Cold Weather Duck Hunting
Perseverance, Cold Weather and Good Company
By Chase Moore
Whether good or bad, we’ve all had at least one memorable hunt we will simply never forget. Accompanying these memories are usually the folks you spend the hunt with, the circumstances both leading up to and throughout the hunt, and the end result. One hunt from this season that I will always remember took place in Arkansas during a stint of record low temperatures and some less-than-favorable hunting conditions.
When I received a few phone calls from my two buddies notifying me that they were interested in doing some hunting around my neck of the woods, I was excited by the opportunity to provide a hunt for them because this would be our first hunt together. At the same time, however, I warned them that the hunting had been slow all week because of the recent arctic blast that had pushed single-digit temperatures into our region, freezing up all of our usual hunting spots. After getting off the phone I look at my friend, Bob, with whom I share a majority of my time afield, and told him to get his boat ready to go scouting on the river. With no hesitation we loaded up the boat that afternoon and went upriver in hopes of finding a potential concentration of ducks and a productive spot to hunt for when my friends made their way to our camp later that week. After we motored a couple miles upriver we found a creek that ran off the river and several spots on either side which were still unfrozen despite the single-digit temperatures. As the sun was setting we began to see many large groups of birds working into these spots, making that site enough evidence for me to say that we would set up around there in the morning. Considering that both our rice field and timber hole were locked up with inches of ice and the fact we had not seen any birds around there in days, I felt as if we had hit the jackpot.
After a few days of hunting the river we continued to see loads of ducks but continued to harvest only a few each morning. I was amazed at how there could be so many ducks in the area, but every morning they just didn’t want to be in our spot. With the water levels well above flood stage, there were many places for the ducks to feed and roost, but since everything beside the river and its surrounding overflow were frozen, I knew this would be our best option for any success. So we continued to change spots, trying to find that lucky spot which would hopefully render the opportunity for a full strap of ducks. After several tanks of gas I finally fell upon a timber break that ran along the creek and backed up to a large soybean field. Right when I laid eyes on this spot, I knew it had the makings for a good hunt; it even had a nice brush pile to sit on that provided great cover and natural stadium seating that we could sit on as we shot downward at the ducks.
When my friends arrived that morning, bringing along their own boat and two of their friends, we hurried to load our boats so we could get out to our spot before anyone else. However, before my friends could even get their boat in the water, they were facing problems. They even managed to catch the back of their boat on fire as they tried to melt some of the ice off of it with a lighter. To make a long and frustrating part of the story short, it took them almost two hours to get their boat to where we were going to hunt. As the morning progressed, we had only managed to kill one duck by noon. I was almost to the point of embarrassment for not being a better host, but just as we finished munching on some Canada goose sausage and watching an empty sky, we had a group of ducks light into our decoys with reckless abandon. We dropped three and began to ask each other where that kind of action had been all morning. The rest is just a good memory.
Group after group of ducks began bombing into our decoys, and when the day was over, we walked away with an awesome hunt, coming up just shy of a six man limit. While it might have taken all day to accomplish this end result, it probably would never have happened without a full week of trial-and-error hunting and many days with frozen fingers and toes. Moreover, a day like this goes to show how perseverance pays off and that sharing such an experience in good company makes it even sweeter.