Toured the Imperial Valley for much of Tuesday. Most of the doves have moved on and I couldn’t find any sign or roosters around my favorite ditches. No mallards either. Headed over to the club where I was joined by two of my partners and prepared some carne asada along with beans, tortillas and some Anaheim peppers filled with Italian sausage. They like my cooking which makes me a god in their presence.
For the first evening all season we enjoyed some porch time that included a decent ducks show as a lot of ducks or different species landed in the ponds for the night and a late buffet as the dwarf spikerush was pulled up and everywhere this morning.
Had a great campfire in front of the cabin, drank a pretty significant amount of Black Velvet over ice and eventually found my way back into the cabin and my bunk. Got up to pee a couple of times and could hear the widgeon on the ponds.
Got up early and out to the blinds at least 30 minutes before shooting time. Hundreds of ducks got up on the walk out with some staying and some heading elsewhere. Lots and lots of ducks worked the field prior to shoot time. Per usual, the shooting at Wister which is across Highway 111 from us started about five minutes before shoot time.
At shoot time I had pintail hovering but decided to wait and take them last as it is really nice when they are only ducks working back into the club a bit later in the morning. First shot and duck of the morning was a fully colored drake cinnamon teal and when Jack brought it back to me I was stunned by its beauty. It was followed by a hen spoonie and hen GWT. Ducks continued to buzz around the field, including some ringneck, buffleheads and a trip of common goldeneye which I’ve never seen there before and passed on.
Roughly 90 minutes after shooting time, my partners filled their straps with limits and went in with mixed bags of teal, widgeon, ringneck and spoonies.
Hoping the pintail would work back in and hopeful that my decoy spread, including a jerk line I was jerking on madly would be attractive to them, I didn’t have to wait long. Best of all, they really seemed to respond to my pintail whistle for the first time this season.
As has been my experience, a group of pintail will circle and circle and more often than not move on without ever really committing, although many passes were in range. Singles an doubles are fortunately a different matter and I was not able to scare them away with my jerk line or the pintail whistle. I dropped one of a pair of drakes that had their landing gear down, and five minutes later another pintail that was equally fooled.
In the midst of all this, I took a brief timeout to look at my phone because my wife had sent a note saying the Aztecs had knocked off Long Beach State last night. I heard the call of a honker and looked up to see four greater Canadas about 10 yards above and directly over my head.
By the time I exchanged by phone for a shotgun they were 35 yards out and going away. I’m not sure why I didn’t pick out one and fire three quick shots at it, but I didn’t. The honker I shot in a similar situation last season simple did not taste that great and I have rationalized that it was taste rather than slow reaction time and a lack of attention that kept me from adding a goose to my strap.
The ducks have arrived and better late than never.