Duck season opened last weekend but I didn't make it out until this past Saturday. I was looking forward to see how Booker the Chessie would handle his first duck hunt and I have to say, my expectations were pleasantly exceeded. We got the decoys out and he settled into the blind with no problems. We got buzzed by a couple of bunches of ducks and he was busy watching the birds, sometimes seeing them before I did. Of course, being a bird dog, Booker doesn't distinguish between cranes, crows, hawks or blackbirds. If it's close and flying, you can feel the mental pressure from the dog to "shoot!".
you got to watch close or they'll sneak up on you.
I started off on an embarrassing note; we had a bunch of teal blast through the decoys, then circle around and come back through. I stood up, swung, and missed. Booker charged out and insisted on checking every single decoy to see if it was the bird he was sure had been downed. Poor guy, he's going to have to get used to hunting with me, where every shot by no means indicates that a bird will be falling. After having to wade out to bring him back in from where he was still looking for a bird, I leashed him up. The next couple of opportunities, he tried breaking at the shot but furthered his acquaintance with the command/suggestion "whoa" courtesy of a stout blind support the leash was looped to. Once I did knock down a bird- off he went, having marked the fall and returning the duck to a couple of feet short of the blind before returning to the water to look for more. Retrieving is still not perfect.
We had a bunch of ten mallards, all but one drakes, circle us a couple of times then put in a couple hundred yards up stream. They swam down a bit, then headed back up and could not be convinced to join the decoys. After pretty much everything had stopped flying for an hour or so, Booker got bored-
so I told him we'd sneak those ducks. I leashed him up and we crept up a dry side channel and then through the cockleburrs until we got to about where they ought to have been. I stowed the leash and then we eased up to the bank to have the whole batch, plus a couple more, jump up. I took the closest drake and Booker made a great retrieve, swimming across the current to nab the cripple in a very decisive manner then bring him right back to hand-
A couple of birds and high note to end the day on. I'm going to have to really make an effort to get out this year.
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