Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Saturday Duck Hunt

Sorry for the long delay between posts, haven't been getting the time to document the adventures lately but getting back in the groove now. With a cold front pushing down this weekend I thought it would be a good time to hit the saltmarsh for some waterfowl. I have a co-worker new to the area who fowled in Georgia and was longing to give the Chesapeake Bay gunning a try.

I loaded up the boat with 30 goose decoys and a small puddle duck spread to put out and headed to one of my local spots. Got the decoys set and boat blind ready by legal shooting time and then all there was to do was wait. 

We started seeing flights of birds coming off roost and could have easily taken a few mallards that blew by had i seen them coming but such is hunting. After about 5 minutes a group of mallards burned by, i pulled up, shot once despite being a long shot and low and behold one of them folded up and came down making a splash.

Soon after we had a jag of gadwalls do the fly by and we proceeded to let loose a couple rounds. Two birds fell from the sky. Both were crippled but still swimming so I opted for the lively one to chase down first. With the strong tail wind they had landed an easy 80 yards away. while getting the first one, the second one puled a houdini move and literally disappeared before my eyes.


Shortly after 9:30am we called the hunt  after not seeing any birds for a while so that we could make it to Pop's Drive-In in Grafton for their famous breakfast. Boy was it worth it. Everybody had a good time and some killer breakfast. What more can you ask for?

Photo of the morning harvest with the Virginia Traveling decoy. This year it is a black duck hand carved by a friend of mine. We mail it around the state to a different group of hunters from the DuckHuntingChat.com forums for fun. Everybody writes a story and keeps tally of the species and numbers shot over it for the year.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Roadtrip to North Dakota

So me and one of my best friends decided to take a trip to the duck hunting capital of the world to see just what all the hype was about. It did NOT disappoint. I did not take piles of pictures because they just did not do it justice but I will add some just to give the feel.

There was no way to prepare for such a change in enviroment between duck hunting on the east coast by boat the whole time to scouting by truck and jumpshooting sloughs full of every variety of duck native to North America. We freelanced the whole trip without any guides doing it all from what i had learned from a couple locals over the web the week prior. Rather than detail every aspect of the trip I am going to touch on...........


1. Always research and then research some more your lodging options.

We paid our deposit almost a year in advance prior to driving out to ND from Virginia. We thought we had found great accommodations only to show up to what was a rundown doublewide trailer that has water spots on the ceiling and wall, stank horribly of stale beer from long past, old food in the sink, and carpet the color of mud... wait it was mud. I won't mention any names (Coteau Lodge in Goodrich ND) but make sure you really get a feel for the place you plan to stay. We ended up being rescued by a forum member on Duck Hunt Chat that was awesome enough to let us use his fathers lodge FREE of charge ( MIKE YOU ARE THE Mutha F-Ing MAN!).

  The second half of the week we had booked a place called Little Brown Cabin in Montpelier and it was gorgeous! I would HIGHLY recommend it to anone looking for a lodge in the area. It even had a wood stove & washer/dryer.
Little Brown Cabin

2. Adapt and Overcome!

As said before I have never done any field hunting or much pond hunting for that matter, more big blinds on even bigger water around the Cheasapeake Bay. Watch where the birds are heading and take note of all the details like what kind of vegetation is in the water, what kind of cover is nearby, water depth, species that are co-mingling and you will find success!

3. Take the Time to Meet the Locals!
Alot of people are introverts and would rather keep to themselves but and  HUGGGGEEEE BUT! is you might miss just out on some of the most fun of the adventure that way. We met some VERY awesome people that we will definitely track down next trip out.
Dani from the bar Dani's Place in Gackle, ND was very nice and makes the BEST chocolate chip cookies and Chicken Ranch Pizza EVER!
Mike and his dad, Jay, who we can't thank enough for not only providing us a place to stay, but also being such fun people to sit, talk, and learn about North Dakota from. Nothing like talking about hunting and how things are done in different regions of the country over some of Jay's home smoked cheese!
Last but not least the guys and gals of Dally Up! Bar and Grill. They were a riot! Blake, Mel, Terry, and Jeannie made the town of Montpelier so welcoming, fun, and full of laughs. all around good time. Where else can you donate a bunch of VA Oysters and then get stuck being the one to cook them on the griddle for everyone to try. They were a HIT!
4. Take Good Company Along!
I opted for one of my best friends and someone I knew would be about the journey just as much as me. If you take someone just to take them, you might just leave them there by the end of the week. Me and Chris know each other well, can read each other's mood, and react according whether its, " Quit being a Puss!" or better off letting that one simmer. THere is no one elses I would have rather had by my side when it comes to an outdoor adventure than my bud Chris, and Jake the Dog!
And now for the Pictures!!!!
Trophy of the Trip!
Jake hiding in my layout blind

The Town of Gackle!

First Day, Decoy spread

Me and Jake, Last morning on the prairie

Sunset Around Streeter by Mike

Chris Breaking Ice


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Early Season Split of Duck Hunting Adventures

In Virginia we get a 4 day season in the middle of October. It is a good time to harvest a resident ducks and a few migrators that have trickled in. Usually it is in perfect unison with the Wood duck migration.

We hunted a couple days of it and had a great time.


Friday night myself, Jake The Dog, and 2 of my good friends, packed up gear and hiked an hour through some of the thickest woods I have traversed to take a shot at a beaverpond on some public property. After many twists and turns and unneccesary zig-zags in the pitch black with just a compass we finally reached out destination. We strung a rope from 2 trees draped a tarp over it and tied each corner off to make an impromptu A-frame tent to call home for the night. By this time we were soaked from our walk from sweat and occasional rain along  and with everything in the woods being drenched from our days of rain.

It paid off with a few flights of Woodies and an early morning double for me. The experience itself is what I will remember for a lifetime. Good friends on a common mission that is not easily attainable for the struggle is what make it fun.
Afterwards we picked up camp loaded everything on our backs and hiked it out to head home for much needed sleep.
Monday morning with heavy winds and flood tides from the Noreast blow over the previous 5 days we decided to hunt a local marsh that was up in a creek in protected waters. We all got to the ramp on time, got to the spot and got the decoys set in good time. As soon as legal time hit we started seeing flights of birds and it continued until about 9am.
Ended up with 3 mallards purely due to letting a few pass us by to err on the side of caution as to shooting towards land with some houses in the distance.  Both of the gunners with me got their first mallard so it was a good day in my book. After sitting until 10am we called it, grabbed some lunch at Pops Drive-In and headed home.
All and all a great first split for the season! Now time to get ready for the 9 day North Dakota trip in 10 days!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

HOW - TO: Crab Pot Buoy Decoys

I saw the idea of making decoys out of crab pot buoys a while back so while out scouting the marsh I decided to start collecting the the ones I found out in the marsh. I have been wanting to do some sea duck hunting but DID NOT want to spend 80.00 per six pack for 3 dozen Scoter and Old Squaw decoys.

Well I have about a dozen saved up now and with seas duck season right around the corner I thought it would be time to begin the project. I chose to make scoters because that was I needed but i plan on making some of every species and selling them as decoration or functional use as an actual decoy.

Over the next couple months I plan on making a pile of these things so if you or anyone you know would like to purchase any let me know. I will be selling singles for $15, mating pairs for $25, and 6 for $60.00. If you have a species you prefer I can custom a set too so just shoot me an email or message online.


Step One: Cut the buoy in two evenly down the middle.

Step two: Cut out decoy heads from whichever kind of wood you would like. Cedar works well as it does not rot. Do not use laminated type wood or it will separate when wet.

Step Three: Trace a spot on buoy using the head as a template. Cut out that area to make a spot for head to fit into buoy.

Step Four: Glue heads to buoys and let cure overnight
Step Five: Paint them to your likings and you are done. For show leave without a keel and for actual hunting add a keel.


Monday, September 30, 2013

Best Hunting and Fishing Face Mask/Neck cover .... THE HOO-RAG!


I had misplaced my hunting face mask from last year so i decided to get online and find a replacement. To my pleasure I stumbled across something called a Hoo-Rag. At first i was uncertain of even what exactly it was but after looking at their site I was an instant fan! The Hoo-Rag is a micro-fiber material that provides warmth in the colder months and is breathable and cool in the summer. It is the PERFECT FACEMASK FOR DUCK HUNTING. As everyone who hunts waterfowl and turkeys knows, an uncovered face can ruin a great hunt. THey also are great for long days on the water to protect you from sunburn and biting flies from the
neck up.
After perusing their huge selection of colors and patterns I decided on the Woodland Digital Camo pattern as it blends great in marsh and woodlands making it a win-win in most hunting scenarios. My favoirte feature is the functionality of this thing as it can be worn over 8 different ways. I usually sport it as a face mask or balaclava when hunting. For fishing it makes a great neck guard.

The best part is, they are inexpensive at $15.00 a piece and the do niot charge for shipping. I have already used mine a dozen times and just as a mosquito guard in the early season around here, it has earned its keep. Take a minute to check out all the different sytles they offer and i guarantee you will find one you like. They even offer custom branding and printing with YOUR COMPANY'S LOGO! I have provided a link on the home page straight to their site.


Friday, September 27, 2013

Tackle Grab For the Win

I stumbled across Tackle Grab while perusing the internet looking for low cost tackle. Ihave to say it's a pretty fresh idea that I had not seen and it peeked my interest.

Tackle Grab is a subscription to mail order tackle shipped to your door.

You pick month-month, 3, 6, or 12 months and pay a flat rate which is about 12 bucks a month. In return they mail you a selection of various lures and soft plastic baits every month. It is a great way to try something new or something you may have never seen before.

Here's the part I really like: When you sign up you fill out a Angler Survey on what kind of fishing you do and premium brands you prefer so that you don't get a bunch of useless tackle that end up in the bottom of your tackle bag.


I did some research and all the reviews I see say they are well worth the investment and cannot find one person who wasn't pleased. I have signed up and will have to report back when I get my first package. Check out the link on the main page and see what you think too.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

HOW-TO: Duck Hunting Decoy Spreads

With Duck season fast approaching and alot of new hunters getting into the sport, I thought I would write a HOW-TO article on positioning of decoy spreads.. This is one of the key factors in duck hunting and if you ever have hunted with me, you know how exact I am in their placement.  I have put together some microsoft paint drawings to illustrate the different spreads I use. This is not the ONLY way you can place them for success so play with them and see what works best in your situation but it is what I have found to work the majority of the time.

A couple things to remember:
  • Always leave a pocket (or two) for the birds to land
  • Always pay attention to the layout of your decoys in relation to wind dierection as birds will land into the wind 99.9999% of the time.
  • Start with less decoys in the early season and more as the season progresses. Also try and match the birds you are seeing in your area.
  • Puddle ducks like calm, sheltered waters where diver ducks will burn up a spread in the highest winds without regard.
The Letter J 
The letter J is often spoke about in duck hunting because it naturally forms a pocket for incoming waterfowl to land comfortably. It can be adjusted for any wind direction other than straight in your face especially if hunting a long point. If using ducks and geese put the geese on the outeer edge and the ducks closer up towards shore. I find that geese are comfortable further from shore while puddle ducks tend to want to be inshore more.

The Hybrid W
Alot of people like to use a W as well as it creates 2 pockets. I like to step it up a bit and do a small J on one side of the blind out of geese, a gap in the middle with just a pair of ducks, and then a W off to the other side. This gives you multiple land zones for finicky ducks that want that "perfect" spot to plop down.For this the wind needs to be at your back or VERY slightly side to..

 Setting Sun
This setup is great for a point setup but will work elsewhere too. It is mainly used for diver hunts. Each leg will be a different species(Canvasbacks, Bluebills, Goldeneyes, Buffleheads) and then a knot of mixed decoys in the middle. Alot of species like to only decoy to birds of the same kind, you know "Birds of a feather flock together... NO B.S.) It may look funny but it works i will swear to that. The birds will fly down the line of decoys and attempt to set down next to the mix in the middle. 

Layout Blind Decoy Spread
The last illustration is stricly for diver and sea-duck hunting and for use with layout boats. It is deadly when applied and almost never fails to draw in the birds. Here too birds will follow the string of decoys to the wad in the middle and usually try to sit down.

None of these layouts are set in stone and all can be changed up to fit your scenario. Play with your spread and find out what the birds in your area want to see.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Chesapeake Bay Adventures Airboat Ride

Sunday I was able to finally get some time to slip down to Yorkhaven Marina and check out my friend's new business.... Chesapeake Bay Adventures. He does airboat tours in Poquoson and I was fortunate enough to get to go for a spin along with my good friend Buddy, his wife, and my other half and BOY WAS IT A BLAST! Here is a video!

The machine is a Diamondback brand boat with a 600 horsepower Supercharged LS6 motor. It has seating for 9 including the captain and a standing platform on top the blade cage that is the ideal perch for phenomal photography of wildlife and the surrounding marshland. We saw a huge assortment of birds, a few terrapins, and fish boiling in the flats. All around awesome experience that the ladies really enjoyed too. There is also a restaurant the on the premise  ofYorkhaven Marina called Owens which has some great home cooking and cold drinks to fill your belly after the ride so it makes a great little sunday excursion for the family.

Picture by Brian Lockwood

I highly recommend anyone that wants to do something special with their children or significant other takes a look at hiring Jamie Moore for a tour.He is licensed, insured, and a very safe captain. He charges 50.00 per person with a minimum of 4 passengers. This isnt your 30 minute ride up and back down the creek either. You get an hour to an hour and a half of airboat fun sliding around turns, breaktaking views of the wetlands, and all personally narated by Jamie, a native of Poquoson who is up on the history of the entire area. Give him a ring and tell him Blair sent you!

Contact Info:
Captain Jamie Moore
Chesapeake Bay Adventures

Here are some of the photos I from our time out.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Hog Island hunt Wednesday

4 of my closest friends and myself all took off yesterday from work for our yearly hunt at Hog Island Refuge in Surry, VA. It is one of the very few days of the year that the facility is open to first come/first serve hunting. All other hunts are done by a strict VA Quota Hunt lottery system where hunters enter for $7.00 in hopes of being drawn.


 Upon arrival you will see why it is such a desired hunt looking like a scene straight from some Telvised hunting show. The whole place is managed specifically for waterfowl with beautiful flooded impoundments and acres of corn fields. After a 4:45AM arrival, security check at the gate, and safety briefing, me and my party were off to the spot we picked to hunt. We got set up just in time and enjoyed the show that ensued. There must have been at least 1000 geese roosting overnight there and ducks by the 10s and 20s zig zagging acroos the sky. Todays hunt was only for Teal and Geese. We scratched out the only two geese that came close enough to take an ethical shot. Mission succsessful!

The Decoy Spread

 Left Flank
Me in the middle, sporting the Hoo-Rag!
Right Flank

By 8:30AM the action tamed down and few birds were flying. We decided it was time to call it so I pitched the idea of dove and or squirrel shooting another one of Virginia's Wildlife Management Areas(WMAs) call Chickahominy WMA as it was a Wednesday and probably free of the weekend hunting madness. We loaded up, checked out at Hog Island and proceeded down the road stopping at Bacon's Castle Market for a much needed and very delicious breakfast sandwich. After the quick stop the crew headed to the Surry/Jamestown Ferry to make our way acroos the James River the scenic and most direct way possible.

When finally arriving at Chickahominy WMA we found that the field was in use by a gentleman and his wife training a pack of bird dogs so we opted for squirrel hunting even though the fields of corn had been cut and looking like dove heaven.

 It was a good call. We all ended up spotting some squirrels with Dylan and myself making a few choice shots. We called it a day at 2pm and headed home to clean the game. Great day off work with some of the funniest people I know just laughing and having a good time. Can't wait for Jackson to be old enough to join in!