You never forget days like these. My fiancé and I decided to go hunting on the northern area opener here in Utah. Being that most of my hunting was in the southern part of the state, this was an adventure to both of us. There were a lot of things on my mind leading up to this. One, I only had one insulated wader and even though it was early season, I wanted my fiancé to stay warm since this was her first duck hunt. Two, I had no idea of the area I was going and I was hoping to get into some action.
Knowing that this was opening weekend we decided to skip the opening morning and go do an afternoon shoot. This wasn’t too bad of an idea since it would mean my fiancé wouldn’t have to worry about getting up at 3 am, and it meant warmer weather even though we had a cold front moving through. I had bought her a nice jacket from Kings Camo, which I also own, and we borrowed a shotgun since this was simply an introduction. I did my research with some of my hunting buddies and decided on a place to go hunt. We’d have about a mile long hike into the marsh and I figured this would be a decent spot.
When we got to our parking spot we were met by two Game Wardens who we chatted with and checked our hunting license and duck stamp. I thought this was a good introduction for her on what to expect when meeting a Conservation Officer. Once we finished getting ready and geared up, we began the long hike to our random spots. We could see ducks flying and a few pelicans, which sure got the excitement going. As we hiked I remembered that my fiancé just had a recent knee surgery and she was wearing my waders which were a little bit too big for her. We settled on a spot at first that looked ducky but kept watching the ducks flying south of us. This prompted us to move and hopefully get some ducks to decoy when the cold front hit. We found a spot that had some good water and plenty of cover. We set up our decoys and knelled in the reeds waiting for some ducks. As hunts go, we both missed a lot but found ourselves in the right spot for the day.
On our way home I mentioned our early start the next day and how we would return to the same spot. My fiancé mentioned how uncomfortable it was on her knee and I decided that getting her a marsh chair just became a priority. We went to a local sports retailer and got the very last one, along with some bug spray. Did I mention the mosquito attack before the cold front hit? Quickly I found I had some lessons to learn in introducing a new hunter to the sport. Even though I thought I was prepared, I forgot that I’ve learned to just deal with things as a hunter that may make some people uncomfortable. After making our purchases we hurried home to catch some needed sleep before the morning hunt the next day.
3am came along and up we were. This time we dressed for some colder weather and loaded up in the truck for another 2 hour drive. The fiancé slept most of the way and that was fine with me. She had no idea how excited I was and sleep was not even a possibility for me. We again got to our parking spot and loaded up all the gear, this time packing along a marsh chair and loading up on bug spray. We hiked back over to the new spot we discovered and set up. I put the decoys out in the dark and realized how hiking in the dark through a marsh can make a brand new hunter a little nervous. I went into our hiding spot and set up the marsh chair. It was super simple and the fiancé mentioned how much better that felt on her knee compared to the day before. The sun came up and we got the first shot of the morning. We had ducks land in our decoys before shooting hours started so we were just itching to take a shot. Too bad we both forgot how to shoot all of a sudden and missed them all.
That morning went just as I planned. We had ducks flying and buzzing our decoys and the action was pretty much nonstop. We were selective in our shots since we were limited on how many shells we could carry. We had multiple groups coming in and a few singles and doubles. Eventually we had the perfect group of five come into our decoys. We both pulled up our guns and started shooting. Mid shot on my second shell I hear my fiancé scream “I got one!” I pull my head out of my sights and look at the group just as I see a Green Wing Teal drop into the water. I stopped thinking about me hunting and my excitement became all about her first duck and how now she’s sharing into one of my passions. Needless to say she was super excited and I hurried and grabbed her duck for her. She’s still a little squeamish about holding a dead animal but I reminded her that a picture was required. Even though she was holding a dead duck, her smile was from ear to ear even while all covered up from the cold. She caught the waterfowl bug and I saw a new hunter born in front of my eyes. This was a day I’ll never forget.
- Wear a wader that fits, I use a Rogers Sporting goods 5mm Toughman Standard Waders.
- A marsh chair.ALPS OutdoorZ Delta Waterfowl Wetland Seat
- Bug Repellent
- Don’t be afraid to move
- If the ducks aren’t finishing in the decoys but keep checking it out, try adjusting them and see how they react.
- The wild can be intimidating to a new hunter.
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