Thursday, October 20, 2011

Building a Duck Shoot

The past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind around here for us.  Colby and I have been on the water nearly every day all month.  We're mostly running Salmon trips on the lower Umpqua and have been doing quite well.  We're still chasing trout on the McKenzie and summer steelhead on the upper Willamette and North Umpqua too.  

I recently started a new Duck hunting lease in the Willamette Valley.  I've hunted this ground in recent seasons for geese and the hunting can be amazing.  The area where I'm starting this new duck hunt is a stones throw away from a migratory waterfowl conservation area.  Last year there were times I saw tens of thousands of Pintail, Widgeon and Mallards roosting in this area.  Geese (mostly all dark) were also heavily using this conservation ground as a roosting area.  There is no real feeding opportunities in this multi-hundred acre piece of ground, so the birds spend the night on the various ponds and then in the morning they fly out in search of feed.

This photo shows what the ground for my new Duck shoot looked like before I started whittling away at it with the backhoe. It's situated in the corner of a multi-hundred acre plot of rye grass.  It's bordered on two sides by a small creek that has water year-around running through it.

The land owner has wanted to build a pond at this location for many years and its just one of those things that worked out really well for both of us.  Some things just come together like this, not often, but once in awhile.

He already had a well thought out plan for this pond. The size, shape, how it sits in relation to wind and weather patterns etc. had all been considered and planned out by the land owner.  I just needed to come in and add the labor and some finishing touches to make it a great shoot.

So I started moving some dirt.  And moving some more dirt. And then I moved more! Eventually our vision began to take shape and as it did, it became more and more exciting, seeing the potential for this location unfold before our very eyes. 

Throughout my life I've built a lot of things.  I've been a contractor/builder, welder, sheet metal fabricator and machinist.  Hell, I've even built a few hundred thousand steelhead, salmon, bass and trout flies over the past 40 years.  But this is this first time I've ever been involved in a project of this type. The thought that it will bring alot of enjoyment to duck and goose hunters for many years to come is pretty cool indeed!

After working the ground for a long time with the back hoe, the land owner came out to give me a hand with this behemoth!  Attached to back of this 50,000 lb., 8-wheel drive tractor is a 24' boxed blade that he built himself.  AMAZING piece of machinery! and it could MOVE SOME DIRT! In no time at all he had brought the vast majority of the pond's depth down to about 16".

So now the new Duck shoot is about half done.  We still have some ground to move, but the overall outline and shape have been formed.  It's probably less than two acres in size and when completed will average around 12" to 16" in depth.  Our plan is to fill it with the coming rain water.  If that doesn't get it done we can pump some water from the little drainage creek into the pond to top it off.  I've also got a couple of duck blinds to put together, which I'll try and get done in the next week. 

Next year we'll plant some rows of corn, maybe drill in some peas, buckwheat and millet.  I just know its a real privilege to be able to do something like this. I can't wait for the day to come, when I can share one of the duck blinds with friends and family as a flock of mallards cup their wings with their feet down and glide into my decoy spread on a pond I helped to build. 

In coming post's I'll update you with the pond and how its progressing.  If anyone has any suggestions on our "work-in progress" to make it the best duck pond in the valley, I'd be happy to hear your thoughts.  Shoot me an e-mail or give me a call.