Sadly, it’s that time of year that we start thinking about next year. In a few short months, our waterfowl season has come and gone… what I call the fastest 60 days of the year!
But don’t let the post season lull get you down. This is a great time to take care of a few things.
First of all, if you lease property like I do, this is the time of year we work on a few things around our marsh lease and goose fields. It’s only a matter of time before the heat hits and I can tell you around here on the Chesapeake Bay, the marsh comes alive when it gets warmer. The mosquitoes and flies are big enough they could carry a lab puppy away! We already have our work parties scheduled over the next couple of weekends to un-brush our blinds, make a few repairs by throwing in a few more screws, and make a few adjustments to our goose pits while it’s fresh in our mind. We also need to get it done now because the farmer will have his crops going soon and dragging lumber and tools for repairs across the farmers freshly planted ag field is great way to lose your lease!
Here at my home, I’m fortunate enough to have two 10x16 sheds that I store all of my decoys, blind materials, and layout blinds in. However, over the course of the season… it tends to get messy! My sons and I already spent last weekend going through our decoy sheds and cleaning them up. We actually pulled everything out, cleaned some decoys that had mud on them, repaired decoys that were missing weights from broken lines, and re-organized them. My sons actually did such a good job with the cleaning and reorganizing that I now have enough room in one of my sheds to mount my bow press and arrow saw on the workbench! That’s a bonus… and it makes the wife happy to get more of my stuff out of the basement.
If you’re like me, and most duck hunters are, you have a lot of decoys. You might even border on having too many decoys, if that’s even possible. While pulling decoys out and reorganizing our stuff, I took inventory of everything. Sounds like a basic thing, right. Of course, you know what decoys you have. I thought the same thing until I sat down and looked at the list of what I jam packed into those sheds out back. I realized I have some species that I am light in and never realized this because one of my buddies always brought his decoys.
We lease 400 acres of marsh in the southern part of the Chesapeake Bay and we see large groups of black ducks there. So basically, if I ever went without him bringing his decoys, I wouldn’t have enough on hand to hunt it effectively during certain times of the year. I also realized I have so many bluebills that I can probably sell a few because they will most likely never see water. Selling off some of the surplus will give me the cash to purchase other equipment. Pretty sure we can all agree, it doesn’t matter what brand you like, every piece of waterfowl gear is expensive. So while I have an army of sons, 5 to be exact, to help me with these projects, I also have an army hunters to outfit with waders, guns, ammo, and the most expensive part of most of hunting trips… snacks!
I even have a few scoters and old squaws that my hunting group… mostly my sons… have shot up! When it comes to killing cripples in the sea duck spread, nothing is safe in the water, especially the decoys because they don’t dive like that cripple does! But that’s ok, I know I can send them into the team at Fowl Foolers and get them repaired, including a fresh coat of paint to make them look new again.
The last thing to think about is your duck hunting rig. If you have a boat, especially boat used primarily for duck hunting, make a list of "fixes" that need some attention. I have a boat that I use primarily for duck hunting and although we strip the blind off it, we don't use it much in summer because we have another boat that we use for fishing and crabbing. The problem I have had in the past is when I put the duck boat away at the end of the season, I tend to forget about all those little projects I have been thinking about, especially when I'm hunting out of it. This year I made a list, and we plan on tackling everything before July 15th. Why July 15th you might be asking? That's when we start preparing our marsh by planting some millet and scouting the area to see what resident birds we have for the first split.
So, don’t let the end of your waterfowl season depress you. Get out there and work on your properties and your gear. Play with your decoys and don’t be afraid trying to make some of your own decoys too. Doesn’t matter if it’s a foam or wooden block, it’s fun and it can help burn through the summer months.
If you don’t prepare now, it’s hard to get caught up in August. If you have kids in sports, you know how grueling that schedule can be. Between work, kids activities, fishing, and vacations, it’s easy to fall behind in your waterfowling “chores”. Jump on them now before life gets in the way… September will be here before you know it.