The 2013-14 duck season was a bit of a grind for us this year. With the unusual amounts of sun and lack of rain, we had to abandon our traditional late season stomping grounds and go in search of better areas. As much as I wanted to get out for the last day of the season, I was about ready to call it quits and chalk up a win for the ducks. However, after a great day fishing with my good friend Jake and my wife on Saturday, I received an invite to go out for one last hunt from another friend, Garrett. The skies were clear and the wind was light, but the pintails were in the area, so we decided to do a little trophy sprig hunting out of the Marsh Rats and Aquapods.
Fast forward to the following afternoon. It was one of those days that no one was worried about what happened next, no stress, no expectations. The three of us and Garrett’s lab, Molly, pushed through the corn one last time.
Quickly a friendly wager was placed on the day. The rules were set, and whoever managed to shoot the largest bull sprig would end up with an adult beverage of their choosing.
We took turns, going down the line, as the flocks would circle and circle until they made their final decent on top of our spread. There was a lot of…
“Wait no, not that one!”
“Shoot the back one!”
“No the front one!”
I can only imagine Molly’s pain as she sat alert and waiting to hear her name called.
“Just shoot one already guys!”
Before long, we each had our first bird, and there was already talk over who was going to win. If the second guessing what bird to shoot was bad before, it was even worse now…
The sun began to sink towards the horizon and it was my turn to shoot the last bird. Now I won’t throw anyone else under the bus, but I am not afraid to admit that I probably shouldn’t have taken as long as it did to bag my second bird. Between second guessing which bird to shoot and the rust from being behind a camera more than a gun this season, I may have missed a few chip shots. Naturally, the only moral support from my hunting buddies came in the form of laughter.
With birds in hands, we got to sit back and wait as pintails came through and left. We found ourselves getting excited as a pair of birds locked up.
“Are those mallards!?!?”
“Nope, more pintails.”
“I think those are…”
“What are those?”
“More pinta….wait no! Close up!”
With a couple pulls on the jerk rig, they became more and more convinced with each pass.
“Crap, they’re gonna land over there…”
Jake let out a loud hail call and they instantly lifted up a bit out of the back pedal.
“Ready guys…Take ‘em!”
With two shots they both fell. I shot the drake and Jake couldn’t help but follow up on the hen. We gave him a hard time and laughed a bit.
“Just couldn’t help but shoot the hen, could ya Jake!”
“Fetch ‘em up Molly”
Molly ran out and thought a little on which one she wanted to grab first. She grabbed the suzie and came running back to put the bird in Garret’s hand.
Let’s just say Jake was excited, since I probably shouldn’t repeat exactly what he said.
Our time was almost up but not before we were able to entice in a few more greenheads.
We rang out the final shots of the season as another greenhead fell, but when the clock struck 5:17, no one rushed. There was no other hunt to think about or gear to get ready. We simply pulled out the layout boats, sat, and experienced that magical hour that all duck hunters dream about.
It was a time to reminisce on the past few months and how lucky we are to have the passion that we do. There weren’t a lot of words exchanged. It was just a brief moment in time with great friends that I will never forget.
Twenty minutes passed and we finally decided we’d better pick up and head in, as the light faded out on our last duck hunt of the season.