Opening day of duck season …. IT’S HERE!!!
This is the day that you work out the kinks so that you are a well oiled hunting machine by the time the red legged mallards arrive.
1. Check Your Decoys
About 25% of my decoys come from other resources; they have names on them like …. Brotherton, Lee, Jenkins, Stewart, Saucier, Gaspard, etc. I spend several hours each year scratching off these unknown labels and re-writing my name to the bottom of each decoy. I then make sure that these newly altered decoys are placed into the middle areas of my spread.
2. Inspect Your Boat
No other type of hunting contains more variables, more unplanned events, and more things that could go wrong, than water fowling. Most duck boats spend the majority of their time sitting on the trailer in the garage or in the yard. Be sure to make an inspection of both the boat and the motor. Riveted aluminum boats have a tendency to develop leaks during the summer months and outboards seem to attract dirt-dobbers, wasp, ants, and more. Nothing is more frustrating on opening day than a motor that won’t run or a boat that leaks. I never really worry about the trailer lights as I am on the road long before most drivers are up.
3. Check Your Waders
I have found a way to combine checking my decoys, boat inspection, and wader inspection into a single step operation. I drag out the garden hose, fill up the boat with water, then throw a few decoys in and while the boat fills with water I climb in while wearing my waders. By the way, this is a great way to check your trailer tires and bearings. The weight of the water always seems to reveal any trailer tire weakness and wheel bearing short comings. Oh yeah, and any leaks in the waders.
4. Fine Tune Your Spinning Wing Decoys
Replace and/or recharge the batteries. Straighten and synchronize the wings of your spinning wing decoys. There is no greater distraction than having one wing with the white side up while the other wing rotates with the white side down.
5. Prepare Your Retriever
There is more to preparing your retriever for a full day’s hunt than just throwing bumpers for him to retrieve. You have to prepare him for what will actually take place in the blind. I begin several weeks in advance by standing at my kitchen counter with an open can of beanie-weenies, or a pop-tart. As if by accident I drop bits onto the kitchen floor and record my retriever’s response time that it takes to locate and scarf up the dropped food. Your dog’s reaction time should be fast enough to keep food from being underfoot should a brace of ducks swing over the decoys.
6. Inspect and Clean Your Gun
Do I really need to expand on this topic? If you are like most duck hunters, you will be spending Friday night wiping down your gun (several times) and packing, then re-packing your blind bag.
7. Pack Your Snacks and Drinks
Please refer to my previous blog on the proper etiquette required
8. Go Over All Hunting Regulations
Not really, I just added this step in case there are law enforcement persons who can read this blog.
9. Waterfowl I.D.
We have a designated I.D. guy; he is usually the first one out of the blind and back at camp. All harvested waterfowl are identified by this person and should someone have accidentally harvested a “wrong” bird, it is then given to someone whose bag limit can accommodate the addition. Oops, I forget ….. there may be law enforcement persons who can read this blog. Let me refer you to this website where you can obtain a waterfowl I.D. Chart http://www.ducks.org/hunting/waterfowl-id you can even download their mobile app for identifying ducks.
10. Arrive Early
On opening day you must arrive at the duck camp early. Why not, it’s not like you are sound asleep at home. You have probably awakened several times through the night and checked your clock. You have most likely been up 30 minutes before the alarm is set to go off. So, you might as well drive on down to the duck camp and visit with your hunting buddies that have spent the same sleepless night. ..... Now stop surfing the web, get dressed and go on down to the duck camp.
P.S. - Remember to take your gun