In what was clearly my most unique duck hunt, a Bald Eagle dropped a duck right into our laps, so to speak.
Our week of sub-zero temperatures finally broke and even though there was a light wind and snow throughout the day, 14 degrees (F) seemed rather balmy. With cabin fever getting the best of me and the dogs, I loaded Doc and Elettra into the truck and went on an afternoon duck hunt.
We set up under some cedar trees using them as natural blinds. We waited for awhile when I heard a heavy rush of wings. I looked up to see a Bald Eagle with a duck in it’s grasp skimming over the treetop, not more than 20 feet away.
The eagle came over the tree and saw the dogs and me, which startled the eagle and it dropped the duck. The duck fluttered down to the river bank about 100 feet below us and the eagle continued on. I waited awhile to see if the duck would fly off or the eagle return for it, but when neither happened, I took Doc and Elettra down to find the duck.
They searched the brush for a few minutes before Doc flushed it out; injured by the eagle, the duck didn’t go too far and Elettra made a nice retrieve.
Ducks were landing in some open water that was downstream of us and I decided to go after them. Although the river channel is quite deep, that particular spot is very shallow and fed by warm springs, so ducks land there to eat the fresh water shrimp.
We set up in a blind on the river bank and while the hunters up on the bluffs weren’t getting any shots, there was a fair amount of action down on the river. I had to be selective with my shots: if I dropped a duck too far upstream, it could land on the ice which I didn’t want the dogs on, and if I dropped one too far downstream, it could drift over a waterfall in the river which again, I didn’t want the dogs near.
A couple of flocks flew over and I missed my first two shots before getting my aim back and dropping a Mallard from a flock. Doc and Elettra had fun chasing it down and this time it was Doc who made the retrieve. We stayed for a little while after that but when I saw that the dogs were getting chilled after their romp in the water, decided to call it a day.