Every day is worth it!

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Every day is worth it!

Postby EcatMagoo » Sun Dec 01, 2013 7:25 pm

Being a teacher I always get some extended time off around Thanksgiving and use that time to do a little extra duck hunting. I normally hunt two days during Thanksgiving break. This year I decided to stack the days together and hunt Friday and Saturday.

On Friday my partner and I arrived at our location about shooting time. With the ice we weren't sure where to hunt and wanted to scout around a bit before committing. We had taken pretty much all our equipment to be ready for whatever were found. Layout blinds, layout boats, and the 18 foot boat with surface drive. Within 30 minutes of scouting one of the wheels on our boat trailer popped off and put a halt to our hunting. My partner admitted he had not repacked the bearings in the last year and that had to be the cause. We were able to find a local repair guy to drive out and help deal with the problem. Luckily we had two vehicles so my partner/father wanted me to keep scouting while he dealt with the problem.

From about 7:00 to 1:00 I drove around the complex and scouted every possible location. What I found was grim. Too much ice and not enough ducks. At 1:00 I decided i was going to have to try something so I picked the best possible spot and decided to take my layout boat and go in. There were several groups hunting the front side of the pool so I busted the now thin ice and headed past them. My layout boat is small and without a motor. So when I say I busted ice I mean i pushed the boat through the marsh and busted the ice step by step.

Without going into further detail lets just say I got myself into a situation that was more physically demanding than I had anticipated. I quickly regretted my decision but kept moving. After sweating my butt off and finally arriving at my destination I hunted for a while before realizing the ice was not coming off fast enough and the ducks were not showing up. The time was then about 3:00 and I was irritated and tired. I checked in with my partner and the shop was just finishing up the repairs.

We met back at the parking lot and talked about what our plan would be for the next day. We were both tired, frustrated, and contemplating staying home the next day. After some discussion we decided to hunt a completely different area. We chose a pool we had yet to hunt this year but thought might have thawed enough to be hunt-able.

On arrival we quickly realized there was more ice than we had anticipated but we decided to forge ahead anyway. We dropped our layout boats on the channel of ice and used them to break through. Step by step we pushed the layouts and walked. The ice was thin enough it wasn't too difficult but was still a slow and physically demanding job. We were determined to hunt our chosen spot no matter how much effort it took to get there. My confidence was really dropping because there was no open water at all and I just didn't think the ducks would be there. After 1 hour and 30 minutes of breaking ice and trudging forward our spot came into view. To my surprise there was a huge open hole exactly where we wanted to set up. My confidence grew a little bit but I was still unsure if the ducks would show up. Had they been using this hole or was it just open from Friday's warmer temps but yet to be found by the ducks?

As we were setting up I heard that sound we all love. Wings whistling in the dark sky over head. We were all set and ready to hunt at legal shooting time. From the moment I loaded the gun I realized the mallards knew about this hole and wanted it! From legal shooting time on, flock after flock of mallards circled and dropped into our spread. It was easy shooting at 15-25 yards. After several flocks of 25+ birds circled and dropped into our spread I felt a big sigh develop from the depth of my soul. I turned to my father/partner and said "This is why we put ourselves through all of the physical, emotional, and financial anguish. Its all worth it! Every bead of sweat, every moment of disappointment, every dollar spent. Its all worth it to experience this moment in time. Mallards everywhere and wanting nothing more than to land 15 yards from our layouts. By 7:45 we had our limits and were ready to surprise our wives with an early entrance home.

You never know what's going to happen when you duck hunt. Some days its frustrating, exhausting, and expensive. Other days is pure bliss!! But every day its worth it!
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Re: Every day is worth it!

Postby cluckmeister » Sun Dec 01, 2013 9:19 pm

Ecat, I found out a long time ago, every day is worth it, even if I don't pull the trigger. Your 2 trips will be forever in your memory bank, unlike those just normal hunting days spent with little effort to accomplish your goal. Those days will just blend together unless you keep a hunting log.
If you're there for the limit, you're there for the wrong reason
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Re: Every day is worth it!

Postby cyoung24 » Sun Dec 01, 2013 9:38 pm

Nice work Ecat! I love those kind of days, it's what makes us work so hard rather than cutting corners.
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Re: Every day is worth it!

Postby radfordc » Mon Dec 02, 2013 9:49 am

My buddy and I found one of those special days yesterday. From the time we arrived until limiting out an hour later there were flocks of ducks wanting to be where we were. We couldn't walk out and pick up a dead duck before another flock was circling overhead. You don't get a lot of them so when you do it is memorable.
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Re: Every day is worth it!

Postby John O`Neal » Mon Dec 02, 2013 4:01 pm

Great story Ecat, and well told . Sometimes perseverance pays big dividends,as it did in your case . It`s like hitting a big drive on the 18th hole .It`s what keeps us coming back for more . Every day with the ducks is a good day, but outings like you and radfordc enjoyed are definitely special . Well done gentleman. :thumbsup:
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Re: Every day is worth it!

Postby dukhntr » Mon Dec 02, 2013 6:59 pm

Great post. Well written....
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Re: Every day is worth it!

Postby EcatMagoo » Mon Dec 02, 2013 8:21 pm

Another great thing I didn't mention in the original post. There was only one other group on the entire pool. They came from a different direction and when they saw our lights they actually turned and walked the other way. :beer:
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Re: Every day is worth it!

Postby Duckaholic-Anonymous » Mon Dec 02, 2013 11:41 pm

Awesome!


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Re: Every day is worth it!

Postby mudpack » Thu Dec 05, 2013 7:19 am

Great story, Ecat. It epitomizes what "hard-core" means.

I had a similar experience this week: on Tuesday I went to a spot that had been very productive in the years past, including last year late season. It involved a 3/4 mile walk in then out, in water ranging from 3" to waist deep, pulling a sled loaded with gear. Turned out the spot had been completely changed by the July rains, but I set up anyway...and I saw two ducks, both 100 yards away, all morning.
The next day was going to be cold, windy, and freezing rain, so I thought most sane duck hunters would not be out, particularly since it's a Wednesday. So, I went to a different area (still public, but 20 miles away from the first area). Saw no lights going in, no trucks in the normal spots, and I'm thinking "I got it all to myself!" Then I pulled into the parking lot; three other trucks already there. :crying:
Walked the half mile to where I could see the body of water I planned to hunt, only to see three sets of headlamps flashing around. Rats! Only option is to go the opposite direction, to a small spot where I've had a few good hunts, just not consistently good.
Set up and hide really good. 10 minutes later, which is after shoot time, a guy comes walking in from the south, wanders around the area (I show myself and holler at him to let him know where I am), then sets up 80 yards downwind of me. :mad: Not much I can do but fume.
I am seeing very few ducks in the air; not counting a small flock of buffleheads that I let pass, less than 25 total. But, a few birds work beautifully to my setup. At 10AM, I have four mallards and a bull sprig. All were taken hovering over the decoys. What a great day!!! Ice is forming on the decoys, and I'm satisfied....time to pick up and head home for a hot cup of cocoa.

Oh, and the guy that set up just downwind of me? Nothing came into him, period. He shot at a flock of 80 yard specks, sailing one back into the roost, and shot at a 50 yard flock of pintail from which one bird finally collapsed and fell no less than 500 yards away. To the guy's credit, he walked that 500 yards and looked for the bird for at least 30 minutes.

As Ecat said, we pay our dues for the great days by putting in the time and effort on days that yield nothing more than sweaty Thermax.
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