Mississippi Teal Hunts (early season)  
                                                           September, 2008 - Savanna, Illinois
                    Sept. 9th  
   It was a cool morning with a nice breeze. Taffey and I were on the water at
                         quarter to 6 (am). With little fog, it was fairly safe to move in the eastern side
                         channel. I intended to work downriver and scout for just the right blind to use.
                         There was only one other duck hunter at the launch, so finding one out of
                         many would be easy. Reaching the end of a long chain of islands, we pushed
                         onto the huge, shallow flats and rowed........too shallow and an infinite number
                         of stumps made the motor useless. Finally, a blind was found that looked ideal
                         for all the right reasons...........well concealed, sun at our backs, wind perfect
                         and very "ducky" looking. 
                         The first teal was shot at about 7:30 am and that opportunity could have been
                         a double. The second came around 8:05 and again it was a chance for a double.
                         Twenty minutes later a single was dropped and we only needed one more for a
                         limit. About 9 o'clock a huge pelican came sailing low and slow right over the
                         blind. I picked up the camera to take a picture and...........four teal "buzzed" the
                         spread.  Expletives were silent.

                         There was a cool interruption of the hunt when a huge barge worked its way
                         past us going upstream. What an awesome display of power. It was a unique
                         contrast to the tiny, speedy teal we were after.

                         A short time later a lone goose did not seem too worried about the "spinner"
                         and evidently had the same lack of concern for my shooting. 
                         At 9:50, a single teal made the mistake of flying too close. It was a pleasant,
                         relaxing morning on the Mississippi, and Taffey got her first limit of teal. 

                                                                          (left click on thumbnails)

                         "decoy panorama"
          "to the right"
    "tucked in boat"
      "up the river"
                            "looong barge"
      "total power"
   "from the blind"
             "full boat"
     "The Bluebill"
  "there are more"
         "four of a kind"
     "cushion teal"
                           Sept. 11th      

                            It was Daisy's turn. Again, Gunny was a passenger to accomplish two things
                            1) going on trips and 2) nobody at home to take care of him. We arrived at 5:45
                            and no one was at the landing. Gunny was left in the van (which was parked in
                            shade, with plenty of ventilation on a cool day). Since shooting time was about
                            an hour later, there was plenty of time to get downstream to the same blind
                            Taffey worked out of the previous hunt. Except, I went one island too far (they
                            all look the same). Crossing over a strangely easier mud flat, it was clear this
                            was the wrong "cut". To save time (and get a better view), I continued out into
                            the main channel for a better look. I guessed upriver, and it turned out to be
                            correct. The section of mud flat back into the blind was not a long haul and we
                            setup quickly.

                            Last time, there were a few goose possibilities.......so I added some "big bird"
                            decoys to the spread. The wind was from the south today.  Again there was
                            very little shooting.

                            At about 7:30 a single teal "buzzed" in from the north and it dipped low below
                            the "purple" cover on the left. I just "nicked" him. It flew quite a ways down the
                            open mud flat, landed, dove and disappeared.  Daisy did not see the teal, and
                            I ended up handling her. The first few times she wanted to scallop up on the
                            land, but finally gave in to my insistence to take more water.  The teal was not
                            where it splashed, but then again I was not bred for my marking ability. Daisy
                            continued to take each one of my casts.  Knowing there was no orange flag to
                            indicate where the duck was, I started to let her hunt longer on the end of each
                            cast. Suddenly she took off on an intense, lunging effort toward open water.
                            I let her go........which resulted in her first teal. Trust your dog.

                            During the blind, about a dozen teal flew over the decoys. Daisy was busy.

                            There was hardly any shooting elsewhere. Not a single goose was flying.
                            Finally, about a hour later two bluewings came in...........a chance for a double
                            ended up being a single. Two to go for a limit.
                            Two "gads" worked the spread for a long time and later about twenty young
                            mallards seemed to circle forever. They finally landed about 100 yards down
                            the shoreline.

                            Out of nowhere, which is normal for teal, another double showed up. I dropped
                            the back one and missed the second. Again where it lit was a mystery. Daisy
                            "listened to me", but this teal was 30 yards closer in the lily pads. Daisy's nose
                            found it.  Hunting is not exactly like testing. 

                            The wind from the south was now picking up....a lot. Three bluewings seemed
                            like plenty, and I did not want to mess with high winds. Fortunately, we were
                            headed back north and the "surf was up". The Carsten Bluebill did just fine
                            getting us back to the landing.

                            However, two things were left to deal with. The boat was in knee deep water
                            at the landing as I stepped out. My foot got locked in the sand and the boat
                            rolled up on me. Grabbing the gunnel on the other side was futile and the
                            leverage found me sitting down into the water. All would have been fine if
                            I had been wear chest waders.......but hip boots weren't going to cut it. 
                            Walking in hip boots full of cool water is............interesting.

                            Besides avoiding the "leverage issue" when getting out of this boat, I need to
                            make sure I have a dry set of clothes along on each trip. I did have an extra
                            pullover that was taken off during the hunt, but the long ride home in my wet
                            Haines was not cool.............well,  then again maybe it was.

It's Kooly's turn next Monday.  
 (left click on thumbnails)

                                        "The Blind"
       "ready to go"
        "another sniff"

                           Sept. 15th

Kooly's turn started out well. The weather was cool and rain appeared to
                           have move east. The wind was not too bad and we got to the blind early.
                           Shooting time was about 6:45. We were ready at around 7 am. At 7:04 am, a
                           single teal swooped in and I dropped him with a long shot. Kooly had been
                           totally blown away with all the birds in the air......mostly pelicans, cormorants
                           and gulls. He did a good job at listening to me and brought it back gently.

                           The wind slowly picked up and the weather started to deteriorate. For a while,
                           lots of geese were on the move. Then it got a little foggy and a fine mist started
                           to soak everything. There were no teal flying. Finally about 10 o'clock the wind
                           died out, clouds started to thin and the sun occasionally peaked through the

                            Three teal flashed the blind, made a quick u-turn and I managed to scratch
                            one down. Two teal for Kooly was the best we could do.  Where are they?
                            At least on the way back Kooly was just looking up at birds.........instead of
                            trying to jump out and catch them. This was his first hunt in a boat or a
                            stationary blind. I had a "heck of a time" keeping him from breaking after
                            stumps. There was much latent puppy "stuff" pent up inside of him. It
                            finally was released.
 He was much wiser on the trip back.  

                            The last three Mississippi teal trips produced "scores" of Taffey - 4,
                            Daisy - 3 and Kooly - 2.

  (left click on thumbnails)

                                       "decoy setup"  
          "Iowa side"
            "two teal"  
        "matched pair"
                          updated 01/28/14