From wandering minstrels to duck-stealing raptors, these pros have seen it all while waterfowling
Most days in the duck blind seem fairly straightforward. But some strange situations can make you shake your head. Photo by Bill Konway
When you spend lots of time outdoors, you’re bound to have some odd or extreme experiences.
Duck hunters know this. In fact, because of the hours they keep and the environs they explore, waterfowlers can encounter some really weird scenarios. Just ask the country’s top duck hunters. During their countless hours afield, they’ve seen some things that still make them scratch their heads.
THEY KNOW WE’RE DUCK HUNTING?
Justin Martin, general manager of Duck Commander, said he’s never seen anything while hunting that he’d classify as weird. However, he’s always amazed when deer walk through decoy spreads without showing fear.
“When you deer hunt, you try to not make a sound,” he said. “And then they just come walking through the decoys with all of us sitting there chatting, and the smell of gunpowder in the air.”
DID IT DECOY?
Cooper Olmstead of Habitat Flats said one of his guides was conducting a duck and goose hunt in Saskatchewan this past fall when they encountered something unexpected.
“Some locals shot a moose out of the field they were hunting in,” he said. “It was a pretty wild experience.”
SPEAKING THE LANGUAGE
Chad Belding, host of The Fowl Life, has seen plenty of crazy stuff, including alligators swimming around duck holes in Louisiana. But his top jaw-dropper happened in Saskatchewan many years ago, when he and a local friend were hunting ducks and geese in a pea field.
“This coyote started prancing across the field about 400 yards in front of us,” he said. “My friend pulled the mouthpiece off my duck call and laid into it, sounding like a dying rabbit. That coyote stopped in his tracks, turned, looked for a second, and then never missed a beat. It knocked over four or five decoys on its way in until my friend killed him.”
Tony Vandemore, owner of Habitat Flats, has seen eagles chase ducks and geese in the air, or hawks and falcons swoop into a hole before his hunters shot. One day, however, things got close and personal.
“We had a greenhead get winged and sail about 60 yards across the slough,” he said. “My buddy sent his dog, and as the dog was swimming over there, a red-tailed hawk screamed down and hit the greenhead. I don’t know if it was too heavy for him to pick up or what, but the hawk ended up in the water with the duck, and the dog was just about there.”
Worried that the dog might grab the hawk, Vandemore and his friend tried to call off the retriever.
“The greenhead slipped a couple of feet away from the hawk,” he said. “The dog grabbed the greenhead and swam back, and the hawk flopped and swam to a stump in the water and got up on it. He sat there for a good 10 minutes drying out … then finally flew away.”
Jeremy Dersham, owner of Ridge and River Running Outfitters in southern Wisconsin, has witnessed the gamut while guiding hunters, including deer running through spreads, eagles snatching cripples, and otters playing in the decoys. But some of his strangest interactions afield have involved nonhunters.
“One year, we hunted an area close to a big city,” he said. “We had a few wood ducks and teal by midmorning when we saw a group of young adults making their way into the backwater. They each were carrying a musical instrument, and they began singing and playing. One had a guitar and another a tambourine.”
Dersham was hunting with his family that day, and they weren’t happy.
“I said, let’s hold up a minute and see if they’re playing anything we recognize,” he said. “We could have been mad or made some of type of scene, but we didn’t. I packed up our things and walked out. On our way, I asked them if they were taking requests. They didn’t answer, so we just finished our hike to the truck.”
Other encounters were just as strange.
“We had a young couple go skinny-dipping in a small creek until they realized we were there,” he said. “They left pretty quickly. We’ve also had kayakers get caught in a bad wind and need help, and of course, the fishermen who found the ‘perfect’ spot right outside of our spread. In all these situations, it’s how you handle yourself. You can get angry and make a scene or keep your wits and act accordingly. I’m a glass-half-full kind of guy, so we try to make lemonade out of lemons.”
Don’t Miss: Our 20 Best Canada Goose Hunting Tips
Watch all the latest video episodes