Tuesday, April 26, 2011

"Magellan the Magician"

This entry will be a bit different, as the hunt was documented by Stacy via email and his friend, Chad, via the journal.


After first reading Justin’s post about his idea of a traveling decoy, I immediately knew that I wanted to be involved.   Not sure I’d make the cut considering many of the guys invited to participate have access to some pretty historical clubs & hunting grounds so I entered my request with reserved hope at best.  My second thought was the logistical complexity & wondered if it could be pulled off.  Both of my doubts were eventually converted into exact opposites of my initial thoughts.  I was chosen to participate & it was clear that the logistics portion would depend heavily on the hosts involved which I had no doubts about.  I watched as the first few hosts reported their time with Magellan while anxiously awaiting my time slot to arrive in the schedule.   Upon my request, Justin was able to take advantage of an idle time in Magellan’s schedule to coincide with a hunt that my best bud Chad & I planned after the master schedule was released.  The stars were aligning nicely.

One day prior to Christmas Eve, I picked up the decoy & his accompanying journal from Jody (Chevy12345), the previous host.  The first few minutes were spent admiring the craftsmanship that Justin put into this block called Magellan & the character (battle scars) that it had already developed.  Since I was on the way to burn a couple of hours on a deer stand, I decided to take the journal & read the entries of previous hosts.  This turned out to be a great way to pass time on an otherwise boring evening in the deer woods.  It also made me more excited about being a part of this.  I hoped that my time with Magellan could at least hold a candle to some of the early journal entries.  On the drive home, I decided that Magellan needed something to travel in.  I remembered a small mesh decoy bag I use to carry a couple of decoys when weight / space is crucial & thought it would be perfect.  While searching for the bag, I happened across a small old croker (krō′kər) sack & instantly changed my mind about using the store bought decoy bag.  I figured that not only I could use it to protect Magellan to & fro’ the blind while he was in my possession, it would also be interesting to send the sack to the next host & see how far in the journey it would accompany him.  Only time will tell if the sack made it to the end of the journey.

I had not planned to hunt again until the Monday after Christmas, but Mark (Bigwater) called that night & asked if I wanted to join him, Tad (.tadpole) & Ryan (iron grip) at the infamous Black Democrat (BDDC) the following morning.  I accepted & took Magellan along for the ride without telling anyone.  Tadpole & Iron Grip were running late that morning so Bigwater & I went ahead & set up with a standard 2 set group of decoys flanking our sides.  I retrieved Magellan from the croker sack & chunked him in the gap.  Once Biggie & I finished setting up, Tad & Ryan rolled up & unloaded their gear beside ours.  Obviously the traveler had already developed an identity of his own as one of the first things out of Tad’s mouth was “That looks like ole Magellan out there in the spread”.  Keep in mind that it was still several minutes before first light so all he could see was the silhouette.  I thought that was pretty cool.  The birds did not fly as well that particular day so we finished up with a baker’s dozen before calling it quits & heading home to begin celebrating Christmas with our families.

Magellan spent the holidays on our mantle before my scheduled hunt the next week. My daughters thought he was pretty cool by the way. The youngest one even asked if I thought he met Santa.

As stated earlier, I coordinated Magellan's time with me to coincide with a planned hunt with my long time best friend; Chad , his brother & another friend on a 3 day hunt @ Chad's new camp.  The temps plummeted the night of my arrival leaving the fields locked up solid for the early morning hunt.  We felt confident that the ducks would not visit the fields early because of this & opted to make a 45 minute drive to the BDDC to await the thaw & give the other 2 guys a chance to do some wing shooting since their opportunity to do so was limited.  First light was fast, furious & fun, but since there were no other hunters to keep the birds moving, the action slowed. During the lull, 2 others & I went to retrieve downed ducks & try to stir them up a little. We managed to flush a few to Chad who stayed put in our initial spot.   He was mighty proud that he chose to stay when his first ever Bull Can hit the water on his 2nd shot.  

Magellan instantly became “Magellan the Magician”.  With the trophy in hand plus 8 more divers, we headed back to Chad ’s camp for a mid morning hunt in the fields.  The temps had risen enough that once we broke ice to make a hole, it at least didn’t re-freeze.  We finished the days hunt with a mixed bag including Mallard, Teal & Pintail to complete a 4 man limit.

The next morning we managed another mixed bag of Mallard, Teal, and Pintail & Widgeon.  Not everyone killed limits on this day, but time afield amongst friends always makes up for any shortcomings.  All this under the watchful eye of our new friend, the man, the myth, the Magellan - AKA “Magellan the Magician”.   My only regret is not taking better pictures, but the weather conditions had big role in the picture quality during the hunts.

Thanks Justin - It was great to be a part of this project & I really hope this becomes an annual event, Stacy.


DATE: 12-27-2010
LOCATION: BDDC and Riverview Duck Club
WEATHER: 20's, clear, cold and sunny
MOON: Wanning Gibbous
KILLS: Drake Canvasback, 8 Greenheads, 3 Drake Pintails
FRIENDS: Stacy James, Chad Williams, Jim Williams, Brooke Bewley

It has been a tough year up to date.  Little water and no food equal a duck shortage.  However, the tide was changing, little did we know, with the arrival of Magellan in his brown crocker sack.  Stacy had managed to acquire the magical mallard for our special hunt.  The weather had changed and the fields were to be locked up with ice the next morning.  We elected to hunt the BDDC while awaiting the thaw.  This wise decision lead to Magellan luring in my first Canvasback drake, which will proudly be mounted.  We finished the hunt with a total of 9 ducks.  We left at 9 a.m. and headed back to hunt a thawing bean field from 10-1.  After setting a few blocks in a hole we opened, ducks began the show, eager to fall intot eh only open water around.  First 20 mallards cupped into the spread and it was pure carnage.  Adding a group of pintails, followed by a complete massacrew of passing teal, we quietly ended a full days limit with those 15 puddle ducks.

DATE: 12-28-2010
LOCATION: Riverview Duck Club
WEATHER: 20's, cloudy, with no wind
MOON: Waning Gibbous
KILLS: 5 Greenheads, 2 Wigeon, 2 Drake Pintails, 4 GW teal
FRIENDS: Chad Williams, Stacy James, Brooke Bewley, Jim Williams

High expectations this morning...but we had to break ice again, and had to fight to keep it open.  The morning started out fast with several groups hovering above the decoys before shooting time.  Once the shooting began, the clouds rolled in and the ducks just would not finish.  It was still a successful hunt in the Delta with good friends and good dogs.  Not to mention, Magellan was the centerpiece back at the "Duck House" table while we all enjoyed scrambled eggs, bacon, biscuits with syrup, and pigs-n-a-blanket.  We have all enjoyed sharing our holes these last 2 days with the magic mallard.  We wish him and his future companions well on teh journey ahead.  May he bring others as much joy and luck as he has brought us these last few days.  Keep riding the ways Magellan!!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

"Magellan Hits the Mississippi Delta" part 2

DATE: 12/16/2010
TEMPERATURE: Cold - 31 degrees
WEATHER: North wind and cold
KILLS: 5 shovelers and 1 scaup
FRIENDS: Jody Acosta and retriever "Buck"

This was a great afternoon hunt over Magellan, with me and Buck taking a badly needed afternoon of personal reflection.  The shovelers were flying, and I was done with the hunt in no time.  The sunset was a nice one, and I elected to just sit on the tailgate with Buck watching the shovelers and other "pond" ducks buzz around.  It was a great end to a great day.


DATE: 12/18/2010
LOCATION: Mallard Manor
TEMPERATURE: 25 degrees
WEATHER: North wind and cold
KILLS: 2 Greenheads, 2 Pintails, 3 Shovelers, 1 GW Teal
FRIENDS: Joseph Gorman, Jeff Dettelbach, Collin Atwell, Garrett Hawkins, Blake Hawkins, Jacob Rushing, Shelton Tillery
GUIDE: Jody Acosta

 Buck making a fine retrieve

What an awesome morning to hunt.  No, we didn't kill a full limit of ducks, we didn't even shoot that many birds, but I feel truly blessed to be able to say I was part of a hunt where 3 kids killed their first ducks.  Blake, Garrett, and Jacob all killed their first ducks over Magellan.  Buck did a great job of retrieving, and fun was had by all.

The kids thought Magellan was "too cool".  One of the counselors also had heard about him, and told me he was honored to hunt over Magellan!  Overall it was a great hunt, and I know I made some life long friends.

Hopefully, they will take me hunting when I'm an old man.

"Thank you Lord for the friends I made this weekend, the experiences we shared, and the safe travels for them all returning home.  Amen!"

Author Jody Acosta and his dog Buck, sharing a quiet moment

BIG THANKS go out to Jody and his documenation of four fine hunts shared with great friends!

Check back soon as Magellan heads down (or up, as the case may be) on more exciting hunts!

Friday, April 15, 2011

"Magellan Hits the Mississippi Delta "

DATE: 12/15/2010 (morning hunt)
TEMP: 37-40 degrees
LOCATION: private oxbow around Morgan City, MS
WEATHER: Cloudy, SE winds at 5 mph
KILLS: 6 mallards, 1 gadwall, 1 GW teal
FRIENDS: Jody Acosta, Kit Stovall, Robbie Bass, Chad Rainey
RETRIEVERS: Buck and Buddy

Great hunt this morning.  Boated into the oxbow, and through the mud we went.  Thank goodness Kit grabbed 2x6 boards to stand on or we would still be in that mud!  At shooting time, Kit "duck commanded" a gadwall about 5 ft from him to start the morning off.  We had singles and pairs slowly work in until we decided to leave about 10:45.  The last duck shot ended up being the duck that worked in like they should, feet in the decoys, mid-spread, and killed with 2 shots.  Should have been only one shot but we put on an awful display of shooting this morning - such is life.  After this mornings hunt, we decided to shoot the fish ponds this afternoon.

DATE: 12/15/2010 (afternoon hunt)
TEMP: 60-62 degrees 
LOCATION: Black Democrat Duck Club
WEATHER: windy! South winds at 20 mph
KILLS: 3 canvasbacks, 2 scaup, 3 shovelers
FRIENDS: Jody Acosta, Chad Rainey, Kit Stovall, Robbie Bass
RETRIEVERS: Buck and Buddy

After a quick stint of "work", I returned to Morgan City around 3 pm.  Kit and the rest of the crew arrived shortly thereafter.  Upon my arrival, I glassed the back pond with my binoculars, and saw 26 bull canvasbacks amid shovelers, scaup, ringnecks, buffleheads, ruddy ducks and even a mallard or two.We formulated our plan to set our spread, then get situated and let Kit jump the ducks off the back pond.  They would likely sit there all evening otherwise.  As most grand plans go, it failed miserably with a couple hundred birds flanking us about 75 yards away.  After Kit got back, the birds slowly started working back and we picked up a few shovelers.  Later, a lone duck came in and Robbie slowed him down for me to hit him, not once but twice, ensuring he wouldn't escape.  It wasn't until Buck started on the retrieve that I really noticed the colors of a "pretty" bull canvasback.  This ended a 7 year quest of mine to get one on the wall.  I have killed hens and juvenile drakes but finally got one that was "wall worthy".  After taking the moment in, we shot a few more ducks.  As the end of shooting time was quickly approaching a pair of canvasbacks came in and Robbie and Chad both fired, folding them.  A great way to end a great day hunting over Magellan.

THANKS Jody, for a great write-up!

Be sure to check back soon, as Jody shares 2 more hunts with Magellan!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

"Sometimes Snipe"

As part of

The Piney Woods Saga

Curious Occurrences Along Jaybird Creek

Carl Lewis - A Turkey Hunter's Tall Tale

“I CAN NOT BELIEVE THE STUPIDITY!!!” It’s a wonder my dad didn’t wake the dead that night with his yelling.

I remember that night like yesterday, all of us sitting around that fire half frozen, getting the tongue lashing to end all tongue lashings, and doing our dead level best not to let my dad, Big Ronnie or Harold B see us smiling. The bad part is the person we got the damned idea from in the first place was standing in the door way, echoing my daddy’s words verbatim. Like Cajun didn’t have anything to do with what had transpired.

“You boys have got to start using better judgment,” daddy continued to proclaim.

“That’s right, better judgment boys.” Cajun, the ultimate Benedict Arnold mimicked.

“How in the world can a camp work weekend end up with GranGran taking Picky into town for a tetanus shot, gun fire and ME BEING UP AT 2 IN THE MORNING?” This was not really a question.

“How boys, how”, repeated Cajun who was starting to get on my nerves.

“What do ya’ll have to say for yourselves?”

“What boys”, again from Cajun as I attempted to burn a hole in his forehead with my glare.

Nothing in this world could make us say anything at that moment, particularly considering we were busy nudging a rather snookered “Iffee” from one shoulder to the next.


Cajun’s silver flask fell out of “Iffee’s” back pocket. In mid "finger point", my dad stopped, turned beat red and glared at his bud, Cajun. I admit to feeling more than a hint of retribution. Cajun just cleared his throat and looked at the ground. Seemingly, being a parrot, echoing every word my Dad said was no longer such a good idea.  With that my daddy retired to his quarters, but I could tell we best not be getting into anything else that night.

For my part, I plead innocent. I had done everything I could do not to get involved, from avoiding Picky, to trying to get the flask from Iffee who got the flask from Cajun who got the shine from his own still. Chunk and Magic, well they didn’t exactly help the proceedings and Skillet just kind of does what everyone else does. I was outnumbered plain and simple, and knew so the day before.

Picky, oldest son of a meat packing and sausage making millionaire, had probably asked 100 times to go to the camp with us, and 99 times before we had avoided it like the plague. That changed when Cajun sat us down that last week of duck season, and told us the stories of him and my daddy taking folks on “snipe hunts”. Across the fire that night I could see Chunk and Buff sitting there on an old oak stump, Buff with a curious look growing across his face by the second. Next to him on an identical log I could see Chunk had a flat out evil grin decorating his face which grew at the mention of wooden spoons, pots and pans, and paper bags. I knew it was going to happen, I just prayed they would forget about it.

They didn’t.

Three weeks later it was time to get the turkey camp ready for the upcoming season. It was late February, and by the time the plans were finalized, a storm was brewing that threatened to make for a wet and cold weekend. We were all in the seventh grade except for Chunk who was a senior, so it was easy for us trade info about the upcoming weekend. I discovered that Chunk had cornered and asked Picky to come along. True to form, Skillet and Iffee became a self-fulfilling prophecy jumping right in, as Buff told us about the plan.  Honestly at the time, none of us could see the harm in it.

That Friday morning Picky came to school with enough clothes packed to keep General Washington’s men warm and dry while crossing the Delaware. Everyone except Cajun had taken off at lunch and already headed out to Clem, which was the little community the camp was near. I’d be willing to bet my dad later questioned the decision to let Cajun pick us up prior to the hunt, and positively cussed his poor judgment afterwards. He picked us up in his old 4x4 Scout, sitting me, Picky and Buff up front and Chunk, Iffee, Skillet and the luggage in back. Five minutes down the road, the flask came out and began making its rounds. That evening, I could tell it wouldn’t be long before the older fellas went to bed. Sure enough, it only took about three domino games for the yawning to start. After the fourth, they went to bed with promises for dollar buy-in cards the next night. Even Cajun went to bed, but not before a wink of the eye, a toss of the flask, and a warning, “Not too much boys, just enough to keep 'yallselves' warm.” What he was thinking giving a flask full of homemade apricot shine to a bunch of junior high kids was anyone’s guess, but we didn’t argue.

Chunk was the first to start in about the massive number of snipe he’d been seeing in and around the old sage brush field where Harold B killed the 8 point last year. The rest of us added stuff like “man yeah, been seeing a bunch of em” and “boy, you gotta be on your game to catch em”. After a few minutes of this, Picky asked the question we’d all been waiting on, “can I come snipe hunting with ya’ll when the season opens?”

“Son”, Chunk called everyone ‘son’ when the grownups weren’t around, “what do you mean? You can hunt snipe anytime but its best on cold nights like tonight. You wanna give it a try?”

I bet it didn’t take Picky two minutes to get dressed. That was quite a feat considering he looked like the little kid Randy on the movie “A Christmas Story” with all the clothes he was wearing. Even considering his speed, we greeted him around the bonfire. None of us had even taken off our boots. We knew we could get him to the point of going “snipe hunting”. It was just a matter of time.

As we bumped down the road in Cajun’s rig, Picky received his marching orders from us, “We’re gonna drop you off at the sage brush field - snipe love sage you see. Anyhow, you head out in the middle of the field and beat on that pot with spoon, then get that bag ready and kinda shake it, they’ll be heading your way in no time, you just scoop em up!”

“Just like this?” At that, he started beating on the pot. Skillet, looking around to make sure his eyes weren’t playing tricks said rather emphatically, “Yeah man, that’s it!”

We told him we’d go back to the camp for an hour or so to give him time to hunt. He never suspected a thing. With nothing more than a small amount of trepidation, some pride, and his snipe hunting equipment in hand, Picky set off for the middle of the field for some snipe action. I remember how quite the ride back was. I figured we were all starting to feel a bit guilty honestly. All except Iffee, who was already very deep in the flask of shine. Nope, Iffee resigned himself to babbling on about whatever came to his increasingly drunken mind, and I was pretty sure Picky had been forgotten.

Pulling up to the camp, we each poured a little from one of Cajuns jars in the back of his scout and sidled up to a stump or log to sit on. That’s when Iffee broke the silence with a slurred toast, “To Pickly……greates’ snipe huntsa of em all!” The rest of us smiled and exclaimed, “TO PICKY!” Shine, when it’s made correctly, is more of a slow burn, betraying it’s true power – and no one made it better than Cajun. After the requisite hour, we filled up the flask and began sneaking back to the field where Picky was ‘hunting.’

If anyone had seen us, they would have most likely said we looked like a pack of mangy coyotes surrounding a wounded calf. We did in fact get down on all fours and spread out around Picky in an unorganized half moon. The sage was about chest high, obscuring our view. Sure, we could hear what was going on, but we needed to see it as well. Giving a crawling gesture with his fingers, Chunk signaled us to crawl forward, closer to the action. After several feet, Picky came into view waving a wooden spoon and holding a bag out in front of him, seconds later – tap, tap, tap – spoon to pan. It was almost too much to stand. Looking down the line of friends, I could tell everyone was struggling not to laugh out loud. Seconds later, it happened. Chunk started snorting like a hog, getting louder and louder, and then…he squealed. Picky wasted no time, as I’m sure he figured he was left for dead. Dropping his bag, spoon and pot, he took off running in the opposite direction from us, screaming at the top of his lungs. Eventually, he disappeared in the dark shadows. The squeal was just too much for him. But, having the boy petrified wasn’t good enough for us. We had to take it further. We started howling like a pack of coyotes. That’s when we saw the flash of light and heard the shot – Picky was in a gunfight with the howling, snorting shadows. When giving his personal recount many years later, Chunk swears a bullet just missed him. That remains to be seen, though I highly doubt it was the case considering the position Picky was later found in. No one said a word, but we ran like hell, and everyone met back at Cajun’s scout. Good ol drunken Iffee was last seen running the wrong way.

“Nigel, go get him!”

“What do you mean ‘Nigel, go get him’? I didn’t invite him Chunk, you did!”

“Well, he’s your friend, go get him.”

“C’mon Nige, go get him. It’ll be better coming from you. He’s gotta know it was us by now,” Buff noted coolly.

“Yeah, Nigel, go get him man, its cold…get who, Chunk?” I should have known Iffee, who just staggered up, would side w/ Chunk and Buff.

In a last ditch effort, I appealed to Skillet for help. He shrugged as if to say, “You’re on your own.”

Turn coats, every one of them.

Pulling the Scout up to Picky’s last known location, I was met with a site I’ll never forget. Picky had run full speed into an old, rusty barbed wire fence, and was hanging upside down, pistol lying on the ground beside him. He was obviously thoroughly entangled and exhausted. At first I wanted to laugh at the silliness, but then I realized he had cut himself up pretty bad. It took a few minutes but I got him unwound from the fence and helped him to his feet.

“Didn’t get any snipe tonight but heard something like a pig…or wolf.”

Staring blankly at him, I could hardly believe it. He had no clue it was us. Foolishly, I thought we might get out of our predicament. After I picked the turn coats up, I made sure they knew not to say anything. It didn’t matter though, the cards were against us. Gran Gran must have gotten up to use the bathroom and spotted us coming back with the lights off. You just know kids are up to no good when that happens. Tip-toeing back into the camp, he met us at the door, wanting to know what we had been doing. We didn’t get to explain as he saw Picky covered in mud and blood, and immediately started checking him over – waking everyone else in the process.

Minutes later the screaming started. It was several long minutes before it stopped however.

Sometime early the next morning, just as the eggs were coming off the griddle, Gran Gran and Picky pulled up. Honestly, I was scared of what was about to happen, but Gran Gran didn’t say a thing. Picky, proud of his butterfly stitch was describing his encounter w/ “something”, and I was beginning to feel very guilty.

Starting the apology process I stated, “Picky, we’re sorry.”

“Don’t worry Nigel, I’m the one who ran into the fence.”

“Yeah, but sometimes friends tend to…….to….well, the weather wasn’t quite….”

I was finding it very hard to say what needed to be said, when Gran Gran stated, “yeah but Picky never forget, sometimes there’s snipe too.” With a wink we all saw, he went to eat some breakfast.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Proverbial 'Now What' - part 2

I think the most responsible thing I can say first is that I'm not a great or even good decoy carver.  What I am is someone who enjoys the art, and believes that each decoy I gain a new knowledge on the subject that will help me years from now.

In my last article The Proverbial 'Now What' I showcased a fine hunt, and at the same time lamented the fact I'm now in search of something to do until fall rolls back around.  Considering all the decoys I need to be carving, I figured it was a fine time to write a "workbench" article.  As my interest and skill in decoy carving grows, I hope this becomes a popular read each time I sit down to show a few decoys.

I guess I'll start with a few patterns I have drawn out.  I'm all over the board, jumping from one interest to the next, but I'll eventually get to them all.  *Note* these are rough drawings, none of which I've come back to in order to enhance for actual use.  All are free-handed with nothing but photos of God's creations and my own imagination of what I want them to be as a guide.

The first is a coastal Maine style Red-Breasted Merganser.  This bird was drawn after seeing a George Huey Red-Breasted Merganser, and also after seeing Keith Mueller's interpretation of the same.  I have not decided on a paint scheme for the side pockets, but they will be dropped and I want to pull off an almost  "flame" yet "folky" look - think bonfire painted on a Mustang.  The head/neck will be "inletted" in the traditional ship builder style of the area:

The next several patterns are my interpretation of the John English/Florence School (i.e. Delaware River) style birds.  Thanks to carvers like Jode Hillman, Sean Sutton, George Strunk and Geoff Vine (found in the 'Links of Interest' to your right) I have truely found an area of decoy carving history I both enjoy reading about and attempting to emulate.  Jode actually took the time to answer several questions, and they (along with a few of his decoys) are found here: Interview With Master Carver Jode Hillman. For the historian, there are a lot of twists, turns and intrigue in the Delaware River birds.  I plan on writing about it one day soon.

In any case, here are my paltry interpretations:

Delaware River high head canvasback

 Contented bird

Canvasback sleeper

Lesser Scaup contented bird and sleeper

Left hand bird - preening Lesser Scaup

I wanted to say a few words about the right hand bird.  It is a combination and my interpretation of what would happen if a John English ruddy duck was carved with a Lee Dudley influence.  I believe no one on the planet has created a decoy that screams Ruddy Duck more than Lee Dudley of Knotts Island, NC.  I don't think a man should create certain decoys without having a bit of those who really mastered "that bird" in them.  Shang Wheeler sleeping blackducks and Joe Lincoln wood ducks have the same appeal to me.

After scratching out these patterns, turkey season came on...and, so did the desire to have a turkey decoy.  Many will remember I've set out to kill every species of waterfowl on the North American continent over my own decoys.  Recently, I've added turkeys to the list as I've seen the Slams, and have seen them accomplished by folks shooting handmade bows...why not a decoy.  Why not?  Well, there's no good reason.

If the picture is good enough, you'll note all kinds of eraser marks.  I had an awful time with the form of a hen turkey.  It wasn't until my first hunt of the season (which resulted in my first kill of the season, found here: Second Chances ) that I got to watch a hen in action, really focusing on the way she behaved.  I watched every move she made and figured out exactly how I wanted my decoy to look.  I wanted her in a leaning position that depicted natural movement, and the pattern is also my interpretation of what a Delaware River turkey decoy would look like:

I admit to still having some things to work out with this decoy.  The big thing is the allowance for movement, by decreasing "bulk".  I have some ideas, and will give them a try.  I'm sure in 30 years (give or take) I'll have it down to a science.

The last pattern I'll share today is a mini greenhead a friend of mine commissioned for his wedding cake.  I'll cut this bird out this weekend and start on it.  Again, my ideal of a Delaware River bird.  Pete, he'll be ready, you have my word....but, like the caption says (hehe).

Lastly, I don't normally do this because things look so terrible at this point - even more than my finished birds - but I'll show you two birds on the bench.  They will be named "the Elder Rig" due to the John Blair and John English influences on both.  I plan on writing about them in full when they are done, until then, the roughed out birds:

Blair influenced blue wing on left, English influence blue wing on right

Two little blue wing teal with differening styles, captured by men in the late 1800's and early 1900's hunting the same river - the Delaware.  I'm carving and painting these birds as practice for a couple of blue wing teal rigs I have been commissioned by friends to make.  Hope everyone has a great end of the week and weekend.  Check back often and tell your friends.


Monday, April 4, 2011

The Proverbial 'Now What"?

My limit maker
Had a fun hunt this morning, albeit a very quick one.  It was truly the type of hunt that when it's over, you're actually left wanting more.  
Making my usual listening spot, I waited almost 30 minutes and had yet to hear a gobbler sound off.  Around 7 a.m. I decided to slip through some 12 year old pine timber, and set up on a plot to listen and wait.  I knew a good bird was in the area, and figured I'd do as much good listening as I would anything else.  While getting myself situated, getting the Therma-Cell turned on, and getting the calls chalked up, I thought I heard a bird in the distance.  After roughly 5 minutes, I figured it was the wind or an old hound dog.
I first struck this bird around 730 using an Eddleman box call.  The call will flat "get up and through" wind, and considering the windy conditions I was met with, I needed something that could cut through it.  And, it did just that.  The last yelp of the sequence was met with a gobble, some 200 yards down in a hollow.  
 The Eddleman call amidst some feathers and spurs

Knowing I couldn't get closer to the bird, I backed up in the pine timber.  I have fooled with this turkey before, and knew that if I could get him to come up the hollow I'd have him, as I was finally on the right side of his comfort zone.

From the time I sat down, to the time I was standing over the bird took less than 15 minutes.  I called a few times, and with each answering gobble, I could tell he was on the move having business at hand.  The terrain didn't allow much vision outside of 30 yards, and I first saw his fan coming straight to me at around 50 yards.  He stopped and strutted behind a pine tree, and then stepped out in full view...and, in full strut.  A simple cluck/purr had him sticking his neck out to gobble.  He was shot mid-gobble and the hunt was over...too fast, just too fast.

10" beard, 1 1/4 and 1 3/8" spurs

 The super-hunt crew know the meaning of this photo

The proverbial "now what"...I guess I'll just have to tote the camera and "shoot" them that way for a spell.