Thursday, December 18, 2014


Finally!  Good day. Louis Williams & fam made town just in time to crack the seal on the birds in Chuck's. Mid 30's, east winds @ 5, and heavy cloud cover. Tough conditions, but we got em.

Charles' Field
50 Birds
38 Mallards
10 Gadwalls
2 Pibtails

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Numbers . . .

So, here I am, in the midst of what I consider a pretty rough first quarter of the 2014/2015 duck season. Daily, I'm getting phone calls, emails, texts, and personal visits from folks around here with the same question:  what the heck is going on?  

But then, I'm also hearing from the wannabe's without a clue.  How do I know they don't have a clue?  Because they're spouting numbers.  "We've killed 500, so far," or "they killed 1,600 during the first split."  What does that say to me?  It says one of two things:  a) I'm too stupid to know how to count; or b) I'm a bald-faced liar. How do I know?  Because there ain't a single blind in Northeast Arkansas that's averaged 35 ducks a day for the first 15 days of THIS season. That's how I know. 

Care about the ducks you're hunting?  Respect the species?  Wanna be taken seriously?  Good. Then don't be the idiot braggart that comes out of the gate offering those numbers. Why?  Because guys like me know better, that's why. 

Look, you wanna know how many birds we've killed?  Sure, I keep track, and I'll be willing to tell ya, but here's the baseline:  when I say "we" I mean I was there. If I wasn't there, I won't waste your time telling you about something someone else did from a blind I wasn't at. And, if you wanna know, you'll have to ask.  Why?  Because most people don't wanna know, and I'm intelligent enough to understand that. 

I'll answer the question before you ask:  not near as many as I hoped we would. Good seasons, bad seasons . . . that answer doesn't change. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Let's Be Honest . . .

It's bad.  Really, really bad.  Family, club members, and random strangers that I chat with on duck hunting websites are contacting me regularly and demanding explanations for exactly what the heck is going on.  Well, to be honest, I think "normal" is what's going on. 

Okay, so in perspective, we're 14 days into the 2014-2015 duck season.  We killed 48 on the opener, and we've killed a grand total of 51 during the succeeding 13 days.  That sucks, and I recognize that, but from a historical perspective, it really isn't as bad as it sounds . . . at least not yet. 

Here are the facts:  We were holding thousands upon thousands of birds the first week of November when the crew showed up to brush blinds.  However (and this is a BIG however), that flock was composed almost entirely of pintails and blue wings, and those birds should have been gone by mid-October.  And, in much the way that they absolutely should have, they bolted the second week in November.  Then, as fate would have it, a very, very strong cold front hit.  Things froze.  Birds showed up.  Lots of birds.  There were mallards, shovelers, green wings, and gadwalls out the wazoo, and we were holding as many of em as anybody around, right up until the day before season opened.  Things looked good, but its important to remember that one has to view that from the proper prospective:  it was as dry as toast up here, and every wet spot had seven hunters in it.  And so, as quickly as opening morning came and went, the birds made tracks, and we're left holding empty bags. 

So what does all that mean?  Glad you asked.  Here's my observation and belief with regard to why things truly suck for duck hunters in NEA right now:  The birds that were here in late October and early November were our September birds, and they were late.  I dunno why, but they were definitely late.  The second flock that showed up, full of the mallards, GWT, shovelers and Gaddies, were the ones that we're accustomed to hunting during the first couple of weeks of season.  The reason for the extraordinarily high number of mallards included therein is fairly simple:  there just wasn't any water in the woods.  As for why they bolted, I'd give the same reason.  There was no place up here to stop off for a drink without being hammered from daylight to dark.  The mallards we shot were tiny little birds, which clearly signifies the fact that they're not the mid-season flock that everybody thought they were hunting.  That flock, when it leaves, NEVER comes back.  We just didn't hold em like we normally do. 

As for that mid-season flock I mentioned, history dictates that they don't show up until mid-December, but to their credit, they stick when they get here.  After a freeze, they're back the very day it thaws.  They hang around until the last week of January, and when they're gone, they're gone for good. 

My money says to expect a great day of hunting between the 12th and 16th of December, and that the hunting will get better from there until the first week in January.  Here's to hoping that I'm right. 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

No. We Ain't Gettin' em.

Alright, here we go. 24-hours prior to the season's opening hours, we held a convervative  estimate of 15,000 birds in the Jones field, composed mainly of mallards. Sadly, sometime during that 24-hour period, those birds simply left. The opener forecasted to include 10-15 mph winds from the southeast. When it got here, there wasn't the first stitch of wind before 9:00. It just didn't come together. Sure, we got our birds, but let's face it:   It was one of the most disappointing days I've ever spent in the blind.

The crew included Tasha, Dawson, Dave, Andy, John, Blake, and yours truly. We left with 48.

Jones - 48
23 Shovelers
10 GWT
8 Specks
7 Mallards

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Day 2, as expected, things went south. We slipped over to Chucks and managed to knock out 10, but the reality that the ducks just weren't here set in quickly. Dawson, Gates, John, Garrett, Olivia, Andy, and myself were along for a long, slow morning.

Charles' - 10
4 Specks
3 Mallards
2 Shovelers
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

On Monday, things continued on their downward spiral. John, Garrett, Franks, & I returned to the scene of the crime on the Jones field, and carried out only 11 birds.

Jones' - 11
4 Mallards
1 shoveler

Tuesday, we went back to Chuck's for a quasi-youth hunt. Hunter, Barrett, Johnny, and me.  Slooooooow.I had Tasha, Olivia, Hunter, John, and Barrett with me. Left at 8:30 with 9.

Charles' - 9
1 Wigeon
2 Mallards
2 Gadwalls
4 Shovelers

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Wednesday, I was joined by Tasha, Olivia, Hunter, Garrett, John, Barrett, and John, for the maiden voyage in Baser this season. Again, slow, but better than expected. Left at 8:30 with 7 birds.

Baser - 7
2 Gadwalls
1 Speck
1 Mallard

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
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Thursday, Reece, Jake, John, Blake, and I returned to Jones. Super slow. 4 Mallards.

Jones - 4

Friday.  Reece, Westie, Jake, John, & I. Baser.  Terrible. Left with 2 birds.

Baser - 2
1 Snow
1 Mallard

Saturday, John, Blake, Reece, and I hit chuck's. Left with one scaup and narrowly avoided the maligned skunk.

Chuck's - 1 Scaup

Only 92 birds during the first split.

Second split picked up right where the first one left off. The numbers looked so bleak that I didn't even hunt on Thursday. On Friday, Blake & I returned to the Jones field, but we got rained out with only 2 specks to our credit.

Jones - 2

Saturday, John, Blake, and I returned to Baser and found a way to bag 2 GWT. Frankly, we were lucky to get em. North winds and no love from the birds.

Baser - 2

Sunday, John, Ryan Gibson, Landon, and I tried Baser one more time. Pretty much the same story again. 3 birds.

Baser - 3
2 Hooded Merganses
1 Shoveler

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Forecast Calls for Snow . . .

So, like normal, we're 3 days shy of the opener and the weatherman says to expect volatile weather. Rain Friday and Saturday with temps in the 50's and SSE winds @ 12. What does that mean with regards to Saturday's hunt and the prospect of full bags?  Who knows.

What I DO know is that the Lost 20, Jones, Baser, & Chuck's are ALL stacked. Don't recall that having happened before. Lots of ducks, but the white trash is moving in fast.

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Sunday, November 2, 2014

In The Moment

Okay, so I was chastised yesterday by the esteemed members of the Trigger Happy Hunting Club for my obvious failure to maintain anything resembling status updates on the net. I would have explained the difference between my life as a lawyer and my life as a farmer, but instead folded to peer pressure. So here we are.  The view from the second floor of the compound suggests that the big dance is drawing near:

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

By the calendar, it's cold . . . really cold. Temps are ranging between the 30's and the 50's, and it's extremely early for us to be enjoying the weather that we'd hope for on during the opening week. As for the birds, they're certainly here. Have been for weeks. Chuck's is absolutely blown out with specks and ducks, and it isn't 25% flooded.

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

The rest of the fields are stopped up, rolled down, and ready for water. If the forecasted rains don't det in on Tuesday, I'll start wetting them down the old-fashioned way.

Yesterday marked the annual gathering of club members for the purpose of readying our blinds. Dear Lord, it was a rough one. We started at 7:00 a.m. and quit at 4:00 p.m.  I, for one, was pretty worn out by the time it was over.

So, here we go:  3 more fields waiting for harvest, one more blind awaiting panels, umpteen fields to flood, one deck to build, and 24 dozen dek's to string. There'll be no rest between now and the opener.

Monday, December 23, 2013

A Season of Extremes . . .

So much to report.  Where do I begin?

Alright, so let me start by setting the record straight for the purposes of understanding the underlying weather patterns that have dictated our success and failure this season: 

First, as the season opened, we watched perfect weather and large concentrations of birds go to pot when the whole place surrendered to temps in the upper teens on the second day of season.  We fought through it, and prevailed, to some degree.  On the heels of that cold snap, we had the ice storm of 2013, which crippled traffic, ruined gutters, and halted duck season as we knew it for a full 7 days of season.  Temps dipped into the single digits.  Everything stalled out. 

As said weather cleared out, we were graced by the biggest, brightest full-moon I've ever witnessed, which threw the ducks into a mad-dash night feed, which continued between Sunday evening and Thursday morning.  Fortunately, the moon gave way to clouds, and on Friday, we got after em.  Unfortunately, it didn't last long, because on Saturday the torrents of rain moved into town.  My rain gauge tops out at 5 inches.  It ran over, and then some.  Looks like we'll be losing another week of season.  For what it's worth, this has been a tough one. 

Okay, so Saturday, December 21, Blake & his Uncle, David White, joined me at the home field.  Didn't last long, as the lightning ran us out of the field before 8:00 a.m.  We left with only a handful.

Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013:
Home Field
4 Ducks
2 Shovelers
1 Gadwall

Friday, Dec. 20, 2013:
Lost 20
11 Birds
3 Snows
4 Shovelers
4 Mallards

Charles' West:
20 Birds
6 Gadwalls
14 Mallards

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Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013:
Louis Williams & Yours Truly, Chuck's West
12 Birds
5 Mallards
5 Gadwall
1 Shoveler

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013:
Jim, Mike, and Tyler Davis; Chuck's West
14 Birds
2 GAdwall
3 Redheads
1 Mallard
8 Shovelers

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Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013:
Jim, Mike, and Tyler Davis; Chuck's West
21 Birds
11 Gadwall
5 Mallard
4 Shovelers

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Monday, Dec. 16, 2013
Jim, Mike, and Tyler Davis; Jimmy Scott; Home Field
14 Birds
3 Shovelers
8 Mallards
2 Gadwall
1 Redhead

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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Hellfest. Yum.

Alright, so On Saturday, Blake, Reece, Ryan, and I fought the heavy fog on the east side of Chuck's, only to live with a singular mallard. On Friday, the day before, however, Blake and I weathered the rain in the same spot and brought home 9 birds. Not too shabby for an impromptu hunt that only lasted an hour.

Saturday, December 14, 2013.

1 mallard

Friday, December 13, 2013.

9 Birds
3 shovelers
1 gadwall
1 Mallard
2 snows.

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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

As for Friday night, Hellfest was in full swing. Heck of a shindig with food that'd make you slap yo dead grandma's corpse. Fine times, indeed.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Back At 'Em . . . Momentarily

Johnny, Taylor, Elders, and yours truly slipped in for a little post-ice shindig about 1:00 p.m. this afternoon on the west line of little Chuck's. Not a bad little shoot, I must sat. We came out with full bags. Papa eased in behind us and popped an additional 3 birds behind us before he left.

Chucks a East
27 Birds
15 mallards
10 shovelers
2 Grey Ducks

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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Friday, December 6, 2013

Winter Arrives . . .

Well, friends, this is gonna be a rough one. We ended the first split on a whimper and patiently waited for the second season to make its way around the corner hoping all the while that the birds would reset and give us a shot at redemption. And it shook down exactly like we'd hoped it would . . . With one blindingly painful exception: we didn't see the weather coming. For purposes of recording the matter for future reference, I shall quote from the weather channel's forecast:

Friday: ICE STORM WARNING. high of 29 @ 7:00 a.m. With temps falling. N winds @ 15-25 mph.
Saturday: low: 18. High: 21
Sunday: low: 23. High: 30 with snow
Monday: low: 9. High: 30. Partly sunny
Tuesday: low: 10. High: 28
Wednesday: low: 12. High: 34

 Do you see the problem here? Unfortunately, waterfowl habitually inhabit areas with water in its liquid form. We're fresh outta that stuff for the next week or so. We knew we had problems when temps hit 20 degrees on the second day of season.

The pattern has played out exactly as expected. With that in mind, we looked to wreck em while we could. And we did. Thursday, as a last ditch to get what we could while we could, we started in on em on the home field in the morning with a seven man crew, including Grey, the Bakers, John, Brant Tosh, Brian Elders, and myself. We stepped out of the blind early with 36 ducks and a speck. Thereafter, we took a few mystery guests out to break the seal on Chuck's and smoked another 27 birds.

Total for the day 64 birds.

 Memphis Blind:
8 mallards
10 gadwalls
12 GWT
6 spooners
1 speck.

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

15 gadwall
6 mallards
2 shovelers

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Sunday: Johnny & the Gipper in Memphis . . . 1 hoody

Saturday:  Reece, Blake, John, Garrett, Gibby. 10 birds in Memphis.

4 Shovelers
1 Mallard
1 speck

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Friday a.m.:  8 birds. Reece, Blake, Johnny & the Gipper; Memphis

4 redheads
1 gadwall
1 Mallard

Friday p.m.:  Blake, Reece, Johnny. Chuck's on the east side. 2 Gadwalls.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Nope. We did NOT Forget the Proper Technique For Spanking a Flock of Mallards

Alright, so it looked like things were going downhill fast. Saturday was a hot shoot, but temps in the lower 29's and 20 mph north winds wore us out on Sunday. Disgusted, I blew off the Monday hunt, and on Tuesday we broke ice for only a handful of birds. Having had enough of that, I deemed it an appropriate move to get off my lazy butt and scout em on Wednesday.

Found em on the southeast corner of Chuck's, and John, 2 mystery guests, and I went to task on em. Killed a trophy in the process, too.

 Wednesday, November 27, 2013: Johnny, Gibby, and two guests who choose to remain anonymous. 23 birds
18 mallards
3 shovelers
2 gadwall Tuesday,

November 26, 2013.  Dave, Garrett, Gibby

4 Shovelers
1 Wigeon

 Sunday, November 24, 2013. Franks, Garrett, Grant, John, Blake, Gibby
5 Specks Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Game On

Alright, it's been a while since I've posted. Let's face it: I've been a bit busy. Nonetheless, whilst not completed, the barn is functional, and opening day has come and gone. I must say, the barn ain't too shabby . . . Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos As for the hunting picture: I've got mixed reviews. As of Wednesday, we were holding something in the neighborhood of 15-20,000 birds in the Home field. Problem is, most of them were holding there after dark. Thus, I've been running em out for a week. Anywho, on Thursday, a blustery cold front blew through and mixed everything up. Forecast for the opener was for highs in the 40's with STIFF north winds, and that forecast was spot on. Bad scenario: facing south, with clouds, and heavy winds. Even so, we whooped 'em. Tasha, Johnny, Franks, Dave, Papa, Blake, and yours truly, left the blind carrying full bags at 8:01 a.m. Once we got back to the barn, we noticed that one of the pins we took was BANDED. Awesome morning. 44 birds 15 shovelers 12 Gadwall 5 GWT 4 Pintails 3 Mallards 2 Scaup 2 specks 1 merganser. Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos