DIck Pinney's Guidelines: Sea duck hunting is a rugged, demanding sport
OUR sea duck hunting buddy had notified me too late in last year's sea duck hunting season that he was giving it up because he honestly was not in the kind of shape that this rugged sport demanded. That was not easy for him to do and we really appreciated his telling us this but not the fact that it didn't give us time to corral another suspect for the job.So we went just about all of last fall not hunting much of anything after getting back from our couple of weeks at our northern Maine hunting camp. A couple times we wandered about the duck marshes, but not in that good shape myself, we finally decided that wasn't the best thing to be doing alone. It wasn't one of my best fall seasons.
This year, early on, we decided that we'd set up a duck and goose hunting blind on the property of an old school friend's farm that on some days had quite a lot of waterfowl working her cut corn fields. And we had an enthusiastic partner in my great-grandson, Kyle, who at age 14 was not just ready but quite able to take on the job of lugging decoys and chasing down cripples. He lives just a stone's throw from Jane and I but is very active in "ball'' sports so would only have limited time to hunt with me.
And my lost sea duck hunting partner had agreed that he'd go sit out in the field with me whenever it took his fancy.It was too easy to con him into helping me put a portable blind together, using about the same pattern as one we'd used quite successfully a couple of decades ago. It was a simple four sided portable blind with camo netting that we'd usually add some of the surrounding cover to. With our new blind the cover would be corn stalks, as we'd be setting up in a cut corn field.My time in building the blind amounted to a trip to the lumber yard and digging out some old camo netting. He put the blind together in record time and did an exceptional job in doing so.
In order to stake out some ground as ours, so to speak, we decided to put the blind up and set in somewhere near where we'd eventually hunt. We expected that with the blind there and plenty of other room for others to hunt in the same vicinity, we wouldn't be bothered with hunters that were apt to be too close to be safe as well as shooting at birds working our decoys.We were wrong. A couple of days into the early September special goose season we went to check to see if our blind had been blown down by the previous night's gale winds, we found that somebody had set up six Big Foot goose decoys within dangerous shooting distance from our blind.We'd had a similar experience years ago when set up for geese (with landowner's permission) in a cut corn field that had enough standing corn to hide in. Shortly before the legal shooting time we watched in amazement as a single hunter quickly set out three decoys just a hundred yards from where we had out about six dozen dekes.
Without discussing my mission to my hunting buddy, I hustled down the row of corn and accosted this guy, not in a threatening manner but telling him he didn't have much of a chance competing with out large spread and that he was close enough to either hurt us with stray shot or be hurt himself with our stray shot. We invited him to pull up his decoys and join us, which he quickly did.
We had a kick-butt goose hunt, with our new buddy shooting a limit of big honkers, his first goose ever. And we gained a long lasting and great relationship with him as a consequence.We recently wrote a note, put it in a plastic waterproof bag and staked in next to one of the decoys that our intruder had set out, inviting him (we hope not them) to hunt with us and suggested that he was too close to our blind. We left our phone number and address with the note.
We haven't heard from him yet and it looks like we may not. That will probably create a much different scenario. Isn't it a sad state of affairs that the old fashioned but wonderful hunting ethics of years gone by have been exchanged for a competitive and aggressive approach to a fun and traditional hunt?
Get out there and have a wonderful fall season. And be aware. Controversy doesn't belong in the wonderful world of waterfowl hunting.
Dick Pinney's column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Email him at DoDuckInn@aol.com.