Went waterfowl hunting for the first time in 15 years with my husband. And his reloading friend who has never done it. New state, new regs, new experience…and we never went on our own before. Always had someone more experienced along to call, set decoys etc (I’m a wildlife artist and in the past would get invitations to hunt from wealthy clients, or guides who wanted some of my work.) Sooo, we learned a lot! Remembered what others had done before, and applied it to the present situation. Several trials, a few errors and some success. Harvested both Canadas and bluewing teal (small and fast) in the short early season. A new sense of confidence…

We have the blind until late season ends in February, so will continue to hunt and learn. It’s handicap accessible for my husband and our friend. Being in God’s outdoors, watching the stars fade and the sun come up, hearing the haunting cries of geese on the wing, and smelling the aroma of gunsmoke is healing to the soul.
Some notes:
Set out an egret confidence decoy off to the side of our goose and duck sets. Worked! In fact, the first hour, a live egret came squawking loud curses on its head, wheeled around right in front of our blind, and flew muttering and squawking back along the shore. So it obviously fooled the real thing, and the waterfowl who came later.
Locals claimed that Canadas will not come in over top of decoys. Well, many DID. Myth busted…
I had heard for years that waterfowl always land into the wind. Some came in ON the wind….Myth busted
The teal landed among the goose decoys. Hmmm. Maybe waiting for an invitation from the teal decoys to join them. Interesting tidbit: We had to leave one morning, and our friend was hunting alone. Loaded for geese. Only tiny teal came in and he refrained from shooting so he wouldn’t demolish them. But the teal landed among the goose decoys, then swam over to the teal decoys. After a little teal talk, they left. Our consensus later was that the real ducks thought the decoys were downright unfriendly, not responding to their speech. Must learn “teal”…

If we were in a survival situation, the birds would have provided huge amounts of down and small feathers from the breasts and bellies. Good for quilts or coats. Have some great meat in the freezer for later. Great memories and more to come.