A Great Retrieve and a Good Day in the Mayberry Marsh

At daylight, a drizzle and low light created a dreary haze about the Mayberry marsh. Perfect for duck hunting.

With the water too high for wading in many areas, I used my rowboat to access the area I was hunting. Ducks were scarce.

Leaving the boat behind once we reached wading water, I towed three decoys and limited gear. Lola and I made our way to a likely location.

The drizzle was fog-like and in the difficult light, I decided to call on my mallard call to see if anything would show up. In less than a minute a pair of mallards passed over so close that I had no time to raise my gun.

Frustrated, and too deep in cattail to see ducks, I moved out into a position with more visibility.

I called out to a single mallard and he coasted over. Boom, I had a green-head. (My first of the year at Mayberry.)  It was an encouraging start. I missed the next drake, but at least I had action.

Ducks were scarce, but several reacted to my calling. Three gadwall passed over and I dropped one.

I couldn’t figure out if they were mallards and decided to shoot the passing shot anyway. The gadwall meat will join my sausage mix.

The highlight of the day came at about noon time – as I was beginning to feel the urge to call it a day.

A pair of mallards passed overhead from behind me about 70 yards high. I fumbled for my call and got a hail out to them in time.

They did an immediate 180 and set their wings while the hen hailed back to me.

About the time they came into range, they may have seen me as they began to flap and gain speed. I stood and fired at the drake and down he came – neck extended and one wing folded – a definite swimmer.

The situation was complicated by a wall of tules and cattail 25 yards in front of me and in between Lola and the mallard.

Calling out to Lola, I jumped (sort of) out into the pond and headed towards an opening leading to the adjacent pond. I had not been over there before. As Lola and I reached the opening, the water became deeper. Within a few steps past the opening, the water depth was at my navel and also my comfort level.

The crippled duck was nowhere in sight. I motioned to Lola and let out a “mark.” She swam out into the  pond, which was about 25 yards across. First she swam along the front edge, with no sign of the duck.

Then she swam to the middle of the pond and circled. I was no help and had no idea where the duck would be found.

Lola headed towards the far side of the pond and then turned to my left swimming along the line of tules and cattail. After going about ten yards she turned into a thick patch of tules and I could hear the familiar sound of a chase. A minute or two later out she came with the green-head in her mouth. It was a classic retrieve.

Lola gave up the duck to me and with nothing left to prove, we picked up the decoys and went home smiling.

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