When most people think of a winter wonderland they think of Christmas trees, Santa Claus, and rolling hills covered with snow. But to the Duckmen it consists of frozen fields and high concentrations of mallards. Which was exactly what we experienced on our late season trip to Kansas this year. Every time Jase gives the word that a Kansas trip is imminent I can’t help but feel a sense of anticipation and excitement. In this case it was completely justified.
We knew that it would be cold but when I stepped out of the truck upon arrival the word cold didn’t come to mind. It was raw. But every epic duck hunt I’ve ever experienced had one thing in common raw, frigid temps. With everything being locked up a good old fashioned river hunt was on the agenda. There’s nothing quite like duck hunting on a river bank with snow and ice on the ground. Our good friends from Kansas had spotted around 500 mallards using a particular stretch of river bank the previous day so expectations were high. We put 24 decoys mere feet from the bank and set up behind a big log that had washed up.
As the sun rose we sat and watched duck after duck fly over and work up river a half mile north of us. It didn’t take long before a wholesale move was underway. We packed up our grip, decoys, food, and cameramen and headed north. We located the X about ½ mile north of our original set up. It was right below a 30 ft bluff that had plenty of cover. Seemed to be the perfect ambush site. We got the decoys out and halfway through our blind build Phil looks up and says, “Good grief look at that. You boys are taking way too long to build this blind!” I looked back to see 75 mallards flaring up out of the decoys. It was quite the sight. Needless to say the pace of the blind building accelerated greatly. We finally got set up with guns at the ready and it didn’t take long for the ducks to appear.
The first bunch are 6 widgeon floating down river 5 feet off the water. They broke down over the decoys like a picture and we managed to get all 6. It wasn’t 20 minutes after that and what happened next is something I’ll never forget. Two hundred plus mallards coming on the same line the widgeon were on, low off the water heading straight towards our spread. I can’t really explain what I felt at that moment. The big buck that I harvested a couple weeks prior didn’t hold a candle to this.
In what seemed like an eternity they just kept coming. Duck after duck stretched out 100 yards down the river. Then came the words we were all waiting for: “Cut em!” We raised up, emptied our weapons and the carnage began. When the smoke cleared I could hardly believe what just happened was real. I’ve had dreams of this but it actually just happened. As I looked around at all the smiling faces I realized that this is the pinnacle of duck hunting and this is why we love it so much.
It’s not just about bagging your limit but it’s the complete experience that makes it special. It’s about family and friends enjoying God’s wild creation to it’s fullest. From that point on I was content with whatever happened the rest of duck season. Our trip to the winter wonderland this year was one I won’t soon forget.