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Thread: Swans are a gift

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    Member duckslayer56's Avatar
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    Default Swans are a gift

    “Swans are a gift”, That’s what DucksandDogs said after we had just shot a couple of widgeon that dropped into our decoys following a group of swans that had landed in our decoys a minute before.

    This statement has struck true with me, and it keeps rolling in my head over, and over throughout the last weekend. They truly are a gift. It’s why I get so upset when I see or hear of people shooting at them(illegally). A swan is one of the best decoys you can possibly use, let alone having a live one in your spread. Watching them interact with each other is just fun to watch. We watched two of the seven swans start to do a dance on the water. Two of them faced each other, reared up and started shaking their wings while calling at one another. It was a cool sight to see, and it will be a cherished memory for the rest of my life.


    Last year I had my swan floaters out as confidence decoys. As the morning progressed I looked upto see a flock of about 20 swans flying. I pulled out my goose flute and didthe best swan call I could muster. Much to my amazement they responded andturned towards my direction. They flew closer and started to descend about 600yards out. By the time they were about 100 yards away they started to cup, and then surprisingly, started flipping! Seeing these big birds inverting and turning upside down on a controlled descent into my decoys was truly an astonishing sight. As they landed they put those giant feet down and skied for about 10 yards across the water, finally stopping about 4 feet from my spread.Then they started calling and milling around for a while. It’s kind of funny to see a giant swan dabble like a mallard. As they sat there I noticed the ducks were starting to come closer, and started having singles and doubles land right next to them. I didn’t shoot at any of the ducks, as I just sat there and enjoyed the show. After about 5 minutes the swans took off, I wished them well, and felt truly blessed to have that experience.

    I write this because I truly feel that swans are a gift to waterfowlers. Either as a dinner for those fortunate enough to hunt them, or to the rest of us who can only cherish memories of the big white birds and the incredible interactions we have with them. As the swans start to migratet hrough the Mat-Su valley and Anchorage Bowl, please think of this if you get the urge to take a shot at one of them. Instead try to get them to land with you, and be amazed at the show they can put on, as well as the possible ducks they may help pull into your spread. I’m sure that those of us, who have spent many days on the water, will be very happy to see them sharing the marsh for the short amount of time they are here. Cherish, and enjoy them, you will be grateful that you did.
    Some people call it sky busting... I call it optimism
    "Swans are a gift" -DucksandDogs
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    Funny you'd post this - this morning, at the same spot we hunted Friday, a pair of juvenile swans were flying east to west about 500 yards out. I hit the goose call a few times and they cut and came all the way into our spread. They lit in the same place those other ones did on Friday. Unfortunately, no ducks followed, but I called back and forth to them while they were on the water in our decoys. They kept answering and swimming around for 10-15 minutes. It was pretty cool to see, again.

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    Me and Mark had a couple swimming around the lake we hunted last weekend. I kept trying to get them to come over by calling with my goose call. They wanted to stay on the other side of the pond though. I would like to learn how to tell a tundra swan from a trumpeter.
    Some people call it sky busting... I call it optimism
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    It can be difficult, but it's doable. It's easier when they're beside each other. The tell-tale yellow spot on the bill/eye of a tundra is a dead give away, but sometimes that isn't too apparent. Trumpeters tend to have more of a sloped head, think canvasback. Tundras have a somewhat concave bill between the forehead and tip of the bill, almost like a mallard. Also, when they're in flight, and even when they're not, trumpeters eyes seem invisible because they are "connected" (for lack of a better word) to the black part of the bill & face. If they're flying straight at you, tundras have a U shaped face created by the bridge of the bill & the eyes, trumpeters are more V shaped.

    Just my observations. If you're in an area that allows harvesting of swans and also has trumpeters and tundras, unless your 100% certain, it's usually best to let them light and do some observation while they swim around, then scare em up & shoot. No sense in shooting if you don't know, because it really is tough to tell in flight.

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    Good stuff brother.. I had a group of 7 come in and land in my decoys last year out there..was a special site to say the least..until that group of Cans came in...then they left

    Quote Originally Posted by duckslayer56 View Post
    “Swans are a gift”, That’s what DucksandDogs said after we had just shot a couple of widgeon that dropped into our decoys following a group of swans that had landed in our decoys a minute before.

    This statement has struck true with me, and it keeps rolling in my head over, and over throughout the last weekend. They truly are a gift. It’s why I get so upset when I see or hear of people shooting at them(illegally). A swan is one of the best decoys you can possibly use, let alone having a live one in your spread. Watching them interact with each other is just fun to watch. We watched two of the seven swans start to do a dance on the water. Two of them faced each other, reared up and started shaking their wings while calling at one another. It was a cool sight to see, and it will be a cherished memory for the rest of my life.


    Last year I had my swan floaters out as confidence decoys. As the morning progressed I looked upto see a flock of about 20 swans flying. I pulled out my goose flute and didthe best swan call I could muster. Much to my amazement they responded andturned towards my direction. They flew closer and started to descend about 600yards out. By the time they were about 100 yards away they started to cup, and then surprisingly, started flipping! Seeing these big birds inverting and turning upside down on a controlled descent into my decoys was truly an astonishing sight. As they landed they put those giant feet down and skied for about 10 yards across the water, finally stopping about 4 feet from my spread.Then they started calling and milling around for a while. It’s kind of funny to see a giant swan dabble like a mallard. As they sat there I noticed the ducks were starting to come closer, and started having singles and doubles land right next to them. I didn’t shoot at any of the ducks, as I just sat there and enjoyed the show. After about 5 minutes the swans took off, I wished them well, and felt truly blessed to have that experience.

    I write this because I truly feel that swans are a gift to waterfowlers. Either as a dinner for those fortunate enough to hunt them, or to the rest of us who can only cherish memories of the big white birds and the incredible interactions we have with them. As the swans start to migratet hrough the Mat-Su valley and Anchorage Bowl, please think of this if you get the urge to take a shot at one of them. Instead try to get them to land with you, and be amazed at the show they can put on, as well as the possible ducks they may help pull into your spread. I’m sure that those of us, who have spent many days on the water, will be very happy to see them sharing the marsh for the short amount of time they are here. Cherish, and enjoy them, you will be grateful that you did.
    President of Alaska Waterfowl Assoc.
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    There were a bunch on the flats today, no birds mixed with them, but nice big groups against the clouds is a nice distraction.

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    I was kayaking at Byers Lake a couple years ago in the early summer. There was a family of two adult swans and about 5 young, somewhat gray cygnets. The young uns were still about as big as small geese. I was doing my best to honk at them just with my voice, and they actually came over. They obviously knew I wasn't a swan; maybe they had been fed by others and thought I had something for them, but it was still cool. And yeah, I agree that seeing them dabble is funny. They look almost too big for it. Cool post, and definitely agree. -Gr
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    They are pretty social birds and don't seem to be afraid of much, but can get very onnery if you provoke them, or threaten their young. I have seen them attack dogs before, and Bill Dance on one of his blooper videos.
    Some people call it sky busting... I call it optimism
    "Swans are a gift" -DucksandDogs
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    i hunted up by eurika last year in mid october and man were there a lot of swans. those things sure are graceful creatures. there were about 200 on the lake we hunted and we could see them keep flying over the mountains to our lake. we had them swinging through the decoys at about 20 yards. it sure was a nice sight.

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    I love their size... When you see 'em do duck like things such as swoop or cup their wings and commit... so awesome!!! Swans are the main reason I take my good camera to the blind, grab some photos instead of grabbing for the shotty. I'm sure they taste amazing, but to me they are better left to admire. I can't imagine having to dispatch one of those guys, that would suck, (lets see you bite that head kwack and DS56)Those giant feet used as airbrakes when they are on final approach... nothing finer in my book. I've been hunting with my 9 yo lately and hope to have the swans come in while he is in the blind so that he too can be wowed. Nice thread DS56... I'd give you rep but I gotta spread some around first.

    dodge
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    Quote Originally Posted by akdodger View Post
    I love their size... When you see 'em do duck like things such as swoop or cup their wings and commit... so awesome!!! Swans are the main reason I take my good camera to the blind, grab some photos instead of grabbing for the shotty. I'm sure they taste amazing, but to me they are better left to admire. I can't imagine having to dispatch one of those guys, that would suck, (lets see you bite that head kwack and DS56)Those giant feet used as airbrakes when they are on final approach... nothing finer in my book. I've been hunting with my 9 yo lately and hope to have the swans come in while he is in the blind so that he too can be wowed. Nice thread DS56... I'd give you rep but I gotta spread some around first.

    dodge
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    Gen.1:26
    And God said, let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

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    Default sunet swans

    Nice write-up DS. Minto has been crawling with swans lately - I sure get a kick out of watching them.
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    One of the few times I have ever hunted DL was a late season hunt complete with all the fixins... cold fingers, outboard trouble, grunt of a portage, and ice on the lake which was a bit thicker than optimal. After a long ice breaking session delayed the start, we finally made it into the chosen hunting site and broke a hole in the ice for the spread which included a swan floater and a custom painted swan butt. We had a memorable shoot with colored birds that spider-webbed the ice when they hit it and full straps all around. However, the highlight of the day was the swans. We had several different swan groups visit us that morning but the star of the show was gray juvenile which chose to land outside the spread on the ice. this proved to be an almost catastrophic decision on the swan's fault. If an animals expression ever portrayed surprise, confusion, and terror all at once, it was that swan's as he touched down on what was expected to be a water landing and skittedred past the blind headed rapidly toward the bullrush. Long story short, the swan added power by flapping and running for all he was worth (we could hear his webbed feet slapping the ice), adjusted his take off run (later we inspected the scratches his feet left on the ice), and missed crashing into the bullrush by a hairs breadth! it was a moment I will never forget witnessing and my hunting partner and I turned to eachother and in stereo asked "DID YOU SEE THAT????!!!!! Swans are definately a gift in my book! Nice to hear there are still a bunch of swans at minto. I'm hoping most of the birds are still north of here... though I'm worried that the high water in south central has flooded the food source and they may not stay long. Anyone notice the special relationship between widgeon and swans? Seems like I'm always seeing them together.

    dodge
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    I agree, went out with some guys who were nice enough to let em follow along. We got some ducks and had a great day, but the highlight was the dozens of swans we saw, many of which flew right over us at 15 yards and cupped and set in the slough in front of us. In between the inbound ducks, there was almost always some swans to watch.

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    Today I was out watching the swans at Potters Marsh and noticed the ducks were "hazing" the swans for food. The ducks would wait until a swan brought up a mouthfull of food and the ducks would rush in and try to steal some or grab the left overs dropped into the water. Mostly widgeon with a few mallards thrown in.

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    Quote Originally Posted by akmac View Post
    Today I was out watching the swans at Potters Marsh and noticed the ducks were "hazing" the swans for food. The ducks would wait until a swan brought up a mouthfull of food and the ducks would rush in and try to steal some or grab the left overs dropped into the water. Mostly widgeon with a few mallards thrown in.
    Random bit of duck trivia: Wigeon are also called 'robber ducks,' because they often will feed on the surface near other birds, eating food that the other birds turn up. I've also seen them do it around moose feeding in lakes in the summer. Maybe a new confidence decoy option for anyone so inclined...

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    I'm a dyed-in-the-wool grouse hunter, not a waterfowler, but I saw this thread on swans and decided to check in here and see what it was about 'cause I like trumpeter swans.

    Well, Mr. Duckslayer56, that was a very nice thread you wrote! Swans are indeed awesome creatures. The only thing that saddens me about seeing them in the fall is because swans are the last to go south and routinely close the door on autumn just before another long winter sets in again.

    Regards,

    Jim

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    nice OP.... My daughter and i got a front row seat this season, while at camp. Ours is Farly high up and most the birds passing us are at 5000' and climbing over the mtn, as they go by, however one late afternoon, a young swan came tumbling down into one of the ponds, still grey from head to tail.. squeaking for all his might.. tired, worried, and lost his group... through the day he paddles the ponds, fed, warmed in the sun and squeaked... as the sun began to set, we hear the triumphant of a large group and the rush of air through the wing beats, as the adults circled out tent, and let onto the further pond of the claim.

    through the night many more came in, each with their own welcome...

    the next morning we had swans in each of the 5 ponds, several flights of ducks, and 4 cow moose, all feeding along side each other, while the cows argued among them selfs, as to who fed where, they ignored the swans, who in-turn returned the favor to the moose,

    while we don't water fowl hunt often, and had no plans to this year, it was as wonderful time, sharing the space with them, watching the dances, and interactions with them.. then with a trumpet and a rush, they lifted as one, around noon time... circled the camp twice and headed east
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    Here's a trumpeter I photographed last autumn.


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    Great Pic! Truly one of God's most beautiful creatures!
    Some people call it sky busting... I call it optimism
    "Swans are a gift" -DucksandDogs
    I am a shoveler's worst nightmare!

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