There’s just something about his month that makes it better than any other month of the year. The cool breeze in the air, the change of the season from summer to Fall, the colors and most of all just about everything is open. For a hunter and fisherman nothing beats October. The fish are starting to go into their pre-winter feeding binge. Steelhead are starting their trip back upstream. Several hunting seasons open up. So much to do and so little time. Heck, back when I was in college I probably spent more time afield and on the water then I did in class. Now with work and other responsibilities my time outdoors is not as much as I would like but I still try to squeeze in as much as possible. Weather permitting…..
Saturday Oct. 3rd would start my month long obsession with trying to get in as much hunting and fishing as possible. It was opening day of waterfowl season for Zone 2 and that means Wood Ducks in my favorite spot. My friend Barry had counted 26 woodies there the day before so the outlook was promising. All we could do now was hope that they didn’t decide to ride the 20 mph winds out of there during the night. As legal shooting hours approached we had a few singles fly through and a pair landed about 75 yards down from our position. With the overcast skies visibility was poor so it was hard to keep an eye on them. Not much more happened for the next 10 minutes or so and then it started…..
We had ducks coming in from all different directions. Wood ducks are known for appearing without warning here but this was ridiculous. Barry was shooting, I was shooting, Dean was shooting. I was drawing a bead on a second duck when two landed in front of me. Of course I focused on them and forgot about the other one but as they took off Barry shot and I lost track of them as well. A few seconds later I singled out a lone drake and dropped him with one shot. As I was confirming where he fell Barry shot another one in front of me and Dean was shooting at one flying over the top of us. After several minutes of chaos we had 7 ducks down. Barry shot 3, Dean shot 2 and I shot 2. Now it was time to go pick them up before we lost track of where they were. I launched the kayak and started retrieval duties (I miss my dog). Of course as I was picking up ducks more started to fly in. Dean took a couple of shots but missed. After some searching for the seventh duck I was on my way back to shore. After that flurry things were really quiet. We only saw two more ducks and I managed to shoot one of them. Dean left to go squirrel hunting but Barry and I stuck around for a bit longer to see if any mallards might fly in. We had our wood duck limits filled so it was mallards from here on in. Not that it mattered, we didn’t see any wood ducks either. By 9:30 I launched the kayak again to go pick up decoys and head back to the truck.
We decided to go try for some squirrels in the ridiculously high winds before lunch. Squirrel hunting was pretty slow, understandable with the winds as high as they were. Each of us managed to shoot a black squirrel. Mine made two mistakes. The first was running through the tree tops when I walked by. The second was stopping to take a look to see what I was doing.
The winds were picking up so we headed back to the house for lunch, check the weather and to clean ducks and squirrels. After a quick bite we cleaned the critters and debated what to do next. The NE wind was blowing right at the house and their were whitecaps on Sanford Lake. It was starting to drizzle a little so of course I went fishing. Dean and Barry had been doing pretty good on the crappie and the thought of taking home a dozen for a meal or two was quite appealing. Getting rained on wasn’t. No big deal, I had dry clothes and a warm house to retreat to if necessary. We were fishing with minnows and slip bobbers right off the dock in about 12 feet of water. It was slow but Barry and I managed to catch 15 crappie on and off for the next few yours. The weather would go from drizzle to down pour and back to drizzle all afternoon. When the rain got bad we went in, when it stopped we went out. It really is nice having a house on the lake.
By 5 o’clock the rain and wind had stopped completely. We had a window of a couple of hours before the next front moved through so we grabbed the .22’s and headed back into the woods. It was a pretty quiet evening. It looked like most of the squirrels decided to stay holed up for the evening. Barry and I managed to shoot 3 more before we called it quits. It had turned out to be a pretty good day and I was not going to get greedy, besides Barry had shot 5 the day before and I had them to add to my freezer as well. I could have stayed to hunt and fish tomorrow as well but I needed to get home. Susan wanted to go to a flea market the next day and the group that was supposed to go with her backed out at the last minute. I didn’t want her to go alone so once I finished cleaning the last 3 squirrels and fish I was headed south. There will be other days.
So the final tally for Friday and Saturday was 8 Wood Ducks, 11 Squirrels and 15 Crappie. All that was left now was to seal them up and put them in the freezer.
I love October.