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SC Ducks ? The Iced Out Duck Hunt

    WeHuntSC.com - Snowcovered Duck Blinds
  Snowcovered duck blinds
Have you ever been on a hunt and didn?t get a shot at anything, but still had a great time?  If so, then you can identify with one of my experiences from this past weekend.  I went on a really fun duck hunt in Pageland, South Carolina where I saw sights that I won?t soon forget.
I have never been on any big-time duck hunts in other states or to well-known duck hunting locations like Stuttgart, Arkansas.  I?ve got a lot of friends who have been on these types of hunts and they speak of the sky turning black with ducks and seeing more ducks than they?ve ever seen before.  This past Saturday morning I thought I was on a guided trip in a different state with how many ducks that I saw!  You may think I?m lying, but the footage below will settle any doubt that you may have?and yes, it was right here in South Carolina!  
The first thing I need to mention is that it was extremely cold!  This past week we got a good 7 inches of snow, followed by rain, which froze, then 3 days of below freezing temperatures?add all that together and you get a cold, slippery, snowy, icy, crunchy situation.  The location we hunted was over a big body of water and we hoped that there would be at least a few open sections of water.  As we got out of the vehicles and walked toward the water it was obvious that we weren?t going to be sneaking up on anything because every step brought a loud ?CRUNCH? of the ice-crusted-snow beneath our feet.  When we reached the water it became evident that the whole pond was frozen over and that would later prove to be a critical factor in our hunt.  Upon arriving to the water some of the hunters in our crew broke the ice and put out some decoys.  However, it didn?t take long for the water to re-freeze.  
WeHuntSC.com - The Sky
The guys were positioned in some blinds that were on the water level? as in?they were sitting below ground level with their eyes at water level.  In order to shoot the guys would have to flip open the top and start shooting?at least this was the game plan as I understood it.  The blinds were set up very similar to a baseball dugout that?s below the field level. With the recent snow, the blinds looked like 2 small patches of snow that were on a point located near the middle of the water way.  Also in the blind with the guys were 2 labs that I was eager to see work!  Every now and then I could hear the dog?s excitement building in anticipation of retrieving a duck.  I knew that the dogs fetching some mallards would make for some great video footage.
I was setup about 30 yards behind the blinds on the point of some winter-withered brush.  Sitting behind the blinds gave me the perspective to get the birds and the action.  We bent some of the brush around my seat and I was ready to rock.  Everyone was in position and we waited on the sun to rise.
WeHuntSC.com - One of the dogs        
He was ready for action  
Another aspect of hunting in this frigid atmosphere is that the video camera simply won?t record!  I?m not sure why, but if you get the camera out to record in cold weather it will flash a message and tell you that it can?t record in that cold of temperature.  To counter this I opened 2 ?Toasty Toes? (because they have adhesive) and stuck one on the right hand side of the camera (where my hand holds the camera) and one on my chest.  While I was waiting on the action I held the camera to my chest so that I was heating both sides of it and kept it at a temperature warm enough to record.  So my movements were constantly back and forth from my chest to the sky.
The guys said that the ducks were roosting where we were hunting and that they were already on the other side of the water when we arrived.  As I waited on the sun to rise I could hear ducks start quacking and calling from afar.  The sunrise gave us a really neat looking sky which I got a few pictures of.  When the light from the sun was enough to reflect off the ice it looked like huge piece of glass.  The ducks that were quacking were all the way on the other side of the pond and they were walking on the ice.  As the sun got a little higher up we had some wood ducks flying in early.  I could make out their silhouettes against the pink sky of the rising sun and I could also hear their wings cutting through the air as they came in. I was able to get a few of these on video. (Side note : It?s a whole lot easier to film deer than ducks!)
The guys had told me that they were going to wait until late to shoot and that as soon as the first shot rang out that the ducks that were roosting there would get up off the water and that I would definitely want my camera on!  I was just waiting on the moment for a shot to ring out as I knew I was going to have to be quick on my feet with the camera in order to get the maximum amount of footage.  I waited and more ducks came in, but the majority of them were landing on the other side of the pond.  Eventually the guys started moving around in the blinds. Before too long Ethen came back to where I was and told me to zoom in on the other side of the pond.  I put my camera on the tripod and zoomed in and was able to get some good footage of the ducks walking on the ice right before they jumped.  I panned from right to left and couldn?t believe how many ducks we had just hundreds of yards away from us on the ice.  They were just waddling around on the ice.  Mallards were everywhere!
WeHuntSC.com - Ducks on the ice
The guys had decided that there would be no shooting today.  The ducks were too far off and it would be very difficult for the dogs to attempt to retrieve any if they did shoot.  Sometimes you just don?t want to force things when the conditions and situations aren?t right.  As the guys got up out of the blinds the ducks were startled and got up and fled the scene.  When they got up I got the camera out and started videoing.  This is why you?ll see tons of birds flying and yet the hunters walking the other way.  I zoomed in on the birds and it may have seemed like they were closer than they were in reality, but they were a good ways out.  Some of the birds fled and some circled and then came right back down.  It was a really neat site.
WeHuntSC.com - The sky
We hung out a little after that and then it was time to go as we had to start handing out prizes to our 2010 Deer Competitions winners, but it did make it a little easier that I happen to be hunting with 2 of our winners!
Thanks to the guys for taking me along!

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