Sunday, November 1, 2009

Weekend Review (MN)

Woke up Saturday morning to a steady 20mph west north west wind. Way too strong to go hunt the point at the south end of the big dog leg left, so I decided to try the north end. There isn't much up there but the north shore doesn't have any homes on it, and its where we usually flush birds on the way back to the landing, so I thought it would be pick instead of a 2 mi boat ride in the wind.
We met one of the Duck Junkie members at the launch in the morning to weigh our options. They offered to haul some of our gear for us because they have a much bigger boat than we do. We both decided to stick to the north end of the lake after watching the waves slap against the shore something fierce. We put the boat in the water and before we even left the launch we were taking on water over the back! And I even have splash backs on my boat!
We made it to the north end and found a great spot to set up and right at shooting time I had a mallard fly in but it was right next to a heron so I could shoot. It landed outside the decoys and after a few attempts to make it jump it swam out of range then flew. I hate to whack birds on the water but that was frustrating for me and the dog to watch.
About a half mile down the lake Scott and Matt were shooting as fast as they could load there guns. We watched a few hundred birds work the south end of the lake where we usually hunt but they only made it as far up the lake as where they were hunting from there boat. When I got the call 35 minutes later I knew it was to rub it in. They had indeed limited out on golden eyes, bufflehead, red heads and canvasback.
As fast as the flurry started it ended and we were left with nothing. By the time they had made it to the north end of the lake they were fly a mile high in the wind.
On Sunday we launched at a resort in a bay by the spots we hunt on the south end. We called the day before after our miserable hunt just to see if they would let us use it. The owners were very nice and so we now cut out the wind factor on the boat ride and about 1.5 miles.
The shooting started slow. Not many birds at all for about 25 minutes. Then we herd the oh so great sound of the golden eyes. They swooped in out of nowhere and flared on my side of the blind. I stood up and hit the first one but by the time I pulled the trigger on the second one it was in the next county. Shortly after that we had one solo ring bill right out over the decoys that didn't stand a chance. We waited a short while and another small flock of goldies came in just on the border line of range and we crippled one that sailed out and crash landed. We looked from the blind but we did not see anything and figured that it dove. About 15 minutes later we saw something floating in the water across the lake. We had to use the binoculars to see it but it was the one we hit, so I got the boat out and picked it up.
We had some missed opportunities on a few birds and made a plan for when to pick up. We sat around and about 5 minutes before we picked up a flock of buffleheads came screaming down the lake and turned right into the decoys. After a flock shoot we had dropped 4 but 2 were crippled. One went down right away and one scooted away. I sent the dog on the dead ones and my dad in the boat after the cripple.
As soon as my dad started to uncover the boat I had a feeling that something was a miss in the situation. Not sure what but it was there. I watched him struggle with the boat and after finally getting in he started the motor and throttled it. Then the miss. My motor was locked in the down position to hold it in the mud where we had it stashed, and when he throttled it he ran it right into a stump. The motor kicked up the boat turned sideways and he let go of the motor. All I could do was turn to my brother and say, "He just broke the lock off the motor tilt". My brother asked me how I knew this and all I could tell him is that I could hear it and see it. The motor didn't kick the way it should when you hit something.
While we watched him drift around the lake a flock of buffleheads flew right across the front. My brother and I pulled up and shot. I got 2 shots off and then heard "I didn't know which one to shoot they were too close together." As I sent the dog on the 1 I hit I explained how a flock shoot works so next time he wouldn't be so confused.
After a bad Saturday hunt Sunday went pretty good. 3 Buffleheads, 2 Golden eyes, and 1 Ringbill. Off the lake by 10:00 with another broken part to fix and the hope of next weekend being good.
Shown below, at the far left of the picture, is the newest Duck Junkie member Scott. He can blow a goose call like nobody's business.

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