Opening weekend is typically a slam dunk of some kind. Over the years, limits of big puddle ducks have been common and limits of greenheads routine.
This weekend was a little out of the ordinary. Saturday morning arrived with few ducks over our ponds. For the first hour, almost nothing happened. One pair of mallards snuck in behind me and landed just out of range.
That was it.
During the second hour, a few ducks worked to my north where partner Fred was set up. He shot a couple, but I was getting nowhere.
The day ended with me in possession of every shell I’d started with.
Sunday was a new day. I brought out the wind whacker and set up on a pond aligned with the wind direction which was out of the west. After an hour or so of waiting, a group of mallards turned towards my call and locked onto the wind whacker. They came at me with wings set at a high rate of speed. As I raised the gun to shoot, I couldn’t pick out a drake. At the last-minute I fired a poor shot and nicked one of the lead birds. It sailed down out of my view. I couldn’t see where it went and gave up on the idea of searching for it.
Birds were scarce, but a couple hours passed and another flock of mallards came to my calling and focused on the decoys and wind whacker. As they passed overhead I raised up. Once again the sun was an issue. I waited for the birds to get past the blinding sunlight and fired. In my concentration, I failed to realize that I was leaning too far backward. Curplunk, I was on my back and swimming. The water was above my crotch, so I couldn’t reach down to upright myself. Using the butt of my Bennelli pump, I was able to push myself upward and eventually rise to my feet.
Not willing to give up easy, I decided to attempt a butt shot on the next group of birds by waiting until they were past me. After pouring a cup of water out of the stock of my shotgun, more birds began to work and it wasn’t too long before more mallards arrived. As before, they worked the call and locked onto the wind whacker. When they appeared down wind, they quickly made it out of range and disappeared while landing on the other side of a wall of cattail – didn’t get the shot off.
Now I was ready to shoot any duck that came within range. It didn’t take long before a pair of wigeon set on the decoys. Up I stood and fired. One of the wigeon went down about 100 yards in front of me. Lola and I were quickly in hot pursuit. I’ve never worked so hard to kill a wigeon. Lola tracked her into the tules and eventually nabbed the wounded duck.
That was it. I had nothing left. It appeared that more birds were beginning to work, but my day and weekend were over. Sometimes that’s just how it goes. I won’t be setting up looking into the morning sun again anytime soon. And, I won’t be showing off any photos of my weekend success.