You Never Forget Your First

It’s too early to tell what kind of season it will be, but no matter what happens I doubt I’ll forget this, my first rice lease. Not a perfect location, not as much water as I’d like. But for this year, it belongs to me and my partners. No hoping for a draw, no checking in two-and-a-half-hours before shoot time , no sweat-lining, no getting your birds poached in free-roam. No ifs. It’s ours.

A sweeping view of our blind's north pond.

A sweeping view of our blind’s north pond.

Got out there late this Sunday, my first time hunting it, so missed the morning flight. As the sun crested, the sky was visited frequently by large flocks of geese, but few ducks, all high.

Early on, a flight of Wigeon swept up behind me and was gone too soon for a shot; one of the downsides of hunting alone, so often being off by those crucial few degrees and neck aching from a day of trying to cover all 360.

Heard other blinds on the property fire on a few rare flocks of dark shapes, saw a few fall. A guide was set up in force for snows just off the property, and his clients banged away freely, usually just when it looked like other geese might be headed my way. That part smacked of refuge hunting; the excitement that a couple of birds finally want to work your pond and BOOM BOOM, shots from somewhere else at something else ruin it. On my second lease, I think I’ll make sure there’s not a guide next door.

A small group of specks finally coasted up the center of our blind’s north pond. I took two shots at the one closest, crumpling it. The dog had her nose pointing toward the south pond, which wasn’t a problem; the powerful wind pushed that dead bird over my head and hers and halfway into that one. Other flights of specks stayed high, or had already learned that crossing checks can be fatal.

Just when it seemed like time to pack it up, a lone snow squawked nearby. I peered over the dog’s tent and there it was, practically suspended against the wind, a juvie blue that hadn’t yet been taught to fear a cleared section of check. I fired once, and again the wind carried the folded bird 70 yards down the line of brush between ponds.

By noon I was back at the truck, sharing some left over fried chicken with Schatzie, then on toward home. It would have been a good hunt anywhere, a speck and a blue on the strap, but that it was my first hunt on our lease made it one I won’t forget.

~ by SpeakingZenaphorically on November 4, 2013.

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