9/1/15, Year 2 of Michigan’s Experimental Early Teal Season

2 09 2015
My nephew Finn is excited.

My nephew Finn is excited.

I forgot just how much fun it is to muck around in a marsh at 5:00 am swatting mosquitoes as I set decoys.

That was how I started my day on the Panko unit of Crow Island State Game Area.  My friend Barry who is a Wildlife Tech for the DNR had scouted this spot earlier and thought it would be a good spot to try.  When we first arrived there were already half a dozen trucks in the parking lot.  Not surprising, I’m sure some of them arrived the night before and the hunters spent the night in their blinds.  Not me, I like to hunt ducks but I’m not that dedicated.  Getting here at 4:45 am was pushing it for me, especially since that now we get to sit for the next two hours and wait until legal shooting hours.  Thank God we had a pair of Thermacells.  If I ever meet the man at Coleman who invented these little gadgets I’ll buy him a beer.  Those things are worth their weight in gold when the mosquitoes are thick.

Once we got the decoys set we just sat in our chairs and talked about how much we missed hunting in North Dakota.  Barry used to work for the USFWS out there and I would visit him every October for one week of bird hunting.  I miss those days of never seeing another duck hunter.  Now, back here in  Michigan, I can’t throw a rock without hitting one.  We weren’t there 10 minutes when a another group came long and set up about 50 yards to our left.  We told them it was ok to set up next to us but if we knew what they were going to do later we would have said otherwise.  Around 6:30 am, with another 30 minutes to go until legal shooting time, we had some teal land in our decoys.  Some more flew in and landed in the spread to our left and they shot.  Everyone, and I do mean everyone on the marsh let them know that shooting hours hadn’t started yet.  Normally they would have been ok if it was the regular season or hunting geese.  Since this was the early teal season the DNR pushed legal shooting hours back to sunrise which was 30 minutes later.  This was done to help ensure the hunters could easily identify the ducks as they came into range.  Apparently this group hadn’t read the regulations very closely.  Barry and I just chuckled as he pulled out his observation form and wrote down the incident.  As part of this experimental season DNR personnel are supposed to set up in the hunting areas and observe.  They have to keep records to see if people shoot early, sky bust and most importantly shoot or shoot at any ducks that are not teal.  For the most part hunters are careful but every once in awhile someone makes a mistake and something else gets shot.  We were being extra careful today.  There were a lot of wood ducks flying around and I didn’t want to make that mistake, especially with Barry sitting right next to me.  I didn’t make any mistakes but I do believe a hen shoveler that flew past us did get shot by another group hunting to the south of us.  With the amount of shooting we heard and the lack of shooting from us I really wonder just how much these hunters were paying attention.  We didn’t have a single teal come into range until about an hour after that first initial early shot.  That pair made it through unscathed thanks to my looking in the wrong direction.  We did manage to shoot a couple before it got to hot and muggy for our liking.  At least I didn’t get a wet ass like last year.

So that was it for this year.  We saw a few teal, saw a ton of wood ducks along with a Bald Eagle and a Kingfisher that had a death wish.  Not a bad way to spend a morning, especially since I wasn’t at work.

Morning view, before it got to hot.

Morning view, before it got too hot.

Advertisements




Quack, Quack no Boom

30 09 2012

Yesterday marked the opening of the waterfowl season in Michigan’s Zone 2. For several years now I have spent this morning at a somewhat secluded spot my friend Barry found in the Sanford area. When there is plenty of water and acorns the wood duck shooting can be fast and furious. When there is no water or acorns…..not so much. Then there are those rare occasions when we have both and still no ducks. Yesterday was one of those rare occasions.

 
We set up in our usual spot, threw out about half a dozen decoys and settled in for the first arrival. The woodies usually come in from the east and this morning was no different. They are easy to spot as they come in over the oaks but once they drop down to water level they practically disappear. The first couple of birds whistled by and we never saw them. The next one came in and I was able to pick it up but unfortunately my shooting was a little late and behind. Dean and Barry were able to knock it down and he landed on the opposite of the shoreline. Barry took his dog over to go retrieve the bird leaving me all by my little lonesome. While the two of them were concentrating on finding the downed bird a lone woodie flew in and I was able to knock her down with one clean shot.

 
That was it.

 
After that we didn’t see another duck for the rest of the morning. With no wind and a blue bird sky we expected the shooting to be slow but not this. Usually we see some mallards flying around in the distance but today we didn’t even see that. We didn’t hear a whole lot of shooting off in the distance either. Kind of nice to know we weren’t alone. This had to be one of the most unproductive opening mornings we have ever had. The only activity we saw were squirrels on the opposite shore jumping through the trees. Once it got to be about 9:00 am we gave up and switched out our shotguns for .22’s. One thing I learned about small game and waterfowl hunting is that you have to adapt. If the conditions aren’t favorable for one species, switch to another.

 
I ended up with 3 squirrels. Should make a nice dinner for me tonight.