We’re looking out our window at a Great Bay that is completely ice free, a sight in late December you’d never see just a few years back!
We grew up close enough to the bay to hear the gunshots that were fired by the waterfowlers and also the roar of the huge flocks of waterfowl that would flush off water when pushed by a boat. The roar of the wings was amazing! And if you happened to be in a waterfowling “sneak” boat, the birds would often come so close you could feel the breeze that all those wings were creating.
In those days, before the chemical treatment of waste that was dumped into this watershed, there were sunken fields of eel grass that were magnets for the waterfowl to feed on. There weren’t a lot of waterfowlers back then but on almost any weekend day there would be at least one “sneak” boat that would keep the waterfowl stirred-up. They would provide plenty of action for hunters like us that set big flocks of decoys and were decent waterfowl callers.
There were plenty of days when we’d go through a box of shotgun shells. Limits were liberal and some of the diving ducks that were often referred to as “trash ducks” wouldn’t get a free pass over our decoys! They were fun to shoot and our dogs enjoyed retrieving them, but unlike the better eating ducks like mallards, blacks and teal, the divers were often turned into dog food when breasted out and cooked mixed with other commercial dog food.
Brad Conner, Tom Connors. Roy (Leap) Syphers and myself were usually partners, either building waterfowl layout boats or floating blinds, using 50-gallon drums from the junk yard for flotation.
Even though we had kind of a mishmash of decoys, we seemed to be able to draw plenty of ducks into range with what we had, with decoying flocks of divers, especially bluebills often in huge flocks, providing plenty of action and thrills.
With liberal possession limits and separate limits for some of the diving duck species, we often would come ashore with a pretty impressive load of dead ducks!
The diving ducks were not that tasty. But we learned how to make them at least edible and our dogs would often share in the cooked but tough parts that we would avoid eating when we had plenty of good duck breasts to eat.
Out of that group, the Dickster is the only one who is still actively out there when the season opens but this year may provide a challenge. Some of the other hunters are not apt to be hunting. Age has a way of doing that!
We’re not complaining. We’ve seen and been part of some of the most incredible waterfowl hunting you could ask for, We’ve hunted at least a dozen townships and several times we have enjoyed a waterfowl hunt in one of the Canadian provinces. Those were the days, my friends! We thought they’d never end!