Duck Hunt 1-20-16
I have a bridge design due 2-1-16, so I have been working way too much. (Thatâ€™s why I am Bridgeman- I am a structural engineer) I did not go Saturday or Sunday because there was going to be too much wind. I decided to go Wednesday due to the cold weather and the fact that the wind was going to be out of the southwest at 5 to 7 which is a good wind for the KY bank below Ripley Ohio mile 417. River at 29 feet and we have had the coldest weather so far, a low of 8 Sunday and Monday and a low of 14 Tuesday night. I got up at 7am to see 1â€ of snow on the ground. It was snowing fairly hard. In some ways snow is good, it limits visibility, but it is hard on your gloves; they get wet fast. I headed east on 52 at 7:45, the road were untreated, but heavy lug snow tires on all 4 and 4x4 makes driving in the snow easy. About a mile up 52 I spotted a guy and two kids on the side of the road, his car was way off of 52 in a ditch. I wanted to help put there was no place to turn around with the boat. No hunters on the way to Ripley. The Bullskin Ramp was useless because of the ice. (The ramp puts in at Bullskin Creek-PS I designed the bridge that carries 52 over Bullskin) I had a fantastic breakfast at the Dairy-yum-yum, Rod told me stories about the old wooden boat that used to deliver mail between Ripley and the KY side.
I pulled into the shelter at the Ripley Ramp to change into my cover-alls and waders. There were about 30 Geese right in front of me. I snapped a picture. They slowly swam across the river. The ramp was full of brush which was now frozen to the ramp, so I could clear very little of it, but I did look for the board with the nail. Again I wanted to see how good the new merc was, and it started on the second pull. (did not use electric start) I headed up the Ohio bank to get a crack at the geese who were now across the river. The river was beautiful, a sheet of glass with a light snow fall. Headed down the KY bank at a slow idle. I spotted the Geese way ahead with my binoculars, and too my surprise they got up. They were very educated. I had to keep brushing the snow off of my binoculars to see through them. I headed down at a slow idle. The river above Meldahl Dam is almost never high and full of current, so it has more cover then stretches below the Ohio River Dams. That is why decoy hunters love this area. On a low river day it is better than stretches further US because of the cover. When I say cover I mean mostly fallen trees in the water. I spotted ducks ahead. I cut the 15 and put the troller on low. At about 200 yards they all started swimming out. There were maybe 30 mallards with a few blacks mixed in. They wanted nothing to do with me, and got up at 150 yards, good to see ducks.
I cranked up the 15 and headed DS at a slow idle. I spotted a black duck ahead. I cut the motor and put the troller on low. He was swimming US towards me along the bank. At 100 yards I started paddling. He headed for the bank, at 30 yards he came back out and swam DS, me following. After 5 minutes he then headed back into the bank. I got right beside him, dropped the paddle and grabbed my 1100. He did not fly, I yelled Hey- he did not fly. He proceeded to walk up the bank into a tree root. I assume it was a cripple. I cranked up the 15. I spotted more ducks ahead, I could see at least 10 on the bank with 3 or more groups below them. I put the troller on low. At 200 yards they started getting up, they did not like the log, who can blame them the river is at pool stage- I need to decoy hunt more.
I cranked up the 15 and putted down and passed the Dover Ramp, without seeing a duck. Just past the town I spotted a lone drake below me. I started paddling, because I was perhaps 300 yards away. I got right beside him and got him with 1 shot, he dropped at the waterâ€™s edge. I pulled the boat into the bank to get him and hit shallow water while still 10 yards from the duck. I jumped out and sank into the mud a foot, almost to the top of my hip waders, it was not going to be easy getting him. I grabbed my long handle net and got him. My boots were full of mud and there was no way to clean them. I headed back to the Dover ramp and cleaned my boots, and cleaned the mud off of the welcome mats I put in the skiff that I sit on. I hate a muddy boat. Whenever I get out of the skiff on a mud bank I always find a log to rub my boots on underwater to clean before getting in the skiff. I headed DS at a slow idle. About 5 minutes later I spotted mallards ahead. I put the troller on Idle. I got to within 100 yards and started paddling. I noticed I was in a little too close to the bank, but it was too late to do anything. I was just about ready to drop the paddle and they got up. I picked out a drake and fired two times and missed. God- I need to practice skeet in the summer. My shots jumped up about 30 ducks .5 mile ahead. I pulled into the bank for a cup of coffee and soup. Hot tomato soup is very good when it is 16 and snowing. I also changed into another pair of jersey gloves, since mine were not wet. I cranked up the 15 and headed DS. About .5 mile down I spotted ducks. I put the troller on low and got to within 100 yards and started paddling. It was 5 mallards and 2 blacks sitting at the waterâ€™s edge. I got right beside them, and got a drake with my first shot and caused a black duck to flutter on my second, and dropped him on my 3rd. I picked them up and pulled into the bank for more coffee and Debiâ€™s homemade cookies. It is still snowing lightly.
By now I am a little upstream from Straight Creek and I like the Corp bank below straight creek. I ran US a bit and crossed over right above straight creek. As I was getting ready I noticed two trucks across the river at a duck blind, they were getting ready to hunt. I spotted DS and saw nothing, and headed down at a slow idle. I went about .5 mile and saw nothing. I prefer the KY bank because it is easier for me to swing on ducks on this side, since I am old. I headed across just past Stoney Point run. I like the rock bank above the Augusta decoy stretch. When I got to the bank I saw that above me I had jumped up a bunch of ducks between me and the decoy hunters, they can thank me later. I headed down at a slow idle and spotted a drake mallard ahead. He was sitting on a rock at the waterâ€™s edge. I started paddling. At 100 yards I noticed there were two drakes together. I got right beside them, dropped the paddle and dropped 1 drake, and did not see the second. He then got up and flew so low across the bow of the skiff, I could not shoot, smart duck. I picked up my duck and had more soup and coffee. I changed into a new pair of dry jerseys. At this point it is barely snowing. 1 more mallard and I have my limit of mallards, I already have a limit on blacks. I swear last year it was 2 blacks.
I headed DS and saw something that I have never seen -a pontoon duck blind. This was very cool, I snapped a picture. I headed DS and spotted ducks ahead. They were maybe 20 sitting on a mud bank. I cut the 15 and put the troller on low. As I got closer I saw 5 mallards about 15 yards US swimming around a sunken tree. I started paddling. I got right beside them, dropped the paddle and sat up. 4 ducks flew US which is a hard shot for me, but a hen went DS and I dropped her that was my limit of mallards. I cranked up the 15, and went to where I thought she was, but could not fine her. I got out and searched, and she was dead laying against a tree. She had a band. I have not shot a banded duck in 20 years. Back in the boat - I looked at my gun and it was jammed. I knew immediately what it was, I had forgotten to size the brass before I reloaded it. I carry a gun cleaning kit in my box, so I took my pocket knife and pulled the extractor off of the shell, pulled the barrel and popped the shell out with by cleaning rod. This is the first time my 1100 has jammed in 16 years of hunting, and it was my fault. I only did this in case I run into geese on the trip back up. At this point I am just above Bracken Creek. It was now 3:30 and I was ready to call it a day, unless there were Geese up river. I headed across the river and started US at maybe .5 trottle spotting as I ran up. I held the boat out maybe 300 yards because it makes it easier to spot, plus in 25 feet of water you miss the sunken logs that are not easy to locate when there is no current. For a long time I saw nothing. Just across from the decoy hunters above Stoney Creek, I stopped for coffee and watched then trough my binoculars, they had out a bunch of decoys. I love to stop and talk to decoy hunters, but this was prime time and I did not want to screw them up. I headed back US and spotted a drake wood duck all by himself. I thought about crossing over and getting US and floating him, but I decided not to. I passed him. Across from Dover I spotted a bunch of geese ahead, but they were sitting up above the bank. You can never float on ducks or geese when they are like this because they can look down and see that the log is not a log. I slowed down and watched them thru my binoculars, they seemed to ignore me and did not get up, which was surprising. I jumped up maybe 4 groups of 10 ducks on the rest of the run to Ripley. I hope my decoy hunters got them. I backed down the trailer and it hit something. I scared me, did I damage the trailer? I pulled it out and it was ok, I then saw that there was a log that was DS of the ramp that was under water just at the edge of the ramp. Pulled the boat out and was home at 5:30.
Today I called about the hen and she was banded Aug-20-2015 in Kapuskasing Ontario. See the migration is here.