First solo duck hunting trip

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First solo duck hunting trip

Postby suzukidad » Thu Oct 10, 2013 3:27 pm

I duck hunted Ohio back in 1980 with a friend who did everything and I just tagged along. It was great fun but a little expensive for an 18 year old to maintain with the meager income that fast food restaurants provided. Fast forward 2009 and a hunting friend takes me along on select duck hunts again. Once again I tagged along and he did everything. I couldn’t call, set up decoys or anything. Basically a total greenhorn. I have elk hunted the back country of some pretty extreme locations…so hunting is not foreign, just duck hunting.

Enough is enough I thought. I’m getting a dog and doing this stuff myself! Got a Golden Retriever last November and started training him. He has a great pedigree from a national qualifier name Red Ruckus for the stud, and the bitch, Ginger, has achieved her Master Hunter title. Pretty soon I realized that was too much for me to train him and sent him away to Pat Nolan in Maryland. Got him back a week before the ND nonresident season started and decided to hit the road for the prairie pot hole region! Had a couple weeks to prepare and research, and all indications pointed to a lot of work but a great opportunity. Keep in mind I can’t blow a duck call to save my life but I have a 22 hour drive to practice and a DVD that I watched to get the basics. I haven’t even cleaned a bird without instructions from my friends! None the less…it didn’t matter! I’M GOING!

First Day Sunday Sept 29

Needed to get PLOTS maps but Sheels wasn’t open until 10:00 and I couldn’t wait. Left the hotel at 5AM and headed to a location that had lots of water on the Gazetteer. Drove around looking for water, birds and PLOTS signs until 9:00 and got the lay of the land. There’s water and ducks EVERYWHERE I noticed (compared to Ohio) and was excited to start. Got my PLOTS map and found a few locations where I scouted and headed back. By this time it was after noon and I thought we (Buddy my Golden and I) would take a hike and see what this was like off the road. My first stop took me back a 2 track to a secluded 20 acre lake with cut wheat on the north and CRP around water. Unloaded Buddy and let him romp a while as I prepared. We headed to the water and noticed some birds hunkered down out of the wind on the north side of a point. DUCKS I thought! This is what I came for! With Buddy in tow we snuck down to the water and they flushed. As they flushed, Buddy took off bouncing all around and I shot. Low and behold a bird fell from the sky and landed in the reeds! The Budman didn’t see it fall so I had to call him over. I settled him down and threw a rock in the area and he was off. Like a pro he was off on
my command, circled down wind and was right on the bird. He returned it, circled around to my left side, sat down and released the bird on an “out” command. This is the schtuff that dreams are made of! I was so proud of my year old dog and praised the heck out of him. All he wanted to do was get back in the water! Lol Being new…I didn’t know what kind of bird it was. I carried an ID book and got it out. No luck. I texted Zach my hunting buddy from Ohio and sent him a photo. “Shoveler” he replied. “Is that good?” I replied, “Tastes horrible” shortly followed. Oh well… WE DID IT! We were successful if the trip ended right then and there!
The rest of the day was spent scouting and walking to other PLOTS land and seeing what is out there. Tons of birds on the water by my terms, and tomorrow was going to be great.

http://s1108.photobucket.com/user/suzukidad/media/ND%20Duck%20Hunt%202013/IMG_0854.jpg.html?sort=3&o=21#/user/suzukidad/media/ND%20Duck%20Hunt%202013/IMG_0854.jpg.html?sort=3&o=21&_suid=138153683399107596640957395322
Last edited by suzukidad on Fri Oct 11, 2013 6:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Without freedom none of this matters
suzukidad
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Re: First solo duck hunting trip

Postby suzukidad » Thu Oct 10, 2013 3:28 pm

Monday Sept 30

Up at 4:30 and out the door at 5. 45 minute drive to the area we selected and we’re at it again. The Budmeister is raring to go and full of energy. We had a walk of over ¼ mile to the selected pot hole and I decided to carry the waders instead of wearing them for the hike. We got there in short order and put my waders on and started putting out decoys. Buddy had 6 months of training with basic obedience and retrieving “marks” (objects he sees thrown). Well, I throw out the first decoy and he jumps in the water and brings it back! He has his ecollar on and I am a little slow to get on it and he makes it to shore with the deke. He gets a mild scolding and I throw the next one. Sure enough…out he goes again after it. I am extremely disappointed at this point! He had retrieved ducks and bumpers around decoys for 6 months and never touched one. I guess throwing one out was a different scenario. Well, I thought “I’ve got to stop this quick” so I change the transmitter from nick to constant and turn it up. The next decoy he goes after I apply pressure right as he goes to put his mouth on it with no verbal command. He comes out of the water, a little startled and goes back for it. Another correction as he mouths the decoy and he swims to me. Phew…maybe this will fix it I thought. Things got better and slowly he stopped retrieving the decoys but my mood had slipped from excitement to disappointment. The final set was the Mojo and with that we hid in the tall weeds on the shore and waited for legal shooting time. 7:00am…Birds landing in my decoys! Birds buzzing Mojo! The excitement starts to build and the anticipation for 7:15 is growing intense. As the sun starts to come up is shining right in my face and it is difficult to see. I have a difficult time identifying birds in my hand…so in the air is nearly impossible at this point. A bunch of Coots swim over to my decoys and help me out as 7:15 rolls around. A few birds fly low right at me and the hunt is on. Gun shouldered, safety off, bang, bang, bang…but nothing drops. Buddy had broken from his sit position at the first shot and was out in the water before I knew it. He looked at me like WTH? Lol I called him back and we settled in for the next birds. This happened a few more times until I downed a bird and he went to work retrieving it like to me. Another text to Zach and Hen Mallard was texted back. As the sun came up, I noticed the birds were swinging out further and further away. Hmmm…they don’t like something I thought. Is it the Mojo? My spread? Me? A discussion with Zach revealed that a gold dog in green grass probably isn’t hidden too well. Duh…lesson one, bring Buddys blind tomorrow and brush him in.
We stopped at 11:00 and had literally 1000’s of birds fly over me. I was out 1-1/2 boxes of shells and only had one bird to show for it. Mostly pass shooting going on at this point and the birds were probably too far away. The Budman was getting a little antsy with all the shooting and not being sent to get a bird. I can imagine if he could talk he’d be asking me why I brought him along if he wasn’t going to retrieve anything?! Lol
After we picked up the decoys we scouted a few potholes we saw birds going to when they flared off us. As we approached one pot hole a dozen or so birds flush but one can’t fly. I send Buddy after it and the chase is on. He’d get close and she’d dive. She’d pop up somewhere else and he would go after her. After about 3-4 minutes of this I am worried he is getting tired and might drown…lol so when she comes up a good distance from her I shoot and finish her off. He retrieves her, another hen Mallard and is as happy as can be. Seeing how I can’t ID birds in the air, I am done hunting for today after the 2nd hen. We pack up and head back to the hotel to clean my 2 birds.

http://s1108.photobucket.com/user/suzukidad/media/ND%20Duck%20Hunt%202013/IMG_0854.jpg.html?sort=3&o=21#/user/suzukidad/media/ND%20Duck%20Hunt%202013/BuddyBlueWingTeal.jpg.html?sort=3&o=13&_suid=138153691740006216678311020951
Last edited by suzukidad on Fri Oct 11, 2013 6:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Without freedom none of this matters
suzukidad
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Re: First solo duck hunting trip

Postby suzukidad » Thu Oct 10, 2013 3:29 pm

Tuesday Oct 1

Same time same hole today only Buddy has his blind brushed in and is looking snazzy. A quick command to kennel and he goes in but balks and comes back out. Hmmm…this worked great at home and at the hotel…whats up I though. It’s dark yet and I can’t thoroughly see what’s going on but know that he has to follow his commands. A wrestling match ensues and he’s in the blind waiting. In training he only spends about 15-20 second in the blind before I send him so he is ready to go with still ½ an hour till shooting time. A little calming and reassurance to him and things get better but he’s not happy. Pat Nolans training techniques are based on getting your dog to “want” to do what you tell him, instead of “making” him do what you want. It didn’t make sense at first but the payoffs are beginning to show.
The morning starts like the previous day with birds flying over me but not landing in the decoys. The action starts to really pick up at 8:30. Lots of shots and no birds and a nervous dog. He breaks a few times and I get out a 4’ lead and stake him down so he can’t break too far. Another flock passes lower and slower and a bird falls from the sky! Buddy takes off and is in his element. Finally I can hear him say in his mind! He brings the bird back and it is Duck ID time again. Hmmm…the wing has a white bar on the back edge but not on the front so its not a hen Mallard. There is a bronze patch on the front of the wing and a text confirmation from Zach reveals a drake Gadwall. Awesome! I hear about those on “Duck Dynasty” lol Tons of birds still flying over and at one point I guess there were 500 birds within eye sight! Flocks of 25-50 were everywhere flying every direction. THIS IS AWESOME!
We pick up at 10 and walk to adjacent potholes to scout. The water I am hunting on is fairly large and there is plenty of room for the birds to land without being within shooting distance. Maybe a smaller pothole would work better. Make a mental note of that. I’m not good at calling them in, and my decoys aren’t doing the job by themselves silent…better change things up.
We find a smaller hole and drag the decoys over and set up. More of the same: birds flaring off at last minute but manage to drop another Gadwall. Funny, but as we are getting more successful, we are also wanting more out of this trip. The first day we were happy as a clam to be out in the wild with a stinky Shoveler. Now that we are gaining some momentum we want more. Strange…lol
After the morning slows down, we walk and scout more and jump up more birds some are too far out but one flock in particular is close enough to harvest another bird. A powder blue patch on the wing and smaller than the Gadwall…Blue wing Teal! HOORAY a different species!
This scouting walk yields an area with little open water but lots of cat tails and knee deep water. Plenty of birds working the area so we sit for a while and watch what’s going on. They are landing in the small patches of open water and working their way out of the wind and into the reeds. The reeds would make better camo than the grass I’ve been in so this is the new spot for tomorrow morning. It’s been a good day…we’re learning and have 1 more duck in the cooler than the day before.
At the hotel I am walking Buddy and a guy comments on how nice he looks. We stop and chat while he pets him. He works local and has a 2 week on 2 week of schedule in the oil fields. He asked what I was doing there and I explain the story of a newby with his dog duck hunting. He had 4 Goldens previously and was thrilled with Buddy. He had hunted ducks in his younger days and offered to take me around and show me the ropes. Not knowing the guy from Adam, I didn’t know how to respond. We exchanged phone numbers and I told him I had plans for Wednesday and I would get back with him. He was a great guy and very friendly.
Without freedom none of this matters
suzukidad
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Posts: 12
Joined: Mon Sep 09, 2013 6:28 pm

Re: First solo duck hunting trip

Postby suzukidad » Thu Oct 10, 2013 3:30 pm

Wednesday Oct 2

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Same time…same channel to the new spot with high hopes. The walk is a little further and that bag of decoys is getting heavy so the Mojo gets left behind. Setup is quicker today and we are getting a routine. Buddy doesn’t retrieve the decoys as I throw them out…success! The weather today is cloudy and spitting rain, great I think! As the sun comes up, there are no birds flying like previous mornings. The past few mornings were bright blue sky with little wind. Today had a 30MPH wind, clouds, and storms off to the north. I thought the bad weather brought the birds out…? The sightings were spotty and mostly pass shooting. 2 quick Blue wings and we’re getting the hang of this. Flocks of birds coming from behind me today, the opposite direction from previous days…I’m stumped. They are following a shallow slough and flying low and fast. From the cat tails I can’t see them until they are nearly past me. We move the blind and decoys quickly and get a better vantage point. Another lesson learned- “You can’t shoot them if you can’t see them coming in time” Birds closer now and the move seems to pay off but my shooting doesn‘t! More missed shots and finally another bird drops from the sky. Some disappointment as it’s a hen Mallard. I don’t want to get to the point where I need to stop again for fear of going over the limit! The action slows and I decide to take a walk around the slough. There are birds landing on the far side of my set up and I want to look it over and see why. I leave Buddy staked out so possibly I can jump a few on the walk. They jump out too far and no shot so I return to Buddy. On the way back I hear a single goose in the distance. After locating it, I notice it is flying straight at me. Knowing better than squeak the call, I hunker down along the reeds and wait. Surely it wont keep coming straight at me….wait…yes it is! As it approaches 30 yards I stand up and shoot dropping the bird behind with a distinct thud. Jumping with joy, I quickly remember I’ve got a partner in this game. The Budman is 100 yards away sitting regally at attention looking my way. I leave the bird lay and go get him to see how he will respond to the Canadian. As we get close, I circle him down wind and give the fetch command. He winds the bird and goes straight for it only to stop short and look a little bewildered. I chuckle and praise him and encourage him to retrieve the bird. It gets quite comical as he begins to growl and prance around the bird not knowing what to do. I can sense his frustration but let him make progress. As the progress stops, I call him to me and pick up the bird. This thing is nearly as big as him! No wonder he is struggling. We walk over to the waters edge and I throw the bird into the water as far as I can throw it. Buddy is released on his name and he tears off into the water after it. More prancing and encouragement ensues and he pulls a mouth full of feathers from the bird. I get a chuckle out of it and encourage with fetch. More and more he attacks the bird and finally figures out how to pick it up but can’t walk towards me. Not wanting to let the bird go he walks sideways away from me circling around to me finally. Great Job Buddy! 4-5 more throws into the water and he is bring it back like he’d been doing it forever. What a day! Changed tactics with more success, 3 birds and a goose! YEEHAW! Buddy was having fun and was whipped when he got back to the truck.
Scouted more property that evening and put 160 miles on the truck. Nothing looks as good as the area I’m in, but decoys aren’t doing what I expect them to do…something needs to change.
A gentleman had contacted me from the forum and offered to hunt with me in the weeks prior to my hunt. We talked and made plans to hunt together later in the week. He called me today and we set up a time to have dinner, meet and discuss our options. He was another great guy with a magnificent past. He had a passion for duck hunting but could only hunt water he could wade to retrieve the birds he shot. We made plans to hunt together Friday in an area he had secured with a friend of his. We talked for hours over dinner and started what I hope is a long lasting friendship. He was a little older than I and his background was very interesting. The stories he told were fascinating and I was eager to hear more someday.
I texted the gentlemen I met at the hotel that evening and took him up on his offer. We arranged to meet at a gas station and he would show me the ropes of that area.
Image
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Last edited by suzukidad on Fri Oct 11, 2013 6:39 pm, edited 3 times in total.
Without freedom none of this matters
suzukidad
hunter
 
Posts: 12
Joined: Mon Sep 09, 2013 6:28 pm

Re: First solo duck hunting trip

Postby suzukidad » Thu Oct 10, 2013 3:31 pm

Thursday October 3rd

Windy out of the north and west with some clouds. Winds gusting pretty strong but not as strong as Wednesday. We meet at a gas station and my new hunting partner jumped in the truck and we were off to new areas with new tactics. He was used to jump shooting and was going to show me how. We stopped at a plot of land with 2 nice ponds. He wasn’t carrying a gun because he couldn’t get his stamp with the late hour of our arrangements. We decided to put Buddy on a short lead so he wouldn’t run ahead and spook the birds before we got there. The ponds were surrounded with cat tails and that allowed us to sneak up on them without being seen. We were able to glass from a distance and saw plenty of birds on the water so we put the sneak on. The wind helped cover any noise we made and we got really close prior to them flushing. With my hen Mallard phobia…I stalled a little to survey the flock and try to pick out a bird with color. That proved fruitless and fter what seemed like 2 minutes (probably only 2-3 seconds) I picked out a bird and shot. It dropped after one shot so I focused on a second bird and shot again. The second bird was crippled and as it hit the water with its head up I shot again. A DOUBLE!!! Buddy was released and made quick work of the first bird. A nice drake Gadwall. This was awesome! The emotions were high! The cripple swam after I shot the second time at it and got into some reeds. The pond was fairly large and we looked for ½ hour and couldn’t find the bird. It was diving as the dog was going after it, and one time it just never came up where we could see it. Buddy refused to give up and it took quite a bit of correction with the e collar to bring him to shore without a bird. This dog is relentless! He won’t quit if he doesn’t get the bird but I was nervous that he would get tired, cold, or something would happen to my best pal out there on the water and I would loose him. First time retriever jitters I guess.
After we finally got him back to the shore we snuck up on an adjacent pothole just 100 yards away. Again the wind was right and the sneak was awesome. The birds flushed and another fell from the sky after 2 shots. The Budman took off and was back with a bird in a flash and awaited my direction. While standing there a flock flew over and my partner said “take em!” I was thinking they were too high so when the shot finally went off I was shotting straight up. A bird folded like a sheet in the wind and fell to the water with a splash! Buddy was sitting at my side when I looked down having seen the whole thing. WOW…this is just like the training we did with Pat. Buddy was sent and back with another bird. We were 30 minutes into the hunt and had 3 Gadwalls already. The Budman approves! I can tell by his proud prance as we head back to the truck.
We head off to another location and spot a flock of 50 geese in a corn field that had been picked for silage. There was quite a bit of corn left on the ground and they were feeding at about 9:00am. I hate asking for permission to hunt but my friend was great at it and said lets try. We stopped at house to find out who owned the property and had a great time talking with them. After ½ hour of shooting the breeze we head up to the farmers house and meet him. Again we talk for at least ½ hour and enjoy every minute of it. The people I met were all so friendly and accommodating. After we talked for a while, we asked if we could put the sneak on those geese in his field. There was a long pause and my heart went up in my throat. The thought of getting turned down didn’t bother me, but the thought of disturbing a stranger, asking selfishly for something of theirs, and imposing on them to tell me “no” is a disrespectful situation. As he began to talk my emotions calmed down. As it turns out, his son loves to goose hunt and he wanted to leave them for him. His son was out of town and he gave us permission to hunt today only. We talked some more and low and behold, he told us of a couple of ponds that held ducks close to the barn where we were talking. He said you ought to go put the sneak on the ponds before we went after the geese. The fear of bothering the farmer for my own personal selfish desires was greeted with him offering more locations to hunt than I asked for! I fell over myself thanking him and we moved on.
The pond was holding some drake Mallards and Teal. My friend held Buddy and had me belly crawl up to the pond and stand up and shoot. When I got there and stood up it appeared to me that the shots were too far. I had visions of earlier in the week when I was missing and had decided that my shots were too far and elected to shoot only at more sure shots. As I was thinking they were too far away I heard “SHOOT”! The Benelli came to my shoulder and the steel went flying through the air. The Mallards were the furthest away so the sights fell on the closer teal. One dropped as it reached the edge of the reeds and fell into a 10’tall tangled up mess. Oh boy I thought…we will never find that bird. It wouldn’t be respectful to the bird to not give it our best shot so I had my friend keep an eye on the spot and I took Buddy over there to find it. He got to the weeds and I sent him in. This was completely different than any of the retrieves and I was nervous to have him not come out with the bird and have a negative experience. After about 2-3 minutes he came bounding out of the reads with a Blue Wing Teal in his mouth! I jumped for joy and praised the heck out of him! You could tell the satisfaction he felt when he brought a bird to me. There sure is a bond growing between us in these few day of hunting. My friend commented on how he never thought Buddy would find that bird. His tenacity and pedigree are starting to show. He may be a little rough around the edges, but for 1 year old, I am very pleased.
After we take a photo or 2 of the Teal, we head off to put the sneak on the geese. They were still there and my friend explains that my belly crawling needs some work. My butt was too high in the air and I needed to crawl flat using my elbows to pull myself along staying lower. This could easily get me 20 yards closer to the birds he explained. So off it was across the corn field after the flock. As I got closer I got down in the position he taught me and we were belly crawling fools. It was tough on my body but at the same time it was satisfying. I could hear the geese and knew I was getting closer and they had no idea that I was there. They were just over a knoll and I had a perfect approach. He took the truck and buddy to the up wind side of the field and was going to walk slowly towards the birds and if they flushed they wouldn’t go towards him increasing my chances for a shot. As I got closer I heard their calls change to a little more frantic cadence and figured something was up. As I saw a couple birds lift off l stood up, took aim and shot. On the first shot my bird moved lower but didn’t fall so a second shot was taken and he fell to the ground. Boy oh boy is this a great trip! Meeting new friends, learning new ways to hunt, and having success. How can it get any better? Buddy retrieved the bird with a little trouble but he got it to me. He was jumping up for the bird the whole way back to the truck. He was excited as I was!
After the goose I had to take my friend back to his truck for him to get home. He mentioned an area on my way back to the hotel that I could use the same techniques he taught me earlier and hunt some more. I wasn’t really that worried. Heck, I had 4 birds and a goose. Best day so far for me and what more could I ask for. On the way back I had time to reflect and decided to try his suggestions. 2 ponds later The Budmeister had retrieved 2 more Blue Wing Teal and we had a LIMIT!!!!! Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think we would get a limit in a day. WE WERE EXTATIC!
We flew back to the hotel on clouds, beaming with pride. Buddy even got to sit in the back seat of the truck instead of the kennel this time, wet smell and all. He did great and with each day we learned together. It seemed like he was having more fun as the hunt went smoother too.
Back at the hotel he was whipped. He was so tired he only ate ½ his food and laid down and watched as I cleaned the ducks in the hotel parking lot. He didn’t even chase any feathers across the lawn like previous days. The satisfaction of spending that time with him as he laid there calm and well behaved was truly special. This was what I dreamed of and it was coming true. Life was complete and I had one more day to hunt!
Without freedom none of this matters
suzukidad
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Posts: 12
Joined: Mon Sep 09, 2013 6:28 pm

Re: First solo duck hunting trip

Postby suzukidad » Thu Oct 10, 2013 3:32 pm

Friday October 4

The gentleman I met on line had offered to take me with his friend to his spots this day. He was having trouble due to deep water and no dog so he didn’t take shots where he couldn’t get the birds by wading. I arrived at the gas station early as usual, eager with anticipation of hunting with another new friend in a new area. His friends family owned land south of town and knew the ponds and area so that was a help. Although I took my gun, I elected to stay behind the other guys and work with Buddy. His manners were getting a little sloppy and I wanted to run him more like our training so that things didn’t get too far out of control.
Off to the first pothole for some jump shooting. That worked the day before for me and they were having success earlier in the week with this technique so why not. The birds flush, I make Buddy sit, and a bird falls from the sky just like clockwork. He sat there at full attention with his focus on that bird. “Buddy” I command and he dives eagerly into the deep water after the bird. After he gets to the bird I blow the whistle and he returns delivering nicely to my hand with 1 command, a hen Mallard. My new friend looks at me and says “This dog thing is the tits!” We chuckle, admire the Budman and move on. Working the dog is nearly as much fun as shooting and I was having a great time. As we get to the next pond it is smaller and we all 3 converge on it at the same time to increase our chances. The shot manufacturers really like us…because there was lots of steel flying but few birds dropping. Lol But just as we sulk in our misery, a second set of birds fly up. Each of us drop 1 bird this time! Oh no I thought. What am I going to do with Buddy. Well, I got close to where the bird fell and threw a rock into the water on the downwind side . He was off and got the bird. Ok…we can do this. One of the birds landed in the field and we did the same thing. He hunted for a while and came up with the bird. WOW. The last bird was easy and we moved on.
We glassed the next pond and found several birds on the side protected from the wind. They put the sneak on and Buddy and I watched from a far. Flocks flew up and six shots rang out. 4 birds dropped to the water!!! “Great shooting” I shouted! Buddy saw the whole thing and sat there patiently awaiting my release. I let him go and he brought the first Mallard back and sat by my side facing a bird laying on the water 40 yards away. I sent him and like the Bud-o-Matic he brought it right back. The next 2 birds were blocked by some trees so I threw a rock and after it he went. Back with ease and never slowing his pace he wanted more. The last bird was cripple and he went after it after a rock was thrown. As he got close to the bird it dove under the water and surfaced a few feet away. He chased it and just as he went to put his mouth on it it dove again. To my surprise Buddy went after it head first under the water with just his rear end above water! My heart skipped a beat as he surfaced coughing and holding his head high in the water. He was panicking and splashing as he swam. As I watched I was getting ready to put my gun down and dive in after him! I called him back and he calmed down but wouldn’t quit going after the bird. One side of me felt pride for him to have that tenacity, but the other side of me wanted him to obey my command. I am probably wrong to call him off a bird, but I feared for his safety like an old mother hen. It appears he knows what he can do and I should let him go. I just didn’t want to loose my dog to drowning after 1 week together! The guys were impressed with a year old dog getting all 4 birds, swimming under water to get one and never wanting to quit. You can imagine my pride with their comments and the way he worked. The day was awesome.
The rest of the day was filled with Blue Wing Teal and routine retrieves. I filled out my 18 duck total for the week and put my gun away. The total number of birds for the day was 10 and Buddy was tired. This was our best day so far and the Budman really shined! I was so happy.
I loaded him up into the back seat of the truck, dried him off and started the 22 hour drive home at noon…10 ducks by noon is great in my book. He slept 4-5 hours, even snoring once in a while. He earned it and I just grinned and drove on reflecting on the week.

We started out with energy and ambition only to have our spirits dampened with lack of success, then lifted up by the camaraderie of complete strangers. In an earlier post I asked if I was crazy to try this. The answer is yes…but I’d do it again in a heartbeat! We learned things we would never learn with others around, we made great friends, and now have the tools to try this again with more success. I still can’t call a duck to save my life, but my dog doesn’t care. He comes over to me and knocks me down and hugs me when I am gasping for air leaning on the decoys taking a break from dragging them to the truck. The look in his eyes when he is locked in on a bird waiting for me to send him is priceless and very gratifying. We grew together this past week in ways I never imagined would happen. A very satisfying hunt that I will remember for a life time. Hopefully Buddy does too.
http://s1108.photobucket.com/user/suzukidad/media/ND%20Duck%20Hunt%202013/IMG_0903.jpg.html?sort=3&o=1#/user/suzukidad/media/ND%20Duck%20Hunt%202013/IMG_0903.jpg.html?sort=3&o=1&_suid=1381538544398018882057108911054

http://s1108.photobucket.com/user/suzukidad/media/ND%20Duck%20Hunt%202013/IMG_0895.jpg.html?sort=3&o=0#/user/suzukidad/media/ND%20Duck%20Hunt%202013/IMG_0895.jpg.html?sort=3&o=0&_suid=1381537026111039509914920901984
Last edited by suzukidad on Fri Oct 11, 2013 6:40 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: First solo duck hunting trip

Postby H2OfowlND » Thu Oct 10, 2013 8:08 pm

Well played sir, well played! Great play by play! Always good to hear of the guy who actually ventured out on a totally new adventure. We all started out at your level at one point. Keep on working with your Bud and come on back to North Dakota. I hope to hunt with you in my home state someday soon!

Keep on keepin' on!

H2O
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Re: First solo duck hunting trip

Postby mikebosmans » Fri Oct 11, 2013 1:51 am

Awesome read. :clapping:
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Re: First solo duck hunting trip

Postby mikebosmans » Fri Oct 11, 2013 2:48 am

I don't know you from Adam but based on your story and what I saw from your other posts I'd say we'd get along just fine in a duck blind together. Last year I did pretty much the same thing in South Dakota. Solo hunt, first time out there, had a little bit more waterfowl experience than it sounds like you do, but enjoyed the heck out of it. I had a rough summer last year but 9 days last fall, just me and my dog was one of the best experiences of my life. I reflected on it on the drive home last year and there were 3 days that I didn't speak a single word to another human. THAT IS PRICELESS!!!!!

You didn't ask for any, but if you don't mind, I'd like to offer a couple ideas to you. (This is the internet afterall and everyones got an opinion :lol3: ) I hope you regard mine as purely constructive criticism and don't take any offense as none is intended.

In no particular order:

Join a retriever training club.

You obviously enjoy this game as well as your dog. Almost nothing will benefit you more than a well trained retriever. When you and Bud are on the exact same page, you will be a force to be reckoned with. You seem to have the drive and determination to do what ever needs to be done to have a succesful trip, so don't sell yourself or your dog short by not putting in time with him. It sounds like he is at a fair level of ability for his age. Consider teaching him how to handle on blind retrieves (directing him to downed birds he did not see fall.) Nothing exemplifies the relationship between man and his hunting buddy like working together to retrieve a bird. You had a taste of that by working your dog while others did the shooting. You can also stop throwing rocks once the dog can handle on blinds. He will go where you tell him to because he trusts you and know he will be rewarded with a bird to retrieve.

Shoot as much as you can.

Trap and skeet ranges can provide tons of hands on practice, but almost as importantly, knowledge from other shooters (especially the old farts that break 99% of the targets and only miss the ones that their eyesight fails them on) Consider a short trap league: 6-12 weeks. Shoot the league with your hunting gun know it like the back of your hand. 25 clays a week will go miles compared to boxes of shells at sub-sonic speed teal. Missed clays and old-timers watching you shoot can teach you more in one round of trap than you will likely figure out in a thousand misses on ducks. It is also the least you can do for the birds, reduce the chance of cripples as much as you can with practice.

Practice Bird Identification

Get yourself a pair of rapid focus binos and practice IDing ducks while in flight or "on the wing" Solo ducks can be difficult for anyone, but watch flocks of ducks. How they behave, their shape, how they twist and turn in flight, how they land, what sizes are the flocks etc. Everything you learn about ducks in flight with your eyes or binos will serve you even better when you shoulder your gun. That day that you shot your two hens, that would be the pefect day to practice IDing ducks. Set the gun across your lap, slow yourself down when ducks come in. ID them with binos while they are circling, if you make a positive ID and they are still circling, then put down the binos and shoulder the gun. I too get into that mad rush to drop ducks as quickly as possible. I usually end up dropping a hen mallard as my first bird when I rush and then am forced to really slow down before pulling the trigger on the next bird.

A link to probably the most popular waterfowl ID book, useful for in hand ID
http://www.gundogsupply.com/lemmetwatidb.html

In the air ID
http://www.amazon.com/Ducks-Distance-Wa ... B003YHA1TG

As I'm sure you know, there is tons more to learn but these might be very beneficial to you and you growth in duck hunting. If you plan to visit ND again next year shoot me a PM next spring. I can't imagine I will draw a third consecutive non-resident tag for SD. You sound like the kind of guy I wouldn't mind sharing a trip with just for the sake of shooting a couple birds and enjoying the fruits of a good retriever.

Mike
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Re: First solo duck hunting trip

Postby B.E.Nelli » Fri Oct 11, 2013 3:06 am

That my friends...is how its done!
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Re: First solo duck hunting trip

Postby suzukidad » Fri Oct 11, 2013 8:26 am

@mikebosmans,

Thanks for the suggestions, we are on the same page. Your suggestions are very helpful and no offense was taken.

The ID guide you mention is in my gear bag and goes with me inthe field every time I hunt.

We are going to join the Golden Retriever Club in Columbus, OH as soon as I can get to 3 meetings.

Buddy will go back to the trainer in January for the second phase of his development. My wife and I have asperations of taking him to hunt tests next year as a hobby we can both enjoy. The second phase includes blind retrieves and casting. I agree that will be a big help in his and my satisfaction.

I like your idea of skeet and sporting clays. Should definately help my accuracy.

The IDing birds in the air is where I struggle the most. I sometimes pick out a species but it is usually too late. In Ohio we don't see too many birds but I may need to invest some time viewing and not shooting to accomplish this goal.

Thanks again for your suggestions! Happy to listen to anything people have to offer.

I have some pictures to add...but can't figure out how to put them on here...maybe soon lol
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Re: First solo duck hunting trip

Postby FOWLCALLTV » Fri Oct 11, 2013 9:16 am

Suzukidad congrats on your new endeavor. Even though we sometimes get disappointed with the lack of table fare at the end of the hunt just remember that you are making many memories that you will pass along to other hunters like you did with your online journal. The time spend with hunting partners 2 legs or 4 is some of the most memorable just for that sunrise or that one flock that did it just right!
As for calling i suggest getting a RNT (Rich In Tone) instructional DVD. For the most part a monkey could watch it and at the end a monkey could run a call enough to get themselves in trouble. With that being said some days ducks do not react to calls and will flare from over calling or not enough calling to keep there attention.

Molt Gear makes a great DVD called Duck Society which covers a lot about duck behavior. Awesome video that will make you have some duh moments.

Add more motion to your water spread. Rig'Em Right makes a awesome compact jerk rig for adding motion to your spread that i do not leave home without. How many times have you saw a flock of puddle ducks on the water with no ripples or movement? That alone can prevent you from "finishing" ducks.

The little tid bits that you can take away from people on the internet, from hunting shows, or friends are just tools for your toolbox. In no time at all your tool box will be much larger and you will be able to adapt to most circumstances.

Keep up the journal i would love to read how the rest of the season goes and hear how your dog progresses. If you have any questions reach out ask them, speaking for myself I am always glad to lend a ear anytime.

J.J. Wolf
Co-Host Fowl Call TV
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Re: First solo duck hunting trip

Postby Feathers » Fri Oct 11, 2013 2:29 pm

It sounds like your dog did about as good as a 1st year will do. Diving for a duck at that age is pretty awesome. Hopefully he keeps that up, it will make your life a lot easier. It sounds like the hooks were set pretty deep on your waterfowl addiction. Welcome!

IMO you aren't going to learn how to ID ducks in flight by looking at a book. It is easier to ID in flight using a ducks profile and wing beat. You won't see colors until they are in range or close to it. Going out with someone who can ID ducks in flight and having them explain what they saw to ID them will really shorten your learning curve.

Going out with more experienced hunters, especially guys who decoy hunt, will also help you pick up some of the little things that will help with success. Don't be scared to ask questions. Jump shooting is very effective but for most guys, the more you duck hunt the less you want to jump shoot.

Thanks for sharing.
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Re: First solo duck hunting trip

Postby takemnow » Sun Oct 13, 2013 7:14 pm

Great journal and pictures of the hunt!

Identifying birds on the wing is still a challenge at times, especially in low light situations, or when you see birds that are new to you. I've been pursuing ducks for 15 years, and still get a surprise from time to time.

Everyone has given some great advise, so I'll add my 2 cents; go to a Ducks Unlimited dinner. Great guys (and gals), lots of fun, and a way to connect with sportsmen in your area.

Good luck in your pursuit!
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Re: First solo duck hunting trip

Postby qckaddct » Mon Oct 14, 2013 9:55 pm

Careful with the 'shoot first, identify later' routine. I know identification can be tough, but just sayin'.
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Re: First solo duck hunting trip

Postby suzukidad » Tue Oct 15, 2013 7:13 am

Thanks for all the encouragement and advice guys. I'm trying to absorb it all and fit it in to my brain! lol

Now that I am back in Ohio...reality sinks in and the potential for seeing the numbers I saw in ND is very remote. That will give me time to work with my dog and work on identifying birds on the wing. The hard part is finding land to hunt on.

I was thoroughly impressed with the people of ND while I was hunting. Evey stranger I met asked me what I was doing there, and when I told them duck hunting, they all stopped and tried to explain where, who and how I could succeed in my goals. That was a very welcome feeling and made the trip very enjoyable.

Along with the advice on this thread, I have had quite a few PM's from individuals trying to help and offer useful suggestions. Thanks again for everyones help!
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Re: First solo duck hunting trip

Postby tbossart » Tue Oct 15, 2013 8:12 am

That was a great Tuesday morning read! There is nothing finer than being in the field with your dog. Fact you went in solo.. you and your dog...makes me smile ear to ear as that is how its suppsoed to be the first time. Sounds like you had a lot of fun. Next go around in ND try some field hunting for the ducks...you will dig it. Its more to learn, but if you want any help just PM me and I can break down the basics. Always good to have more "tools in your box" as it give you options. Thanks again for the play by play it was excellent!
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Re: First solo duck hunting trip

Postby elfros » Tue Oct 15, 2013 1:18 pm

sorry man you got it Bad !!!!!!!!!!!
the sickness of waterfowling is a life long illness that you will never recover from .!
welcome
as for the dog enjoy every moment the time you spend with him will go quick
if our paths ever cross the first beer is on me :beer:
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