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Thread: The calm before the storm

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
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    Cowichan Valley
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    The calm before the storm

    The weather Network was calling for heavy winds rain beginning Friday night and into Saturday. I decided to take a day off before the weather got to shitty as I know what its like out there on windy days.
    I check the forecast before bed and try and put a plan in my head where Iím heading in the morning. If the wind is blowing from this direction this spot will be somewhat sheltered from the wind etc.

    I get up the next morning but Iím in no rush the next hightide isnít until 2 PM. I putter around, collect the last of my things. Start the motor to make sure everything is good to go before I head to the boat launch. I leave my house around 11:00am figuring it will give me some time to get in there and settle in as I may have to decide on a different spot depending on the wind.

    I get to the boat launch and there is barely a ripple on the water. I take out my phone and check the marine forecast but itís showing windy but itís not what Iím seeing so I say screw it and throw caution to the wind and head out where I like to set up. As Iím getting close to where I want to set up I push a raft of bird that were sitting off the shoreline maybe 150 yards. There was mallards, widgeons and teal that I could recognized and I thought maybe today will be a decent afternoon.

    I get to the shoreline and the tide is still out quite a bit and have to set my decoys out on the edge of the tide line as I know the tide is coming up and even the tide line is almost 30 yard from where I want to hide. In the end the showing up 3 hours before hightide turned to be a waste of time as I saw no action between the time I set up and had to move my decoys in before the water was to deep to access them in my waders.

    It was almost 3 hours from the time I came to the shore line before I got my first opportunity. The first bird to check out my spread was a drake mallard. I found it a bit strange that he had no hesitation whatsoever. Cupped his wings in, came straight in on the first pass and tried to landed on the outside edge of my widgeon decoys. Soon as the landing gear was out and the back flapping started I let the hammer drop and the first bird was on the water. I was a bit surprised he didnít fly another 10 yards or so into the mallard decoys.

    The afternoon started off sunny and slowly it got overcast and got darker and darker. I had a flock of about 6 teal landing in the spread. I was straining my eyes trying to see if I could pick out a drake from the bunch but with the lighting, I couldnít distinguish any of them apart. I hadnít shot a teal this season and it was almost an hour since I shot the drake mallard and wanted to keep the dog from getting bored so I got up and picked one out and pulled the trigger when it launched itself into the air. The dog goes out for the retrieve and Iíve never seen a dog so disappointed when he swam up to it and looked at it as if to say ďis this even a duck?Ē what ever dog they taste good and you got to stretch stop your complaining.

    We get hunkered down again and about 20 minutes later another flock of teal comes into the decoys. Iím checking them out to see if I can recognize a drake from this bunch but again, they havenít colored up enough to distinguish them from a distance in the light. I get ready to shoot one when all of a sudden here comes another drake mallard from out of nowhere being sucked right into the decoys with the teal swimming around. I swing on the drake and drop the hammer as heís about 3 feet from the water. The dog seems pleased with me this time that this one is worthy of a retrieve and brings it back to me. We get settled back in and I think to myself this day isnít turning out so bad. Itís started slow but now I have 3 ducks.

    We settle back in and maybe another 15 minutes goes by and I can hear a mallard quacking and circling the spread. Safety is off Iím now trying to determine if itís a drake or a hen as I wanted to make a valid effort not to target hens now that the birds are coloring up enough to tell the difference but with the light it was pretty difficult. It looks like a hen so I held off and let it land in the spread. It was a hen and she was content to hang out with her plastic friends and I had to convinced to the dog that we werenít shooting this one.

    As she swam around in the decoys a flock of teal saw the motion and came right into the decoys. It was driving the dog nuts as she could see them and the closest two were maybe 10 yards away and getting closer as they were making their way to the edge of the shore where they prefer to hang out. Again, Iím struggling to find a drake and decide on a teal that is far enough away from the hen mallard that when I get up to shoot, I wonít get her in the crossfire. I get up and shoulder the gun. The teal take off and I manage a second teal. The dog goes out there looks at the bird and comes back with it, I can tell sheís not impressed again.

    The wind starts to pick up and the decoys are starting to move around in the water. I have a pair of mallards that land outside the spread. I can barely make out the drake as itís getting darker and darker as the afternoon progresses. I get up the birds launch themselves as I aim for the drake. Itís a clean miss. The birds crisscrossed in the air and one circles closer to me. I mistook the hen for a drake and at that point I had already pumped a shot into her by the time I realized it was a hen so I gave her a second shot to take her down. I send the dog out and rush her back as Iím now seeing a decent number of birds flying. Iím holding off on shooting teal now as Iím seeing more mallards.
    I have a pair of mallards come into the spread. I take a shot at the drake but tag the hen behind him, open the lead a little and let a second shot fly and take down the drake this time. At this point the rain has started and the wind is picking up pretty good and the tide is on its way down again. The wind is what was making the most nervous as I could see the waves were getting bigger and I still needed to pick up my decoys and everything. I have 7 ducks so far, itís only 4 PM and legal time wasnít over until close to 5:15pm but I didnít want to fight the wind in the dark either so I decided what ever came in next I was going to shoot it.

    Maybe 20 minutes had passed before a pair of teal came into the spread. I water swatted one of them and called it a day. The funny thing after I shot my last bird the rain stopped and the wind settled out a bit as I was picking up my decoys. I have several birds come into the decoys as I was picking them up where I could have probably shot another limit to be honest. Isnít that the way it always happens. I opted to take the teal so I could get out of there early and could have easily had gotten another mallard had I waited another 10 minutes.

    I loaded all the gear, decoys, and ducks into the boat and started heading back to the boat launch. As we got to deeper water the waves started to get bigger and there was like cross waves, Iím assuming from the tide going out and the wind blowing in it was a little choppy. It was rough enough that the water splashed the dog and I in the face a couple of times. The boat is only 14 inches from the top to bottom, its very stable but doesnít take much wave height to make your sphincter pucker up on the boat ride back in the dark when the wind is up. I had to reassure the dog that everything was ok she was getting a little nervous. She can be a bit of a princess at times.

    We finally get to the boat launch, unpack the boat of its cargo to lighten it up, heave the boat into the back of the truck and pack everything back into the boat inside the back of the truck for the drive home.
    The dog and I were glad to be out of the weather and totally happy with the day. I ended the day with 3 drake mallards, two hen mallards, and the best of my knowledge I had taken 3 hen teal. It was my first limit of the season and it felt good.



    I was a bit nervous to see what condition these birds were in as I had 2 or 3 of them with broken legs and quite a few looked like the hammer of Thor had hit them as they crumpled in the air and I was assuming the worst. For the most part they cleaned up nicely and a lot of them were head and neck shots so I was really pleased with that.

    Once the birds were cleaned, I put them in a sea salt and honey brine for the better part of 2 Ĺ days. All these birds were freezer birds as they were in such good shape over all. Iíll save these ones for when the season is over and I have a craving for a roast duck.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    North Okanagan
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    Re: The calm before the storm

    Very nice and well done. Steve!

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
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    306

    Re: The calm before the storm

    Sounds like a lot of fun! I’ve never experienced waterfowl hunting let alone on the ocean! We used to shoot ducks with a 22 in the sloughs of Saskatchewan, but that was in the late 60’s. The meat looks delicious. Thanks for sharing

  5. #4
    Join Date
    May 2023
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    Chilliwack
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    106

    Re: The calm before the storm

    Great story, looks tasty too.

    Newbie question if you don't mind
    How do you remove the feathers ? looks clean. Do you remove the shot?

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
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    Re: The calm before the storm

    Quote Originally Posted by FishandSticks View Post
    Great story, looks tasty too.

    Newbie question if you don't mind
    How do you remove the feathers ? looks clean. Do you remove the shot?
    40+ years of plucking by hand, you get good at it after a while lol. I do have a hand wand metal detector I do remove as much as I can find but sometimes I write one the bag where the signal is coming from so that when I cook it I know where to be careful chewing.
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  7. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
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    4,323

    Re: The calm before the storm

    Looks good Marc. I'm heading out to the usual spot on Sat afternoon. Text me if you decide to head out so we can co-ordinate where we set, maybe play off eachother and get the birds trading back and forth.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    May 2023
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    Re: The calm before the storm

    Quote Originally Posted by Marc View Post
    40+ years of plucking by hand, you get good at it after a while lol. I do have a hand wand metal detector I do remove as much as I can find but sometimes I write one the bag where the signal is coming from so that when I cook it I know where to be careful chewing.
    Thanks, I don't know if I have 40 yrs to get that good, but who knows that would put me at 98, I will let you know. Great I was thinking of using my handheld detector too.

  9. #8
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    Oct 2003
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    Re: The calm before the storm

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron.C View Post
    Looks good Marc. I'm heading out to the usual spot on Sat afternoon. Text me if you decide to head out so we can co-ordinate where we set, maybe play off eachother and get the birds trading back and forth.
    I’ll touch base with you before the weekend!
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  10. #9
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    Oct 2003
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    Re: The calm before the storm

    Quote Originally Posted by FishandSticks View Post
    Thanks, I don't know if I have 40 yrs to get that good, but who knows that would put me at 98, I will let you know. Great I was thinking of using my handheld detector too.
    yes the wand works like a charm to locate possibly pellets. I bought it when I was medal detecting with the young fella then a light came on during hunting season and it was a no brainer. Especially if you’re putting your birds through a meat grinder the savings pay for themselves.

    I’ve had several people ask me how I pluck my birds I didn’t think it was anything special but you do learn from season to season. It also makes it easier when you’re not putting your full pattern on the breast. That’s when it gets messy and hard to pluck without tearing strips of skin off in the process.
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  11. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    987

    Re: The calm before the storm

    Well I was going to ask where the pellet holes were and did you actually shoot them or catch them in a net lol nice job

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