The Thanksgiving weekend hunting crew concisted of (left to right) Randy Cesco, Josh Mason, Josh Buskirk, Josh Pickett, and I. The retreivers are Bella (left) and Boss (right).
(By Jon Swaby)
Waterfowl hunting is, if anything, dependent on the weather. Without cold weather to the north freezing up the lakes and waterways the birds have no reason to migrate south. Living in Indiana, the land between flyways, we can only hope for some stray winds to push a significant number of birds into the area.
It could be said that a waterfowl hunter is a strange sort, one who hopes for the nastiest of weather. The sort of weather that causes other people to stay home from work and curl up next to a warm fire. So far this season we have had none of that. There have been more days suited for a day on the lake fishing instead of waiting with shotgun in hand.
What is one to do when the hunting is slow and the birds rarely make an appearance? Those are the seasons when you take time to appreciate the people around you. The moments that forge new friendships and solidify old ones.
I've been fortunate this year to meet many new people, I suppose that is one of the perks of social media. One of those new friends is a gentleman from northern Indiana by the name of Randy Cesco. Randy is the owner of Cold Front Calls out of Syracuse, Indiana. He makes artisan quality custom duck and goose calls.
I first made contact with Randy, via Facebook, when I inquired about his calls. Since that time we have kept in touch with each other and decided if we had the opportunity we would get together for a hunt.
Randy messaged me that he was free the weekend following Thanksgiving. We made arrangements and on the day after Thanksgiving, instead of shopping with the masses we went duck hunting. Unfortunately, and later fortunately, a major rainstorm came into the area that weekend and the hunt on Friday was a soaking wet affair with no ducks to show for our effort.
Saturday morning Randy and I, along with Josh Pickett and Josh Buskirk planned to hunt on a small pond that had been holding ducks for several days leading up to the weekend. Expectations were high after the previous day's flop and we anxiously awaited the arrival of the first flight of ducks.
Once again we never fired a shot at a duck. It appeared as though the ducks had scattered to fresh feeding spots with all of the rain that had come down. We decided the rest of the day would be devoted to scouting a spot to hunt on Sunday morning. After driving around many of our locations and not seeing many birds we pulled up to a milo field that had produced some birds for us earlier in the year. On the edge of the field was a pool of flood water backed up into the milo stalks and a couple hundred ducks were feeding on the spoils.
Sunday morning Randy, Josh P., Josh B., and another new friend, Josh Mason, and I all set up our decoys in the flooded field and hid our blinds in the grass at the edge. As daylight approached Josh Pickett was trying to snap a few pictures of the crew and nearly had his hat knocked off by a group of ducks that came in to land.
As the morning progressed we managed to shoot a few ducks and miss a lot more. Ducks were in the air nearly the entire time we stayed, but time after time they would circle the decoys and fly just outside of shotgun range. By the time we stopped shooting we had taken a total of six ducks. We called it a day around noon and packed it in. It was a day I will think back on for years to come not only for the numbers of birds we saw but also for the company I was able to share it with.
Sometimes it pays to stick it out through the tough hunts and not be discouraged because you never know when the flip will switch and the birds will show up.
Jon is a staff writer for the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached by telephone at (812) 847-4487, ext. 21. He can also be reached via email at email@example.com.