We had flown into Saskatoon late Saturday and spent the night near the airport so we didn't have to rush on Sunday. As we made the ride down on Sunday afternoon from Saskatoon, where we flew into late Saturday and stayed the night, to our temporary home of Bladworth took just over an hour but it was an hour that just added to the excitement and anticipation that had already built up the last couple of months. As we drove south along Highway 11 we were greeted by fields filed with geese, way too many to count while driving along at 100 kph, that's about 65 mph for the rest of us. Damn near every single pothole that had water, had ducks or geese on it and there was a wide variety of them as well.
Both Bubba and I were up before the alarm and had already double checked our gear before the General came stumbling out of his bedroom with a large grin on his face and mumbled something about "who needs a damn alarm with you two around!" The was not Gerry's first trip to Saskatchewan for Waterfowl or hunting with the owner Jeff of Living Sky Outfitters so he obviously wanted a little more sleep.
We were one of two groups of 5 hunting this week. Our crew consisted of Me, Jim (bubba), Gerry (The General), Brian (The Decoy Killer) whom are all from Connecticut and an acquaintance that we hunt with in Maryland we call Pintail Pete. The other 5 man crew were good old southern boys from Georgia. It was 22 degrees out and it didn't bother us northern boys as much as it did the southern crew. The game plan was for our crew to hunt snow geese, while the southern crew would hunt ducks and dark geese.
So we piled all our gear and us into one of the suburbans and our outfitter Jeff lead the way to the field we would be hunting that morning. We had a familiar face along with us as our guide was someone we hunt with regularly in Maryland and he is a great guy, who works hard and has fun and is very good at his job. After about a 20 minute ride we turned off the gravel road and into a cut wheat field and drove to a spot in the middle of if it. We stopped Jeff and Billy got out and discussed the setup for the morning and then came back and gave us some direction and we went to work putting out a 450 decoy spread that consisted of full body snows, canadas, mallards, pintails, some snow goose silos and a couple of robo ducks along with 6 layout blinds and an electronic snow goose caller. With the 7 of us getting the spread out and the blinds brushed didn't take long at all which is nice when you have guys that hunt together back home and know the drill.
As we settled in to our layouts waiting for the birds to start moving we started with some excited conversation and a little teasing. It wasn't long after that the sky started to lighten up and show signs of life. Game on! It didn't take long for a 3 ducks to come screaming into the spread and I am happy to report they all stayed. I like staying ducks and hate those leaving ducks! Off in the distance you could hear the sound of snow geese getting ready to lift off and due to the flat terrain we could see a very large group of snows way, way off in the distance and highlighted by the rising sun get up from the roost and head out. These were not the geese that were using the field we were in, but it definitely drove the excitement level up as we watched a couple thousand snows fill the sky.
The white tornado of snows willow leafing into the spread never occurred, but we watched thousands and thousands of snows fly over our spread heading to a new field and it was definitely heart breaking and frustrating, but also breath taking. Just an incredible sight to see and the noise level was deafening and something I ended up hearing in my sleep that night. It was so loud that the electronic caller that sat just a few yards away could not be heard over the natural sounds coming from the sky. We did pick off some snows as smaller groups liked the spread and tried to join in. We also picked up some more ducks as well as some dark geese including a lone Speckle-belly. For us it was a GREAT morning, for our Guide and outfitter not so much.
We packed up the rig and headed back to barn and on the ride out we flushed some huns along the side of the road, which we thought about trying for and as we were stopped there discussing a game plan we were greeted by all those snows that flew over our spread heading our way and back to the roost. It made for some nice video. We also found the rest of those stubborn white birds on our ride out to the main road as they just sat feeding in another field. We had to see 20,000 or more snows that morning.
Back at the outfitters headquarters we talked a bit about the morning hunt and listened to what the scouters had seen that morning, discussed plans for the afternoon and then headed out to get some lunch and a quick nap.
Due to the fact that hunting geese in the afternoon was closed for another day here in our part of Saskatchewan we set out for an afternoon duck hunt in a pea field. We setup an a-frame blind in some tall grass on the edge of the field and brushed it in really good and then set out 4 dozen full bodies duck decoys consisting of mosly Mallards with some Pintails mixed in. Two Robo ducks were placed in the spread as well as a dozen geese for some confidence decoys.
Seeing we couldn't hunt geese on this evening we most certainly expected to see plenty of them and we did. We even had them landing out in our spread and farther out in the field and of course the ducks wanted to land with them. When that happens you just have to get out of the blind and walk them geese up and get them out of here. We even had 3 speckle bellied geese land on the edge of the duck spread and they stick around for a few minutes, until a few ducks showed up and committed only to become staying ducks!
It was a very interesting afternoon hunt with thousands of ducks working by the spread and enough of them committing to it so that we could put 34 ducks in the bag to finish off a 5 man daily limit of 40 ducks. Many of these would become dinner the next night.