Ice Breaker

P1040957

I duck hunted the coldest day yet – I was the only one there – besides my crazy dog Posey. It was freezing cold – ice everywhere and just terrible conditions for walking around. Was really quiet in the morning – no birds at all to the blind. Gorgeous sunrise and lovely clouds. I spent most of the time keeping the ice from re-freezing in the places I had broken it up. Grueling.

Posey and I walked to the Pond and we shot two in two shots and both landed on ice. Posey was undeterred – a total beast as she swam across open water and broke through the ice to get the birds – she was as tough and determined as the purest Labrador – I was crazy proud of her! She had retrieved a drake and hen widgeon. We then walked all of the way up the farm road to the north end of the property. Everything was frozen. Walked back along the trees by the river and had a few shots at birds there – tons of birds around but tough to get the right vantage. Walked back to the blind and had to break the ice again. Birds started flying over about 10:30 and literally did not stop all day – I was exhausted by the constant calling and pulling the dipper strings and shooting (mostly missing). I ended up with 2 pintails (drake and hen) which is the limit for these fine ducks. 90 percent of the birds that flew by were pintails. I missed two mallards (easy shots) and missed some teal (hard shots). Late in the day I knocked down a wigeon that sailed far from the blind and Posey and I looked for it for 45 minutes in the ice-filled rows of corn but could not find it. Hate that – but it happens – the cripples do feed the hawks and coyotes pretty well though. The air warmed near days end and the ice began to give up its grip on the fields and some more water opened up.

Darkness closed in as I picked up the decoys after shooting hour – and birds flew in by the dozens to feed for the night.

So, soaking wet and cold (clammy from sweat produced by the rough walking), no lunch, 4 ducks, and exhausted from trying to lure in flying ducks from 10:30 AM to 5 PM, Posey and I made our way back to the cabin where the faintest coals in the stove gave a welcome warmth to us both.

The hardest day of duck hunting I have experienced so far – it left me with a satisfying feeling of not only surviving hardship but thriving.

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