Field Staffer Barry Ashley
The air has turned crisp and cool in the mornings. Crops are being harvested, and most young retrievers are home from training all summer. Veteran waterfowlers have a spring in their step that has not been seen since last season. They are starting to anticipate the upcoming waterfowl season.
Briefly rewinding - it all starts in the spring, cleaning decoys and storing them for the summer. Valves and gates are opened, or pulled, to allow the water to drain from fields we’ve managed for waterfowl all winter long. There’s still a few birds looking for the last few remaining grains of feed, but it’s time for them to move on to the breeding grounds, in anticipation of raising their young for the next fall flight.
The farmers work the ground, fertilize, spray, and plant the crop. There are several prayers for rain and good weather throughout the growing season. Irrigation is used where available. When fall comes and the harvest begins they hope for good prices and a good yield, but a portion of the crop is left in the field for migrating waterfowl to feed on. The farmer, and the ducks, anticipate a good crop.
Once the crops are harvested, it’s on to cleaning and brushing blinds. Valves and gates, that were opened months ago, are closed, in hopes of Mother Nature giving us some free water. A shipment of new decoys has arrived. It’s time to get them rigged and added to the spread. Early seasons have come and gone, giving us a small taste of what is yet to come. Our friends have sent pictures from Canada, where the hunting has been nothing short of spectacular. Finally, with opening day a few weeks away, it’s time to pump the fields full of water - allowing the birds access to the food we’ve left them. While checking the pumps daily we start seeing more and more birds using the fields... with anticipation of many more! Now, the stage is set. Decoys are staged in some blinds while permanent spreads are set on others. Ice blasters are set to keep holes open on those cold freezing days and provide movement in the decoys. Splashing Flashers, Crazy Kickers, and Pulsators are charged and ready to roll. Guns are cleaned one final time. Blind bags are packed, calls are tuned, and the dogs are ready.
What we’ve worked on all year long has come to fruition. It’s go time!
We’ve got sights set on another great season.
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