I did not hunt all week due to be out of town so I was curious to see what the marsh held Saturday morning. I was pleased when the marsh came alive well before shoot time with the sounds of mallards quacking and flybys by other ducks.
Shoot time came and a small group of GWT dropped in. I managed only one but was happy to see the teal back. I'd been wondering where they had been so far as I had not seen any since the opener. I missed them last year too due to being unable to hunt the first two weeks of the season. GWT always seem to be early migrators. My morning progressed with pathetic shooting on my part and I only managed two more teal and lots of missed opportunities mostly due to me, but also a few jams of my 870. Over the years I've had problems with it either not extracting the shells at all, or leaving the empty hanging from the port while it feeds a new round. I've never figured out if it was my fault for short cycling the pump or a certain brand of shells, etc. I was about to call it a morning when a lonely, solo crane approached. I don't have a crane call but a short whistle somehow convinced the bird to turn my way. One easy headshot and my dogs were left wondering what had just fallen out of the sky. They kept looking at the bird, looking at me, looking at the bird, looking at me....lol That's the only crane I've taken in 6 years of hunting waterfowl in AK. I was stoked.
I had a couple more opportunities but missed. It was just one of those days when I was left wondering if I was shooting blanks or if I could even hit the water while standing in the middle of the pond. I didn't load up with enough shells at the house and I ran out. As luck would have it about 40-50 cranes landed about 75 yds from the trail back to the truck. One more crane was safe and I was frustrated to say the least
I went home, ran errands, did some chores, and planned to return for the evening hunt. My kids were buried in homework after being home sick during the week so they passed on going back with me. My wife also passed, but the dogs were ready to go after their afternoon siesta. I was a little late getting set up and only had two hours to go until sunset. However, I finished with 5 more teal in an hour making 8 for the day. That's the first time I've limited on one species in AK.
I'd planned on sleeping in the back of the truck to avoid driving back home only to head back out for the morning hunt. I fed the dogs, ate my sub, had a couple of cold pale ales, and called it a night. The dogs were snoring soon after crawling onto their beds.
I woke the next morning after enjoying the extra hour of sleep provided by already being in the parking lot. I headed out hoping for a repeat of the previous day. The fog was thick horizontally but not vertically. I knew it would be gone once the sun had time to heat things up. It was a teal fest again. Unfortunately, once again I had gun jams along with just poor shooting. Somedays it's a shell per bird. Somedays not. I'm not sure what happened to me in the week off but my frustration built to the point of being tempted to hurl my gun into the marsh. I didn't...knowing the problem was probably just me. However, after the season I think I'm finally upgrading to an autoloader. Now's just the worst time to try and buy a new duck gun.
I finished with 5 GWT, a mallard, tired dogs, and a sore shoulder. I heard 2 cranes in the general area vs. hundreds the day before. I assume they headed over the pass during the night to points south. I'm gone for work for a couple of weeks, but happy to finally see birds in the area. Hopefully when I get back the northern birds will be pushing through which always adds a few more species to the strap.