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Pintails, Widgeon, Gadwall and Teal

Pintails, Widgeon, Gadwall and Teal

 

 

The weather snapped cold with driving winds from the north and a cold front moving south rapidly out of the Dakotas.  It was time for the birds to come south riding the north wind ahead of and with the frontal passage.

Nineteen hunters in three blinds huddled as they waited patiently for shooting time to begin.  Forty acres of open water was waiting for thirsty birds as they headed south and the club had it all waiting.  The corn was picked in the surrounding fields so the area had it all to offer the tired, thirsty, and hungry ducks.

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As the hunters walked into the blinds, the sky exploded with the ducks off the lake as they were spooked into jumping into the air and heading for some safety.  They always come back after a bit of feeding on that fine Nebraska corn left over in the fields after harvest.  They need water to wash it all down and sand in their gizzards to grind it all up.  The club has it all.

When shooting time came, it was one flock after another that decoyed into the lake.  Not much circling was done.  They just locked up and dropped in, feet extended and back pedaling as they dropped into the water.  This was outstanding duck shooting.  The strong north wind just held them over the water as they dropped down into the lake.  Even if you were a bad shot, you didn't miss today.

 

 

Thank goodness someone was taking a steady count of what was taking place, as by 10 AM it was all over.  A limit of ducks was harvested for each of the nineteen hunters.  It cannot get much better than that.  The general feeling was that by the next day with the number of birds piling in, it would be even better.

 

The bags were totally mixed and to the surprise of everyone, there were some Mallards in the bag.  The hope was that with the fast moving front, it would push some out of the Dakotas.  Two of our club hunters were hunting in North Dakota and reported that the Mallards were pouring in out of Canada.  Now we needed something to push them down to Nebraska.  The bad news was there was plenty of open water, the crops were all out, and there was plenty of feed on the ground to keep them there.  Without snow on the ground we had to wait for the really big gigantic push.

 

 

 

The next day only 11 hunters showed up for what was to be another day like the day before.  However, it was not to be.  The lake did not hold any birds from the night and that is usually a bad sign.  On the other hand, there was a lot of open water in the Tekamah area, and the fields were open and picked so they could be anywhere.

Shooting time came and a small flock of birds worked the area.  They did not drop in as before but were more cautious.  They had their butts burned yesterday and remembered the sting of the steel shot.  They finally could not resist a drink of water and came within gun range and were promptly dispatched.  With a good north wind we let the dead birds drift down to the south shore.  There was no sense in getting out of the blind and having another group start to work with people out in the lake gathering up ducks.

The second flock repeated the same process.  First they took a look and then they circled a couple of times before dropping into gun range.  Shooting was good and more were harvested.  The flocks were much smaller than yesterday which was an indication they were spread out over the bottoms doing what ducks do, eating corn, drinking water, and eating sand to get the needed grinding for their gizzards.

By 9 AM the wind had really subsided and the flocks now were few and far between.  By 10 AM the wind went totally dead calm and we were staring at a clear blue sky.  This was not good duck hunting weather.  Still everyone went home with some birds.

By 11 AM, it was time to call it quits.  The wind had moved to the south and could not even be called a wind, but a light breeze.  The decoys just sat still in the water with no movement.  It was time to go.  This was still a good morning.  It beats work any day.

 

 

 

 

Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck.  Hank.

 

More Stories By Hank Huntington

Hank Huntington, Esq., is a native of southwest Iowa, healthcare professional, entrepreneur, accomplished pilot, hunting and fishing enthusiast, connoisseur, father and husband. He developed this web site for people to share their fun and excitement about the great outdoors. The best part of this hobby is, after a successful hunting or fishing trip, you are able to dine on fresh game or fish, after all, “ How do you eat a golf ball?” asks Hank. Hanks father and grandfather were both avid outdoorsmen so Hank learned his hunting and fishing skills from them and has passed the tradition down to the fourth generation. Plus the love of the outdoors, and a craving for exquisite dinning, would round out the package.

As a small boy, he fished a local oxbow lake formed by the Missouri River. The lake is primarily old river bottom mud, is not real clear, and has a lot of vegetation. The southeast corner holds a huge lily pad bed, and it was there Hank learned to drag through the water and across the tops of the pads, a Johnson Silver Minnow, with a pork rind attached. This was the place for big mouth bass, and there were lots of them, and young Hank loved to catch them.

At age of 12 Hank started going with his Dad hunting, and by age 14 he was an accomplished shooter with a 12-gauge pump. Shortly after that he was given his first shotgun a Winchester Model 12 pump; he still has it today. It looks like almost new, but the gun is never to be hunted again. Duck hunting in the late 50’s had little pressure after the first two weeks of the season, and when the north wind blew and it got really damp and cold, the big Canada Mallards came.

After graduation from high school, Hank attended Midland College in Fremont, Nebraska. There he met a fellow outdoorsman, and their friendship developed in the fields and streams of central Nebraska.

Hank had little time for hunting and fishing while attending professional school at Creighton University. After graduation he married his college sweetheart and they settled down to career, family, and as often as possible, hunting and fishing.

Hank and his family frequently flew their plane north to Canada to the legendary Canadian fly in lodges to fish for Northern and Walleye. Here he taught his son all the things his father had taught him about fishing. Most of the time the two went alone to the north woods, but when camping was not involved, his wife Pam went along. She always enjoys the fact that she has caught a bigger Northern Pike than Hank, and he has been fishing for 60 years. Today along the Missouri River valley, the deer population increased to the point that in many areas they are a nuisance. The duck, goose, and turkey has also population have also soared.

Area lakes have been well stocked. Many even have a walleye stocking program that makes outstanding fishing. Several are within easy driving distance of Hank’s lodge-like lakeside home. All packaged together is great dining. By the way, Hank harvests only what he will share at a table with family or friends.

Hank says, “Whenever I am on a lake, in the woods, or in the blind, I am always reminded of God’s great bounty and His constant presence. And whether in the great outdoors or at home with my wife, I strive to be a good steward of nature and all that God has given us.”

Good hunting! Good fishing! Good day!

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