Thursday, November 19, 2015

Triple Play

That's one proud pup; and he should be. Cutter and I did a little recon and set up in a place I haven't hunted in years. It's easy access by boat so I'll be able to get my guys in and out quick and the really good thing is that there were birds! It's the first time out that we'd actually gotten a fair number of birds (any birds really,) and he did great.  The timing couldn't be better either as today will be my very first day guiding hunters. I'm not going to lie. I'm a little nervous, which is why I'm up writing this at 3:45am.
As for the hunting, it was pretty good. You could tell it's just the first real wave of ducks hitting the river and with the weather coming in, it should keep getting better. We saw quite a few Canada geese and heard a bunch of snows, which is a good indication of where the migration is at. There are still a lot of widgeons, gadwalls, and other pothole ducks looking for open water as their ponds freeze up and with the temps dropping to the single digits next week, they won't last long. As they move out, the mallards will move in along with all the "shit" ducks like golden eyes and buffalo heads.
Like I said, we did get into the birds but you had to make good on your shots because they were still a bit shy and the weather wasn't great to make them want to sit down just anywhere. I burned 11 shells for the eight birds I shot making two doubles and a triple. (For those of you that have hunted with me and have seen me shoot, I think now would be the time you'd call BS but it is true.)
The triple was out of a flock of widgeons that set hard into the decoys. They are pretty quick and can flare in a split second, so I was pretty proud of that. Probably the most important thing I've learned over the years is not just knowing how to shoot but knowing when to shoot. I can give Pete Cardinal a lot of credit for that. Setting up in the barley fields shooting geese, he never flipped the lid on the pit until those geese were committed and already sitting down.
The thing about shooting ducks is it's like a lot of things in life. One can learn the necessary hard skills to be successful but there are so many other things that are less tangible that will really make you successful. One of those things is just having the confidence that there will be other opportunities and you don't have to take every shot and most often, having the patience to pass up a shot or maybe even just wait for that extra second or two will create better shots and better results.
I can remember being a kid out hunting with my buddies where we shot at everything that flew by thinking if you didn't throw lead at them, there was no way you were going to hit them. We weren't all that great at calling in ducks or getting our sets right so we often were left with passing shots at ducks either going a hundred miles an our or flaring way too soon. Eventually we would get better at the presentation but we had developed some bad habits of pulling up too soon and not letting the ducks commit. That's a really hard habit to break and what it got us was dumping a pound and a half of steel shot in the pond with nothing to show for it.
Yesterday, I passed on the majority of the birds I saw and only shot if they were full-on setting in the decoys and the results speak for themselves. Shooting is a skill. Patience is a virtue and if you're going to be good at duck hunting or any number of things in life, you have to develop both.
Check this out. On my way to the boat I looked across the river and spotted this little gal. It's hard to see as the light was pretty dim by then and she's a ways away but it's a young cow moose. That's not something you see very often on the Missouri River.
Keep 'em where they live... 

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