Sunday, August 21, 2011

Hunting the Swamp

Years ago I was a member of a local deer driving club. Most of the members were family. Many family members joined the club because our family had hunted there for so long, even though they didn’t hunt very often. It was a great club. Between the land my family owned and what we leased from timber companies, we had more than four thousand acres to hunt. The time we all spent hunting there was great fun.

One of the places we had to hunt on the club was the swamp. When the river was low the swamp was one of the best places there ever was to run deer hounds. When the river was high the roads would flood and it then transformed into one of the greatest places I ever had the pleasure of duck hunting.

Less than a half mile from the swamp were several duck impoundments. When we hunted the swamp we were between the river and the impoundments. We pass shot a lot of ducks, and we also took decoys with us, only a few, usually four. We would ease the boat into the bushes on the edge of the flooded road, there was a curve in the road where the road widened out a little that left a super shooting lane, we had some great hunts in that spot, and the decoys worked great there.

Now if you know anything about wood ducks, you know that it is hard to get them to decoy. It can be a little bit easier if you have wood duck decoys and know how to set them, but at the time we only had mallard decoys. In that spot it really didn’t matter, you would have wood ducks sit down in the mallard decoys, and I loved it. That was my first experience shooting decoying ducks.

I cut my teeth duck hunting pass shooting woodies. Woodies are fast and agile. They are a tough target to zero in on. I come to find that when the wings are cupped and the toes are dropped, and the duck is gliding into your gun barrel, they are a lot easier to kill. The first time this happened it came as quite a surprise to me. I was hunting with Coach Taylor that morning. A pair of woodies came across the flooded timber behind us to lock down on the decoys in front of the boat. We killed that pair of ducks and I was hooked.

On another hunt in the same spot I learned another important swamp hunting lesson while hunting with Joe. Joe had knocked down a wood duck hen in the swamp behind us. Joe and I paddled the boat back into the swamp to retrieve his duck. It was then that I learned that cottonmouth moccasins can be active in 40 degree weather. It scared the begezees out of me when it floated by on a log. Needless to say, you know from previous stories how I feel about snakes, and even though it was close to freezing and the snake wasn’t moving that fast, I dispatched him anyway and we continued to hunt.

I doubt I ever get the chance to hunt that curve in the road in that flooded swamp again, but there is probably a place in heaven a lot like it. We spent many cold mornings enjoying the splendor of God’s beautiful sunrises in that spot. Enjoying the hunt, the Briary River Way.


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