More ducks doesn’t always equal more duck dinners
One of the strangest duck seasons that I can remember in the many years I’ve been hunting has concluded. Every time we went out, my partners and I wondered if we might be better off fishing, as the unusually warm weather was comfortable for sitting in a blind, but it really slowed the migration to a crawl.
Even birders who didn’t want duck dinners were grousing about the lack of waterfowl. Here and there birding enthusiasts and duck hunters could find concentrations of ducks and geese, but for the most part, the birds trickled through Michigan in a prolonged effort that resembled springtime migration more so than fall. If you were in the right place at the right time, the birds were there.
Of course, this is the way it is any time you’re hunting, but when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service counts a record number of breeding ducks in the spring, and in the fall Ducks Unlimited is sending daily electronic messages to let you know that the migration is finally happening, well, some hunters might go afield thinking that they’re going to have birds landing on the ends of their gun barrels.
It was a strange year, to be sure. And it continues to be so. I was overdressed while sitting in the deer blind even though I was dressed as I normally would be for November weather. Now in December I haven’t put the duck boat away, yet, because now we’re fishing out of it, waiting for ice.
No matter what the biologists say about numbers of wildlife, it’s no guarantee of meat in the freezer. Weather, luck, time of day, and length of time spent in the woods and on the water all factor in to whether game will find its way in front of you and in range, and then you have to shoot straight.
In spite of a lack of birds and venison steaks in the freezer, will I go out again next year? As long as my legs will take me, I will.