Took Hattie out for her first hunt today. She is a chocolate lab born last thanksgiving and the first dog I have trained by myself, without family or professional help. Puppy blunders aside, we had a special hunt I'll never forget. Hunting the upper Midwest most of my life I had been accustomed to decoying flocks of mallards, having hens quack back at your calling, working a group 8 or 10 passes before one commits and brings the whole flock in.. nothing beats it. After 8 years in Texas, today was the first hunt that resembled what I grew up knowing 'duck hunting' as.
30 degree morning, stiff north wind, not another hunter out (have no clue why) start working a flock at about 7:45. In mallard fashion they pass straight over the blind and swing downwind. Hit them as they start quartering and a hen locks up, pulls the rest of the flock around. I look over at Hattie and she's shaking with her eyes glued on the flock. Make a pass overhead about 35yds.. let em go, hit them with a soft call again and the first few birds peel off. 20 seconds later we had about 20 Mallards 20 yds away over the decoys. (Sidebar this was my first summer carving decoys, so I was hunting over 5 hand carved and painted teal, hunting public I usually go with dew decoys, where the ducks want to be if possible. So cool when you see birds actually committing to something you made.) Stand up and drop 2 greenheads in the decoys, and immediately look over to Hattie. She had made her way out of the blind about 5 feet and was shaking looking back at me. (So happy she didn't break!). Gave her the fetch! and she delivered 2 greenheads to hand like she'd been doing it all her life. One of those moments where you wish there was a big video camera in the corner, but soaked it all in anyway. Long winded, but I hope things like that are why most people duck hunt, can't beat the memories
Ended the day with another teal and a redhead, I seem to recall a thread not too long back about how dumb redheads are, and this one fit the bill. Landed 50 yds or so upstream from us, and Hattie took off after it (she had to make at least 1 puppy move today
) It took off, cruised the marsh and came right back into the decoys
didn't work out so well for him.
Oh well, thanks for the read, have a great season, and remember why we do it.