If you asked me how many times I have perused weather.com looking for the ideal conditions, or browsing through last year’s waterfowl photographs in search of a forgotten buzz, frankly, I would be embarrassed. The conditions this year for the Dakota’s and across much of Minnesota are at a minimum . . . stellar! The water is at levels unseen for years, and with water comes ducks.
I took a little trip out to my stomping grounds earlier this week to wrangle up a spot for the upcoming weekend. I knew there were a mass of ducks in the area, but not to the extent I witnessed. The first spot we arrived at looked more like a scene from Helen Hunt’s “Twister” than a tiny slough nestled in the cornfields of North Dakota. This pond was no more than 60 square yards wide, and the greenheads were using and abusing it.
After sitting and watching countless ducks jump out and head to a winter wheat field, they slowly filtered back to a larger body of water to spend the night. This situation is a true dream for waterfowlers. I have always got a good kick out of shooting mallards in a cornfield during late October, but there is something a slough does to a hunter. It brings us back to our roots. It brings me back to one of my most memorable hunts since I have arrived in pothole country.
When I arrived to NDSU it took most of the waterfowl season before I could convince my jaw to return to its normal position. The last hunt of the season didn’t help me pass the off-season. It was a similar situation to my opener pond, but during October’s peak migration. It was a spot so good, it required a good friend to call off a math exam (with a terrible excuse I am sure) due to a well-known case of avian flu. All I remember is looking up and seeing more Mallards than I care to talk about, in fear of packing up and leaving now, dumping in on our pond, and letting loose on a sea of green. They did this all night, and I could have sat and watched for the rest of my life.
The conditions for this weekend are of similar fashion, and I can only hope to have a repeat experience. I hope everybody has a safe and memorable opener.
From the duck factory…Ben Brettingen.