Thursday, November 17, 2011

Lucky Hunt

   A good place to deer and duck hunting down home was up by the Okmulgee airport. It was surprising how many deer lived in the woods around there. I think the major draw was all the grass that was planted around the run ways. The airplanes had to be real careful about taking off or landing in the morning or evening because I've seen deer standing in the middle of the runway several times. As for the ducks. There was a big pond off to the right side of the road going into the airport that was always covered with ducks from late October all the way till December.
   We never passed up a chance to do a little combined hunting and since Okmulgee County was a shotgun county (you could only hunt deer using a shotgun with slugs) we'd always through a few number 4 shot in our pockets so we could stop by the duck pond on the way out. You had to be careful duck hunting in Oklahoma because they went by the point system. Each kind of duck had a point value which was different for each one and you were only allowed one hundred points a day. They did give you a little lee way. If you already had eighty points worth of ducks you could still get one more that would put you over the hundred point limit, but only one!
   I took DeWitt along with me one day to see if we could spot out a deer and since he was also a duck hunter I reminded him to take a few extra shells along just in case we wanted to check on the duck pond. We didn't have any luck finding deer that day. We saw a lot of does but no bucks so we decided to check out the pond on the way home.
   There was a big pond dam on the side that faced the road so you couldn't see if there were any ducks on the pond until you climbed up on it and was able to see the water. We didn't want to take a chance on scaring any ducks off so we would crawl up the dam and just stick our heads up enough to peek over it. This day the pond was literally covered with ducks! In one short peek I saw Mallards, Pintails, Canvasbacks and Wood ducks. I had never seen so many ducks on that pond or so many different kinds. We slide back down the dam to figure out how we could take advantage of the situation. We decided to move about twenty feet apart and crawl back to the top of the dam, then we would both stand up together and take our shots, and since it was illegal to shoot duck while they were sitting we would shoot when the ducks flushed.
   I felt kind of silly doing it but I reminded DeWitt to be careful with his shooting because there were so many different kinds of duck we could go over our hundred points if we weren't careful. Both of our favorite eating ducks were the Wood ducks and you could only take two of them per day. We could take up to three Canvasbacks or Pintails at forty points or four Mallards at twenty-five points. See the problem here? Not only did you have to a good enough shot to hit a duck flying but you also had to be quick at math to keep track of how many points you had.
   Sneaking back up the dam went fine and when I peeked over the top I spotted two Wood ducks off to one side of the flock. I figured they were far enough off to the side that when they flushed they would head off to my left and be clear of the rest of the flock so I wouldn't have to worry about overshot. We each had three shells loaded which was the limit for duck hunting so I would need to be careful but quick if I wanted to take both of them before they got out of range. I looked over at DeWitt to make sure he was ready and getting a nod from him we both stood up.
   The instant we stood up the pond exploded with ducks going everywhere. Both of the Wood ducks I had seen took off just like I wanted them too and I got the first one when he was about three feet above the water and the other at about ten feet. I was concentrating on those two and wasn't paying any attention to what DeWitt was doing although in the back of mind I heard him shooting. His shots were Boom,Boom,Boom so close together that it sounded more like he was shooting an automatic instead of the pump I knew he had, After mine were down I glanced over to see how he had done just in time to see it raining ducks on the pond.
   It took a couple of minutes for what I was seeing to sink in. There had to be at least half a dozen duck floating in front of him plus a few more that looked to be wounded and trying to fly. I ran over to him and asked what in the world had he done. He was looking a little shocked as he told me that he had only meant to shoot a couple of Wood ducks and didn't have any idea where all the others had come from. What really happened was that he had been so wrapped up in trying to get those Wood ducks that he hadn't paid any attention to what was behind them, which was most of the flock!
   By the time we gathered all the dead and wounded ducks we had enough points to cover at least four people! I hate to say it but the part about him being so excited and not even thinking about what he was doing was kind of funny. On the other hand, we were way over our limit and would be looking at some really high fines if we got caught. Our old game warder Elmer would have hung us out to dry if he caught us and it wouldn't have mattered what kind of excuse we had. However, I wasn't really too worried about getting into trouble this time. After all, I had the correct number of ducks, DeWitt was going to have to take the blame for all the others and I figured we were going to be all right on that score. I did mention that the red faced, embarrassed DeWitt standing next to me was the local game warden, didn't I?