Before work the other day I went duck hunting with my brother. We had a great hunt, ducks were everywhere and we limited out within 2 hours. If we’d been shooting better we could have limited in under an hour. The ducks were low and decoying like crazy.
It was a beautiful day with clear skies and storms in the surrounding mountains. This may have been the final hunt of the season since the weather is starting to get cold, and the open water will start freezing hard.
Here are some pictures and a youtube video of the hunt. Pay close attention to the youtube video, watch the duck on the far left get shot out of the sky.
last weekend I went duck hunting with my brother and nephew. This is the 4th time hunting this year and it’s been pretty good. We’ve been shooting limits of ducks mostly consisting of Widgeon, Mallards, Pintail, and Gadwall.
Normally I take my two boys, but it was supposed to be really cold and possibly rainy. I thought it would be a good idea for them to stay home this time out. My youngest was pretty bummed, but my oldest convinced him how nice it would be to sleep in for a change.
We went to our normal spot, rode our bikes the 2 miles in the dark, and made our way across the marsh.
It’s always a bit brutal, no matter how cold it is you end up sweating profusely. Of course once you stop moving the sweat turns to ice and you shiver.
Walking through weeds, tules and ankle-deep water while carrying a heavy decoy bag wearing neoprene chest waders and carrying guns, shells, food, water and everything else you need out there makes for sweaty grueling work. This kind of thing is the reason I work out.
Once we got about a half mile into the marsh we came to a canal. This is the same canal we used to be able to cross, but now there’s so much water, we would fill our waders with the attempt (I learned this from experience). So this time we brought a blow up dingy. It’s not the normal duck hunting gear, you won’t find it in a Cabela’s magazine, but hey it worked…barely.
My brother and I were able to lay on the thing and kick our feet to cross, but my nephew is too little and had to use his hands. Dipping your hands into icy water at daybreak isn’t something that’s fun or wise, but that’s what he had to do.
It was a foggy day and the hunting was actually slow. Erik and I shot 8 ducks, each of us killing 4, but that was only because we hit most everything that came in. We missed a few, but for the most part we shot well.
We hunt on this great little pond with light tule cover. In past years you could stand on solid ground, but this year there’s so much water we have to stand in shin deep water. This isn’t too bad for us humans in waders, but the dogs suffer a bit. We were careful to walk them around to keep their circulation going.
I had been hunting only two days prior and had limited out. There had been a lot of ducks around, the only difference was the fog, but that cleared up around 9am. It seemed like the ducks I’d seen had packed up and headed south. Damn.
As we were packing up and preparing to re-cross misery canal, we happened to look to the north and saw clouds upon clouds of ducks getting up. Something had spooked them. So that’s where all the ducks were…north of us about 3 miles.
Shit, oh well I guess next time we’ll bike further north.
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. Continue reading Duck Hunting: Working for It→
Yesterday morning was Tuesday, which means it was early morning spin class day. Normally I get up, go to spin class at 5AM then swim laps or lift weights until it’s time to go to work. This time I mixed it up a bit.
I went to spin, (sweated my ass off), but instead of swimming or lifting, I drove home, snuck into the garage grabbed a bag of duck decoys, the dog, and my shotgun and headed to Denman for some local duck hunting.
I was scheduled to be at work at 8AM, which wasn’t gonna happen. I called and left a message for my coworker that I’d be a half hour late.
Denman is a wildlife area on the edge of town. This time of year it is filled with flooded fields and big ponds which sometimes hold ducks.
It was raining when I pulled into the parking lot, which is probably why there weren’t any other vehicles. It looked like I would get to hunt without other hunters messing it up.
As I walked to the hunting spot, the rain stopped and the moon peeked out from behind the clouds bathing the fields and ponds with a soft white glow. I went to my normal spot, and jumped a bunch of ducks off the pond. It was still dark and about 15 minutes before legal shooting hours. I watched as their dark silhouettes disappeared into the night. Continue reading Denman Duck Hunting and Sweating→
I woke at 4:30AM got the kids dressed and going, loaded the truck and drove to the boat ramp where I was to meet my brother and his 12-year-old son for some duck hunting. They were right on schedule, for a change.
The boat worked beautifully and we blasted our way upriver in the dark. It’s a twisting turning ride through a narrow river corridor.
I’ve done it many times, but it still gets my adrenalin going as we fly up the river narrowly missing the tule covered banks. I always feel like I’m travelling upstream on the Mekong delta in Nam or something (I wouldn’t really know) sans the AK-47 fire.
We beached the boat, shouldered our gear and started walking into the marsh. We crossed many deep canals in our secret method, without too much incident and found a likely pond to set up on. We threw out all our decoys, and waited.
There didn’t seem to be as many ducks as the evening before, but there were ducks in the air most of the time.
Once again I was shooting exceptionally well. The ducks would come in, I’d let my nephew shoot his single shot 20 gauge, then I’d drop the duck he’d missed. He wasn’t shooting well that day so I had a lot of cleaning up to do. My brother missed his share too… Continue reading Klamath Duck Hunting Day (continued)→
It wasn’t opening day but this weekend I took my boys duck hunting in the Klamath marsh area. I took Friday off, took the kids out of school and headed to the marsh.
My oldest boy hunted with me last year, but for my youngest this was all new. Both of them were excited to be pulled out of school and even more to be going duck hunting with their dad.
We got to Petric boat ramp on the Wood river and motored out for an evening hunt. Unfortunately the jet engine wasn’t working so we had to use the 10 horse prop. It took a looong time to push the big boat up river, but finally we made it. It was a warm day and both kids were drowsy from laying in the sun watching the bottom of the Wood river pass by.
I shouldered the decoy bag and we headed into the field. It was 65 degrees and we were dressed in neoprene waders, so we got hot fast. I was dripping sweat by the time we crossed the many deep water canals to get to the pond we wanted to hunt. The canals are deep enough that the kids can’t cross without my help, so I had to go back and forth carrying them. Meanwhile ducks were flying everywhere.
There were thousands of ducks winging around the pond we intended to hunt. I hadn’t loaded my gun yet, we were still trudging across the treacherous marsh.
occasionally the kids would hit a mini-sink hole and I’d have to help extract them. Unlike myself they would hit a hole, sink and then calmly ask for assistance. I tend to panic a bit when I start sinking into mudholes, but not my boys, they thought it was funny. Continue reading Duck Hunting in Klamath→
Yesterday was opening day of duck season in Klamath county. Normally I’d be sitting in the marsh up to my knees in cold water watching from behind thick tules as ducks wheeled and tipped into our decoys. But instead I’m here, at home, writing on my blog.
What happened? Well, it’s a long story which I won’t get into, but suffice it to say I’m not happy with my work situation…nuff said.
But, as I’m sitting here missing opening day of duck season, which I haven’t missed in 30 years, I’m thinking about all the opening days I’ve had.
It all started when I was 9 years old. Myself my Dad and two older brothers would head up to Rocky Point Resort on Friday. I’d be pulled out of school, which was great enough, and we’d pack an enormous amount of clothing and gear, hook up our aging camouflaged duck boat and go.
The “resort” is a ramshackle fishing village, which would close down for the season soon after opening day of duck season. Duck hunters aren’t the usual Orvis wearing primadonnas that fisherman are, so the owners would usually have their noses turned up slightly at our uncouthness. But, I suppose our money was as green as the fisherman’s, so they put up with us.
We always met another family there and we’d move into one of the plywood cabins for the weekend. Once settled we’d don our rubber chest waders (neoprene waders didn’t exist yet) and get into the duck boat and go on a scouting trip into the marsh.
Opening day is in early October, and around here it’s usually still sunny and warm. Invariably the engine would fire up without a hitch and we’d sputter our way into the depths of the marsh.
We had a “secret spot” we’d always go, which involved some harrowing navigation through seemingly impassable marsh. In fact there was one spot that had a large beaver dam that we had to literally jump over. My Dad would gun the engine, and we’d launch off the beaver dam into the pond beyond. Continue reading Opening Day of Duck Season→
Next weekend is opening day of duck season in Klamath county and as tradition dictates we’ll be there. I haven’t missed an opening day of duck season since I was 10 years old.
Last year was the first time I took my oldest boy and this year I’ll be bringing both boys to the marsh. Neither of them are old enough to shoot yet, (the oldest will take his hunters’ safety course next year), but they are very excited to be joining my brothers and my Dad for the opening.
Taking kids duck hunting is rewarding and fun, but I’ve learned it can be miserable unless you follow some tips.
Be sure they have neoprene chest waders. These are essential for staying dry and warm in the wet marsh. I know hip boots are much less expensive, but they aren’t nearly as warm as chest waders. Buy them big and they’ll get a few years use out of them.
Besides the waders be sure they have plenty of warm clothes. Start with polypropylene long underwear and layer up to a warm, waterproof jacket.
A good pair of warm gloves and a warm hat are essential items.
Bring a big thermos full of hot cocoa (don’t forget cups). Of course don’t forget to bring yourself some coffee, but cocoa goes a long way to easing a cold morning for the kids.
Bring lots of snacks. If the hunting gets slow, inevitably kids will want to start eating, be prepared. You should also have a sandwich or some kind of lunch ready to go.
Bring drinks too. I usually mix lemonade in water bottles so they each have their own.
If they’re ready, let them bring their B.B. guns. It’s fun for them to shoot at ducks or bugs or whatever and is a great lesson in gun handling.
This is also a great way for you to teach them gun safety. Remind them to keep the gun’s safety on and to always know where the barrel is pointed.
I remember my Dad taking my B.B. gun away after I swept the barrel across his chest too many times. It upset me, but I’ve been hyper-vigilant ever since.
Be sure to bring ear plugs for the kids. You don’t want to injure their ears just yet, let them do it with their music when they become teenagers.
Before leaving the hunting area, be sure to pick up all the pieces of clothing, food wrappers, and whatever else they try to leave behind. Last year we lost a hat, one glove, and an action figure he decided to bring.
Exposing your kids to duck hunting is a great idea, and can lead to a lifetime of fun memories, but it’s a lot easier if you follow the listed duck hunting tips.