Blinds are brushed, water is pumped, the leaves have changed, the north winds are blowing, and Duck Season is in full swing!!! We are about three weeks into the season now, and the weather has gone from one extreme to the other.
The first two weeks of the season were characterized by abnormally warm conditions. The temperatures were in the 70's for the majority of it and we even saw a day of 86 degrees. The summer ducks were here in good numbers, though. Pintails, Teal, Wigeon and Gadwalls all made guest appearances at Habitat Flats. The hunting started out well overall, but we had to work for it! The full moon the first part of November coupled with warm temps had the ducks moving heavily before and after shooting time...and then came the big BLAST!
A major cold front swept out of Alaska, across prairie Canada, the Dakotas, Minnesota, and dipped into the Central Midwest. Our temperatures went from abnormally warm to well below average. A major push of Mallards rode the stiff North winds of the big storm. Ice eaters are rolling to ensure open water and the hunting has been nothing short of phenomenal! Greenheads falling feet flipped out into the decoys everyday have been a very welcomed sight. I enjoy a good mixed bag early in the season, but I prefer to shoot Mallards. They are here in good numbers and this is what I look forward to and work so hard for all year.
This season marks the official passing of the torch in my kennel. At 13 years old, Ruff's hips and health are failing him fast. I was able to get him to the blind on a 76 degree afternoon and watch him pick up one last greenhead. It broke my heart to watch, but I am grateful for the opportunity to watch him do it one last time. Ruff is now officially retired. His 18 month old son, Ki, now gets the call everyday. It's bittersweet to see the end of an incredible career for old Ruff, but warms my heart to see his son following in his footsteps. There will only ever be one Ruff, but I see a lot of the same attributes in Ki that Ruff had. He is really coming along, steady, handling well, and doesn't have any quit in him. Even though it is only mid November, he has already had a few mornings breaking ice. He is going to be a good one and I am excited to watch him fill Ruff's pawprints.
I hope all of your seasons are off to a wonderful and safe start. Best of luck in the field and have a safe and Happy Holiday Season!!