The gathering of hunters took place at the Big Chicken in Tekamah, Nebr. around 5 AM. Sixteen weary eyed hunters slid into the restaurant for breakfast and coffee and talk about the coming hunt that was going to take place. Optimism ran really high as was the usual case for the opener. By 6 AM the vehicles were heading out to the lake to experience the first day of duck season.
The temperature wasn’t exactly cool, but still a 50 degree temp with a northerly flow made the morning acceptable. The only things that were a bit of a problem were the mosquitoes. They were still present and swarmed around a hunter as he slid into his boots and camo outer wear.
The walk to the pits made for a pleasant surprise as the lake was packed with ducks. 40 acres of quacking and swirling about in the dim light was an exciting experience. That meant when we walked toward the pits along the walkway, they would all get up and fly away to safer quarters. They would return as always has been the case, but when this happens we always have phenomenal shooting.
Eight hunters to a blind with two dogs in each dog pit behind the blinds waited for the opening to begin when the clock hit the right time. The birds that had left were already trying to come back. In the dim light it was hard to distinguish the specie other than the teal that made their presence known by flying over the top of the pits at jet speed and swooping away again. It was almost like the lake was filling up again, and they had never gone far. The wind was right out of the north, light and variable, and everyone was very quiet as the birds could hear talking in the metal blinds. They are almost like a megaphone and the sound will carry.
Birds of every specie native to our area were in the decoys. When the bell rang for the first day of duck season, the call came out, “Take em,” and up they jumped into the air. We had a field day of excellent duck shooting. Gadwall, pintails, widgeon, teal, and a few mallards were in the bag. The dogs went right to work and birds downed close to the blinds were gathered by the hunters. Then back into the pits we went. In a few minutes flocks began to work the decoys, but were flying a little higher and would circle, lock up their wings, but not always commit. Calling was kept to a minimum as we let them lock up and move close to gun range. Then a feed call or a chuckle was used.
This procedure was repeated over and over as the birds worked the lake and the decoys. By 8 AM the action thinned a little as the birds became more wary and got a lot smarter. Flying high and locking up their wings, the birds then circled as if to come in. This kept everyone on their toes. They became smart after feeling the sting of steel in their bottoms and stayed away.
To our surprise what happened next was totally unexpected. We had migratory ducks dropping down out of the sky for a drink. They must have been flying all night and were tired and thirsty. What they see from their altitude and distance is a 40 acre lake of wide open water. This is inviting for the ducks and the club was all to ready to accommodate the new arrivals.
By 10 AM the sky became void of any traffic and a count was done. For 16 hunters each a mix bag of birds was harvested and the opening day came to a conclusion.