It's officially mid-December and late waterfowl season is open. 20 years ago, even 10 years ago, duck and goose hunters in the Mid-Atlantic would wait for a giant freeze in the first 10 days of December that would lock up swamps, creeks, and marshes from Quebec to Ithaca to Allentown. Then, around December 10th, late waterfowl season would open and offer up world-class wingshooting for ducks, geese, and even marsh birds. Those days are gone.
The opening day of late waterfowl showed unusual promise for these recent warm years - 37 degrees, and mallards decoying into our spread just a few minutes before legal shooting time. They were wise enough to stay away after first light, but the daft little buffleheads came in for several visits, streaking into the decoys at speeds above 50 mph. We never got a shot off, and as some of you know about diving ducks, there is no getting them off the water once they've landed. And no, I'm not shooting a bufflehead on the water.
The River is a big river, and the mallards use its entire width when they prefer. Not so with resident Canada Geese. Fooled by our decoy spread that held promise of free, easy food in shallow water, a pair of absolutely huge resident geese decided to land just outside the decoys. We were shooting Hevi-Shot. They both hit the water upside down.
|Trouble comes back with the first goose|
|Long swim with a big goose|
|Old Man and the Geese|
And like that, it was over. The north wind picked up and the other geese hunkered down for the day. An action-packed day of hot wing shooting? Nope. But I'll take it. Winter - or something like it - is actually going to come to the Mid-Atlantic this year.