The last two weeks in November were to prove interesting. Duck camp is on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River. However, my dogs and I hunt both sides (Illinois and Iowa licenses).
I scouted an area on the Iowa side of the Mississippi that looked promising. However, it would require “packing in” with my Predator blind as a sled (over land and across water). The first day, Gunny picked up five ducks and shooting out of the layout continued to be a challenge. The next day my 13 year old Taffey picked up two greenwing teal. It was a good two days.
Looking at the next island to the west, there appeared to be a large log sitting off the end which could be a neat place to setup. Also, farther up the shore to the north ducks were dropping in. The plan was to take a closer look at this island the following week. It was scouted on November 27th. The next morning Gunny and I packed in (loaded sled) from the boat, to setup on the east side of the island. Ducks were working but they seemed to prefer setting down nearer to the end of the island.....in the area of the log spotted the week before. So I adjusted.
I moved to the log and Gunny was placed about 125 yards remotely from the log on a piece of plywood (apparently left by other hunters when the water was higher). It was a good move. We ended up with two greenwing teal and a mallard. I was extremely happy about how Gunny adapted to the change.
The next morning we returned. This time I brought along a dog hide to place on that piece of plywood. The log was rather unique in that I could sit on it while at the same time there were two branches in front of me that perfectly cradled my gun. The water was about calf high with a fairly firm sand bottom.
The second day was "sloooow" and almost nothing was moving. Those ducks that did had decided another 300 yards farther south was a better place to be. If I had eyes in the back of my head there were two chances that could have produced a shot or two......but I don't.
Then it happened. Two greenwings came speeding overhead and I managed to swing on the second one. It was not a clean kill and the duck fluttered out over the channel in the direction of the spot we had hunted the week before. The distance between the two islands is 200+ yards.
The following picture was taken from that far island and used to show the sequence of a spectacularly challenging retrieve that Gunny made.
Point #1 is Gunny's hide. I was on the log at point #2 and shot a drake greenwing at #3. The duck fluttered down to land at point #4 too far away for any follow-up shot and was swimming.....not good.....but I gave Gunny the “call”. He had lunging water for awhile then the middle of the channel deeper swimming water. For a moment, the distance of the fall became a bit confusing so I handled him twice. Then the duck flexed its wings and there was a flash of motion. Gunny saw it. As he zeroed in on making a retrieve closer to the shore it was very shallow. He pounced, but the duck jumped up and flew off.
My heart sunk for a moment knowing that Gunny had put a huge effort into his attempt. Suddenly it landed about 75 yards away near the shoreline. Gunny was at full speed after it and pounced again. At point #5 his successful retrieve had me giving a mental “Tiger Woods' fist pump”. Gunny delivered it to me back at the log (point #6) and I know “Good Boy” was said several times.
He returned to his hide and I to my spot on the log.....still thinking “Wow! That was so, so cool.” It was our only retrieve for the day..........but I really didn't care. What a retrieve!