As I was preparing for the annual duck opener this past weekend it was very surprising that I would be participating in my 40th duck opener. Many things have changed since that fall day in 1973 in a duck blind north of Cyrus, MN. My Mother’s family farm was north of Cyrus along the Chippewa river and we also had some nice cattail sloughs that were always good duck hunting!!
Before I was old enough to carry a gun I remember picking up the spent shells from Dad’s gun and smelling the gunpowder and drinking hot chocolate to stay warm in the cold duck blind. In those days we primarily did pass shooting along an area between two sloughs and jumped other potholes and hunted along the river.
Last Saturday morning, I was joined by my brother Ron, nephews Mik, Jeremy, Jonathan and Freddie and soon to be, son in law Neal for a hunt on Lake Elizabeth. As we all met and traveled down the field road to our blinds, it was sureal to think it has been 40 years.
Ron and I had taken all the boys along on hunts since they could legally shoot some 20+ years ago, so it’s imperative to remember the Ole times and keep enjoying this sport as long as your body will allow. I do need to send a shout out to my Son Tyler who if you remember is in North Dakota working so he’s not with on this hunt…See you in a few weeks on our pheasant hunt; Love You!!
We arrived at the blinds about 6 AM and everyone grabbed a bag of decoys and afterwards we enjoyed a cup of coffee and listened to some birds flying over, relishing in the cool and foggy September morning. As we all talked about many topics, a few shots rang out across the lake; a little early on my watch! Afterwards, we all accended into our blinds and prepared for the “official” time….
A few minutes later a pair of woodies banked into our spread and as the shots rang out; Duke, Emma and Isabelle were on the move to retrieve…Emma the youngest of the dogs, on her first hunt was very impressive, hats off to her!!
Not long after the woodies were layed in the blind another group “came out of nowhere” and banked, tipped and feet down….a rather loud thunder of gunfire erupted and the dogs were on the move again. This routine played itself many times through out the early morning light. Obviously we did not hit on every shot but to be honest we shot very good and we were patient to let the ducks work into range before shooting which is hard to do on the opener because of the excitement.
As shots echoed from all sides of the lake, the ducks were very active. The fog was very helpful because it cut down the glare and helped conceal us in our blinds. The ducks continued to come from all directions and the dogs were very busy and as the sun rose over the trees we had limited out on Woodducks (21) by 8 AM! Having only shot one Mallard and not seen any other species of ducks, we enjoyed some comraderie and decided to pickup the deeks; back to the trucks by 9 AM.
The hunt was safe and memorable!
As you enjoy this great sport of hunting remember the little things that draw duck hunters to their hallowed spots.. The gathering of friends, the smell of gunpowder, the squeal of a woodduck, the sound of whistling wings, the distinct honk of a goose, the smell of fresh coffee in the blind, the often repeated huting stories and the unique sounds of nature. Don’t forget to introduce someone new to the outdoors!