Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Why The Fall is the Best Season!

The time is 4 P.M. it is Thursday October 27th and My boss is holding me up, from being on the road to Esmond, ND.  As each year turns there are always a few planned adventures with the guys and none more important than the other but I am itching for some duck hunting as it has been almost a year since the last duck genocide.  My boss reluctantly allows me to leave a half hour early, I head to my house to meet up  with my brother "Nolan", quickly throw everything in my truck and we are off.  Two hours and forty five

minutes later we're already in Fargo, that's record time, but we still had 3 and some change to go.  By the time we get to camp its a hair past mid-night but with all the excitement of hunting ahead of us we are not tired.  The guys at camp are telling stories about there week and scheming for the next couple days.  Time is flying, it's already three in the morning when I look at my phone and we decide if we go to sleep now we won't wake up at five, instead we gather up gear and organize for the morning hunt.  Its a dark morning and we aren't as organized as we thought.
Set up happens on a blue bill slough and shortly after the sun is cresting over the skyline.  There are Plenty of early flying bird but by the time legal shooting comes there aren't many birds.  A bit of a disappointing morning but we stick it out for a couple hours with just a few attempts to shoot.  I am bored with the situation and decide to sneak the edge and kick up birds for the other guys.  The walk is slow, constantly my body is bent in a L shape as I am trying my best to be lower than the weed line.  There is a flock of redhead ducks nestled into the weed on the far end and I fear they are catching on to me so in desperation I blast off a shot kicking the ducks towards our group.  Holy Shit!! it actually works the other guys get a few shots off and knock down two ducks from the flock and we are starting to have a glimpse of luck.  As I circle the back side of the large slough more ducks attempt to land but once again I pepper them with steel shot and send them towards the other guys.  A couple more blasts and a couple more ducks.  By now it's nearing 9:30 A.M. which is late in a duck hunters world for sitting in one lousy spot.  We pack up the decoys and head into town for some lunch.  In Esmond there isn't much and just about everything is supported by the locals, we stick out like a sore thumb in their little town.  The time now is 11:10 and some of the guys were hoping for breakfast but they stop serving at 11:00 and there is no exception with these bubushkas.  With a little grief for the server we all get meals and satisfy our hunger.

Then night is spent scouting rather than hunting as we have come to realize our usual spots aren't producing the way we had hoped and we make a plan to rendezvous at the local Esmond bar to discus our findings.  I don't know how much we solved for hunting purposes but a good time was had by all.  Some even might have had too good of a time.  Actually we all had too good of a time, getting up the next morning was more than just a struggle it took a little self motivating and realization that I only get out there a couple times a year at best.  This morning camp looks barren not a sole moving about and with hardly and attempt to wake up the  zombies, Nolan and I headed out looking for a kill.  Just 10 miles from camp there is a small slough tucked away by hills surrounding all sides.  Looks like a good spot to try.  Waddling towards our spot with my ammo, decoys, and gun the slough appears to lift as green heads start their ascent away from us.  Excited we quickly set up and find a hiding spot among the cat tails, there is no where to sit, we stand in the muck and set the ammo bag on a near by muskrat home.  Minutes into our wait nolan tells me there are three greens setting there wings towards our decoys.  We sit still then thrust forward siting in the ducks as they become in range of  our 870's BAM!!! three shots ring out.  Damn only one duck down, the one Nolan shot, I immediately tell him that I swear I shot the other one and swing my eyes back to the remaining two duck and watch as the hen      mallard fall from the sky a couple hundred yards from the original strike.  The entire morning is a good hunt, constantly, green heads would drop down to our decoys for us to send them back to their maker.  By 10:00 A.M. the hunting had slowed down and we decide to head for some much needed lunch.  As we pack our gear we both can't help but grin as we had a good hunt and know the other guys are still in a coma.

Mid-day hunting for ducks can be a rough road to go down, we decide to spend this time driving around scouting and exploring.  There wasn't much for hunting in the places we drove but it's always fun to get to know the land better.  After a couple hours it is time to get ready for the next hunt, with the success that we had in the morning it is decided that everyone in camp is going to hunt that hole.  It wasn't a big enough body for everyone to hunt but we did it anyways, one of the best parts of duck hunting is the ability to bullshit and move without it ruining your hunting so this was fine.   We set up a small spread of mallards and hunker down,  it was a bit  of  a slow hunt, maybe those ducks were a little wiser because of what happened that morning but regardless it was fun.

That night was spent supporting the local economy at the Esmond Bar, since we didn't have much left for food at camp thanks to the hunting dog.  A good time was had by all and the locals told us all about the current hunting situation and unfortunately it wasn't in our favor as the local birds had left and the northern birds hadn't made it down that far impart to the recent warm weather.  With this news it was decided to do some more supporting of the local economy.  Even with it being the Esmond bar Halloween party most of us are tired and  ready to get back to camp.  Ah, I actually rested my head down in a bed that night and for the first time in three nights had a decent nights rest.

Rejuvinated by daylight, we slap on our waders for our last day of hunting, as the locals had predicted it is a slow morning but we don't give up easily.  After a couple birds down it is decided that we are going to be best off by jumping ponds and that's exactly what we did for a couple hours,  it was a success as we shot a ring-neck, redhead, a diver, mallard, and one really stupid sharp tail grouse that thought it was invisible sitting on a hay bail.

By the time the remaining three of us that went out to jump ponds get back camp is clear and everyone is gone.  Its tough to leave when it feels like you just arrived and as I leave every year I am sad to go back home so soon but there might still be time for one more trip this year and I know there is always next year.

Duck Stash!!!


  1. Man that is quite a varity or birds! Sounds like you all had a blast. I miss the pot holes country...
    Out here on the Pacific Fly away things have been steady with a few surprises (both good and bad) thrown in there. I have been doing alot of field hunting latey for a few reasons, less people to compete with, not so wet, and it is a little easier on the new pup.
    About 2 weeks ago me and two hunting buds when out to the field and set up; 3 doz full body mallards, 3 doz silos, and 8 full body geese, about an hour before light. As the sun came up it was a dissappointing sight.... Nothing and then more nothing all the way till about 10:00. About that time my one buddy was doing his share of crying about the wind and cold, then out of no where 4 Widgen bommed the spread and none made it out the other side! We thought, there is still hope for the day. After that it seemed that the flood gates opened as the tides rusded out of Padilla Bay and the birds all made their way inland to find food and shelter. We had groups from two to 200 fully cuped and commited! It was some of the best exsamples of working birds that I have ever seen! The best shooting of the day was at about a 20 bird group when the smoke cleared 6 mallards had dropped 5 drakes and 1 accidental hen. Then just as quick as it started all we seen were tail feathers as they retreated back to the safety of the bay. About 2:00 were picking up heading back to an early turkey day dinner with three limtis of Mallars along with the 4 Widgen that started the mayhem.

  2. Cliff, I'm going to make it out to join you on a hunt out there in Washington. If I am lucky maybe I will be able to next December. Its always a sweet adventure hunting a new Territory. I'm looking forward to some fishing when you visit in the next few weeks.