I was working out of state for the week and I took advantage of it. The power of the internet allowed me to connect with a guy in Vegas and a guy in Reno, so that I could hunt after my job tasks were completed earlier in the week.
I had one of the best days duck hunting ever at a little spring fed federally owned wetland in the desert not too far north of Vegas. Pintails, Redheads, Wigeon, Gadwall are what we shot. Since I was not used to having to identify ducks before I shoot, I struggled with my shooting skills. I kept lifing my head up to make sure I would not put my self over a species limit if I hit the bird. I kept shooting over the top of the birds or behind them. The pintails kept coming in from behind us out of the sun. They would just appear out of the clear blue sky in front of us just out of range, and about 2 out of every 10 flocks would turn into the wind towards us and be in range coming with the north wind from our left. It was hard fast shooting. But it was totally awesome. My shoulder is still sore from the poor gun mounts on a few of the overhead behind me twisting and don't fall down in the mud shots. I did fall down once, and laughed my butt off.
What was really interesting is that the local Vegas' crowd mostly go further north to Overton above lake Mead and then whine about how bad the hunting is. They are not going to this spot because it has really low water and requires a lot of work to get hidden out on the mud flats within range of where the ducks fly. This little desert lake is about the size of Duck Lake and there were only 6 people out there on Veterans Day hunting. One or two more hunters would have improved the flights.
Here are about half the ducks we shot that day. We were just a few birds short of a two man limit. I was pretty tired from the half mile hike in the heat to properly stage some decent photos of all the birds. I was too busy reloading to pause and take photos of the pond and general area. I may regret that later on.
Then I went up to Fallon and spent two days hunting Greenhead hunting club. When I was a kid there this was a private club and we could not afford to join. We hunted a small flooded pasture area on public land back then. Greenhead had some water issues in the 1990's and ended up having to open up to the public in order to obtain and then pay for more water rights. You now have to pay a daily ($15) or extremely cheap yearly fee to access the private land for hunting. Bird watching is free.
As we all know heavily hunted areas get shot out quickly when there are safe areas for the birds to go to an not be bothered. That was the case for me since I was hunting it a week after the opening day of the second split season. It was a great time though. The marsh complex is stunning with the tules and shallow ponds. Very well maintained with channels cut through the tules for the canoes. Areas divided up into gas motorized, non gas motorized, and walk in only areas with a huge roost pond. I hunted the electric motor or paddle only area with gear borrowed from the guy in Reno.
I could have shot a few spoonies, or buffies, and a ruddy duck ( I thought it was a small grebe when it landed in the decoys), but I was holding out for something special to the area like a cinnamon teal or canvas back. Or maybe a green head since that is what the place is named. However, it was not to be. The one or two teal were faster than ever, and other than spoonies, the other ducks were safely roosted in the huge sump pond. I did get to watch a lot of hawks over the marsh, and observed one take a shore bird by flushing the flock off the flooded grass then cracking one with its feet knocking it down in the water, then a quick spin and grab and the hawk was off with a meal in its talons. It all happened in less than 20 seconds about 40 feet in front of me.
This is a picture from the observation tower where the boats are staged for the no gas motor area. The ditch is the canoe access route to the open water in the distance. The ditch bank is the access to the no boat area to the right.
I hunted about a 1/2 mile back in there on the left using the written directions the guy in Reno gave me. He and the care taker that checked me in at 5am were concerned about me getting lost since I was not a local. I grew up in this valley and learned to land navigate here, and since nobody has yet to move the mountains around in the 28 years I have been gone I was fine. Even in the black of night the billions of stars back lit the hills and I felt at home moving through the channels.
This is the central portion of the property which I think is called the "rice" unit. Lots of coots and very few ducks. Guys hunt from lay out blinds in the sheet water they tell me.
Later in the season when places further north freeze up this place will be hopping. Heres to hoping that a mod does not move this to the "outside AK" forum.