hour, every hour, to check my alarm clock.

But we almost screwed this hunt. We got lost in the dark Dakota morning and pulled up to the spot with ten minutes to spare. The short jog through ankle deep mud with a bag of decoys on my back was less than comfortable.

All that didn’t matter now. We were on the spot. Small groups of pintail and teal each set up perfectly. Distant flocks went from specs on the horizon to screaming targets. This field was filling up with ducks almost as fast as our limit.

A huge flock of mallards eyed the mojos. I managed to separate 5 or 6 from the back of the flock with some aggressive calling. They locked up 200 yards out. I thought it was a done deal until they saw something they didn’t like. The lead duck flared over Dusty’s head. It was a poke but he gave that big drake a helicopter ride to the water. I matched him with a long-range shot of my own putting another greenhead on the tailgate.

We had 10 ducks and decided to bring the pup out to clean up our limit. Zeus was mad to be back in the truck. He was probably 1/2 a mile away and I could hear him howling. I’m sorry buddy. The pup needed some one-on-one time.

Then they stopped. The sky was empty. I pulled out one of my ear plugs to listen to the low rumble of feed chuckles on the water behind us. It was 8:30 am and they were done for the morning. It took an hour to finish-up but the pup got his work. A gadwall in the decoys gave him a 10 yard retrieve. The pintail involved a little swimming and gave Tugboat the final word in a perfect morning on the prairie.

The flooded field in North Dakota

The Honey Hole

 

Black lab after the hunt

Zeus. Finally out of the Truck.

Drake Mallards

Extended Range Drakes

Successful duck dogs

Me with Team Black & Yellow

Limit of ducks on the tailgate

One helluva Morning

a limit of north dakota ducks

Obligatory Tailgate Shot

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