Posted 11 January 2010 - 02:03 PM
Well, the trip was a success. Mostly. Day one we hunted a 3 man wooden blind about 20 minutes outside of city limits in Cashmere. Beautiful decoy spread and beautiful scenery, but that does not always provide ducks. This day of hunting yielded only one duck. An immature Goldeneye that I shot. Things weren't looking great, so we went scouting to find rafts of birds scattered on the river. We found a spot about 45 minutes further up river that our "guide" hadn't hunted all year and is usually an early season producer...also, a possible Canada hot spot. This was where we were going to setup the next day.On day two we brought the full body Honker floaters and about a dozen Honker feeders for the field behind us. Threw out our largest spread of about 50 divers and wigeon and settled in to wait. Things were slow for the first hour. Then boom, I got my first Hooded Merg. Just shy of fully mature, unfortunately. Then capow, capow, a few bufflehead. Then a few wigeon for my buddy's, then a nice drake Goldeneye, then the biggest and prettiest drake mallard I've ever seen to date. This thing had close to a 1" white neck band and three and a half curls on his tail. Then another Goldeneye and a pair of Buffs, and another beautiful drake Hoodie for my buddy. At about 10:15 we hear what we really are looking forward to: Honks. Our "guide" gets on his horn while all 4 of us and a dog try to settle down and get hidden under the trees that line the bank of the Columbia. The geese are coming right for us, so I get on my Canada horn to convince them. They are convinced..until 15 yards from being shot. One of my buds gets too excited and raises his gun to get a bead early. The dog sees this and jumps the gun a bit...the birds all flare, had to have been 60 of them. And we watched them all fly off. It was Sunday and in Washington you can only hunt geese on Sat/Sun/Wed, so that was our last chance at a Washington honker, since we were leaving on Tuesday. I think we ended the morning with only about 12 birds between the three of us, but we were all shooting well and all had birds. We decided to go into town for some food, then decide on an afternoon shoot.We drove back down river after eating some gas station fried burritos and saw a promising spot to setup. It was down the rocky embankment separating the highway from the river. We asked the landowner permission to access the land in an effort to make carrying the dekes easier, instead of walking all the way down the rocks with decoys, to which the landowner of course said "yes." (It's becoming more and more evident that we aren't in CA anymore.) The afternoon was slow for the first two hours or so. Then my buddy blasts a VERY long distance wigeon. An amazing shot. Then a diver shows...it's a Ringer and I flatten him. Then it slowed again. All of a sudden, not 6" off the water there's a Goldeneye coming straight into the decoys. I call him out and blast him. Dog goes out to get him, and here comes another one, full speed into the dekes. Another dead bird. Then two more try to land on top of the dogs head, we get them to flare up high and shoot 'em both. Then a pair come to meet their demise. Then two Bluebills go down. We couldn't reload fast enough. I was shaking, it was very exciting. We ended up with 21 ducks that day...not quite a limit, but some of the most fun we've had in awhile.We went out to the bar that night and a had a couple celebratory beers. Note to all, Irish Death in the evening is still Irish Death in the morning. We did some internet scouting when we got home to try and find a point close to where we had setup the afternoon before, so that we could get the dekes out a little bit further for the next day. But we decided it was going to be an afternoon shoot and we were going to setup at a more local spot in the morning for mallards.That's what we did. We setup in this nice little dabbler pond just outside of the city. Very pretty scene. Problem is, it starting snowing. And I mean SNOWING. White-out conditions. Snow flakes the size of small animals, that kind of thing. We only killed about 5 ducks that morning. So we went to Denny's. Still in our waders. I could only imagine the comments we'd have received had we been in California.Anyway, on to our last afternoon shoot...We found a point about 100 yards down river from our previous days afternoon shoot, and once again asked the landowner permission to cut through his property. His reply: "Yes, sure, and feel free to park in my driveway." I love this state.So off the point we threw out about 25 magnum diver dekes and a mix of about 30 standard wigeon, and divers. The spread looked good, but the day didn't quite produce like the day before. We got another handful of wigeon that couldn't resist the far corner of our setup, but the divers never showed.All in all, the trip was fun. Not a ton of birds like we had anticipated, but the scenery made up for it. I've got pics but haven't loaded them to photobucket yet. I will edit this soon with those pics, maybe tonight if I have time.