Tim had a Tuesday lottery pick on this November 26 at Ridgefield and we were both excited. A buddy had just hunted there the previous Saturday, where more than 50 geese were taken due to a low fog that kept the geese in shooting range. He also reported a lot of birds in the area, probably because a cold front had just moved through.
The word was out, because even on this Tuesday the check station was crammed with hunters, many of them waiting on standby picks.
The weather forecast was for rain and possibly thunderstorms throughout the morning and afternoon so we both decided that a box blind would be more comfortable, especially in an outright downpour. The best performing box blind to date was 13a, a blind that is a fairly long (but easy) walk. In a fluke, however, the rains never really materialized over the refuge. Instead the squalls were hanging up on the west hills of Portland and never crossing the river, leaving us with partly cloudy skies.
In 13a, I like to pack decoys into the far part of the pond to the west, then crescent them along the north shoreline (or south depending on the wind) back towards the blind, leaving lots of room out front for landing birds. In this case we threw out a pair of goose floaters about 35 yards directly out front, leaving open water between them and the blind. We do this tactic often because we like to have a visual marker that provides a shoot-no-shoot reference. Anything beyond those geese would be a low quality shot, while anything in front would be a high-quality shot. Aside from a little tinkering, we stayed with this set throughout the day.
How we Did
We ended the day with 3 ducks and a gifted goose. Two of the ducks were spoons landing right in the landing zone; the same with a widgeon hen. We got shots a several other ducks passing in front of the blind and connected on two we could not retrieve. One dumped behind some trees a half mile away. The other we chased around the area until it disappeared into the weeds.
The goose came courtesy of the guy in blind 13. He brought it down with a high overhead shot but, wounded, it drifted so far away from him that he could not mark it. Tim thought he spotted it between our blind and 14 so I marched out there. With Tim’s guidance I got close enough to spook it. As it tried to run away, I finished it in the grass then whistled at the hunter in 13a, who was still looking for it about 150 yards from me. I planned to walk to him and toss it over a flushing channel, but he just turned and walked away from me. So I toted it back to the blind. I love goose meat and will eat it like a rare steak. Thanks for the gift, blind 13.
The Bottom Line
Three ducks and a goose isn’t a bad day and Tim and I had fun catching up. It’s still early in the season for me and it’s obvious I need more time behind the gun so I can drop more ducks on quality passing shots. But it’s like that every year for me.