Went out today in the rain. Forecast for rain at 6 am was 90%. They were off by 10%. It started and never stopped. Winds were coming out of the NNE at 16 mpg with gusts up to 21 mph. Pulled the canoe for 100 yards through the overgrown grass. The wind battered the canoe from left to right forcing me back to the shore more than once. Followed the edge of the tall grass to a quiet point in the water. I crossed there in the darkness.
Found my way to the eastern side near the big tree where the eagles roost. With my back to the east I deployed the decoys in a V out to the WSW. 24 in all. A mix of green heads, woodies and teal. Pulled the canoe into a thicket of long grass. Pulled the reeds close to conceal the conspiracy. Set my seat in the long brownish green weeds that grow on the edge of the marsh. I surveyed the stage one more time before show time. I sat down. I loaded the recently oiled 870 super mag with 3 1/2 in. 2 shot. It is now a waiting game.
The rain continues and the overcast sky of blue and grey hide the fact that shooting time is near. No sign of light. In the foreground a wood duck screams into the portrait and settles down 20 yards outside my spread. He is garrisoned by 6 trumpeter swans that sail from the sky and take ownership of everything within sight.
I hear a shot fired in the distance, it's shooting time. I watch the woody in the distance as I bob between the reeds. I let him sing his squeals in hope of attracting others. The swans take his back and relieve me of any shot and the woody sails back into the grey pool of sky.
A little light draws near and around the grass to the left two coots find there way to my space. They stop and check me over. The smaller ones turns tail and buggers off. The other looks me up and down and jugs his head forward and backward as if asking me to move. I stood up and he took flight, 10 yards out he met the front end of my Federal 2 shot. I retrieved him and put him in my sack. As I walked back to my seat I wondered what the hell a coot tastes like. I hoped for the best.
In the background I noticed the trumpeter swans didn't give a damn about the bark of my 870. They just watched me unconcerned. I noticed in the distance 6 ducks, indistinguishable in the light, had come to rest just out of range. I spent the next 30 minutes gauging the distance from me to them and what the odds would be if I squeezed off a shot. I would never know I just sat and watched as the wind brought my decoys to life.
I was brought back to life by the squeal of a woody in the distance. I surveyed the sky and made out a lone drake already passing me by, flying headlong into the wind. I fumbled through the calls around my neck and managed to bring up my Duck Commander Classic. I belched out 5 of my best "TEEEEENNs" that I could muster up. Phil Robertson would have been proud. To my surprise the woody took a hard right, started a large circle back, and headed for my spread. It was true, they do decoy easy in a rain. The woody looked desperate to land. I squeezed the 870 tightly, removed the safety, and waited for the time. His glide broke into a back pedal, he was committed, I let my 870 roar into the wind. He started to pull out after the first shot and I let another ring loud. He continued to climb out of his commitment, oblivious to the steel flying about. I let the last shell scream and with that the woody climbed into the sky with not a single feather floating to the marsh below.
A little time passes and I hear honking in the wind. Geese are approaching from behind. I pull my $15 goose call from around my neck and give out a few pathetic squirks. My work, or from providence, brings them, I hear them on the approach. I look over my left shoulder and see a band of 15-20 geese flying SSW, they are directly south of me. I give the horn a few more blows. As I do, I notice a trumpeter swan is in their formation. At that moment 3 of the geese flying on the north side of their formation break rank and head north toward me. A moment goes by and it is aparent they are making a go for my spread. I don't have any geese in my spread but they start coming in hard. I realize I only have 2 shot loaded and there is not time to switch to my anti-aircraft rounds. I hope that the super mag boost will get the job done. They fully commit and I put the bead on the center goose. I let my 870 bark. They seem unconcerned. I rip it again. They start their pull out. They begin to climb much like the woody, nearly in a vertical ascent as the wind is plowing them back and they can only climb. I let the final shell rip as they are nearly out of range. They continue to climb unscathed. Minutes later I hear shot north of me. The honking stops.
I grow desperate by the moment. I'm in disbelief having missed the first two opportunities. I start to get nervous that no other ducks will head back my way. I start to think of alternative scenarios. I agree with myself that the next ducks that commit I will let land in the spread and then I will flush to assure I have a bead on them.
I spent the next 45 minutes wondering what the hell had gone wrong. I spent the last 4 weeks at the trap range practicing my shots. I averaged 20 clays each round. My best being 24. Not bad for my first time shooting trap. I started thinking of all kinds of excuses as to why I missed my birds. I came down to the most plausible answer. It was the wind. That was what was throwing my shot off. Perhaps by a foot or more.
Then next 10 minutes brought in two mallards flying high. They came from the SW and headed north. I grabbed my call and gave out a raspy mallard holler. They started to turn east. I squelched again. They started to head south and turn into my spread. I took my previous advice and let them land in the spread. It was a drake and a hen. Having never harvested either I started getting a chubby. I let them play in the wind, clean their feathers, groom themselves, and then I remembered how desperate I had become and I pulled the safety, stood up, put the bead on the drake and waited for the glory.
They just went about their business. My entrance to the scene must have been covered by the wind as they continued on obliviously to the 870 that was coming down like a foot stepping heavy. Suddenly, the drake saw me, he pushed his head up to get a better look and then knew it was going down hard, he started to take off, the hen followed suit. I waited till they were off of water about 5 feet and let the steel fly. They wind blew so hard that they appeared to be in suspended animation. They were flapping their wings like hell into the wind but they only went up and at times appeared to go backward.
I let the first volley fly and no reaction. I thought to myself, "It's happening again." I started to correct my shot, judging 30 yards out, a muzzle length is about 1 foot. More steel going forward. No feathers. Last shot, they are free.
I sit back down in my chair. By this time I've got the chills. The extra work it took to pull the canoe and the extra paddling due to the wind caused a lot of sweat under my neoprene waders. That turned into a bone chilling chatter on the heels of this defeat. The deer hunting gloves I wore were soaked and holding water, my hands were prunes. I started wondering the hell I was even doing in this God forsaken marsh, in the bone chilling rain and the howling wind. I am clearly completely insane.
Enter a band of geese, flying high and completely out of range. I load up the anti-aircraft rounds and just start letting it rip. When they pass a group of woody's come in from the east and they are met with the same insanity. I am now 17 shells in and nothing but a coot to eat. I don't even have a recipe.
On top of all the insult I can now be labeled a sky-buster. All in all, I've got to admit, given the day that I had, bustin' the sky felt pretty good.
Hey, Bungalow Bill
What did you kill