Photography courtesy of Lowell Washburn, all rights reserved.
Iowa waterfowl hunters enjoyed overall good success during the the October 3rd kickoff to this year’s regular duck season. According to DNR Conservation Officers, hunters encountered good to excellent numbers of ducks statewide during Saturday’s opener. Although a scattering of other species were reported, the flight was clearly dominated by mallards, teal and wood ducks. A good percentage of hunters took six-duck limits and most parties left the field with a “mixed bag” that included two or more species. I hunted a small public wetland in Cerro Gordo County with my nephew, Justin Washburn. Ducks started buzzing at first light and we had a good number of birds already swimming in the decoys when the half-hour before sunrise legal shooting time arrived. We had to hold our fire though when, precisely at shooting time, a nice white-tailed deer came walking out into the marsh to inspect our decoys. It was unforgettable moment — the orange tinged water reflecting the impending sunrise, ducks flying overhead, ducks swimming around in the decoys just a few yards away, and a deer standing right in the middle of it all. The temporary delay didn’t matter. The deer finally walked back into the vegetation and less than ten minutes later, I had collected my limit of six beautiful teal. There were also some mallards looking things over but [to me, at least] it seemed foolish to shoot at half feathered, pinny mallards when there were hog fat, prime blue-wings coming into the spread like no body’s business. Before you know it, all the blue-winged teal will have departed for Central America and there will still be plenty of plump greenheads arriving in Iowa when November winds blow.