Saturday, November 10, 2012


Game on!

The 2012-2013 waterfowl season is officially underway. There has been a surprising number of mallards on the river. Our mallards normally don't arrive until mid-November, but we certainly welcome the early arrivals. We have had several great days on the river. 

However, none was more spectacular than November 7th. Accompanying me was my Dad, Michael, and my good friend Aaron Garcia. Aaron is the current Wyoming state goose calling champion. But this day was all about mallards. 

The balmy morning certainly didn't portend what we were about to witness. Shooting time was 6:10 and as if late for an appointment,  the 150 mallards broke from "on high" (for the WMIM).  Following their downwind leg they turned final, pulled full flaps and Boom....Boom....Boom............Boom................Boom! Five greenheads were doing their best spinning class impressions.

A flock 250+ came down river. The split second the high-balls from the Carlson calls reached the mallards, all 250 locked up. As they dropped altitude they were joined by 150 mallards who were heading up river. The first flock and their new best friends circled once and dropped into the decoys. 400 mallards in the water. All inside of 30 yards. There wasn't any Boom....Boom....Boom. We did not fire a shot! Too many and too majestic. I know I will never tire of witnessing that spectacle.

They kept flying and we decoyed flock after flock. Most flew away. We took a couple singles and decided  that was enough. Aaron's puppy, Briley, is a litter mate to Tommie. Briley flawlessly made the retrieves this morning. They are going to be great dogs.

I have never seen this many mallards on the North Platte this early in November. If (read big if) it continues,  the 2012-2013 season could be one for the record books.

Retriever Update

This early season has allowed me to get lots of work for the young dogs. Tommie is progressing at warp speed. Her water entries are explosive. She is learning how to handle live birds in the river as well as track them along the banks. I could not be more pleased with her.

Molly continues to solidify her status as lead retriever. She is handling beautifully and learns more about the river every day. We have not lost a duck this year with Tommie and Molly.

AZ and Dani are also getting some work. However, both need a couple days to recuperate after a morning of retrieving.

Best Day of All

Friday, October 26th, my son, Brayden, did not have school because of a teacher conference. He said he wanted to go duck hunting. The night before I told him he could pick which dog would accompany us in the morning. He picked AZ. He also insisted on bringing his Red Ryder BB Gun.

At 5:00 AM he was dressed in his Carharts and camo jacket. I was fairly confident he would last about 15 minutes in the blind. I set the decoys and we settled into the blind. The early migration consisted of teal and gadwall. We decoyed several flocks of "gaddys" and I shot a couple. As each minute passed I was waiting for the "Dad, I'm bored. Can we go now?" I answered questions about the migration: Why do ducks have different feathers?; How do they name the different ducks?; Do ducks have tongues?; Can we clean one here?; If AZ likes ducks, why doesn't she eat them?; How do weathermen predict the weather? (they don't); Can you go to McDonalds and bring back lunch?; How many do you think I shot? I know I shot two!

I could have shot a limit of gadwall, but elected to wait for the greenheads. At 10:00 I had two gadwall and three mallards.  I said, "B we have to go now we have our limit." " No Dad, I want to stay and play duck hunter!" At 2:00 I pleaded, "B we have to go now!" He reluctantly acquiesced.

A perfect day. And the Lord smiled.
Brayden's Gadwall