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When to Call it Quits

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January 03, 2013
When to Call it Quits - 6

While back in my hometown of Ephrata, Wash., last week for the holidays, I was able sneak out for a day of duck and goose hunting with Bill Sangster from the local Ducks Unlimited chapter, as well as several high school students that are members of the chapter.

Just two days before, the high school guys were hunting the Moses Lake, Wash., area and picked apart pairs, triples and other small flocks until late in the afternoon for a tally of 39 mallards – 35 of which were drakes.

Taking that information into account and having watched another field for a few days, Sangster came up with a plan for a hunt. And then one of the guys called and told him to meet at a country-road intersection. There, at 10 a.m. were, as best as Sangster guestimate, more than 5,000 ducks in a cut-corn field.

The field – which was secured with a knock on a door – ended up being near the place where one of the best hunts in my life took place. I was home from college during Thanksgiving break and was covered up with a tornado of thousands of birds that literally wouldn’t leave the field.

Arriving shortly after 6 a.m., we set the spread, built a blind on the edge of the field, got comfortable and waited. And waited… And waited.

It was a quite morning by all counts; we only heard six other shots from two nearby fields, only two flocks even showed passing interest in our spread and the little traffic in the air was hell-bent on going somewhere. After six hours with nary a shot fired, we picked up the duck decoys and set up on across from the field with hunters sitting in a ditch. Nothing even passed by. We decided to pick up the decoys sometime after 1 p.m.

With the dekes loaded in the pickup, we drove out of the field and watched as thousands upon thousands of birds suddenly started appearing on the horizon. Within minutes a flock of several hundred was circling the field we had just left. And then more birds joined them. Two fields to the south, three separate flocks were beginning to circle, pulling distant flocks into the area and threatening to tornado. It didn’t matter where you looked, there was flock off in the distance and seemingly looking for a place to feed.

The young guys grabbed their guns, shells and a couple of decoys and headed back to the field. I had to get back to my parents to pick up my son and then head home. Such is the pitfall of responsibility.

It was one of those days. Absolutely nothing happening at all and then, WHAM!, it’s like a warzone with targets everywhere you look.

I’m the type of hunter and angler that tends to get into trouble because, contrary to what many might think, I’m an optimist at heart. I think that if I wait just another 20 minutes a flock will drop into the decoys, or if I cast a fly to that next downstream pool, a giant rainbow will rise, that the next draw will hold multiple roosters, or that a rut-crazed buck will suddenly walk out during the noon hour in a driving rainstorm.

The question I have for you Gun Doggers is: when do you call it a day?

 

Comments (6)

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from DSMbirddog wrote 1 year 29 weeks ago

Glad to hear he is doing okay. Over the years I have had the honor of looking after a few old but good dogs. I don't ever regret it since I owed it to them.

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from JM wrote 1 year 29 weeks ago

Lightning...Besides that I usually stick it out even when nothing is happening.

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from Andrew Williams wrote 1 year 29 weeks ago

I call it a day when the sun sets and there is no longer enought light left to hunt-no matter what the weather may be.Being out in the field doing my thing is far better than being at home watching the boobtube.

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from Brian Lynn wrote 1 year 29 weeks ago

Hey DSM!

Kona is doing pretty well. I've weaned him off the meds for the most part, but resume them a day or two prior and post hunt if we're going to get out much. We've only upland hunted once this year, and while he handled it pretty well, there was some very mild lameness afterward; I don't really want to push that limit and do more damage that will exacerbate DJD. He seems fine on the waterfowling so far, however!

Thanks for asking!

B

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from DSMbirddog wrote 1 year 29 weeks ago

By the way. How is Kona doing and are you adapting to his limits?

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from DSMbirddog wrote 1 year 29 weeks ago

I would have called it a day in your case. Who would expect flocks of hungry ducks to start showing up in the early afternoon? When I was younger I would have probably stayed out all day.

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from DSMbirddog wrote 1 year 29 weeks ago

I would have called it a day in your case. Who would expect flocks of hungry ducks to start showing up in the early afternoon? When I was younger I would have probably stayed out all day.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from DSMbirddog wrote 1 year 29 weeks ago

Glad to hear he is doing okay. Over the years I have had the honor of looking after a few old but good dogs. I don't ever regret it since I owed it to them.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from DSMbirddog wrote 1 year 29 weeks ago

By the way. How is Kona doing and are you adapting to his limits?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Brian Lynn wrote 1 year 29 weeks ago

Hey DSM!

Kona is doing pretty well. I've weaned him off the meds for the most part, but resume them a day or two prior and post hunt if we're going to get out much. We've only upland hunted once this year, and while he handled it pretty well, there was some very mild lameness afterward; I don't really want to push that limit and do more damage that will exacerbate DJD. He seems fine on the waterfowling so far, however!

Thanks for asking!

B

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Andrew Williams wrote 1 year 29 weeks ago

I call it a day when the sun sets and there is no longer enought light left to hunt-no matter what the weather may be.Being out in the field doing my thing is far better than being at home watching the boobtube.

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from JM wrote 1 year 29 weeks ago

Lightning...Besides that I usually stick it out even when nothing is happening.

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