Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 late season waterfowl

The 2011 waterfowl season has been unseasonably mild and a bit slower than years past in the Canoga Creek environs.  The late season opener saw very mild temps and light winds, not optimal for open water.  We hunted the bait ponds and shot four mallards.  Nick handled the retrieving duties and made some miraculous finds in heavy cover.

The second day of season seemed to promise cooler temps and some weather, so a field hunt was organized on the Hoster field. Rich was in on this one, a tough, muddy, hardcore layout hunt in which we knocked down 9 geese and 1 duck.  Three of the geese we knocked down made the end of the field and crash-landed in the gully behind my barn.  They were unfortunately not found (no dog).

Day three found us accompanied by Dan DeLaywer of NY Ducks Unlimited ensconced in the comforts of Double Black blind on Cayuga Lake.  Due to very late carousing the night before with Dan, we all shot very poorly for the first flights, but finally managed to scratch down a half dozen mallards between the group.  Brant did the the retrieving and performed well. It was great reconvening the old crowd- Ernie, O'Connor, Riegel, Dan, Danielle, and myself.

Day four found us back in the bait ponds, taking advantage of a hard freeze that occurred overnight.  We had planned ahead for frozen water and had set up a blind near a spring fed pond that almost never freezes, leaving a duck magnet when all other inland water is locked up tight.  We shot 5 ducks- 2 gadwall and 3 mallards. Nick was on duty for the retrieves.

Day five, it was back in the ponds, as Rich had reported having been frozen out still at Double Black.  Conditions were milder, but the ducks were still few and far between.  We again shot five ducks, the bag consisting this time of 2 black ducks and three mallards.  Brant did some nice retrieving, but there was nothing spectacular in that department.

Day six, the last hunt of 2011, found us once again in warm temps and very little wind.  Though we were ready for a change of season, the ponds were the choice.  the early flight was slow, but the action turned on after 1000 and we, once again, scratched down 5 ducks- 1 gadwall and 4 mallards.  Brant made some great finds in heavy cover, including two blind retrieves, demonstrating a kind of coming-of-age wherein he is developing instincts and beginning to use his nose where needed.  It was a great way to end the year.

Happy New Year to all grousers.  Here's to a happy and healthy 2012.


Yeoman said...

I wonder if anyone can recommend a waterfowl specific choke for me.

I've continued to use the stock chokes that my shotguns (that take screw in chokes) shoot, but recently an experienced waterfowler told me that I really ought to look at something else, and if I did, I'd regard fast steel as being as good as heavy shot.

Yeoman said...

Okay, next question. I went out and looked at waterfowl chokes and received the recommendation from my son (based on a friend's recommendation) to use the Pattern Master.

Probably good, but I actually shoot a Browning o/u Citori for ducks. I may be the only person left on the planet using a double barrel for waterfowl. Anyhow, can I use one of these types of chokes on my o/u? Should I get two, and as they stick out the muzzle a bit, do I need to be concerned about shot from one hitting the other, if they are uneven (or if I buy two, but they extend different distances.

Oh, the world is just so much more complicated than in the old lead shot days.

KGT (aka Cagey) said...


Interesting questions. I don't shoot O/U, I shoot SxS, so am not familiar with the issues you raise...

I know there is one guy we hunt with that shoots O/U , O'Connor, and I can pick his brain on the matter.

Have you tried some of the gun discussion boards like shotgun world? Those have a wealth of information on questions such as yours.

Yeoman said...

Keith, thanks.

I very much favor side by sides and only went to the o/u when steel shot came in, as that was about the only affordable double at the time.

I did post on one of the duck hunting boards and was told that there was not reason not to put in a range extending choke in one of the o/u tubes, but given as I have a Browning with invector chokes, there might be no point in it.

I don't know what to think. On Sunday I went out and my son shot my Citori and I ended up shooting my old, not so good, Winchester 1400, which is a beater. But it brought a mallard down out of the stratosphere with some choke I picked up when I threaded it 20 years ago, so who knows? I've even been pondering if I should give up on doubles for ducks and go with something else, and was pondering the automatic and pump options.