My Makeshift Blind

Either hunting quail or still hunting, deer, I had walked over almost all of the 2,000 acres of our McCulloch County hunting lease. One thing I had noticed was that in the winter the stock tanks almost always had ducks on them and many times I would flush and even pop a couple of shots at them, in season of course.

Noticing one particular spring fed, stock tank, almost a full acre, with a tall dam on one end, that was nearly impossible to sneak, I had chosen this one for my first, formal duck hunt on our deer lease. This stock tank was long and narrow and the end where I would hunt had a rock bottom and was only a foot or two deep. Since the water was so shallow, I wouldn’t even need to take Gus to retrieve ‘em and he could rest up for the afternoon’s quail hunt. There were several mesquite trees around its edge and a rough blind wouldn’t be hard to throw together, then I could put my 12, plastic decoys to good use, decoys that had been used with good results in Texas, Arizona and Georgia!

In the dark, pulling on my well used hip boots, using dead mesquite limbs, I hastily scrambled a rough blind together, then set the decoys in two groups, placing a group of 4 on my right and the other 8 on my left, leaving a space between the two where the ducks could land. In my makeshift blind, squatting on one knee, I loaded my 20, gauge pump with high velocity 6’s, (lead shot because the Gulf coast was the only place where steel shot were required) and waited.

As shooting time neared, the 12 plastic decoys were bouncing on the ripples and I could already hear ducks quacking and whistling. Shooting time and the first ones to circle and set their wings were 5 sleek, graceful pintails, bam, bam, bam, my pump barked and 3 splashed into the water. With a minimum of calling, ducks piled in and being able to clearly identify the drakes of the various species – mallards, widgeon and gadwall, I thinned them out. One thing stands out in my memory, the teal, beautiful green wing teal that would swoop over the decoys, circle them, set their wings, then at the last moment, speed of somewhere else, there must have been 3 or 4 bunches of them.

The most important thing was proper identification of ducks on the wing, because back then, the limit was 8 drakes, however no open season on canvasbacks or redheads and we were allowed a mallard and pintail hen. So just shooting drakes, I was elated to get my limit in just under 30 minutes, all big ducks, shooting 8 with 10 shots, having to shoot two twice!

As the morning ended, there was a touch of gloom to my story, bad news, I picked up my decoys and carried 4 to the bank, laid them down next to my toesack and returned to the water for 4 more. The next thing I knew, along came a cow, stepped on a decoy and smashed it beyond repair. Now I only had 11 plastic decoys. Thinking back, I should have carried my sack out with me and only made one trip, but I’m really lucky that the cow didn’t step on all 4 of the decoys!