The dire predictions about pheasant numbers and a predicted hefty northwest wind kept me out of my Danner boots and in my chest waders this weekend. I figure what pheasants are around will wait until after my duck slough freezes over. I do suffer from terminal swamp fever.
Clear skies and a less-than-predicted west wind greeted me and Doc, my faithful labrador, Saturday morning as we settled into a blind minutes ahead of the 7:06 a.m. opening time. A small flock of divers were, um, diving for the fresh water shimp in my 60-acre slough with five hundred yards of open water surrounding them. They were content to stay there in the middle as long as breakfast was being served.
Hunting alone, I miss taking more shots than I miss. And that's saying something. The last pair of bluewing teal in Douglas County whizzed past me before I could even reach for the gun. The ever-present Canada geese weren't present or accounted for, having spent the full moon night feeding. They were likely fast asleep with full bellies on the refuge in Alexandria.
Then two larger ducks circled and actually turned to my call. No divers, these. They locked up and descended into a final approach from on high. Woodies? Small mallards? I took them over my Herters mallard decoys and Doc went to work. Gadwall! My duck hunting journal, religiously written for over 40 years, told me I haven't bagged a gadwall in Minnesota since the 70's.
Doc and I had plenty of time to study the rust-colored epaulets on the gaddies' wings because nothing else was flying. The diver flock left when I shot but returned in ten minutes to the same safe water. Then a single redhead flew over the feeding divers, was tempted to join them, but decided to circle the slough before pitching in. A rangey shot sent her sailing far downwind. Doc got to earn his keep with a thousand-yard swim.
An old hunting partner of mine used to measure a day afield by asking if what we bagged would satisfy us at dinner. I'll let you know on that one. Bacon-wrapped duck breasts and acorn squash are on the menu for tonight.