ST. CHARLES — Frankly, I wasn’t sure about it; the bird came from the west, where the late afternoon sun made it difficult to discern its color. But when John Bakos called “take him,” I shouldered my shotgun.
One of the youngsters to my right fired at the high-flying bird, but to no avail, so I swung and dispatched a load of No. 3 Heavy Metal toward the fast-fleeing mallard. It folded up like a handkerchief and fell a couple of rows back into the standing corn at Shiawassee River State Game Area.
Brandon Bakos, John’s 15-year-old son, was on it immediately. He brought back a young drake — just starting to get those tell-tale green feathers about the head.
Obviously, Bakos can ID them better than I can.
So we were in the plus column, finally, with less than 80 minutes of shooting time left. It was, really, the first bird that came anywhere close to our set — we’d seen a few in the distance and noticed a nearby party shoot a single earlier — but it showed no interest in the decoys out in the open-water in front of our position in the standing corn.
This was going to be tough.
“Bright sun, no wind, and not a cloud in the sky,” Bakos lamented. “Terrible duck weather.”
What‘s the saying, weather trumps all? It’s true for most sporting pursuits, but it’s doubly so for waterfowl hunting.
We’d had high hopes, despite the weather. It just so happened that we knew the guys who were hunting that same zone that morning and though they hadn’t set the world afire, they had some shooting and said they’d chased a bunch of birds out of there when they went in that morning. We were all counting on those birds coming back to spend the night.