Jump Shooting Ducks

The weather in Utah can make hunting very temperamental. Sometimes the weather is freaking hot and we are getting eaten alive by mosquitos and soaked in sweat, and other times the ice shows up out of nowhere and we get to watch birds fly right over us and make their way to Arizona and Mexico. Recently, our hunting season has taken a weird turn. It seems all of the local birds are around and the first wave of the migration has been pushed south by the weather and us hunting. This has made a big fat lull in the waterfowl season.

As a result of this lull, we have been forced to improvise. Since life is kind of busy, I took this opportunity to do some jump shooting as I scout and look for where the birds might be. My first attempt was at Lower Hobble Creek WMA in Springville, UT. This was a long hike and it was my first time there. On my way through, the weather kept changing from rain to just cloudy but it wasn’t enough to move much around. It was disappointing but I also know that the ice is just setting in on Utah lake. This day I saw a couple of ducks but nothing close to shooting range. The next day I made my way to Farmington Bay WMA.

I woke up early and the fog was on! I was so excited thinking that I could set up and with the snow storm coming in, it should push birds around and make for a great hunt. I made my way to one of my spots knowing it was a gamble with all the different migration reports I had been hearing and with me not doing any previous scouting in the area. I made my way through the water and found a decent spot to set up. My favorite spot was taken already by another hunter. All my excitement turned into some deep disappointment when I didn’t see any ducks and only heard a few shots through the morning. Unfortunately I had to make my way to work for a class I had to teach and so I had to pack up. On my way out I was thinking of how I was walking back to the truck empty handed and with no shots fired. As I walked on the dike, I saw a merganser sitting in this canal just swimming along. Knowing that this was my only shot, I decided to jump shoot it. After 3 shots, which all hit the target, he finally stopped moving and stopped. This guy heading home had his pup with him and being that it was his dogs first hunt, I told him to see if his dog would fetch it up. Unfortunately, his pup was so new and just too distracted. I dropped off my decoys and marsh chair and started to run around the canal so I could collect my merganser.

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After a few days, the ice got harder and the birds moved more. I decided that going hunting was going to be more scouting/exploring. Once again I decided to try out some spots along Utah Lake. The clouds were on and the high was 30 degrees so it should be an ok hunt. I had a few spots I wanted to try out but the decision of where to start was difficult. I had a couple of buddies send me to a couple of spots and I decided to start on the Spanish Fork River. This was a good decision. On my way in, I was walking along the river and found a drake mallard swimming in the river. For some reason I was hesitating on the shot and if I should get down to the river or shoot from where I was walking and eventually I got to watch the drake mallard take off and fly away without me even taking a shot.

My walk along the river eventually got me to Utah Lake. There were so many seagulls flying around I knew there might be a chance to get on some ducks. As I got closer I spooked a bunch of seagulls and just like I thought, there were two small ducks in the middle of them and they flew south towards the river. I decided to walk along the bank at the lake and sit and watch what the birds were doing. I saw a lot of ducks and geese flying over and hanging out just outside of the ice on the shore. After watching I decided to walk back to my truck and see if that mallard had come back for some reason. As I walked down the river, I saw a small duck on the river. I decided to jump shoot it. I hurried and took a shot and saw them flush. I tried shooting at it as it flushed and thought I missed. Instead, I saw a duck land in the water and start floating down river. I then realized that those were the two ducks I saw at the lake and I must have hit the first one and as it jumped up I saw the other duck and missed that shot. I hurried to it trying to get to the duck. The problem was the river was a little deep and I had to walk along it until I got to a shallow enough spot that I could reach out and get it. I had gotten a little wet but it beat going home empty handed. I had a nice Green Wing Teal Drake in my hand and I was excited. With how slow things had been, getting a duck is better then nothing.

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The rest of the day was uneventful. I checked out a couple of other places I hadn’t been to yet this year and saw a couple of pheasants, which happen to be out of season. Waterfowl hunting is always a different adventure every time you go out. I never get tired of it and have loved sharing it with my fiancé. So whether the weather is hot or cold, there’s no good excuse to not go hunting and have an adventure.

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