Duck Hunting: Working for It

When I was a kid duck hunting was pretty easy. I didn’t think so then, (waking up super early and missing Saturday morning cartoons sucked) but in retrospect I had it easy.

There was plenty of water in the Klamath marsh and all we had to do was get in the boat, navigate some water, throw out some decoys and sit in the boat drinking hot cocoa waiting for shooting hours. The hardest thing about the whole hunt was picking up the duck decoys at the end of the hunt.

As the years passed the duck hunting opportunities dropped off as the water levels continually dropped. Eventually we could no longer hunt the upper reaches of the Klamath marsh, they’d turned into pasture land. We were pushed onto the main lake, forced to hunt in spots we were unfamiliar with. No longer were we shooting decoying mallards and pintail, now we were lucky to get a flight of Scaup to come into the decoys. We became pass shooters.

More recently the lake in early season became too low to navigate. We were forced to look elsewhere altogether or give up hunting on the disappearing Klamath marsh.

Luckily we were tipped off to a spot that still holds lots of ducks and has decent water conditions the entire season. Weve been hunting this spot for the past 4 years and we’ve got it pretty well dialed. I’m not going to tell you where it is or how to hunt it…we worked too hard to give away our secrets…sorry.

I will tell you that duck hunting is no longer easy. Instead of a cushy boat ride, we now have to ride our mountain bikes along a dirt trail with all our gear strapped to our backs. That means: decoys, gun, ammo, food, water, waders, coats, and whatever else you may need in the field. It’s a lot of weight and I’ve yet to find a decent decoy bag/backpack that rides well on my back.

After the arduous 2 mile bike ride, we set out on a looong walk across marshland full of bottomless potholes and sticky mud. Then were forced to cross 3 canals which come up to a quarter-inch of the top of our waders. One missed step and your day is over as icy water floods into your world (this happened to me once this year).

When you finally get across the 3 canals you are in the middle of some incredible duck hunting marsh. Unfortunately you have to stand in knee-deep water, or find a muskrat house to sit on (we usually reserve these for the dogs).

It’s a lot of work but you’re only halfway done when you start hunting, you still have to find your way back the same way you came. Heaven forbid if you make the canal crossings at the wrong spot. Even if your 3 feet to the right or left, you’ll go over your waders.

On the way back you have the weight of all your gear but you also have the additional weight of the ducks you shot. This is a concern because the extra weight can actually put you deeper into the mud and make the canal crossings that much more treacherous. I’ve passed many opportunities to shoot geese because I didn’t want to haul an extra 15 to 20 pounds of bird out.

All in all the duck hunting makes up for the incredible one and a half hour journey to the spot. The duck hunting is great…it better be or we’d never put ourselves through the torture.

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