Another opener is in the books.
I don’t normally lose too much sleep before an early morning hunt anymore. I used to lie in bed all night, eyes wandering over to check the brightly lit alarm clock. “Its only ten minutes later than the last time I checked? Come on!”
2-parts anxiousness and 1-part nerves blended together to create the world’s greatest energy drink. Anxious for the hunting season to finally get here and anxious that it’s the opener. Yet nervous I might oversleep.
Lately however I’ve been able to saw logs like a baby right up to the moment Siri wakes me with a de-de-de-beep de-de-de-beep.
This was not the case Friday night. I woke up at 1am. 2 am. 2:30 am. I laid there until 3:08 and gave in. Thirty seven minutes later, Siri’s morning wake up call echoed throughout the neighborhood as I lifted a bag decoys over my tailgate.
A new slough awaited us and the 1-hour ride kept me dreaming of committed mallards and dipping teal, with guest appearances from gadwall, widgeon and spoonies. Again this year I’d be hunting the opener with my friend Ron Weber and his family. The birds didn’t come fast and furious but there were no complaints about the 21 we hauled back to the truck.
Hunting transition sloughs is not everyone’s preferred duck shoot. But it sure is Mika’s. That dog loves to be in the water. I don’t care if the decoys are ringed with ice, she’ll dive in head first like a drunk guy off a bar stool to retrieve downed fowl.
What I’ve gone through with her during the training process will be detailed more in depth in our Fall issue, which comes out Oct 15th. The highs and the lows, for the dog AND me. I’ll reveal a small part here.
When I was packing the truck at 3:30 am yesterday, I grabbed her leash. On a few occasions last season, keeping an 8-month-old lab puppy within reach proved to be something I’d only dreamt about in romance novels.
What a difference a year makes. Two of Mika’s retrieves will have me putting that pup on a pedestal for months. Veteran owners know the feeling of watching another first for a young dog and the satisfaction it brings. “Super Duck” (S.D.) had just about every boom stick in the slough flinging steel at it before it finally splashed down. Mika was hot on the trail, but S.D. would disappear each time she was close. I didn’t expect it, but when S.D. submerged, Mika followed.
Finally she was able to grab S.D. by the tip of the wing and bring the bounty back to the blind.
A 100+ yard retrieve to the far shore of the slough followed. She watched the shot, marked the bird and had it in my hands before I could congratulate the shooter. She’s still got some things to learn, but I was impressed.
I’d seen enough. I doused her with Gatorade and carried her on my shoulders all the way to the truck. She said “I’m going to Disneyland”, climbed into the truck and slept like a puppy until Siri told us we were home.
By Bret “T-Bone” Amundson