Hunting Stories, Tips, and Tricks RSS
When I began waterfowl hunting I had no clue what I was doing. I didn’t know anything about decoys, duck calls, the gear to buy or strategies to employ. Most importantly, I didn’t know where to go. I knew ducks liked water. I knew they moved and migrated. But I just had to pick a random piece of public land with water and start there.
Nowadays I have several options to choose from, but I’m still very limited by what’s available. I don’t have connections to private land and I don’t have a dog which limits my choices significantly. I have to find areas that allow me to retrieve without the risk of falling in, and I have to contend with all the other public land hunters. This was and still is the reality of hunting in western Colorado. Unless you’re able and willing to drive several hours, you work with what you got, unless you have access to something that expands your reach.
Cue the arrival of the duck boat… A few years ago I agreed to bring a couple guys on a duck hunt that I had not met. I’m always reluctant to hunt with people I don’t know because of negative experiences I’ve had doing so. However this invite paid off in several ways. Justin invited John and John would later invite Lance who are now good friends of mine. I took them on a couple of hunts that were far from spectacular. We got along, shared a lot of the same values, and managed not to get in each other's way. The season ended and we talked about needing to find new areas. Then in the middle of the summer I got a call...
Another year, another tag, another hunt. Year after year we put in for the draw here in Colorado, hoping that we will have a chance to pursue deer and elk so that we can fill our freezers. We each typically draw a tag or two, and might even pick up a leftover tag or an over the counter tag. We make our plans, get everything ready, and set out with the hope of making the “I got one” phone call. But year after year there are many obstacles that must be overcome, many of which are completely out of our control. This year in particular has made this even more evident.
I drew a buck tag for units near my home in Grand Junction, Colorado. I’ve had this tag several years before and I was really looking forward to the opportunity. Since I was going to be hunting close to home, I knew I could probably hunt three or four days during the 10 day season. However, I am also a high school teacher and football coach, which makes getting out difficult. My weekends tend to get swallowed up by other obligations in the fall, and I can’t justify taking time off of work. So despite having the opportunity to hunt close to home in an area that I am familiar with, I don’t have time to scout or prepare in a way that would increase my chances. Instead, I would spend Friday night coaching, run home, get everything together, and figure out where I was going the following morning on my way to pick up coffee...
When searching for opportunities to successfully hunt waterfowl, it’s often necessary to adapt in order to overcome obstacles. Every die hard ‘fowler’ has developed strategies to circumvent challenges, because it’s necessary when chasing weary, migratory birds. One such strategy that we employ, we call a “boat float.” We load our gear onto a 12 foot jon boat, and with paddles in hand we ventured out in search of birds hiding in inaccessible locations.
This past weekend we did just that. I met with my friend Marshal at 4:30 a.m. and we drove our vehicles to an area in western Colorado that we have floated many times. We dropped my truck off at the location where we would pull out of the river, and drove his truck to the location that we would put in.
As we were getting ready Marshal noticed that a mouse had chewed a golf ball sized hole in his waders. It was his first time out this year, so he had just pulled his waders out for the first time. It’s not something you want to see, but we weren’t going to let something like that ruin our day. So we pulled our waders on, layered up, pulled the boat out of truck and placed it in the river.
We’ve done these floats many times throughout the years and most of the time all goes well. There’s always an element of danger involved, and that’s what makes it unique and exciting to us...