We've been hunting and scouting hard nearly every day in an attempt to really hammer on the birds here in the north Columbia Basin. Overall, we're quite pleased with the numbers of ducks in most areas we're hunting. Some of our zones hold more birds historically this time of year, but we just haven't had the cold weather to bring new ducks to the areas. Most of the birds we're hunting right now came down with early cold snaps back in November, creating the all-to-common challenge of trying to decoy birds that have seen just about everything hunters have to offer.
We've done well using two main tactics here in the north basin- chasing desired conditions and putting in our time scouting. With good numbers of birds in many areas, our only hope for having a really good shoot comes with hunting in conditions that makes the birds fly beyond the quick flurries of action in the first half hour of shooting light. This could be as little as a 5-8 mph breeze versus dead calm, or finding places with large fluctuations in water levels on the river. It has become so important to find whatever we can for conditions that keeps the birds flying throughout the day.
Our recent success the last two days has also been due, in large part, to our scouting. By putting in time running around checking spots in both the boat and the truck, we've been able to locate several areas that are holding birds but not being hunted. I think this really comes with the warmer than average conditions we've had for the past three weeks. The spots we've found are normally worked over pretty hard by weekend warriors this time of year, but the warm weather seems to be deterring most dedicated waterfowl hunters.
We're crossing our fingers and praying for colder weather. Once we get our new birds it's going to be a lights-out show for several days running! Until then, we'll keep working our tails off chasing the birds, or could that be chasing our tails?
We're rolling over to hunt eastern Montana for a week here soon so I should have a pretty good trip report with lots of photos for you gawkers. In the meantime, I'm tying quite a bit for the upcoming winter season and trying my best to keep my head in the steelhead game, but these birds are really messing with that whole mindset!
Hope you all are enjoying the hunting, fishing, or spending time with family as we approach the holiday season! More to come soon!
|Jeff and Rex with a pile-o-green|
|Jessie has an insane nose, hide the salami!|
|A mid-morning spread in less than ideal hunting weather...|