The Late Zone is open again!
Jan 19, 2013 28 ° Calm and clear. Shoot time is 7:14. Mark B. and I meet Tom B. at _____, Lower Parking Lot. Tom brings Taterhead, his young Choc Lab. Saw 400 mallards there yesterday morning when I scouted, so we arrive early: 4:15. Mark and I go on down to ____, Tom arrives just after we get our decoys out, sets out his, and we brush up our spots. I’m on the left, Tom in the middle, Mark on the right. We are ready with 1.5 hours to go……:). At 7AM, we start seeing many large groups of ducks dropping in just around the corner south of us; MANY. But, the water is like glass and our decoys look…like decoys. Not many birds seem interested, even though a ton of them fly over and land on the other side of the trees on the far bank (we find a small marsh over there when looking for a cripple later). Only three birds in the decoys before shoot time.
7:20 a pair of mallards cup and drop in from the left, right over the decoys. 1 shot – down. Tom drops the other one right in front of us. Mine is lively and dives on Tater, seems to be gone, but they kick it up an hour later while looking for another bird., when it swims back across the pond and surfaces right in front of me and I pick it up; a smallish mallard drake.
7:24 a flock of “GW’s” rip in low over the decoys from the left. Snap shot rolled it up, landing on the far bank. When Tater gets it later, it’s a Ringneck Hen!! (so much for ID'ing early birds coming head-on from the east...!)
7:35 a small bunch, circles, then comes from the left over the top of us, 35 yards up. 1 shot – DOW near the bank to my right. Tater brings in the mallard drake. He's working good today; he's learning fast. Quite an improvement over last year!
7:45 a small flock of wigeon make several passes, the last is about 30 yards up, left to right over the decoys. 1 shot – DOW in the decoys to my right. Mark drops one out of this bunch, as well. Mine is a wigeon hen.
7:48 a single wigeon cups and drops from way out, it’s right over the spread when I stand it up with my first shot….then proceed to miss with my next two shots!! …as does Tom with two of his own shots. The bird flies away with steel in it, but apparently healthy, and we watch it fade off into the south.
7:52 a small bunch of what I think are eight teal (again) rip behind us, go east, then back again, low over the spread. One shot – DOW in Tom’s decoys. Tater brings back another ringneck, this time a drake. I ask Tom why he didn’t shoot, since we all knew they were coming in…”Never could catch up” was his excuse. Mark didn’t shoot either; no shell in the chamber!
7:54 suddenly, there is a wigeon drake backpeddling over the decoys. One shot – DOW in the decoys. “Where did he come from??” is Tom’s only question. “I have no idea” is all I could say. That’s it; I’m done.
Tom needs one more, Mark two more. And the birds continue to fly….
From 8:00 to 9:45, we have birds in sight steadily. It might go 10 minutes without seeing anything, and just as we think the morning flight might be over, more ducks show up. All wigeon (what pretty noises they make!) and mallards.
At one point, Tom takes Tater across to the marsh on the other side to look for a greenhead that he sailed. He’s gone a long time, during which Mark gets his last two greenheads. When Tom gets back, we only need him to get one more bird for three limits. He isn’t in his hide more than two minutes when I coax a pair of mallards right over the decoys, the drake not 20 yards in front of him, cupped and hanging. Three shots later, both birds are boogying to the south and we are all speechless. HOW could he MISS???? All is well, because 10 minutes later, I sweet-talk a single greenhead into dropping almost straight down from 80 yards up, feet down and cupped, right into the spread. Tom can’t POSSIBLY miss this one. He fires. And misses! Oh, NO, not again….! But, he folds it cleanly with the second shot. We all laugh and congratulate him. We’re picked up, the obligatory photo ops are completed, and we are walking out at 10AM. We heard a few shots from the ___, one volley from below the ____, and one volley from ____ (after clearly hearing a dog whining from there well before shoot time….they should have had a HECK of a shoot this morning with all the birds we saw working there; wonder what the story was..) Shot 12 shells. We noticed that after the wind came up about 9:30, the birds worked MUCH better to the spread. Also noticed an immediate difference after Tom added some more brush to his hide…
Mark: 3 greenheads, 3 wigeon Tom: 4 greenheads, 2 wigeon (not a single hen mallard hit today!)
Last edited by mudpack
on Wed Jan 23, 2013 6:54 am, edited 1 time in total.