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Thread: Thursday Morning Report

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    Member Birdstrike's Avatar
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    Default Thursday Morning Report

    After two days of slow shooting at my regular spot I decided to jumpshoot a marsh adjacent to a popular hooligan dipnet river south of Anchorage this morning. I hadn't been to this spot in a few years and after being shot-up on the opener I didn't really know what to expect. I did know I'd wear myself and my two labs out hiking the marsh.

    I left the RR tracks at shoot time which in hindsight was probably about 15-20 minutes early. The extra light a little later would have made the low flyers easier to see against the dark background. A couple of birds flushed ahead of the dogs and were out of range by the time I saw them. I waited a bit and then continued. A mallard jumped up and quickly cartwheeled back into the marsh. One bird in the backpack. A little farther back a bunch of widgeon flushed. One was hit hard and down. Another was just nicked or was seriously confused. I'd fired three rounds and the second bird was just hovering/circling above the pond. I quickly jacked in another shell and solved that bird's problem.

    It had been a long time since I'd been back in that marsh, but I remembered a large pond farther back. We kept working our way deeper until I was half way to the back treeline. The marsh grass had given way to spongy moss/tundra and low growing brush with no sight of the large pond. I turned around, slogged back towards the road and eventually found the pond I was looking for. The dogs and I took a break and soon saw two low flyers above the pond. One bird hooked towards us and I made an outstanding shot. Bird number 4 was down. The dogs were on it but my older lab let the younger take the credit. I soon discovered why. It was a merganser (whoops).....I think my older dog was trying to save me the embarrasment and was pretending to have not found the sawbill. lol

    We eventually worked our way back towards the road. I errred and worked the downwind side of a couple more potholes and had mallards flush into the wind (like they almost always do). My bad for being on the wrong side and just out of range. I was about worn out after two hours of marsh slog and had about given up when a pintail jumped up. Bird number five in the backpack.

    Not a bad morning, plus a good leg workout.

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    Great report.

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    Member c6 batmobile's Avatar
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    Just out of curiosity what do you do with the mergansers if you down em by accident? I don't like to waste stuff and have found myself in this predicament before. I ate it but it wasn't great. Just curious if theres a good way to deal with em.
    Makin fur fins and feathers fly.

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    Just out of curiosity what do you do with the mergansers if you down em by accident?
    Use them for training birds for the retrievers. I do the same with cripples that have perished and my dogs pickup while were out hunting assuming they aren't to far gone.
    Jesse
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    .....or add them into the "to be sausage pile".

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    Member c6 batmobile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Birdstrike View Post
    .....or add them into the "to be sausage pile".
    That may work. I dont have a dog and Im no wizard at identifying birds on the fly. I have a serious issue with killing something and wasting it so dressing it up as sausage will work for me.
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    Identifying birds on the fly early season in AK is way harder than late season in the lower 48. Those up here that they say they only shoot after positively identifying the species crack me up. A brown bird is a brown bird. Heck...it's hard enough to identify them in hand sometimes.

    I'd love to just sit back and only shoot cupped and commited greenheads over decoys with an ocasional bull sprig (drake pintail) thrown in. However, by the time those birds are in their breeding colors they have usually headed south. If you've never had the opportunity to experience that treat yourself sometime when Outside. I was fortunate enough to hunt both Northern California and the Gulf Coast of Texas before moving up here. However the downside is there are species/sex limits that force you to up your id skills. We don't have those limits on puddle ducks, other than 1 can, up here in AK because bird id is so difficult. Plus we don't shoot all that many waterfowl in AK.

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    It takes time but you can learn to ID brown birds here. This year seems to have color coming early. You can tell a lot by the shape of body and head on a bird and size. It is very hard to tell a Gadwall from a hen Pintail, I will say that and hen Mallards from these also. Pintails can be detected by the slim aerodynamic body. Canvasbacks have a look of their own. Bluebills are easy to ID. and etc.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Birdstrike View Post
    Identifying birds on the fly early season in AK is way harder than late season in the lower 48. Those up here that they say they only shoot after positively identifying the species crack me up. A brown bird is a brown bird. Heck...it's hard enough to identify them in hand sometimes.

    I'd love to just sit back and only shoot cupped and commited greenheads over decoys with an ocasional bull sprig (drake pintail) thrown in. However, by the time those birds are in their breeding colors they have usually headed south. If you've never had the opportunity to experience that treat yourself sometime when Outside. I was fortunate enough to hunt both Northern California and the Gulf Coast of Texas before moving up here. However the downside is there are species/sex limits that force you to up your id skills. We don't have those limits on puddle ducks, other than 1 can, up here in AK because bird id is so difficult. Plus we don't shoot all that many waterfowl in AK.
    There are more ways than color to ID a bird prior to shooting. I know what 99% of the birds I shoot are before I pull the trigger and I'd invite you along to give you a lesson, except I'm leaving the state in a week. You can always listen to them calling, note their size, how they're flying, flock formations, etc. Just because you can't, doesn't mean others can't, and it'd be wise to "up your ID skills" in case a species limit is ever set up here...

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    Member Erik in AK's Avatar
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    Birdstrike your dogs are beautiful. The s--- show across the pond was me. I got in late last night, got up late this morning and my trail in was flooded. Got wet twice on the walk in, got in to my collapsed blind 90 minutes late. It got beat up by the recent winds (it's portable and I'm going to pull it), and then I had a bit of an eagerness issue with my pup. She confused my decoys with her training dummy, but we got that sorted out.

    Anyway, I wish you would have stayed. About 9:30 some more birds showed. It would have been nice to have another hunter to keep them stirred.

    No ducks for me but I got to spend a morning in the marsh, so, all in all a good day.
    If cave men had been trophy hunters the Wooly Mammoth would be alive today

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    Y'all are talking about birds circling over your decoys, talking to their plastic brothers & sisters on the pond giving you lots of time to id them. I still call bs in most hunting situations up here. I've hunted decoying, full plumage birds way more than I have brown birds in AK and know the difference. I know the difference between high flyers like mallards & pins, the low flyers like teal, and all the others in the mid levels and yes size does matter. 99%? PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    If a bird drops out of your blind spot and suddenly appears over your decoys, or you are jump shooting in the wind and you have only seconds to make the shot I highly doubt your brain is prosessing the more than 30 North American species of ducks prior to pulling the trigger. They all taste great (with the exception of mergansers) with a bourbon or horseradish cream sauce, mushrooms/asparagus/ blue cheese. red wine/berry sauce, etc.

    To me it really doesn't matter. A mixed strap is fine by me.

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    Erik,

    I hope to meet ya in the marsh someday. I agree. A few more hunters in the right places helps everyone shoot more birds.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Birdstrike View Post
    Y'all are talking about birds circling over your decoys, talking to their plastic brothers & sisters on the pond giving you lots of time to id them. I still call bs in most hunting situations up here. I've hunted decoying, full plumage birds way more than I have brown birds in AK and know the difference. I know the difference between high flyers like mallards & pins, the low flyers like teal, and all the others in the mid levels and yes size does matter. 99%? PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    If a bird drops out of your blind spot and suddenly appears over your decoys, or you are jump shooting in the wind and you have only seconds to make the shot I highly doubt your brain is prosessing the more than 30 North American species of ducks prior to pulling the trigger. They all taste great (with the exception of mergansers) with a bourbon or horseradish cream sauce, mushrooms/asparagus/ blue cheese. red wine/berry sauce, etc.

    To me it really doesn't matter. A mixed strap is fine by me.

    I'm not saying you have to believe me, just saying that just because you can't doesn't mean everyone can't. Some of the guys I hunt with are better than me.

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    My dad took some duck ID courses and is pretty impressive with his skills. He says he IDs most of them from head and bill shape, coupled with body size, speed, flight pattern, etc., with color being one of the lowest tools, because even in full plumage, color is pretty hard to see in low light, which is when most of the really good hunting occurs. I wish I were better at it. My preferred method of IDing a bird is to turn it over in my hands a few times, take a good whiff, maybe bite into the head and check for that distinct "gadwall brain" taste. One tip for not shooting mergansers: when flying, they stick their head way out straight, and it almost looks like their head doesn't "bump" out as much as other ducks. They're like body builders, where their neck is as big around as their head. -Gr
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alaska Swamp Man View Post
    It takes time but you can learn to ID brown birds here. This year seems to have color coming early. You can tell a lot by the shape of body and head on a bird and size. It is very hard to tell a Gadwall from a hen Pintail, I will say that and hen Mallards from these also. Pintails can be detected by the slim aerodynamic body. Canvasbacks have a look of their own. Bluebills are easy to ID. and etc.
    What he said. Of course it helps to have a job that pays you to id birds. LMAO

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Birdstrike View Post
    Y'all are talking about birds circling over your decoys, talking to their plastic brothers & sisters on the pond giving you lots of time to id them. I still call bs in most hunting situations up here. I've hunted decoying, full plumage birds way more than I have brown birds in AK and know the difference. I know the difference between high flyers like mallards & pins, the low flyers like teal, and all the others in the mid levels and yes size does matter. 99%? PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    If a bird drops out of your blind spot and suddenly appears over your decoys, or you are jump shooting in the wind and you have only seconds to make the shot I highly doubt your brain is prosessing the more than 30 North American species of ducks prior to pulling the trigger. They all taste great (with the exception of mergansers) with a bourbon or horseradish cream sauce, mushrooms/asparagus/ blue cheese. red wine/berry sauce, etc.

    To me it really doesn't matter. A mixed strap is fine by me.
    Maybe "y'all" should practice your iding skills a little more. And I bet there are not 30 types of ducks that fly in Alaska.
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    Member SkinnyD's Avatar
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    How many Alaskan ducks actually look alike on the wing?

    Mallard
    Canvasback
    Pintail = Widgeon = Gadwal
    BWT = GWT = Shoveler (maybe)
    Goldeneye = Scaup = Ringneck

    So on the wing, the only ducks that can be confused are basically pintails/widgeons/gadwals and goldeneye/scaup/ringnecks. The others should be no problem for even the beginningest waterfowler. Now, how many of these are actually going to work your decoys? Mallards, pintails, and widgeons mainly. So now we're only confusing pintails and widgeons, but honestly they fly completely different, so those of us who watch them often don't often confuse them either.

    So for Mr. Birdstrike, whose report I truly enjoyed, I would say that, assuming I see a bird on the wing before it is in shooting range, I'll know what it is before I shoot 99% of the time. Honestly, I can't tell divers apart until they're in my hand, but I also don't shoot divers unless the dog needs work.
    Passing up shots on mergansers since 1992.


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    Goldeneyes are really easy to tell from other birds due to the distict sounds their wings make when they fly. No other duck sounds like that.
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    Quote Originally Posted by duckslayer56 View Post
    Goldeneyes are really easy to tell from other birds due to the distict sounds their wings make when they fly. No other duck sounds like that.
    Indeed, though I'm not sure these fledglings fly fast enough to be "whistlers" just yet. Give them a couple more months.
    Passing up shots on mergansers since 1992.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Gr is for Greg View Post
    My dad took some duck ID courses and is pretty impressive with his skills. He says he IDs most of them from head and bill shape, coupled with body size, speed, flight pattern, etc., with color being one of the lowest tools, because even in full plumage, color is pretty hard to see in low light, which is when most of the really good hunting occurs. I wish I were better at it. My preferred method of IDing a bird is to turn it over in my hands a few times, take a good whiff, maybe bite into the head and check for that distinct "gadwall brain" taste. One tip for not shooting mergansers: when flying, they stick their head way out straight, and it almost looks like their head doesn't "bump" out as much as other ducks. They're like body builders, where their neck is as big around as their head. -Gr
    Yeah... I love eating my words. After this post, I went out yesterday morning, and guess what I did for the first time ever. The bird took me by surprise, and it was the only non-dabbling duck in this area the entire morning. As the shot was leaving the barrel, I was saying to myself, "no no NO!" oops. So what were those recipes again?
    My signature is awesome.

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