October 5th was opening day for ducks along the Missouri River north of Tekamah, Nebraska. This was an opener like no other that I have ever heard about.
If you went to the opener in the duck club in which I’m a member, you planned on leaving around 8:30 to 9:30 AM. The hunting was generally over by then. You meet at the Big Chicken for breakfast early in the morning and visit with other club members you have hunted with over the years. Then out to the blind(s) in the dark filling at least one with hunters and maybe two. You can hunt comfortably with 8 people in each blind. The club has three all in a row buried in the Missouri River black dirt. A word about that dirt later.
|Blue Winged Teal|
I never took many shells because it was over quickly, and as previously stated, I left anywhere from 8:30 AM to 9:30 AM. All that was along the river bottoms were local birds that had nested in the spring, stayed into the fall. They learn early. Once they have had their bottoms burned, they may fly over the pits, but so high that I am sure air traffic control must be reporting slow moving high altitude traffic. That is the way is had been in the past, but not this year.
When the hunters walked to the blinds, the lake was packed with ducks and geese. This was a good sign. They got up and swirled around, and then would set back down. As people climbed down into the pits, the birds all got up and left, but not for long.
|Green Wing Teal|
Flocks of teal, gadwall, wigeon, and pintails kept circling the lake landing and taking off. The quacking of the large group of ducks was outstanding, so there was absolutely no reason to use a duck call. As shooting time approached, the decision was made for everyone to stand up in the pit and lay their “shootin irons” outside the blind with the barrel pointed away. Teal are fast movers and with the northerly wind, it was not possible to get a good clean shot. As they circled into the wind to land near the decoys, their speed was greatly reduced. Then they were harvested.
When the time came, the ducks fell and were promptly retrieved by two fine labrador dogs. Junior and Jackson had their work cut out for them. Massive flocks of teal would fly past the blinds almost at eye level. As they circled back into the wind to land, they were considerably slower and the shot was called. At that time it was just before sunrise.
This constant decoying of ducks into the lake went on for almost ninety minutes until the sun started to show on the horizon. Before noon, limits were reached by the sixteen hunters. They picked up their harvest for the day and headed home. No one had ever had an opening day like this and what is more interesting, there was no shooting from the other blinds in the area. The other thought was that there was so much shooting at our blinds that no one could hear anything anywhere else. These were all birds that had migrated into the area. The local birds would have caught on very quickly and would not have hung around.
For me, it was a sad day. Lying at home in bed with a fever, cold and sore throat caused me to miss one of the most exciting days our club has ever had. With all the ducks and wetlands in our area, there will be some great shooting and great dining to follow.