So the 2011 October split of duck season has come and gone. Four days of chasing locally raised birds and early migrants serves as a warm up for the real season yet to come for many waterfowlers. And it is a great chance to take out kids or ladies and introduce them to the sport without having to spend a fortune outfitting them against the bitter cold. Summer ducks(wood ducks) usually abound, and the fresh crop of mallards haven’t been wised up by gunning pressure yet. Sometimes you can even find a few groups of teal moving through. The season is set a few weeks too early to catch the flights of wigeon, gadwall, and pintails that come through in late October, but a few lucky hunters stumble into a few token specimens.
The past few seasons have found me wishing there was more rain falling to put some water in my swamps, so that I could enjoy decent gunning in them instead of finding them too dry to attract any birds. Those past few years I have hunted bigger water and did reasonably well on the birds that were concentrated there. This year was the complete opposite with more than a plenty of water falling, and swamps everywhere being full to the brim. With my swamps having tons of freshly flooded foodstuffs for the birds, I just knew this year was gonna be a home run on woodies with some mallards mixed in too.
Boy, was I wrong. We hunted the swamps, and we saw some ducks, but not what I was counting on. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing, and when it comes to water, that was the case this year. The ducks just had too many options of where to go, and seemed to be spread out all over the place. This is where scouting would have paid big dividends. I did talk to some people who got into some good shoots, mostly people who had taken the time to scout their spots and find the birds. I slacked off a bit more this October than normal and didn’t put the miles on, just counted on birds being in the swamps, and paid handsomely for it. I hunted all four days and only limited as a group one day, and that was just our woody limit- we never got into other ducks. One day we didn’t even pull the trigger. There went my perfect season! Ha.
It was still a pile of fun to get out there, to blow the calls, work the dog, and trip over a submerged log and go in head first without catching hypothermia. The wood ducks I did bag cooked up splendidly, and it was a joy eating fresh duck again, especially since woodies are one of the best eating of all ducks. Now it’s time to finish brushing blinds, clearing trails, and all the other work that needs to be done before we get serious. And soon enough, October 22, it’ll be time to take some more kids out on youth day. Last year’s youth day was one of the best days I’ve ever seen duck hunting, so I’m praying that we’ll get into birds like that again. Talk about getting kids hooked!