Saturday, October 3, 2009

Great dog saves the day!

I would have to say that this was one of the best openers in recent memory.
We pulled into the landing very early and made it to our destination without a problem. We sat and watched as wood ducks flew everywhere. After we put out the decoys we sat and watched as flocks of wood ducks flew by and even landed in the decoys. Mallards flew past and one bouncing hen calls turned them around.
At about 9:10 the lake behind us sounded like a war zone. It didn't take long to listen and figure out that these were "sky busters". I hate sky busters.
Over on our lake things started out pretty slow. At 9:30 we had a flock of woodies take us by surprise. I knocked one down but it was not out. The dog just sat and watched as I analyzed the situation resulting in the decision that he would get her. He chased her down and she dove. I stopped him and we waited for her to pop up. When she did I whistled him to the right. He chased and she dove each time I stopped him and we waited. Then in his frustration for this duck he went under! He was down for a good 3 count before rising again coughing and spitting water but the chase was on. I left him on the chase because I could see the duck getting tired the further the swim. King was out swimming a duck in the marathon! The last time the hen came up he was right on her tail feathers. He lunged and she dove and he went down again! This time he came up with her. Through all this we had 3 flocks buzz us but I had to work the dog on that bird. I wasn't going to start the season with a cripple.
We watched a mallard migration that you would have seen in Nov. not on the opener. Flocks of mallards were coming into the lake by 20's and 30's but way high. I worked a few down but they chose the 1000 coot on the other side of the marsh. Yes I said 1000 coot!
Then the most amazing sight. We had a flock of 200 mallards in a "W" fly over the lake. Again way high and from the NW. I tried calling them just to see (and play with my new call) if I could make a dent. They circled the lake getting lower but still a mile high they left.
Things slowed down for awhile but then 2 big woodies came down the shore line right over the decoys. My dad pulls up to shoot gets a shot off and his gun jams. I pull up and go 0 for 3. Embarrassing!
After watching ducks fly around unwilling to decoy or even look our way we had a chance at redemption. A group of 6 buzz us from behind and head for the other side. I hit the wood duck call hard! They turned and came around but wanted to land a ways down the shore. I hit the call again hard! They pulled up and came right at us but turn into the thick brush behind us. My dad pulls up and shoots hitting 2 and I shoot once. We mark the birds and I realize that I shot his second bird right after he hit it. Now the dog needs to work. I line him up and send him in. He found the birds a long way in right away! You couldn't even walk through this stuff.
We packed up after that when everything stopped moving. The end result was 3 woodies.
Hesitation killed us today, as it does everyday. We should have had our wood duck limit and some mallards but shoulda woulda coulda.
The end result is that working, training, and knowing your dogs capabilities is key to having a successful hunting partner you can trust and he can trust. Never send your dogs into a situation if there is any question of his abilities, for your sake and his. Also reward your dog for jobs well done and stand your ground when he is in the wrong. It will pay dividends in the long run.

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