This weekend was our opener at the club in south central Illinois. With decent temps to start the morning we had high hopes. We got everything set and just prior to shooting light we had swarms of teal, shovelers, and mallards lighting in the decoys. As luck would have it, just a few minutes before legal light, most left. The morning low was around 40 and the wind was at 20 from the southwest. Our pit faces the south, so shooting was going to be tricky. Along with the tricky shooting, filming was going to nearly impossible with rocket teal making their turn directly over me and into the rising sun. As the first group of green wing did their thing, I quickly tried to get on them. I wasn’t able to catch up with them until the first shots went off. Needless to say the cameraman missed the birds, but so did the hunters! They were trying to kill the birds as they got into the hole which means the birds were already traveling away from the guns. After a few volleys of the same results, we adjusted to face the south and call the shot as the birds made their turn. This allowed the hunters to start take better shots, but the cameraman was still left with the issue of the birds making the turn directly overhead.
I’ve never filmed teal. Most of my waterfowl filming experience has been with flooded timber mallards. They’re a challenge, but nothing like a 30mph teal with a tailwind! We ended up getting one teal kill on film and started seeing more big ducks later in the morning. The big ducks were making wider swings and allowed me ample opportunity to get on them through the corn stubble. The last 5 minutes of the day led to a group of three mallards doing it right and we captured 2 of the three going down on film. Good finish to the first day! In total, we harvest 2 mallards, a redhead, and 4 teal. There was good activity during the first hour, it then trailed off as the morning went on. With all the shooting on other private ground and the local state land we expected the birds to continue to bounce around, but with a sustained 20 mph wind and gusts to 30 they stayed low through mid morning. Most of the local goose population spent most of the day on the water as well. We had a couple groups work, but failed to commit.
We had a potential mallard smash for Sunday. I scouted some birds Friday morning up in the central zone. 3-400 mallards were coming off a local quarry and hitting a corn stubble field just a mile from their roost. Scott went to watch Saturday morning and the birds did the same thing. We figured out the landowner from the plat book and found where he supposively lived. Scott knocked on some doors and no one was home. Finally, at the third local house, he talked to a guy who had lived in the area for a long time, but had no clue who the landowner was. So we headed back to the club on Sunday.
Saturday was windy, Sunday was a near hurricane with gusts to 45. We didn’t see many ducks. What we did see was during the first hour and what came in didn’t leave! With one day of filming under my belt, I had a better gameplan for day 2. The teal again proved impossible to film, but we got a wood duck, mallard and, the prize bird of the weekend, a black duck on film. Day 2 ended with full stomachs, 2 teal, woody, mallard, and a black duck. We didn’t see a bird the last 4 hours of the day, but ate a heck of a breakfast and got some great shots of the decoys and stuff blowing everywhere! Quite a few snow geese started to show and there will be tons more in the coming weeks.
We’re forecasted to get a decent cold front this week which should bring a few new birds down, and looking long range, next weekend and there after is starting to look colder here and cold and snowy up north. It’s about to be bumpin!!!