It was, for a hunter, the perfect morning.
Scouting the afternoon before left us in a quandary, everywhere a duck could go on the ranch looked the same, but none of them looked particularly good. The state’s far-northeast counties broke out of a two-year drought last fall only to began a new one this summer. Lakes on the ranch are only a fraction of full or empty, depending on your outlook, and the managed wetlands were bone dry for the most part.
On the way Monday we got a call from a guide who has been having good hunts for mallards and pintails in Wood County since the cold weather arrived. That sounded promising. In comparison, ranch foreman Jeff Pennington told us that only a few ducks had been taken since the season opened, and that a couple of inches of rain were needed to feel the units. All of the units were chock full of sesbania, millet and milo, just waiting on water and the birds.
This is supposed to be a great year for Texas duck hunting. Record numbers of ducks are expected to come this way, and with little water in states like Kansas and Oklahoma there isn’t much to impede their approach.
Scouting in the evening can be difficult for hunting in the morning. Mid-day loafing ducks aren’t necessarily going to be in the same spot the next morning. Although we saw a sprinkling of gadwalls, mallards, teal and shovelers here and there, we opted to return to the biggest lake on the property. There had been 20 or so ducks sitting on the water making it the best wild guess option.
When full the lake is 20 acres in size. It had been drained for repairs and had yet to refill, making the upper end accessible.
And then we stood and stared at the low-level fog we hadn’t anticipated. There was no wind at all as the decoys sat flat on the water under the cover of the fog that was in no hurry to disappear.
We watched as ducks from either Lake Pat Mayse or the Red River flew sky-high off to distant feeding waters. Just a few days earlier country to the east had gotten a couple of inches of water and was probably attracting the birds.
Finally we had a pair of mallards give us a look. As Thomas worked the call one suddenly hit the brakes and started a drop straight down from 100 feet. I shot and that was one. Later a group of gadwalls worked us and we added a second.
A few more small flocks worked us as well, but never committed and were chased off by our frustration-induced sky busting.
On the other hand, it was a perfect morning … for rattling deer. So by 8 we had the neoprene waders off and rubber boots on, shotguns up and rifles loaded, and were headed into the woods for a different game.
It is still early in what is being advertised as the perfect hunting storm for Texas duck hunters.
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