Saturday October 22 was the first of Virginia’s Youth Waterfowl Days for the 2011-2012 season. There is a second Youth Day this season, on February 4, 2012, after the regular duck season closes. This year I didn’t have as many youths accompany me as I did last year. Unfortunately several had to cancel due to last minute complications, so I only had two with me. One of the young guys has been going with me for a few years now, and with his fun personality he’s always great to have out. The other guy was a half dozen years younger, and it was his first time going out for ducks. He came with his uncle, who told me that he had been deer hunting and goose hunting before. Unfortunately, for reasons I’m still not sure about, that youth ended up being unwilling to pull the trigger, so I actually only had one shooter with me. At least the non-shooter got to enjoy a good show and see what it was all about. One thing I’m going to highly recommend to anyone taking a youth, including myself next year, is to make sure the kids go do some target practice a week or two before hunting, as it would have greatly benefitted both the kids this year.
The day ended up being one for the memory books- for all of us. It was comfortable, not too cool and not too warm, and the sky was overcast which kept the sun from beating down on us, but it was a crisp day so the sun really lit the clouds up at sunrise. The ducks were not as numerous as last year, with mallard numbers being reduced significantly, but we still saw plenty of ducks, and saw(and shot at) more species than I can ever remember from one morning of hunting. We ended up having Mallards, Wood Ducks, Gadwalls, Wigeons, Shovelers, Blue Wing Teals, Green Wing Teals, Ringnecks, and Canada Geese all visit the decoys that morning, and our shooter cracked down on all of them except the Ringnecks which buzzed by at a million miles an hour.
Few birds tumbled from the sky compared to the shells burnt trying for them, but he picked up a couple of ducks, and his limit of geese. The low point of the morning, for me at least, was right after the first pair of geese pitched in and then flew away again with a three shot salute to their visit. After they were gone, one of the older chaperones who was there snapping pictures of the day and the birds as they came in, zoomed in on the back goose, and we could all see a shiny band on the bird’s leg. If he hadn’t been there taking the pictures we would have never known, but once we saw that picture I think we were all a little bummed that the young shooter hadn’t dropped the bird. It makes me wonder how many other times that has happened when a camera wasn’t on hand to document it. All in all though, with numerous groups of many species of ducks and geese in the sky, working the decoys and calls well, and giving our young gun good opportunities for shooting, it was a day to remember and a rare experience in Virginia. I pray that the regular season approaching will bless us with a few days this good, but I don’t count on it. Maybe I’ll take the kids with me again for a little of their luck.