I haven't been out since the close of duck season, but I figured I might as well get out at least once for geese before the end. Today was the last day for dark geese in Central LI, so I got up early one last time to watch the sunrise over the marsh. It was a beautiful sunrise, and the harbor was loaded with birds. Geese, brant, gadwalls, wigeon mallards and blacks were all over the place and they put on quite a show. I had four different flights of geese work my set, all within range, but I let them pass. I had decided that I'd killed enough birds this year, so I'd only take perfectly decoying birds. A couple came close, but I pulled up at the last minute. Kind of fun to watch the suprise on their faces when they realize they've been had!
All in all it was a great year for me. I killed quite a few birds, far more than average, anyway. Those that know me understand that I almost never "wait out" a limit. At my age, there really is no need for that. But, on a couple of occasions this past year, I was done by about 9:00 AM! I got a couple of "trophy" birds, too. In mid December, I shot a drake hoodie. We don't see them that often up here, and they are even less likely to be taken from a shore blind. This bozo came into the puddler spread nice as you please. Ultimately, he paid for his mistake. He's in the freezer now, and as soon as I can finish cleaning up after the season, I'll start on putting him on the wall. A nice pair of buffies met the same fate! Again, rare from a shore blind and again destined for the wall in my man cave. The real prize this year was a kind of odd bird. Kind of looked like an old mallard hen. You know the ones that look like drakes that are a little off color. A closer inspection revealed that it's actually a black mallard cross. Eiter way, definitely not a common bird. Then there's the old squaw that I shot on Christmas Eve with my grandson out of "our" duck boat, the Tytan! All good memories, for sure.
But today was a special ending. For whatever reason, the band gods have never been kind to me. In over 40 years of waterfowling, I think I've shot 4 banded birds, all geese. Today, as I sat there watching the geese and brant trading back and forth, a lone mallard drake came in and landed in the spread, about 30 yards out. It was dead low tied, and the birds were feeding after last night's "snow fall". I was enjoying the show, when something caught my eye. I reached down into my blind bag and pulled out the binoculars. Sure enough, this big old redleg had a bracelet! Maybe next year!