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