Due to some things that came up this year I was not sure I was going to make it out hunting. As time wore on, it looked like I'd make it, but had no real plans in part due to the time frame to be able to make decisions. My buddy invited me to go to Minto for the opener w/ another guy, and when I hesitated (they both being popo) said they'd be happy to handcuff me and drag me out. My choice. Figured w/ my hands cuffed behind my back I couldn't even drink a beer, so decided going "voluntarily" made the most sense.
Ended up taking my boat w/ gear along with his. The trip over Murphy Dome is rough, but a guy takes his time no real issues. Water on the Chat was good, no exposed rocks, and I happened to miss the rest of them. Nice trip downriver all in all and felt great to be on the water.
Got to camp, which by my standards is plush, got some work done, had a great meal of crane that I had left over from last year, and got into bed early for a 4:30 wake up call. That call came sooner than expected w/ my friends alarm set to quack. Funny guy. Another friend flew in, so that made 4 of us to get ready.
We set up the dekes, Madam Mojo flapping her wings, geese for security, and a couple of buffle heads off to the side for good measure. The tall grass made it possible to hide without having to build a blind. We were ready 1/2 hour before time opened up the season at 6:01am.
Early flights made it possible to start shooting almost the second the clock said we were legal. But I sat and watched the 3 other guys shoot for a bit. Too much on my mind to start busting caps at ducks, I instead just enjoyed the moment. There may be nothing quite like watching 3 good guys shooting birds, a dog working, listening to shotguns blasting and birds quacking, and smell the qunpowder burning.
Finally I got squared up, in came a mallard, the trigger was pulled twice, and I laughed as she fled our airspace. No way. No way was I going to start this opener out shooting like caca. Nope. Not happening. So I bore down, focused, and started hitting a good string of birds.
Everybody got good shooting in. My immediate partner could not buy a bird though. I swear he could not have hit an ostrich standing next to him. Listening to him just made me smile, then I'd hit another one. I finally told him to keep his head down, swing through the birds, slap the trigger, and have fun. He looked at me with the biggest grin and said he was having the time of his life. Took a while, but he finally started shooting something for Roca to retrieve.
Last season I wrote a story about a late season hunt w/ Roca, my little yellow lab. She was by my side again, and she was awesome. She made the trip even more successful. We did not lose a bird that dropped within sight. My buddies chessie did great also. Roca is pretty intense, really focuses on incoming birds, and just doesn't seem to have any quit in her. She got to chase a few cripples, and we did some hunting back in the tall grass for some other birds.
I ended up the morning shooting 8 for 14, not bad for a duffer that only wing shoots a few times a year. All mallards and 2 bull sprig w/ gray horns on their beaks. I did not hunt that night, just chose to relax and look around. Being 2 short on the limit meant nothing.
Next day, new spot, decoys set, 4th man out so just the 3 of us. Gunning was good from the start, only problem is my and my friend seem to see birds in shape the same way. We did a lot of double killing. Not a bad thing as all of those birds were stone cold dead when they hit the water. Just one of those things as 2 guys swing on the same bird and slap triggers within nano seconds of each other.
A group of Canada Geese came in low and from the back. I hit one, then swung through again just to be sure. It landed out in the whitefront decoys some 50 yards out. Roca watched that one all the way, and as the goose was fluttering its last on the water, I sent her on her first Canada retrieve. What a missile. That little 60lb girl grabbed that goose like she was an old expert.
The birds cooperated and we all shot well. I brought back widgeon and mallards in addition to the goose, a total of 8 more birds. Not quite the low shot count, but not sure how to add them up when 2 guys end up shooting the same birds.
This was a great trip for me. I needed the recoil therapy like you can't imagine. It was just the ticket to help me clear my mind. My buddies took great care of me, which always includes appropriate ribbing, the food was awesome (grilled salmon and peanut tai halibut) and I slept like a baby every night.
Oh yeah, remember the guy couldn't buy a bird on day 1? He is a jewel thief. I swear to God that man must have rabbits feet in each pocket. 3 banded pinnies on day one. I've never in all my years of hunting even found one banded bird and this dude catches 3!!!! And on day 2 he nails a mallard with some bling. 4 pieces of silver in 2 days. Un flippin believable, and could NOT have happened to a nicer guy.
It was not part of the opener, but later I made it to my Crane spot w/ a buddy and my 17 year old daughter. Managed to bring 2 of the big birds home.
A great season to date.