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SC Ducks - 2011 Youth Duck Hunt
  WeHuntSC.com - Duck Decoys in the water
  Decoys in the water

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.

WeHuntSC.com - Youth Duck Hunt Day Hunters in the blind next to us        
Matt, Cody, & Sam in the blind to our left  

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.

  WeHuntSC.com - Kyle Sutton was in our blind
  Kyle smiling after a miss!

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. 

WeHuntSC.com - Coots swimming toward us      
Coots swimming toward us  
Since the weather was bad the birds flew a little later, but they did still fly.  It was too dark to start filming (and I didn?t want to get my camera wet if I didn?t have to) when the birds starting coming in.  It was a sight to see and hear!  Any duck hunter would have loved to experience what was going on around us.  I was a little frustrated at not being able to get it on film because it was so dark, but what can you do.  We had mallards, woodies, and several other types of ducks filling the air, circling, landing, calling, you name it and it was happening all around us.  I?m not exactly sure when legal shooting time was, but the guys were waiting for it and when it finally got time the guys were a little hesitant to shoot.  It didn?t take too long for them to start firing though. 

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.

  WeHuntSC.com -
  "Dux" the duck dog retrieving 2 ducks at the same time
After the shots were fired and the smoke cleared we got to see something really unique.  I was specifically interested to see our dog retrieve the birds because I, probably like many other outdoorsmen, enjoy watching a trained dog work.  It?s just something that?s neat and it never gets old to me.  Anyway, the dog? I believe her name was ?Dux?... set out to retrieve the ducks.  She had been in anticipation all morning and it was her time to shine!  On her first trip out she picked up 2 ducks in one trip!  This was pretty impressive to me.  She came back, dropped them off, then went right back out there to get some more ducks.  On her 4th trip she went to get the furthest bird out there and when she got close to the duck, the duck dove underwater.  I had heard of this happening before, but had never seen it happen in person.  When the duck dove underwater the dog chomped at it a time or two and then turned a few circles and was seemingly confused as to what had happened.  She turned and came back and when she got back one of the guys finished the duck off and on her 5th trip out she brought the last coot back to the blind.  I got a lot of good footage of the dog working and it was truly something neat to see. Being right there in the blind gave a unique perspective of the dog working too.

WeHuntSC.com - CJ & Cody holding up some of the coots!   
 Sam & Cody holding up some of the coots!  

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!



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