Finding time or, more accurately, inclination to write is proving to be more of a challenge than I thought.
One observation- duck hunting this year has been strange and slow. I hunt on a naturally flowing (not so much dam controlled) river in the desert. Most years, I cherry-pick a few drake malards over the course of a season of half-a-dozen or so hunts over decoys. Most of the birds seem to be coming in to loaf in slack water or on sandbars. Every year, the river changes a bit- bars move, the channel shifts, and the birds seem to prefer different areas. This year I just haven't been able to get on the birds. Competition with other hunters has hurt a bit, but I've spent a couple of mornings with what felt like a good set up and few birds come over and almost none come in. I'm not as far along the learning curve as I thought I was.
One thing I enjoy about hunting and fishing is the learning curve. Taking up a new type of chase involves new gear, new techniques, and new animal behaviors. I hunted elk for years before my first success, following years became increasingly successful, although not, and probably never, to the point that I don't go a season without an elk, even with a license for a cow elk. Learning spring turkey hunting required many weekends in the mountains, trying to find populations of birds and trying to determine their vertical migrations. I got to the point where I could get into birds most years (a recent drought has wreaked havoc with turkey populations in the area I hunt), even if don't succeed in calling a gobbler all the way in that often. Similarly, my first season duck hunting was mostly an exercise in trying different things in different areas, while tramping around a lot looking for birds. Anything coming in to the decoys was more a matter of grace than skill. Now, some five years on, I thought I had things pretty well dialed in, but must conclude I was wrong. I need to invest more time in scouting and trying different things.
While learning a new chase is fun, I will admit to an equal or greater satisfaction in having a reasonable degree of competence in a particular sort of chase. Being able to chose to hunt or fish for species x and having y place to do it, with a reasonable chance of success, makes a fellow feel pretty right with the world. I wouldn't even presume to claim mastery of any sort of hunting or fishing, but I do all right by my own undemanding standards. Two weekends left in which to chase ducks, without a little encouragement I'll just have to move to winter pike or trek on over to the San Juan to see if I remember how to do that.
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