I finally had a chance to revisit a Blind 2 at Ridgefield NWR. It was in blind 2 that I had my first ever duck hunt. That was about 7 years ago, so it was great to get back to it.
This time, one of my hunting companions had the #1 lottery pick on Saturday, December 1, 2018. Throughout the early part of the season, blind 2 had been the most consistent and best performing blind on the refuge, followed by blind 5 and blind 12. As they say in the stock market, past performance is not an indicator of future returns.
The weather for the day started out looking promising, with showers and clouds in the early morning. Light winds were out of the east-southeast. By mid-morning, clouds gave way to partly sunny skies. A week prior hunters got a treat and hunted a cold front that brought low clouds and fog for a hunt, keeping geese and ducks low overhead. More than 50 geese were taken on the refuge that day, by far the highest number I had seen in many years.
Experience counts in duck hunting and we made a mistake in our first set-up.
The 2-and-1 pit blind sits on a small island in the northeast corner of a large pond. Since the winds were mostly coming from our backs we set up a mixed bag of 3 dozen ducks in a crescent from the left of the blind around the the right side. We then dropped a line of goose floaters on the outside of the landing zone in front, so they would look like they had just landed and were swimming into the ducks. We attached jerk rigs to either side.
The flaw in this set-up is that we had blocked off the entrance to a slough to the north of the blind. It turns out that the ducks like to fly down that channel. By blocking it with decoys, we pushed the ducks away from the blind. We realized this after about an hour and adjusted our set-up by opening up that channel and pushing the ducks to the far bank in front of the blind. This got us more looks from ducks and better quality passing shots.
How We Did
The ducks were just not all that interested in this part of the refuge on this day. And the east wind meant that geese picking up from the refuge followed the wind over the southern blinds. We got a few overhead shots at geese, but nothing of any real quality. We managed to drop one, but it glided behind some trees to the west of us and we could never find it.
We managed to drop 2 ducks on this day and passed on a number of other, low-quality shots.
The Bottom Line
Nice weather made for a slow day. Had we set up our decoys appropriately for flight patterns around this blind we might have gotten a few more early opportunities.