Pete Wyckoff will be headed north in early October for the Quacker Wacker annual Duck Camp. ALthough the location is secret, I will be sure to post the results from our camp. We hunt grouse and woodcock for a day and ducks for 2 days. Camp should be exciting this year as my family will be stopping by to check out how we are doing and we will have 6 hunters in camp. Belle and Gordon Setter “Sparty” will be doing the lions share of the bird locating and retreiving for the group. The cool fall should bring some migratory birds down for camp and we are excited at the possibility of a hunt focused around mallards, wood ducks, black ducks and ring-necked ducks. Check back in mid October for an update on how Duck Camp goes.
We are fully booked for this year’s layout hunts, but it’s not too early to inquire about next year!
A little scouting and conversation with a landowner provided a prime early season Canada Goose Hunt for Team Quacker Wackers. Pete Wyckoff assembled a group of friends for a hunt in a cattle pasture. Permission was granted by the landowner on Thursday prior to the Sunday hunt. A brief introduction and explanation of safety consideration and an offer of some of the game turned into a great hunting opportunity. The property is currently under pasture for production of beef cattle and the geese had been spending the middle of each day relaxing on the pond and picking grass in the pasture. Several days of scouting revealed a few teal using the pond and approximately 200 Canada Geese arriving mid-morning and staying for the majority of the day.
We got in early and set up our blind with about 3 dozen goose decoys and a handful of teal decoys. We watched geese fly most of the morning and had mallards, wood ducks, and wigeon work the decoys in the water. We also had a hen hooded merganser that decoyed three different times. Geese started to arrive around 10:30 am and we were more than ready for them. Due to narrow shooting lanes, the first flock landed unscathed and walked around the pasture in areas we couldn’t shoot. The second group landed with the first, but chose to walk right into the decoy spread. We let the lady of the group take the first shot as they took off before the rest of the group unleashed. The flock numbered about 15 birds and only 4 left the field that morning. We scratched out a few more and ended the day with 15 geese all together. It was a great early season hunt and a good tune-up for Belle who already had 8 teal retrieves under her belt this season.
Scouting for birds is the key to getting good spots and a friendly conversation with a landowner can lead to some really good hunts. My relationship with the landowner is continuing to improve and develop. Periodic contact with the landowners is essential to securing hunting opportunities and maintaining hunting opportunities. I see this landowner at least once a month in order to continue the relationship. My first encounter with him was 4 years ago in search of a turkey hunting property. He declined to let me hunt that year, but has decided that letting me on his property isn’t such a bad thing. He has refused the offer for the wild game that I take from his property and gets more enjoyment out of hearing my stories than any kind of physical gift can provide.
Do your work early and often and it will pay dividends. Stick to your ground rules and make them clear before each hunt so that your group doesn’t abuse the opportunity and you can realize high quality hunts day in and day out.
Captain Christian and Peter Wyckoff traveled to the west side of Saginaw Bay for opening Day of the Experimental Teal Season in Michigan. We scouted on Sunday night and saw very few teal flying around the marsh. Monday morning revealed 8 other parties within view. It was a beautiful warm morning and Belle was enjoying the early hunt hanging in the marsh beside us. As shooting time came and went, we decoyed numerous flocks of mallards and a few wood ducks, but no teal were seen in the marsh until after 8:30 am. Making sure we identified the teal before shooting, we passed on the first two singles and were rewarded with more birds later. The highlight of the morning was a flock of green-winged teal that pin-wheeled around us from behind and made a low and slow pass through the decoys. For the hunt, we bagged 5 GWT and 3 BWT and couldn’t have enjoyed a more scenic hunt. Pictures will follow soon.