Wild Times: Come on in, the water is fine!
Last Saturday, Oct. 27, marked the opening day of the 2018 waterfowl season. I should probably clarify that with a little more detail. The duck portion of the waterfowl season has opened up while the Canada goose portion of the season won’t open up for a couple of more weeks.
We reside in what is known as the Low Plains segment of the state according to the waterfowl map of the state. Going even further, we are in the Late Segment of the Low Plains area. The state is divided into a Low Plains and a High Plains area, and the dividing line is U.S. Highway 283 which runs north and south through the state going through Norton. Any portion of the state east of U.S. Highway 283 is the Low Plains, thus our area. The Low Plains area is divided into an Early Segment and a Late Segment. We are in the Late Segment, and our season began last Saturday.
When I was a young wannabe hunter, the opening of duck season was a big event in the area. I can remember seeing duck blinds that were constructed on the south side of Sabetha City Lake. I was fascinated by them and would dream of the day when possibly I could sit in one of those blinds. Duck season is no longer a big deal, it seems to me. I very rarely find anyone around here who gets that fired up about shooting some waterfowl. I have one friend in the area that loves to shoot ducks and he travels quite a bit in pursuit of ducks and geese, but he is one of the few.
Personally, I love to shoot ducks and geese, so I was looking forward to the opener. I have not pulled the duck decoys out of the bag in years. It has been so long that I cannot even remember the last time I had them out. I have had the goose decoys out several times but not the green heads. I had a little spot that I wanted to dump out a few decoys in hopes of luring in some wood ducks. I only grabbed a few decoys and set them out and then grabbed the 12-gauge and a handful of shells. I donned my waders and a camouflage shirt, gloves, and hat and headed down the road. The little pond that I headed for held ducks pretty much all year long, and there were wood ducks in the mix. The recent rains had the pond full and backed up into some trees, a perfect setup for some wood ducks. I made my way to the pond.
On the way in, I noticed that several trees had been felled by some beavers — never a good sign for a nice pond area. I gathered all my gear and slung my shotgun across my neck and shoulder and began to wade into the water. I had not gone but fifty feet when through the flooded trees and weeds I spotted a beaver. I was watching the creature swimming in and around all of the trees when I should have been watching where I was walking. I knew I was skirting fairly close to the creek channel but with the higher water level my bearing were off just a little.
As I slowly made my way towards some open water, I got too close to the channel and the next thing I knew I had a severe leak in the top of my waders. I slipped downward a tiny bit and the water poured over the top lip of the waders. It was cold! It was very cold! I backpedaled the best I could, but it was too late, my waders were now just another pair of pants that were soaked. I cursed myself for not paying attention and, after making sure my cell phone was high and dry, moved on down the line.
Duck hunting in wet waders is really not very much fun, quite honestly. I threw out my decoys and got set up. My heart was just not into it. I stayed there for an hour and discovered that with the added water from the rains I really needed a boat to effectively hunt the area. I actually had a nice flock of Blue-Winged Teal come roaring by and a couple of Wood ducks came in down a ways from my setup. As the sun set I struggled back toward the back of the pond. Just as I exited the pond, a flock of seven or eight Wood ducks came flying right over my head. They landed right where I had been set up! For the ducks, the water was fine but it was a little cool for me.