Categorized | Opinion

Christmas Ducks

By Josh McGowan

Joey Kellams with a huge buck from southeast Missouri, scoring 186.

Joey Kellams with a huge buck from southeast Missouri, scoring 186.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all the outdoorsfolk in our beautiful little piece of America! Jesus is the reason for the season, and there are blessings abound in our neck of the woods. Lord knows I love the thrill of fishing and hunting, and the beauty of the great outdoors, but without friends and family to share this awesome passion with, I doubt many of us would be near as adamant about it. So take a kid fishing or hunting, and thank the Lord for time spent in the serenity of God’s creation with the ones we love, because you never know what tomorrow will bring.

Hopefully a lot of kids (and dads and grandpas) got a ton of camouflage, guns, ammo, fishing poles, and so on for Christmas this year. I’m still in the midst of our family’s many Christmases, one of the advantages of having a huge family and then strategically marrying into one, so it’s too early to take inventory!

This past Sunday I found myself back out at the box blind in the flooded corn field in southeast Missouri. This time I had three seasoned duck hunters trained in a variety of expert calling techniques, three flapping wing decoys, and a professional duck-retrieving Labrador, so I was bound to have more success than last week, right? It turns out, not so much. It just didn’t matter, even with Joey, Scott, and Cayden’s sultry and raspy calling, like a New Orlean’s waitress, but the ducks were not interested in anything on the menu. We just couldn’t get them to commit to coming down to our little spread and giving us an opportunity for a shot.

There was again a non-stop barrage of geese flying in V’s, Z’s, and W’s across the winter morn’s sky, and quite a few ducks mixed in. It looked as if we were witnessing a mass exodus from the region, but the geese weren’t migrating, just leaving from one field and heading to another a few miles away. They’d return flying the opposite direction in a few hours.

Finally, around 11:15, a lone widgeon made a few circles and was seduced by the decoys and raspy calls. Any one of us could have made the shot without help, but since everyone was a bit antsy, Joey gave the call and we all pulled up and shot, folding the duck like a bad poker hand. I’d forgotten about our canine companion tucked in the dog box outside the blind, he shot out like a bullet and snatched up the duck, and not a moment too soon. A bald eagle had been circling high above the outside of our decoys, and as soon as the duck hit the water he cupped his massive wingspan and began a fast descent. I would safely estimate the pup had the widgeon within four seconds of it hitting the water, and the eagle would have been there in eight! I know they’re beautiful, majestic, and the national bird and all, but for duck hunters, they’re just a nuisance.

We also managed a blue goose about 15 minutes later, who sailed from the stratosphere in tight circles down to an altitude of about 15 ft, where he found a steely welcome. Shadow the lab again made a lightning fast retrieval, even with the big goose. My wife couldn’t believe we “toughed it out” that long in the blind, but between the propane heat, Joey’s homemade sausage, egg, and cheese sandwiches, and the camaraderie and whatnot, we managed!

While doing some last minute shopping over the last week, I stopped in at Second Shot Outdoors on Interstate 55 at the Benton exit in southeast Missouri.

They have a ton of hunting stuff, some fishing gear, and some women’s clothing and shoes. They sell a lot of Bass Pro returns, and have some really good deals on things like waders and coats, camo and tents.

As always, there is more information and old columns, pictures, and videos at www.joshgowanoutdoors.com. Send your pictures, questions, or comments to joshmgowan@yahoo.com.

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