Alright. The story of the 2013-2014 Mississippi Flyway's Traveling Decoy - "Ginger's Journey"
I'll try my best to spare you all the epic tale's I've written for past Traveling Decoys by keeping this one short(er) and sweet.
For the 3rd year in a row, I've been fortunate enough to provide a spot for the Miss Flyway's Traveling Decoy to land. Each year has been different, and has provided its own unique challenges, obstacles, and rewards. This year was no different. Each year I've been afforded the luxury of hunting Ginger with a different DHC member in a new ( to the decoy ) location. This year Ginger was hunted with the legendary Papachessie, on the legendary body of water for which she was to represent, The Mighty Mississippi River.
Ginger's Journey started with his/her arrival at my place last Tuesday, a day ahead
of schedule which is rare for most any delivery service in my area. Regardless of what some have said in the past, the traveling decoys have generally brought me good luck, so I'd like to demystify that rumor right off the bat.
Case-in-point: Ginger gets here early. Then I get a phone call from Papachessie informing me that he has run into major construction delay's/detours on his way to my place..... I expected him at least an hour later than he planned to arrive, but Magically, HE get's here early.....Coincidence? I think NOT!
As noted earlier, I was able to snap a few pics of Ginger along with his/her party favors from along the flyway path thus far, all of which were pretty interesting and added their own unique bit of character to Ginger's growing list of regional collectibles.
I will say that so far, Woody's souvenir is the most unique and thoughtful that I've seen with a traveling decoy to date. I'm not sure how I can/will match that. I will let Woody tell you all what he sent along with the deek. It's actually pretty neat so, well done Woodrow
Day 1 brought us the opportunity to do some sight seeing. I mentioned to Papachessie that we would be able to get a pretty good idea of what our upcoming hunts were going to be like by observing some of the waterfowl numbers along the way. For the most part, the duck numbers were a bit below what I normally have for this time of year, but not the geese. They were right on target and in the area in pretty good numbers.
Here, Ginger poses for a nice picture of the sunset over the Miss....aaand then some volunteers from the local watering hole;
Ginger is of to a beautiful start!
He/she certainly attracts the hens/hoes....orrr maybe it's just Papachessie
Day 2 brought our 1st hunt. The weather was way too nice, it was sunny clear with a high in the mid to upper 40's with a very slight SSW breeze. Where I hunt, we are most successful when we have strong winds.
I got the chance to put on the first of many
duck-"tail"-shooting exhibitions for Papachessie that day, shooting just slightly behind a number of birds. Don't get me wrong, they ALL ended up dead, but the majority of them made the trip to the other side with a real sore back-side first
Papachessie's shooting started off a little rough, but by the end of the day he was able to knock loose what ever eh hemmm "rust" or stage fright/intimidation he had
by stoning a beautiful drake mallard at a pretty impressive range, after which point he said, "That was easy". As we picked up the decoys for the night, Papachessie got to witness what has kept my family coming back to the area for over 50 years wave upon wave of every type of ducks, geese, swans, Sandhill cranes, pelicans ect piling into any bit of open water they could find, just taunting you into coming back the next day.
Day 2 -Hunt 1 Totals:
3 Hen Mallards
2 Drake Mallards
1 ***HEN*** Buffle Head - my first.
1 - 15lb Canada
My Dad and younger brother showed up just as we were set to retire for the night, ( I was already knocked out pretty hard at that point), so we woke up and promptly opened up a few cold ones, then ate a solid dinner of spicy italian sausages that were slow cooked for 14 hours with tomato-basil marinara, portobello mushrooms, freshly minced garlic, sliced green peppers and onions and made plans for the next morning.Day 3-Hunt 2 - The Clinic
It all came together pretty nicely on Saturday. On our second hunt, the winds kicked up to SSW 20-40mph, the clouds came in, and well the birds, they fell from the sky.
It was one of them days boys. The ducks didn't want to listen all too well that day, but the geese were quite literally, at our beckon call. On weekends, I generally don't anticipate doing so well as the this is public land, and all the part-timers/noobs tend to emerge from the woodwork on weekends. After a few dumb ducks dropped in on us early, I was feelin' it. In consecutive realatively tough shots, I had already dropped a nice Drake Mallard, and my first Golden Eye, yeah it was a hen, but who cares!!! I had never killed a GE before, and my 12-month old pup was able to find it in some obscenely thick weeds so I was already on cloud-9.
Then things really got interesting. In the area that I hunt, unfortunately the vast majority of "duck hunters" either don't know how to, or care to give the geese a chance to work into the spread. We were able to work a flock of 7 Canada's from a LONG ways out, that at one point drifted into the preserve, where we thought they were surely gone, only to double right back circle twice then sail in nicely off to my end of the boat blind. As agreed earlier that morning, we let any flocks come in over the middle of the blind before giving the "Rain KEAD" command
It was as if these geese had listened into our plans as they came in juuuuuuuuust right. I gave the take em' call and dropped the 2 birds on my end of the flock, and as I progressed though the rest of the flock every bird kept dropping just before I could pull off my 3rd shot. In all we killed 6 of the 7 from that flock and if the pups ( brother and sister labs) hadn't been simultaneously wrestling with their big feathered foes, I may have been able to get the 7th goose to join its fallen friends.
We gathered up the dead, and counted only 5 geese
? What the **** I know we killed 6 said, Papachessie. Just then, we heard the flapping wings of a bird in distress on the water.....from the distance we were at it looked like a goose feeding in the shallows, dunking its head under water. Son of a buck, the 6th GOOSE! And it was literally being drowned to death by a damned Mink the size of a small cat
and that sucker did NOT want to give up that goose! I had to wade across an extremely iffy part of the river with my pup to go and get that retrieve that goose from the would be thief, but we ended up winning that fight. It's just a damn shame I don't have my trapper's license, otherwise I could've donated to Jehler's son's next hat.
As the day wore on, we put on what Papachessie referred to as a "clinic" on how to decoy, and finish heavily pressured geese. The next few came to within 10 yards of the gun, and we were even fortunate enough to give my younger brother the opportunity to take a goose that nearly landed on me all by himself, his first ever solo goose kill.
Continuing through that day I put on what I thought was a shooting clinic ( Papachessie will tell you it was an ass shooting clinic
) and because I wasn't missing much, I was fortunate to cross a few major milestones off the list.
- The first Blackduck of the season ( we usually only get 1 or 2 per season ) so they are a treat when we can get them.
- My first ever CANVASBACK!!! (albeit a hen) I was effin' pumped!
- My first ever Redhead, and a buddy for Ginger ( an immature drake )
All in all we ended up with a 4-man limit of gesse, and Papachessie and I were able to double down on a pair of Mallards, and I was 1 bird shy of my 1st limit of the season on both ducks and geese together
Ginger and her diverse group of friends
Day 3 Hunt-2 Totals:
8 Geese, and 6 ducks
1- Red Head
1- Black Duck
2- Drake MallardsDay 4 Close Calls
Day 4 began with temps in the low to mid 60s with little to no wind then in true IL fashion it went from that to, High 30s with 50mph winds, Hail, Snow flurries, Rain.....then just ridiculous winds. Unfortunately, some folks just south of us experienced the worst of it
Prayers are going out to all those affected by the storms.
Overall it was a helluva trip once again, and I am glad that Papachessie made the trip out this way again this year, and I look forward to the opportunity to hunt with him again.
I am beyond tired now so I may edit this whole post tomorrow
Bird Totals =