of 1997, due to a friend's generosity, I was able to take part in a type
of hunting that I hadn't had the pleasure of doing in nearly twenty years.
That friend was Kim Hansen, and the type of hunting was duck and goose
hunting. Also along with Kim and I were Richard Lozano, a good friend
to both of us, and Daisy, Kim's five year old chocolate colored Labrador
Retriever.This would be Richard's first waterfowl hunt and over a hundred
for Kim and Daisy or Big Mama as Kim fondly calls her.
The temperature was hovering around the forty-degree mark as we loaded
all our gear into the truck at about 4:00 A. a. m. that morning. WE were
to travel out the beltway which circles around Houston, Texas for about
an hour to hunt near the small hamlet of East Bernard, Texas. When we
arrived at our destination we pulled the vehicle about a hundred yards
off the road and proceeded to struggle into our waders and heavy coats.
It would be awhile before daylight but we had lots to do before the hint
of gray daylight would creep thru the leaden, overcast sky. The damp,
humidity heavy, cold air made plumes of white vapor to mark our whereabouts
with every breath.
We were finally ready to make our way to the spot that Kim had figured
to be our best chance at some action. We had two large sacks of full body
decoys, making up about four dozen total. Kim and Richard carried the
sacks and I toted the three shotguns. I was going to hunt with my Remington
model 70, in 12 gauge, while Kim's weapon was a Springfield side- by -
side and Richard with a Remington model 870-pump action. They were both
12 gauge as well and all of us were using #4 shotshells. We had to stumble
our way through sometimes, over our head, thick weeds, for around 400
yards to our hunting spot. To say the least, we had all warmed up considerably
by the time we got there. Big Mama was running ahead and then back with
exuberance and anticipation of the hunt.
When we arrived I was to flatten three small areas we could sit in amongst
the tall weeds, to hopefully mask our presence and any movement from our
sharp eyed quarry.We were hunting a flooded rice field typical of the
many hunting areas around the Houston area. The water covered maybe a
hundred acres or so, but was only about eighteen inches or so deep with
a slick muddy bottom. I could barely see anything as Kim and Richard put
out the decoys. About the only way I could tell where they were was the
splash of the decoys as they hit the water. All during that time I could
off and on hear the sound of wings flying by our location.
We had situated ourselves along the side of and below the top of a levee.
Kim told us that there were also some ponds on the other side and behind
us and that we might get birds coming over from any direction. We finally
settled in to wait for what little daylight we would get under the sullen
sky above us. Every once in awhile we could hear a splat on the water
in the front of us as ducks would drop into our decoy spread and then
shortly after leap back into the air. Daisy was uneasily sitting next
to Kim, eyes to the sky and real antsy and anxious to get into action.
Finally we started to see a lightening of the sky and it was almost legal
shooting time. We didn't have too long a wait.
The first thing we saw was out to our right. A bird flying straight at
us. Then the whistle of wings and the sizzling speed of one of the fastest
and smallest of the ducks, the Teal. The bird was coming straight at Richard.
His gun came up and barked once and the teal landed nearly in his lap.
A real good start for a first timer. Daisy looked kind of hurt that we
didn't need her services. Kim blasted out a few notes on his duck call
and we settled back down. We were seeing dozens of flights of ducks as
well as a few wedges of geese but they were all too high.
Then things started to pick up and Kim and I both shot at a Pintail drake
zooming over us. It hit the ground behind us and Daisy was on it fast
as a duck 0on a June bug. Flip a coin as to which of us got that one.
Probably Kim as I was pretty rusty with the shotgun. We had seen a number
of flights of Redhead ducks and I was really hoping for a crack at them,
as I had never taken a Redhead. I figured a pretty rusty headed drake
would be a handsome addition to my trophy room.
We had a big Speckle Bellied goose sneak in over us and we all tried for
him but none of us even ruffled a feather.
Within the next hour we all three were successful in dropping a Redhead
drake. We all thought that one bird of that species was all that was allowed
and guess what? As the flights of birds got fewer and fewer, count em!
A flight of eighteen birds, all Redheads plopped themselves right in the
middle of our spread of decoys. They paddled around and back and forth
for over thirty minutes before finally winging their way away from us.
We later checked the bag limits and you guessed it, it was two Redheads
per person per day. No matter, we had a good time, got a few birds, and
we figured that we'd had a good and successful hunt
by Steve Mahurin on May 15, 2000.