Monday, May 26, 2008

Sneakin' On Mallards

When it comes to dressing the part for social settings, I am less than inspired. That's like a duck out of water...ask my friends and they'll concur. I much prefer being in the marsh with face camo paint, wearing chest highs, 3 layers under them, slogging in semi frozen muck, mud and ice. All for a stealthy belly crawl in hopes of knocking down a pair of late season plump Mallards.

By the time I get to my destination I have sweat buckets and am now thoroughly soaked. Also known as a "science experiment" wearing chest high neoprene's. I pause for a few minutes to make sure I am where I need to be and also to catch my breath. My Lab is hyper alert and ready to crest the top of the dike.....and have a personal hunt of her own. It has taken us an hour and thirty five minutes in all to get here. We can hear the Mallards making their feeding sounds, moans, purrs and little grunts. It gets me deep down in my belly with excitement and anticipation. I am in awe when I get to be this close and they have no idea I'm there. I savour the moments a bit longer than when I was in my youth. Realizing just how special being right where I am, in this exact moment in time. Unless you've been there it is not easy to explain. It's the moments that feed your soul and tell you that this is where you're most at home...where you belong.

Guess I overdressed a bit, didn't need that fleece vest after all. The sky is a cold flat gray with intermittent snow showers. I have 2 ducks in my vest from an earlier sneak and I am starting to think about brunch and a hot cup of coffee. Not to mention getting out of these waders... a bit clammy, yes indeed! I peek over the top of the dike one last time to make sure we are in the right place and the ducks haven't moved to far in either direction. Yep, we're good. O.K. READY, my adrenaline begins to spurt and my pupils dilate as Jet leads us over the top of the dike. There is a split second when the ducks are motionless, realizing they've just been had and yes, I am a predator. All hell breaks loose as there are not just a few ducks, but about twenty or so. Screaming "quacks" and feathers flying and water frothing all give way to a double on Drake Mallards.The silence has been broken. Jet plunges in and retrieves both birds still wanting to retrieve more, looking at me for directions. The ducks circle and I reload. We hunker down in the tall grass on the side of the dike that isn't snow covered in hopes of getting a passing shot or two. Jets coat begins to freeze after swimming in the ditch. She is still twitching with adrenaline and fully charged up, her eyes focused on the small flock.

After a few minutes we see the last of those ducks leave our area, so we begin the long walk back to our rig. I give her another hug and tell her what a great dog she is and she starts her happy dog tail tuck and runs circles around me. She's happy too. I can feel the warmth of those drake Mallards against my back through my hunting vest and waders. I re-adjust my vest on my shoulders as the weight of it tugs backwards. Walking back to the rig I replay the sneak in my head and feel like "Charlie Brown" (female version) after pitchin' a no hitter! The fact that we got 2 ducks is wonderful, although what strikes me more is having gotten that close to listen to them without them knowing it. Very cool indeed. I forgot about how wet and clammy I was in these waders. Ah, its all coming back to me now...a little squish between the toes. The snow is starting to come down hard out of the north and my tracks out are almost covered completely. The wind begins to pick up and I lower & tilt my head leeward, so as to catch the snow on the brim of my hat and protect my eyes. The temp is dropping and our timing was good. Don't know just how big this storm is....could be a doozy! Be good to get my birds cleaned, have a bite to eat and hunker in for a while. Jet is ready for a hot meal too, and she'll be asleep before the water boils for my coffee. We'll dry out and see what tomorrow brings.....just hope things don't freeze up to much, need a little open water. What a fun women's hunt, all be it yours truly and her best friend Jet. I think women hunters can be just as stealthy as than their male counterparts, if not even more so.

Women's Hunting Journal Integrity For The Hunt

1 comment:

mdmnm said...

Nice post of a good hunt!

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