Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Boys are back in town...

By Sunday evening of the opener I was a walking wreck... totally zombied. For some stupid reason I'd put myself on dinner duty on the cooking roster, on top of needing to go and ferry in Tony, Matt, Chewie and dogs... plus the decoys needed to be moved for the morning hunt. With Coch, Andy and Rick having left to take care of work and child duties we decided among the remaining crew to hunt 3 ponds in the morning. First up, to take care of those ribs. I have to close the loop on those yummy yummy ribs... basically a Dutch oven on open flame was heated, oil added and the ribs separated and then blackened in the oven. Hell yeah, they were good and all were demolished along with a side salad. Men eat MEAT.

I picked up the lads after 9, then as they settled in went and moved the decoys into position for the morning's weather. Then back for a couple of beers before I passed out. The alarm went off and we staggered out of bed, except for Tom who stayed in his happy place - bed. I can't remember who cooked up brekkie on that morning, but what I'll never ever forget is the hunt that followed. We'd decided that with 4 in the maimai as well as dogs that we'd rotate the shot; whoever fired then moved off the platform allowing the next in line to step up.

With the wind, decoy spread and wall of noise calling, the ducks were almost on a string. Our shooting was nowhere near perfect, but by mid morning 4 limits was looming as a possibility. After last year's Monday hunt where Tony and I limited, a high bar had been set.... but expectations mostly don't meet reality.

By lunchtime, dad, Daryl, Greg, Tom and Larry were pulling out so I left the pond to see them off. Great to meet Daryl, an Aussie shooting nut. We'll hunt together in the future I'm sure. I went back out to the pond and the ducks started to come in again. The dogs got plenty of work in over the day.

Zulu at work

Ted at work

Nera at work

By 2.00 we had 35 odd down, and by 2.20 we were done - limited out. High fives all around! As I said to the lads, if I were a betting man I'd give the odds of doing that at less than 50%, so we'd had a real stonker.

Lads 'n ducks
We spent the afternoon cleaning the bag, and collecting decoys from the ponds which the other lads had left behind. Then we sat down for a few beers and to tell lies. The evening was made for a night shoot and I was keen to simply go out and see what ducks were moving, but the boys talked me down. Chewie then turned on a superlative dinner; roast lamb shoulder (courtesy of Tony), with mushroom gravy, roast spuds, and the full trimmings. We ate like pigs, got a bit drunk, told more lies and bad jokes and just kicked back.

I certainly remember who made breakfast the next morning! The alarm didn't go but I was awake at 05.30 anyway, so I got up, brewed coffee and tea and Cheiwe the food legend got busy again, this time filleting out fresh flounder! Into the pan the fillets went and oh my god, what an awesome breakfast they made.

Again there was an early flight and we got stuck in.

Chewie and Matt, with Ted and Zulu
This day the weather was fine and calm, and with it being our travel home day we decided to call it quits at 10am. By then we had 14 birds to hand, another brilliant hunt. At 10 some ducks appeared, so up-sticks time was extended to 10.30. By then we had a bag of 17 birds. I got into the punt to lift decoys when I saw a sight that I've not seen in the swamp for many many years - a massive flock of mallards wheeled overhead, calling and splitting into wheeling groups. They spread out and worked ponds both with and without dekes. Unfortunately in my position I was simply scaring birds off so it was no great surprise that we couldn't take any; what was a big surprise was that only 3 shots came from the neighbours' pond. What a sight and sound! Awesome.

We cleaned up the bag and hut, got everything shipshape and then got our gear, dogs and selves up to the landing. What a freakin great couple of days. Shit was spun, new memories made and a group of very happy lads got on the road for home.

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