Oct 10, 2011

My Daughter's First Duck

I am a huge proponent of the youth hunting training days and I am thankful for the states that see this as opportunity to get young people in the outdoors and into hunting. We took advantage of the youth waterfowl training day here in CT back on October 1st to take my daughter out for her first waterfowl hunt.

Kaleigh and I met Busch Pilot at the swamp at 5am and we were joined by another Friend, Boulder Bass, and his son Ethan. Kaleigh was a little tired and really dragging after a late night at the football field performing her football manager duties but she quickly snapped out of it as we got all geared up and headed into the swamp.

Our earlier scouting trips to the swamp showed plenty of promise has we had been seeing loads of wood ducks and some mallards and the woodies were coming in early an right through the morning and staying around. The plan was for Busch Pilot, Kaleigh and I to set up at one end of the swamp and Boulder Bass and Ethan at the opposite end. We worked our way through the brush and water to a small island that offers up good cover and allows us to cover some prime water and got the decoys out and then we snuggled in for the short wait for legal shooting light.

A view from the blind

Seeing the woodies were hanging around and coming in through out the morning we decided to only let the kids shoot early if the ducks committed to the dekes and as the morning went on we would allow them to try some pass shooting. We figured this would give them the best opportunities through out the morning without shooting the place up. Our plan actually worked which was pretty nice for a change.

When the first flight of woodies came screaming by and landed past our setup and started feeding we knew it was going to be a good morning. Another small flight came screaming over the top of us and my daughter lite up at the sounds of their wings whistling over head as they landed just past us. It wasn't long before a single landed in our spread and we gave Kaleigh the go ahead and she slowly raised the gun and that woodie caught her and was gone in a flash. We got the chance to teach on that one and explained to her that she had to get the gun up fast and get on target because these woodies are jumpy and don't stick around like hunting turkeys out of the blind.

BP and Kaleigh taking a break and trying to stay dry
 Fortunately it wasn't long before another single landed in the spread and before we could give her to the go, she was up on that bird and if she cleared the water by more than a foot I would be shocked. Kaliegh had splashed her first duck which was a nice hen wood duck. once we shot those ducks that landed long got up and head across the swamp only to fly right by Ethan. Ethan didn't connect but he was surely awake now.

Birds continued to come in to the swamp from all directions. Ethan had another shot at some birds but once again he had to watch them fly away untouched. About an hour later two more woodies landed in the spread and Kaliegh went to take them and she missed. She was moving so fast I don't think she got the gun completely mounted before she pulled the trigger which resulted in a miss. Another opportunity to teach which we took advantage of.

It wasn't long after that and the rain started and it got a lot harder and the birds slowed down so we stepped on the island and under the cover of some hemlocks to stay dry, have a drink and talk strategy. Kaliegh's strategy was to go get a warm breakfast but from scouting we knew that birds would still be coming in through 10am so we decided to wait it out another hour. No more birds committed to the spread and none gave us a passing shot, but we knew there were still birds on the water near us so we were patient.

My lab Hannah showing Kaleigh the proper way to retrieve a duck

Busch pilot decided to sneak around the edge of the swamp and see if the birds would flush and they did. First was a single, then 3 more, then 4 more then the final two and none offered a shot for Kaleigh but they did for Ethan and once again he came up blank. Ethan was having a tough morning but he wasn't down and out by any means.

We packed it in and headed for breakfast and when we weren't stuffing food in our mouth we were discussing the morning hunt and figuring out how to make it better next time. Kaleigh decided to forgo the afternoon hunt but Boulder Bass and Ethan broke out the Kayaks and hit another pond where Ethan finally connected on some wood ducks making.

Lots of ducks were seen, a couple take and a few missed. Lots of opportunities to teach and learn as well as laugh and lots of good memories were created. Now that is what a youth hunting training day should be.  It was great to share the Passion!

5 comments:

  1. Congratulations to Kaleigh! What a great story and wonderful time spent with your daughter!

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  2. Congrats to both your daughter and your friends son! Early hunting memories that will last a lifetime. Great job to everyone!

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  3. Congrats on a great morning!

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  4. Great job! I hope my neighbor and I can take his daughter out for the November youth day. Hopefully the buffle heads will fly as well.

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  5. w00t w00t! Great stuff & congrats to Kaleigh!

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