Back when ducks took up more of my time than ruffed grouse, we had a near perfect system set up. Our family owned a cottage right beside a bay, so close that boats could be rolled up tracks into the cellar for storage. I kept a duck boat in there, fully loaded with decoys and a motor on the back, always ready to go. A friend named Peter would usually accompany me, and, while it was still dark outside, we’d roll that boat into the water and go hunting.
One December, on a particularly dark Saturday morning, we arrived and walked down to the water, all set to open the doors and roll the boat out. But the bay was frozen. With no light, we couldn’t guess how far the ice went out, so we started tossing rocks. They’d always land with a “boink”, and then bounce along, never a splash. We walked out onto the ice a short distance and stamped our feet. It felt solid, but that was as far as we dared go.
|My homemade decoys|
We had no plan B.
We tossed a bag of decoys into the back of the truck and went for breakfast somewhere. There was no sense looking for a place to set up in the dark.
As we drove around that morning, it looked like every bit of water had turned solid. But bouncing along an old tote road, we spotted a bend in a small river where the current was fast enough that the water stayed open. But you could hardly see it for all the ducks and geese crowded into that little opening.
I parked the truck and we grabbed our guns and the bag of decoys. As we walked down to the river, all the ducks scattered in a loud ruckus. Thinking back on it, I don’t think we really needed to bother with the decays.
No sooner did we start throwing the decoys into the river and the ducks started returning, in ones and twos, some up along the river and others over the tree tops. We knelt in the weeds and both soon shot our limit. The day turned out to be the fastest duck shooting I’ve ever had.