Headed out Friday evening to figure out where the birds were and where we would be at shooting time. Didnt take long to figure out the mallards were thick in the brush. Video doesnt do them justice but you can get a feel for the number of birds on the water if you turn the volume up. Any time you hear a constant high ball echoing in the woods you know its going to be a good morning. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pikmQrm-Gts
The water level seemed to be perfect for these birds since we had to park the surface drive and walk in about 400 yards into the ankle deep areas. Decided to sleep in and we were the first boat out of French Fork at 3:45am. Made the walk in and got our two dozen decoys and no spinners set and waited for the late arrivers. About 30 minutes before shooting time when the herds of locals arrived on the lake the air began to roar with wings like I had never heard before. It sounded like a giant flock of mosquitos was inches from your head. It was obvious there were a tremendous number of birds using the lake and flooded brush as a roost. Shooting time came and the mallards started pouring into our spot. We held off and let Mason turkey shoot the first greenhead on the water with the crack barrel .410 to get things started. Within an hour or so me and Park Duck had our mallards plus teal and pintail kickers, and Mason had gotten a few more mallards and teal to get him to five. That boy has gotten good with the 410 and was smoking teal and mallards out of the air. I think we shot under 30 shells for 3 limits and it was hard to believe we were landing mallards in the decoys with the amount of pressure and shooting all around. There were mallards in every direction the whole time so it was just a matter of getting them close enough before someone else nearby shot. Every time a shot would go off it was like hitting the reset button and you started working the next group. We got out of there quick thinking we could be back in the morning for another easy limit.
Park Duck and Mason
Headed to the camp and made breakfast. Cleaned everything up and headed back out to scout for the next morning thinking that area of the lake should be void of hunters since they should have all been done not long after us with the volume of birds and shooting going on. We were a little surprised to find that every single blind was still hunting and they hadnt slowed a lick on the shooting. No doubt in my mind that one of the 3 person blinds near us shot over a 250 round case of shells while we were there. I dont know if all these blinds were doing the "kill em while you can" thing of trying to get a whole seasons limits in one day or if they just felt a need to shoot at everything inside of 80 yards that scraped the decoys. We checked out some other areas of the lake and decided based on the all day goat roping that the blinds were putting on that we would be better served to hit some hard to get to back water the next day away from all the pressure.
At sunset we got to see all the birds that we had heard that morning come back into the lake. There had to of been hundreds of thousands of mallards and pintails come back. Been hunting almost 30 years and never seen birds like that. Wave upon wave upon wave pouring in from all the fields to the southeast. Many headed to the woods but the majority looked like they were coming in to feed on the open water at night. The middle of the lake looked like it was covered in swarms of rice birds.
Scraped out about a dozen mixed birds on the back water the next morning in the rain. The beavers have been doing their thing and the spot looked real good but it had been hunted the morning before so pickings were thin.
Made it back to the camp and couldnt stand sitting around thinking of birds moving into new areas with the new rising water. I thought I would head out on the lake to finish my limit thinking a lot of the blinds would be empty due to the all day down pour on a Sunday afternoon. WRONG. Every single blind in the area we hunted the morning before was still full and still banging away. There were still a few birds around but the main difference now was nothing was getting anywhere close to the blinds but they were still shooting like crazy. I pulled over in some trees away from everyone and hung out for a little bit and watched to see if I could see birds working any areas. In the next 30 minutes I watched 4 blinds shoot a total of 28 shells to get one bird. Did I mention that place needs a shell limit? Sure made me feel good when that single greenhead drifted over my 9 decoys 20 yards up. BAM. One shot, back in the boat and headed home.