We had a very solid opening albeit bumpy. We were slated to have four guests for our first weekend, but after life happened and a couple cancellations we had two hunters for a Friday hunt. Friday morning came and with it some pretty stiff north winds and a mix of rain and sleet. Scouting the days leading up to the hunt the bird pattern was changing daily. We had birds all throughout our area, but they were not as consistent as we would hope with clients arriving ready to hunt Friday morning. We had geese hitting cornfields, but bouncing from one field to the next never hitting the same field twice in a row. We also had several nice pockets of mallards utilizing a couple different cattle ponds and coming to feed in corn at last light. It was a bit of a corn flip, so we left that decision to our clients. They opted to chase ducks for their morning hunt. It was our job to put them on em'.
Friday arrived, and it found us setting up the A-Frames on the bank of a 2 acre pond the birds had been using as loaf off and on for the past few days. It sat adjacent to a corn field they had also been using. After getting all the decoys out, it didn't take long for the birds to start trickling in. Our guests were first time waterfowlers, but well practiced shooters on the clay range. We figured the transition from clays to birds would be seamless, but sometimes the learning curve is a little steeper than expected. This father-son team had birds taking the elevator trip down from the heavens to get into the decoys. The excitement of watching fat northern greenheads work in proved to be too much. They ran their barrels hot with each new flock. It was to the point that, if opportunities at birds equated to birds on the straps, these guys would have been market hunters. We had a lot of fun ribbing them over each miss, but secretly we were loving it. It was one of those special days where everything works just as it should and with each miss we got to bask in it for a little longer. The guys finished just shy of their mallard limit, with a bonus goose and a his/her pair of Hoodies.
It was an absolute privilege to spend the morning in the blind swapping stories, laughing about the birds that got away, mutually suffering through the windy 23 degree morning, and loving every minute of the hunt. It was one of those mornings that reaffirms the reason why we guide. It was the perfect "warm" up to was is shaping up to be another great season.
- Chad Dawson
Veteran's Weekend usually marks the start of our waterfowl season. This year was a tale of two stories. For many years, Veteran's Weekend has been a weekend spent in the deer woods with my father, this year was no different. We arrived on Friday night with just a half hour of daylight remaining. We opted to check our stands to make sure they were safe, before hitting the hotel room for a good night of sleep. After about 15 hours in the stand and an excruciating miss on a truly huge buck, I had to opportunity to shoot a small 6 point. I was thrilled, he will make some awesome jerky, steaks, and burger. With my 2019 archery tag filled, I had full opportunity to devote to my passion for waterfowl.
Dustin and his wife were fortunate to harvest a doe and mature buck in early October, so they have been on the hunt for waterfowl ever since. Opening weekend they spent hunting a couple small Canada goose feed fields, and a small wooded water set. The migration hadn't really hit quite yet but they were able to put together a couple solid hunts. Even managed to get his first Canvasback. Still, a feat that I have yet to match...though I feel like this is my year!
We have our first group of clients arriving later this week and things are looking pretty ripe. Birds finally started to arrive this past Saturday. They have been slow to get out and feed in the mornings, preferring to hang about their loafing areas and casually snacking on the available forage for the remainder of the day. We are set to get a cool front mid week featuring a 20 degree swing from the previous day. We are expecting this to get the birds up and feeding more aggressively. Time will tell, but we know where they are loafing so we are ready for whatever they throw our way.
I will update the journal after our guests pack up and head back home. Until then, be safe, shoot straight, and take a newbie hunting.
- Chad Dawson
cold front early in the week saw temps in the 30's with a stiff north wind. this is a sure sign birds are on the move and the front did not disappoint. nearly all the ponds and watersheds have fresh birds, mainly gadwall, jacks, and a healthy dose of greenheads. as long as they hang around opener looks promising.