Decoys in the Water
Found Private Pond, Landowner Very Gracious
After our short wheat stubble hunt, members of our group got directions to a local farmer who loves duck hunters. So we all drove on out of town, and eventually located his home. Eventually, that is because most of the roads in this neck of the prairie do not have signs. They are a certain number of miles out of town. So the directions from the dude in the liquor store (where else would you get contact info???) was – - – “like about eighteen miles south of town, turn left go to the end of the road and turn left again, it’ll be the first house on the left.”
Yeah, well with five different guys counting, guess how many variations on about 18 you get? But we eventually got there. And we chatted with Mr. Wolf and heard all about the high water in North Dakota, and the guys from Wisconsin that hunted on his place last year, and a lot more stuff that I don’t recall. But Mr. Wolf was one heck of a great guy, and pointed us toward two different ponds on his farms, and said with a wind like this, we ought to go to the southern one, and see how the birds were flying there.
So we did. And when we caught a glimpse of a little creek mouth feeding into said pond, with about a hundred ducks of various flavors ducking in and out of the cattails, we thought we ought to wander on down there. And old Mr. Wolf’s directions had pointed us to another little slice of duck hunter’s paradise. It turns out that the “pond” was more like a lake, with an open water area of eighty or a hundred acres. There were flocks of ducks sitting all over the open part of the lake. Many of these were diver ducks. But there were puddle ducks, and geese and sandhill cranes in the area as well.
Now here is another little tidbit of info for those dear readers that are not really into waterfowling: diver ducks are ducks that feed primarily by *diving* under the water, and finding food down under, grabbing it and bringing it to the surface to eat it. It could be vegetable, or it could be animal in nature. And when you ask a salty old waterfowler like Uncle Milton about the flavor of ducks, the preferred table fare is from the vegetarian branch of the duck world. The ones that eat things like fish, or snails or polly-wog tails – umm, that would be the *diver* ducks, they are NOT in the preferred table fare group. Puddle ducks ARE the preferred table fare ducks.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but ducks that eat fish can taste a little fishy, and usually they must be marinated for weeks and weeks in vinegar and worchester, or wine, or lemon juice. The puddle ducks, like mallards, teal, wood ducks and gadwalls lead a mostly vegetarian lifestyle, and (typically) eat by tipping upside down in shallow (i.e.-puddle) water, and they can be eaten just plain old grilled. Or whatever.
So We Got to Shoot Some Ducks Over Decoys in the Water
Here is the short of it: We saw all them duck down there in the cattails, and we grabbed our stuff and ran down there and scared them all out. (Well, if you consider what some old dudes in waders and carrying bags of decoys, a gun, shells and swamp stools might call “running”, heh). We pitched out our *stools* which is what waterfowlers call their decoys, and pulled up a swamp stool, and waited. And what makes North Dakota a waterfowler’s dream is that after you scare them ducks off, (IF you don’t shoot at them) well they just kind of come winging on back to see what all the commotion was about. In small groups of like three or five, they come on back around. And then you can blast away. And after you get yourself back in shape and quit poking holes in the sky, you actually drop a duck or two.
(Note: “poking holes in the sky” is what all of Uncle MiIlton’s partners were doing when they fired their guns, it is *duck-hunter-ese* for missing). Heh, heh.
And it is extremely probable that we didn’t even need to put decoys out, but it is a time honored duck hunting tradition, so we did it. And it is much cooler when the dead duck hit the water, and the dog retrieves them, if there are a few decoys there. It is a mental imaging thing, you see. And that is what memories, and old hunting stories are made of. More hunting stories to follow…