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MontanaLon

Duck Season 2020 ***Update SUCCESS!!!!

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It is almost time for my annual October pilgrimage to Northern Michigan for a long weekend of duck hunting. The past few years have been a learning experience as I try to get Maverick out into the woods and waters. I've always been more of the poor man's duck hunter. I would rather jump shoot ducks than sit in a blind and ambush them. But it is one thing for me to throw on the waders and go sneaking along the river and shoot some ducks than it is to drag Mav along with me and have any hope of seeing let alone shooting ducks. 

 

2 years ago we tried me in a belly boat and Mav in a little 1 man raft. I got soaked and hypothermic. Last fall we tried some blind hunting and it just wasn't working. The area we hunt is mostly a mid day loafing area. I'm not entirely sure where the ducks are coming from but they seem to not be in the area at all at first light and show up after the sun is well up and then leave a couple of hours before sunset and not return until the next morning. Some of them go to the river but many more of them go to a beaver pond on a tributary that comes in from the south. The problem has always been that tributary is all bottomless muck and where the beaver pond is it is just deeper water with bottomless muck under it. Wading to it is completely impossible. The channel is bottomless muck and the ground around it isn't solid. There is grass on it, but if you step on it you sink. I stepped in it one time years ago and went in chest deep and wasn't touching anything solid. I was able to crawl out of it and crawl to solid ground but it isn't something I would want the kid dealing with.

 

Well this summer I bought an inflatable kayak and we took it to Michigan and floated a couple different places. This kind of lead to a realization of why the ducks are only mid day residents of the area we hunt and where they come from too. We floated the downstream portions of the river where it is much larger and hard bottomed. It is a very popular river for the trout fishing and I believe what is happening in the morning is the ducks are getting bumped off the river and heading over to where we hunt. 

 

Where we actually hunt on it, the width is usually less than 10 yards and it has a soft bottom. There are a couple of places where there is rock bottom but the vast majority of it is a sand bottom or muck bottomless. A lot of horseshoe bends meandering across the valley. It is great for jump shooting as you can go from horseshoe to horseshoe to find the ducks. But it doesn't work so well with Mav being 4 feet tall like he was last year. 

 

So I have spent the last 2 weeks covering the kayak in camouflage cordura. 5 yards of fabric and a quart of contact cement later it is camoed properly. We have already run it on the small part of the river where we hunt so we know it works and we know it is possible to sneak up on the ducks while they are loafing. We also know that we can get up that tributary to the beaver pond before the sun comes up or shortly after and set up the decoys on the X that spot has always been. The time I tried to get to it and sunk in the muck, when I got to the solid ground I was about 200 yards from the beaver pond and above it about 10 feet and the water was just covered with ducks. I've watched them fly over the river and my decoys and head right to that pond many times and have watched birds I have flushed off the river while jump shooting go over the trees, set their wings and glide right it. 

 

I think this time we finally have a plan that will come together and give Mav a fighting chance of getting ducks up close and committed to landing on the end of his barrel. He's big enough to handle the 12 gauge now too so I will be picking up a box of Winchester Blind Side loads and running a skeet choke. Throw a big pattern up close and ducks are easy to kill. So he will get the 11-87 and I will use my new EAA MC312 and hopefully shoot a few ducks. If it goes well, we may even get enough to have dinner.

Edited by MontanaLon
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Wabbit season!

 

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9 hours ago, MontanaLon said:

It is almost time for my annual October pilgrimage to Northern Michigan for a long weekend of duck hunting. The past few years have been a learning experience as I try to get Maverick out into the woods and waters. I've always been more of the poor man's duck hunter. I would rather jump shoot ducks than sit in a blind and ambush them. But it is one thing for me to throw on the waders and go sneaking along the river and shoot some ducks than it is to drag Mav along with me and have any hope of seeing let alone shooting ducks. 

 

2 years ago we tried me in a belly boat and Mav in a little 1 man raft. I got soaked and hypothermic. Last fall we tried some blind hunting and it just wasn't working. The area we hunt is mostly a mid day loafing area. I'm not entirely sure where the ducks are coming from but they seem to not be in the area at all at first light and show up after the sun is well up and then leave a couple of hours before sunset and not return until the next morning. Some of them go to the river but many more of them go to a beaver pond on a tributary that comes in from the south. The problem has always been that tributary is all bottomless muck and where the beaver pond is it is just deeper water with bottomless muck under it. Wading to it is completely impossible. The channel is bottomless muck and the ground around it isn't solid. There is grass on it, but if you step on it you sink. I stepped in it one time years ago and went in chest deep and wasn't touching anything solid. I was able to crawl out of it and crawl to solid ground but it isn't something I would want the kid dealing with.

 

Well this summer I bought an inflatable kayak and we took it to Michigan and floated a couple different places. This kind of lead to a realization of why the ducks are only mid day residents of the area we hunt and where they come from too. We floated the downstream portions of the river where it is much larger and hard bottomed. It is a very popular river for the trout fishing and I believe what is happening in the morning is the ducks are getting bumped off the river and heading over to where we hunt. 

 

Where we actually hunt on it, the width is usually less than 10 yards and it has a soft bottom. There are a couple of places where there is rock bottom but the vast majority of it is a sand bottom or muck bottomless. A lot of horseshoe bends meandering across the valley. It is great for jump shooting as you can go from horseshoe to horseshoe to find the ducks. But it doesn't work so well with Mav being 4 feet tall like he was last year. 

 

So I have spent the last 2 weeks covering the kayak in camouflage cordura. 5 yards of fabric and a quart of contact cement later it is camoed properly. We have already run it on the small part of the river where we hunt so we know it works and we know it is possible to sneak up on the ducks while they are loafing. We also know that we can get up that tributary to the beaver pond before the sun comes up or shortly after and set up the decoys on the X that spot has always been. The time I tried to get to it and sunk in the muck, when I got to the solid ground I was about 200 yards from the beaver pond and above it about 10 feet and the water was just covered with ducks. I've watched them fly over the river and my decoys and head right to that pond many times and have watched birds I have flushed off the river while jump shooting go over the trees, set their wings and glide right it. 

 

I think this time we finally have a plan that will come together and give Mav a fighting chance of getting ducks up close and committed to landing on the end of his barrel. He's big enough to handle the 12 gauge now too so I will be picking up a box of Winchester Blind Side loads and running a skeet choke. Throw a big pattern up close and ducks are easy to kill. So he will get the 11-87 and I will use my new EAA MC312 and hopefully shoot a few ducks. If it goes well, we may even get enough to have dinner.

 

Good luck with Mav. I hope you guys see some action !

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My duck hunting has always been just pure luck to find them and not much planning as duck and goose hunting never really got my attention. My brother was and is into it big time. One day about 20 years ago he told me to meet up with him and we would sneak up on a bunch of ducks. I had bought a new pair of cammie jammies and was feeling good about crawling across the half frozen half wet ground.......until my knee hit the ground for the first time and that near frozen cold water went straight through my "water resistant" camo. 

 

No ducks were there and freezing to death all wet was not much fun......duck and goose hunting is one of those sports you had better have your ducks in a row (pun intended) before you go as it can be miserable or deadly if you are not prepared. 

 

Every few years on the waterways up home the fire department has to get a boat and go drag the area for bodies. Matter of fact the last two that drown did so over my old property I had on the water. They left a house on the water to go hunting and got into trouble and went overboard. That water is so cold in the summer you cannot swim in it and in the winter it's only not frozen over because the water is moving. 

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Duck diary day 1:

 

Things I learned today.

1. My son has the attention span 5 minutes too short.

2. My waders e 5 inches too short.

3. The place you were was probably the best place.

4. There is always tomorrow.

 

So we went out and got licenses this morning and then shot some clays to have Mav warmed up. When he felt he was ready we went to the river and launched the boat and the season. We decided to paddle up a side creek to an old beaver pond and set up the decoys. We went light, 3 floaters and a spinner. It was about 2.5 hours to sunset when we were ready. It didn't take long for the ducks to start moving along the river, no doubt in response the the eagles that kept flying over. We had 1 small flock of woodies trying to work but stayed out of range.

 

We were kind of distracted with something when a huge flock of mallards went over high. I called and a half dozen split off and headed our way. I am not a good caller so once I get them turned I just shut up. They flared about 100 yards out and then left in the direction the others had gone. And then not much happened for a while Mav got bored and wanted to go back to the river so we loaded up and headed back to the river. About 70 yards from where we had set up there was a beaver dam and we had to get out to carry the boat over. We had no sooner gotten back into the boat when 2 woodies buzzed us and promptly set their wings and landed where we had just left. 

 

We got back on the river and had several flocks of woodies go by out of range and then 3 flew by at 25 yards. Mav emptied his gun and totally missed but just barely. We continued downstream until we got to another beaver dam so we backtracked 100 yards and picked a spot where we could get out and set up the decoys. It was about 1/2 hour to end of shooting time and almost immediately there were ducks in the air coming from every direction going every direction. They were all out of range though. Then we had 5 go by 50 yards out and I called to them. They went out of sight and maybe a minute later came in from behind and caught us flatfooted. Didn't ever get a shot off. Mav took a couple more shots and I took a couple after he missed and neither of us scored a hit. And then it was end of legal shooting and my alarm went off. We unloaded our guns and sat there watching hundreds of ducks moving around the area.

 

Tomorrow we will take the kayak but set up a blind where we ended the evening. There is a good chance tomorrow will be a repeat of today but we will give them hell. 

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Success!! We went back to where we ended yesterday evening and set our decoys in a little oxbow slough on the river. About 5 minutes after shooting light a wood duck went over and 1 quack at it and it turned and landed right in the decoys. Mav clobbered it. We watched ducks and an eagle flying around for about 45 minutes with nothing getting close enough when a hen mallard came by and turned as soon as I called. Looped behind us and set its wings and was coming in. Mav fumbled the safety so I ended up shooting it as it was leaving.

Image preview

 

It fell in the brush on the other side of the slough so I went to get it and when I stepped back out of the weeds there were 3 wood ducks right over the decoys. Mav got his gun up and shot and clobbered 1 and shot again and got another. His first double. I could hear the "Hell Yeah!" echoing across the river. I gathered those up and things got really quiet so we called it a morning. This afternoon we will be back at the same spot. We saw a big flock of mallards yesterday so maybe we can get them to drop by and stay a bit.

Image

Edited by MontanaLon

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Sweet!

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Pics not working?

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Odd..it was showing when I hit the like button..

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11 hours ago, Flesh Wound said:

Pics not working?

One of them is not showing up for me now but the flag.jpg isn't showing in your sig line for me.

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