As the 2013/14 Waterfowl season ended, it allowed our "crew" a few days to scout and get ready for the Youth Waterfowl Day here in SC. We scouted public water, and some of our private land, and found birds in both locations, but felt like we had a better chance of getting our buddy Ben his first duck on our private land.
Since Blake had just recently sold 'Ol Red, we loaded up his new ride "Madonna"… and don't ask me why he names all of his vehicles. We attached the hitch and strapped our Drake Waterfowl stand-up decoy bag filled with Drake Waterfowl duck decoys and some GHG Goose Decoys. Due to the freezing temperatures we kept all of our Drake Waterfowl waders in the back of the Tahoe (Madonna) to keep them toasty!
A pic of Madonna
Once we got to our location, we started our journey in through the darkness. We had to break ice going in which just added to Ben's hunt. After setting up our decoy spread it was time to get "locked & loaded".
At first light, we heard the beautiful sound of woodies, squealing through the timber. Right at legal shooting time we had two woodies come in and I told Ben to wreck 'em, and three fast shots rang out with no feathers falling. Just a few minutes later we had a single woodie come by and the three shots followed. Again, with no feathers fell. You could start to see the disappointment in his body language and the "crew" kept talking with him to keep his spirits up.
We saw a lot more wood ducks but they were either too high or too fast but we held our ground. All of a sudden Blake asked, boys do you hear that? Yes, indeed we do. A mallard hen was quacking off at a distance. Not only Ben, but the whole crew shifted into another gear. Blake and I both picked up our RNT duck calls which were hand-tuned by Butch Richenback (founder of RNT) and we started a duet of hen calls. Once we spotted her she had company, a nice big greenhead. As they started working our spread, I stopped calling and coached Ben, and Blake continued to work his RNT Daisy Cutter.
The pair circled for three times before committing and then it was wings cupped & orange feet down. I told Ben to wreck him and wreck him he did. A fat 'ol greenhead in the decoys splashing was a beautiful sight for not only Ben but to the crew as well. We all high fived, and looked at each other hollering, “Who's your Drake???”
As we drove back to Ben’s house we talked more about the hunt and you still couldn't wipe the smile off his face. We are pretty sure this one's going to the taxidermist.
We've been blessed through the years to help many hunters young & old, to harvest their first duck or goose and we were fortunate enough to be able to continue that tradition this year. These moments in the outdoors are who we are and what we live for.
Good Hunting ~ Daryl
This past Saturday and Sunday (February 5th and 6th) were designated as Federal Youth Waterfowl Days. Youth 15 years old and younger could hunt waterfowl when accompanied by an adult and only the youth could hunt! "These hunts offer the perfect opportunity for youth to be introduced to waterfowl hunting in a positive manner" said Dean Harrigal, S.C. Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) biologist.
With a busy schedule this past weekend I wasn?t sure if I was going to be able to make it, but it turned out that I could and I was excited to see what some of our youth would do. As I drove down the night before it rained for a solid hour without letting up. It wasn?t a good sign and I hoped that it would quit before the morning, but we didn?t end up that lucky. It rained throughout the night and for a couple of hours in the morning. As ?Murphy?s Law? would have it, the rain slacked up once the hunt started winding down.
I was pumped about this hunt because I was going to be in the blinds with the guys. I knew I would be able to get some really neat footage from being right there ?in the mix?. I was glad that I was in the blind too because if I had been out in the open I would have gotten soaked even more than I did and filming wouldn?t have been possible. The blind offered some cover where I could keep the camera somewhat shielded from the rain.
In our crew we had 3 youth hunters, 2 adults who assisted, me, and a dog hunkered down in 2 different blinds. I should probably describe the blinds a little because they were unique, but the video will give you a better feel than my words can. The blinds were rectangle in shape and they were in the ground. When sitting on the benches inside the blinds, our eyes were just above the level of the water. The blinds were camouflaged really well with brush all around the top edges. The blinds also had tops on them that flip open whenever it?s time to shoot, but for our hunt we left them open so as to have increased visibility for the youth and for the camera. The blinds were situated side by side on a point in the middle of the waterway. In case the blinds flooded the blinds had small pumps that pumped the water out in the corners of them. While we were sitting in the blinds our boots were about ankle deep in water due to all the recent rains and it wasn?t letting up.
We got there early and some of the guys put out decoys while I was getting my gear situated in the blind. The rain was still falling and I knew it was going to be tough to film and take pictures in this wet environment. After a little while everyone was situated and we just sat there waiting on the sun to rise and we also listened to the driving rain pinging the roof just over our heads. With the blinds over our torso our legs were exposed to the rain and within time I got soaked! The water ran straight down from my pants into my boots and before too long I felt ?gushy? on the inside of my boots. It wasn?t fun and before too long everything from my waist down was soaked and it seemed like it weighed 10 lbs more than when I came in. I guess I should also mention that everyone except me had waders on! I?ll probably have to invest in some waders here at some point, but leave it to me to go without any and having a valuable learning experience from it.
After a little while some ducks started swimming across the waterway. I could zoom in and see them with the camera better than we could with our eyes and they were heading our way. I got some good footage of this and I told the guys that the birds were coming our way. The guys were ready and within a few minutes the shells were flying in the air and I think the kids got 5 ?Coots? in total.
We still had birds coming in even after the first round of shots and after the dog had retrieved all the ducks! We sat there for a while and I got some more footage of the guys in the blinds and the overall setup. As it got lighter out the video got clearer and you?ll that reflected in the video below. Randomly we?d have a group of ducks come in and I was able to get some footage of birds flying in and I also got footage of the guys missing some shots that were right down the pipe. We were all laughing and having a good time with it though. I couldn?t believe the number of ducks we had around us throughout the morning and it really compliments the guy?s hard work done in the off-season to that area.
By the time the hunt was over I was completely soaked and my cameras had water all over them too. I wasn?t sure if I was going to be able to pull footage off the camera, but luckily it went undamaged. After the hunt we all went up and ate breakfast and had a good time hanging out. Though it was pouring and not the best filming conditions, it was still a great hunt and a great time together in the outdoors. I?m glad that DNR has a youth day set up because it helps get the youth fired up and keeps the hunting legacy going.
The rain, mist, fog, and clouds made it a little difficult for me to film?especially when trying to pull focus on various objects. So, some of the shots you?ll see in the below video are a little blurry.
Thanks again to the guys for inviting me along!
As the sun sets on another year, it's time to reflect on the 2010 season. One thing that I always like to think about is what happened during the season that has never happened before. These "firsts" are the things that keep me motivated, inspired, and excited about future hunts. For me it always seems like my deer seasons are full of "first" time events. I've been hunting for about 19 years and every year something happens during a hunt that makes me say, "I haven't seen that before.", or "That's the first time I've ever...".
Early on it was easy to accumulate "firsts", like the first deer stand that Dad and I built. At the time we didn't know that this "first" built stand would become a stand that led to the "first" buck for three hunters, including myself. My "first" buck was a four point that I shot when I was 13. It was an October day and I had just settled into my deer stand. Earlier that day I bought my "first" grunt call and pulled it out to see how it worked. After blowing on the thing for about an hour (I had no clue), I saw a buck coming straight at me. It stopped at about 30 yards and I shot. The buck bolted and then hit a pine tree at full throttle and broke off both sides of its antlers. That was probably a "first" for the pine tree.
This year hasn't been short on "firsts". I had an opportunity to take my "first" "Wall Hanger", which was an eight point buck for another "first". I also took my cousin on his "first" deer hunt and he saw his "first" deer while hunting. We will have to work on his "first" kill next year. We also saw a little snow which for me was a "first" as far as hunting in it. My year was also filled with the not so usual "firsts". I got buzzed (within inches) by a red tail hawk at sunset that nearly scared me to death. I also saw a possum while hunting. That was one that I had to think about for awhile.
What "firsts" did your year of hunts have? Hopefully, your year and past years are filled with as many "firsts" as mine.
I went duck hunting with Marty Smith & his son Josh Smith this past weekend. I showed up with only myself and a gun and Marty outfitted me with some waiters (which had a hole in them) and some bullets to shoot. I was a little unprepared I guess you could say, but I did have both of my stamps! Marty?s property backs into a swamp which is a creek that is dammed up by some beavers. It?s been there forever and I used to hunt there with Marty a lot when I was in middle school and high school. Since college and going back and forth to Europe I hadn?t been able to go in a while, but now I?m back in the game so to speak. I arrived to the shed a little early and took some pictures of Marty?s duck hunting home base. You scan see them below. It?s an old shed that is just what you would imagine it is and is just right for duck hunting. I like the feel of that shed...maybe because it throws me back to days when I was kid going hunting with the older guys or maybe because of the antique feel to it. I've heard many stories told in this shed as we would get ready to go hunting and then talk about how we missed ducks after the hunts. I assure you that no exaggerations have ever been made in this shed before!
Soon Marty and Josh arrived and we got our gear on and headed down to the swamp. We got out there before daylight and crossed a few dams. We had to get out a time or two and pull the boat over and then get back in. Eventually we paddled up into some cattails and wedged the boat in there real tight. He?s got some old burlap type of material in the boat that we use camouflage by draping it all over the boat. We also bent the cattails over the edges of the boat too. This really helped blend us into the swamp environment which is necessary because ducks eyes are so sharp that it?s critical to be well camouflaged. The day before Marty and Josh had shot a mallard, a wood duck, and a teal. I was hopeful that we would get some similar, good action, but in the end there were only 2 ? 4 ducks that flew in that we could see, but yet they were too far away to get a good shot. So I think I?m the ultimate jinx or something. Maybe they'll be better luck next time. Even though we didn?t get a good shot on a duck, it felt good to be out there in the swamp and to see some ducks fly again. I?m sure in time we?ll have a blog entry with some ducks on it. There is just something that is unique about being out their watching steam come off the water and hearing the distant call of a wood duck or a mallard. It?s a different feel for hunting than you get in a deer stand. One of those different feelings is the feeling of a wet sock when your waiters have a hole in them! Having a wet feet in a swamp doesn?t help you stay warm! Oh the joy, but it was a good experience and a good change of pace from sitting in a tree!
Anyway, I did shoot 2 videos that are up on our YouTube Channel and I have embedded them below.
360 View of our duck blind setup
Marty Smith calling in some mallards
Some pics from the morning
The Jackson household is full of hunters. I have three boys and a girl and they can all shoot better than me! As they’ve grown we’ve spent a lot of time in the outdoors hunting and fishing with them. They are now getting to the age where they can handle a gun by themselves. Of course, they never hunt alone as we hunt in pairs and I ensure everyone’s arrivals and departures from their stands. The kids are motivated to learn more about hunting and are eager to gain responsibilities. They are growing up right in front of our eyes.
The past two deer seasons I have been preparing for my middle son (Bryson) and youngest son (Kingston) to shoot their first bucks! My oldest (Caiden) harvested his first buck 3 years ago at the age of 7 and that's what I hoped would happen with my other two.
Rules for the First Buck
Now you should know that for my kid’s first bucks I have no restrictions on the size. Your family may operate under different rules and that’s fine, but that’s not how it is at our house. We have plenty of deer in our area and I wouldn't take away the potential excitement from the kids getting their first buck trying to make them wait on a trophy buck. Kids have short attention spans and success in the field, (whether a Boone & Crocket deer or not) is my initial goal for them. I want them to be encouraged and feel that hunting is something that they can be successful at. I believe as a kid they should enjoy and appreciate the experience and not have to be on pins and needles worrying about if they shot the wrong buck. I don’t want them to hunt putting pressure on themselves. Again, I know some of you may not agree with this tactic, but my goal is for them to not be discouraged early on in their hunting careers. Also, I manage this land and we eat deer and hog meat every night and we have yet been able to eat horns!
Bryson’s First Buck
As I teach the kids about deer hunting I like to make them think. To do this, I often ask them situational questions to both help them consider various scenarios and to help them learn to think critically. On September 17th, Bryson and I were discussing strategies for the evening’s hunt. After considering his options, Bryson decided (on his own) what stand he wanted to hunt as he had checked the wind to make sure that stand would be a good one.
I (Dad/Gavin) knew that there was a small buck coming by this stand everyday like clockwork so I had that feeling it was going to happen. However, Bryson didn't know this. As I mentioned earlier, we hunt in pairs… that is, 2 brothers sitting in the stand together. On this hunt Bryson got settled in the stand with his older brother Caiden and they sat still and quiet for about an hour and half. To their surprise a 6 point that weighed 121 lbs eased out of the woods into the shooting lane. As Bryson was eager to get his first buck, he wasted no time getting the Ruger .308 to his shoulder. The deer was about 50 yards out and Bryson slowly squeezed off. Bryson’s decision on the stand to hunt that evening paid off as he made a perfect shot on the deer. The deer ran maybe 15 yards and fell. Bryson was on the board with his first buck!
Talk about excited, he was hyped up and knew that he had just killed his first buck! As excited as he was I think my wife and I were probably more excited for him! We took pictures and as tradition as has it, we bloodied him up at the processor. Later, Bryson told me that the hunt was his best hunt ever and that he thought he wasn't going to see anything and then all of sudden the buck stepped out. Congrats to Bryson on working hard, being patient, and making the perfect shot!
Kingston’s First Buck
My youngest son Kingston has been hunting with me probably 50+ times and for whatever reason we never could get him on a buck. We’ve had a bunch of close calls but just couldn't make it happen.
On September 23rd that all changed…
Kingston had been hunting for 2 days straight as he was extra-motivated to kill his first deer since he now was living with the self-imposed pressure of his brothers already having killed their first bucks. Here again I asked him questions about where to hunt, why to hunt there, and the wind. Kingston picked his stand and I told him that would be a good stand because the wind was perfect. I also knew that there were several bucks working that area and I hoped one would show up in shooting light.
Kingston got in the stand with his older brother Caiden and they had been sitting for about an hour. It was getting about time for deer to move when two bucks stepped out on the edge of the field at about 100 yards. As you may imagine, Kingston didn't waste a second getting down to business. He wanted to get the monkey off his back so he was ultra-focused.
Within a minute he was in the Ruger .308 and had made great shot on one of the bucks! The deer fell on the spot and rolled about 10 feet. I was sitting in another stand not too far away and I knew he’d got his first buck when I heard a gunshot then heard them hollering and celebrating. You could have heard it from a mile away. The boys got down from the stand and headed toward the deer.
Little did they know that when they got down to the deer the other buck would be standing in the woods looking at them. Yes, I found this amazing as I always try to be quiet, control my scent, and do everything that to not spook deer and here these kids were yelling loudly and the second buck stayed around! Well, with the second deer staring at them Caiden did what you would expect. He pulled up the .308 and shot it! It was a Jackson brothers double-buck hunt!
Now the excitement was really happening! They boys had practiced their shooting this summer and it paid off because no tracking was needed. We just pulled up to the deer, took some pics, loaded up, and headed to the house before going to the processor. One of the best parts was hearing the boys tell their mama the story of the hunt, which we recorded and you can see in the below video. They were amped up to the max and talked all night about their first buck!
Bryson age 9 finally got his first buck on Sept 17th and Kingston age 7 got his on Sept 23rd which was a double-buck hunt with his older brother Caiden! Needless to say, it has been exciting times around our house lately… and I may have to order more deer tags if they keep it up like this.
Ok so I did get a little extreme on Kingston’s bloodying at the processor, but it's what he asked for.
Congrats to Kingston for his patience and congrats to all the boys for their hard work and shooting abilities. So far, this past summer and deer season the kids have all been very helpful and have hunted every time they could go. Caiden has really lucked out as he was able to be with both of his brothers when they shot their first buck. Now that the hard work has finally paid off we can start the discussions about game management, mature deer, and trophy bucks.
I’m sure this story is just one of many more to come. It's awesome and exciting to watch and experience these kids growing up, learning about the outdoors, and shooting their first bucks. We are indeed blessed and we give God all the glory!