Changing up for Ducks

mallard-huntingFifteen minutes before shooting hours, everything looked perfect. The small flooded spot in the open field was about twenty feet from the feet of our carefully camouflaged layout blinds. Ducks were trading about only feet above us in the excited moments of dusky morning. The forecast called for rain and wind on the Oregon coast. Perfect conditions for success, which lasted about five minutes into shooting light. Shooting hours and the opening barrage went about as expected and then nothing, the rain and wind didn’t arrive and the ducks didn’t either.

After half an hour my friend surprised me by saying, “Let’s pack it in and move to the bay before high tide.” Tide didn’t come in until 1:00pm and the move was actually kind of laid back. When we reached the bay blind the water was still over 200 yards off, but the tide was rising. We set the decoys on the mud flat and got into the blind. The boat was carefully tied nearby where no channels would have to be crossed at high water to escape or chase cripples.

Things started slowly and then picked up steadily. We shot an astounding variety of birds, which is pretty common on the Oregon coast. Mallards, widgeon, pintails, bufflehead scaup and more. The morning’s busted field hunt turned into a classic coast bay hunt. Simple local knowledge of the tides and bird behavior with or without the storm made the decision easy and the results, 21 birds for 4 hunters, well worth the move. Sometimes a changeup is required and sometimes staying put will pay off. Knowing the local conditions and birds can make hunting productive even when the unexpected happens.