We love reading about other hunters’ hunts…especially on Christmas Day! Here is just a feel-good story from a Washington state hunter in 2003 from refugeforums.com for the bird hunters out there. Merry Christmas!
A couple years ago on Christmas day I had one of my most memorable hunts…
I woke on Christmas morning and enjoyed opening presents and had nice breakfast with my wife. It had been cold and freezing rain for a few days, but the weather was warming and it was overcast and still. Around noon, with my wifes blessing, I loaded up the boat with my gear and headed to the river with my dog Hailey for our traditional Christmas day hunt. The roads were as slick as I had ever driven on… Glare ice still covered all the roads.
Cars littered the ditches everywhere.
As I rounded a right hand corner with my boat in tow, I looked out my left rear mirror to see my 14-foot boat and trailer sliding sideways and trying to catch me.
After a nerve-wracking drive I finally made it to the boat launch.
As I was backing the trailer down into the water, another rig with two hunters pulled up. They were unfamiliar with the area and asked me where some good places to hunt were. I had hunted the previous weekend and had done well at an island a few miles upstream from the launch. Being in the Christmas spirit, I told them about the island. I then launched the boat and headed upstream.
When I approached the island I was amazed at the numbers of birds in the area. I was scaring up wave after wave of mallards as I ran along the shoreline… the birds just circling and landing back down again. Astonished, I quickly pulled the boat into the beach in an area that hundreds of birds had gotten up out of.
Birds were everywhere as I started throwing out decoys into the shallow water. I realized after setting the first 7 or 8 decoys that this was going to be one of those special days… Birds were still attempting to land, with Hailey, the boat and myself in the middle of 8 decoys. Hailey was whining with excitement.
After throwing out just a dozen instead of my usual 6 dozen decoys, I hurriedly camoed the boat and hastily fashioned a blind out of a driftwood stump on the beach.
Mallards filled the air and were coming from every direction… Hailey and I sat in awe of the sight.
I looked up to my left to see a flock of 20-30 mallards, wings cupped, dropping from the heavens. It took me three shots, but I crumpled 2 fat greenheads from the flock. Hailey was just starting work on what was to be a very busy day…
The other group of hunters had set up on the far side of the island about 200 yds from where I was. For some reason, known only to the duck gods, the birds were avoiding them and were locking onto my decoys from the stratosphere.
Hailey barely made it back to the blind with her second bird when I dropped another greenhead into the water. As she swam to the dead bird, I passed on several hens that flew into the decoys as if on suicide missions. Just when I though that it doesn’t get any better that this, I noticed a glimmer of silver from the leg of the third drake I had shot. Sure enough… a banded bird!
The shooting was fast and furious after that. 4 more greenheads and I had filled my limit. I looked at my watch… 12:45. I had launched the boat at 12:00 noon.
My neighbors on the island had not been so lucky. They had only shot a couple times and gotten one bird. I guess we’ve all been there before…
As I sat there watching birds continue to drop into my decoys, Hailey gave me that ” We’re not done yet” look. With that, I hiked to the other side of the island and invited the neighbors to share my good fortune. “Just bring your guns and shells…” and they followed Hailey and I back to my blind. They didn’t have a dog.
With my gun unloaded, I called, and my new found friends shot , as they picked out the greenheads from the incoming flocks. At one time there were 5 birds down and I acted as a retriever as Hailey went after a cripple that was headed downstream in the swift current.
My calling is sometimes suspect, but I felt like world class caller that magical afternoon.
After another 45 minutes of fast paced action, they had filled their limits as well. 13 drakes and a hen that ” Must have changed sexes on the way down”.
As we sat on the shoreline admiring our bounty, mallards still swarmed the air, some circling then diving into the decoys, others rocketing in with no hesitance.
Hailey was exhausted… but if dogs could smile, she was grinning ear to ear.
My neighbors were ecstatic. They had never had a hunt quite like this before
After picking up decoys and saying our goodbyes I headed home to a very understanding and wonderful wife.
Later that evening, with my dog Hailey curled up in front of the crackling fireplace, and my wife in the kitchen preparing our traditional Christmas Dinner, I realize how blessed my life is, and look forward to the promise that another New Year brings…