Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Just add water

This is how my duck hunting pond looks now.
This is how it looks flooded on a cold, clear winter day.
Just add water!
The VERY best duck hunting in the Willamette Valley occurs at this very spot every fall/winter.  This year the long, hot summer has produced one of the heaviest yields of millet I've ever seen.
The yield is so heavy and the vegetation so thick, I kind of feel a little sorry for my retriever "Molly".  When this is flooded in the coming days, its going to create a formidable mat of vegetation that will be a little hard to swim through when going after downed birds.  But I know she won't complain!
I launched a handful of bumpers for her in the heavy cover and she accurately marked and successfully found all but one, but a simple hand signal brought her nose close enough and she made that tough retrieve too!  She's ready for her third duck season. 
Molly helped me get this first time duck hunter a near limit her second year.
Molly made this retrieve while her mom "Gema" looked on.
Gema told Molly to sit up straight and stop slouching!
We also have an improvement to our pit blinds.  A roof has been added and with all the native vegetation surrounding it, we'll be completely invisible to incoming mallards, teal, pintail and widgeon. 
A great "duck shoot" really begins at the end of the last season.  Leaving enough Sudan grass, wild rice, millet, buck wheat, smart weed and other high quality duck feed in your flooded ponds for returning (north bound) birds is crucial.  The birds need this nutrition to feed on as they head back to their summer range.  It will also help reinforce in the birds that your area is a place to return on their way south the following season. 
There are already a lot of birds making use of our "refuge" pond.  The last two storm fronts that blew through recently moved birds down from Alaska and Canada and they're joining our local birds in the valley.  I've seen large flocks of Cacklers all ready and I've heard the specks at night, working their way south. 
The pumps will work over-time to "just add water" to get our well planted ponds flooded in time for this weekends opener and I think its going to be a duck and goose season to remember.    
I have some dates open for those wanting to book one of the best duck/goose hunts in the valley or down on the coast, but you'll have to get a hold of me fast, because I'll soon be booked solid again this year.