Brad, my soon to be son-in-law, Mike Mitchell, who was marrying Layla’s Daughter, Laura, and me left Houston bound for my Deer lease in McCulloch County, Texas. Our objectives were for Mike and Brad to shoot a Deer, maybe all of us shoot a few Quail, for me to try to decoy some Ducks into a big spring fed stock tank, and last, for me to pick up a new kitten from Mrs. Robinson, the rancher’s Wife.
The first morning the boys shot their Deer and I had some fabulous Duck shooting, noticing that the Ducks, when shot at, would make speed to another stock tank on the ranch. I filed this away for the next morning’s hunt and that afternoon was spent processing the Deer and chasing Quail with Gus, my Brittany Spaniel.
The next morning, Sunday, was cold, right at freezing and I went out and hunted with the boys, but we weren’t successful at shooting a Deer. We decided to jump shoot some Ducks so I told them what I had noticed about the flight pattern the previous morning and we decided to check that particular tank last.
That “particular” tank was on the side of a hill and was almost 5 foot deep along its north bank with a very convenient “sneak up” place on the south. It was about a half-mile from the main ranch house, but that wouldn’t be a problem since the rancher and his wife would be at Church. We planned our “sneak”, agreed not to shoot them on the water, but to let them rise up into the air. Then we would sit back and let Gus, who was an excellent retriever, “fetch ‘em”.
We drove within a hundred yards of the tank, loaded up and started our “sneak”, that ranged from crab walking, to hunched over walking, to crawling, and arrived at the shooting spot, rose up, and up came the Ducks, hundreds of them. Bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, we all shot at once and I thought, “Where did they all come from?” Splash, splash, they were raining down onto the water, Mallards, Pintails, Gadwalls, Widgeons, Teal, all the varieties of “puddle” Ducks, all good eating, but so many of them.
There were a lot of Ducks on the water dead, many cripples that we dispatched, twenty-five or thirty in all, and with the complicated bag limits, one Pintail, one Mallard Hen, not more than a combination of Red Heads and Canvasbacks (luckily we didn’t have one of these), we would be close to, or exceeding, our limits. Ouch!
I set Gus about the business of retrieving. Out he paddled, secured one in his mouth and paddled back to shore. Repeating this once, more, then back into the water, securing another Duck and he spit it out! He swam over to another, picked it up and spit it out! Obviously, he didn’t like the way the Ducks tasted. He paddled back to shore, got out of the water, came over to me and shook the water off of his coat, his signal that he was finished retrieving. So much for the excellent retriever, we now had to figure how to get those Ducks out of the near freezing water.
Mike, in true, soon to be so n-in-law fashion, volunteered saying, “I’ll wade out and get ‘em.” Breathing a hidden sigh, I quickly agreed, Brad following suit. Mike stripped down to his shorts and waded out . At the same time I turned around and looked toward the ranch house, and to my horror, a green, official looking, pickup was parked by the back door. I alerted the guys, “We’ve got to get those ducks in quick.” Mike retrieved them, and we dumped the decoys out of my two toe sacks and filled both with ducks.
By our quick count we had 22 Ducks and were over our limit. Maybe our guns wouldn’t be confiscated. The green pickup was still there.
To be continued…