This was my first season duck hunting and I have to say I’m hooked even with two whole trips under my belt I had a blast. I really lucked out on my first trip and got to head out with some seasoned hunters and good friends from Flatpit. I was super stocked to get invited along especially since they got a really good draw for Wister a Wildlife Area managed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. I lucked out opening day with a great spot and two awesome dudes to go with.
Having never done this and knowing my propensity to jump int new hobbies headfirst there was a series of tense negotiations at the Kit Fox house… I of course argued duck hunting is not a new hobby but a part of hunting so it’s a subcategory of a hobby I already had, haha. I picked up a set of TideWe Waders and cobbled together the other gear I thought I might need.
It was a cool experience and a site to see Wister has camping areas set up for the hunters and I got in a little later and the Flatpit crew was already set up and relaxing around the camp. I brought my tipi (I negotiated hard to get it, so it has to get some use, haha). Once I was set up, we headed over to the shack that evening to check in and it was apparent it was quite the event. After checking in we headed back and went to bed to wake up at 0200, did I mention I like pheasant hunting because we can’t start until 0800.
We checked in at 0300, got a great spot and headed to camp to load up the truck. We headed to the parking lot and then I understood why they have a game cart; it was a little bit of a walk to the blind. We walked down and found out spots and set up, while early in the morning and November it was still the desert of Southern California, the 5mm neoprene waders where becoming, well, warm. Wister is really cool as it is a criss cross of artificial ponds separated by levies and with an assigned area for you to hunt from so you don’t step on each other. I think it looks kind of like a rice paddy or cranberry bog with small brush along the levy and making good places to hide.
Hide we did, we improved out spots moved around brush added camouflage, I felt like playing army haha. I will saw we were treated to an amazing sunrise as we waited for “shoot time”, the decoys John and Colin put out with care worked, they were coming in and landing among them and it was so cool to watch as we sat there quietly. The sounds of nature shaking off the night grew louder, and the darting shadows grew more frequent.
Shoot time; like a coordinated symphony of shotgun fire the whole area opened up and we were playing our part in the score. It was amazing as all of the work and anticipation broke with the first pull of the trigger, hit not my first shot but it didn’t take long before I was able to pick up on the bird’s flight. Splash the bird hits the water, time to retrieve my bird. We didn’t have dogs, so we were wearing a few hats, haha. The ponds are shallow and usually around knee high, great. The bottom of the ponds is sticky quicksand like mud that fights to keep your boots with every step. Fortunately, my mentors had me learn and help put out decoys and how to navigate the mud. Still now here I am moving further and further from the shore through the mud slowly, I was thinking the whole time “please don’t let me eat it in front of the gang” haha.
It was a great morning and a repeat of shoot, wade, repeat. Colin and John did awesome and bagged out at around 1000, me the new guy, well I was taking a little longer. Learned something new you can only have 25 shells on you at a time so after every box we headed back to the truck to reload, did I mention the heat it was heating up. While I was making an effort to stay hydrated the need to pee was not there as my own personal neoprene sauna was sucking the water out haha. Oh, and the bugs lots of bugs and very glad I brought the Off haha. But did I care, no I had five birds and two birds to go, I was in it to win it. I really appreciate the crew’s patience with me as I worked for the bag limit, I finally hit at noon. It was an amazing day, and I was super glad that the Flatpit crew had invited me out on this amazing experience. Thank you again Colin and John!