The Last Day
Sunday, December 27, 1999: It was the last day of duck season and the split Canada goose season had just re-opened. A week of bitterly cold weather had frozen every duck hole north of Arkansas. The decoys I neglected to retrieve had become a permanent part of the ice block that used to be a marsh.
I hadn't hunted in several days, but no matter ... I've always been present for the opening and closing days of the season.
Ed "Fat Boy" Powell arrived at the Wilderness Lodge about 7:00 AM, and we discussed our game plan. On most days we could break the ice into chunks and slide the sections underneath the other ice to open up an area big enough to set a few floaters. We would then put a few standing decoys around the hole. When everything is frozen over, that little piece of open water can be irresistible to a duck or goose that's been out feeding all morning and needs to wash down his breakfast.
We decided this was a good plan, so we grabbed the necessary tools and headed for Point Blind on Bean Lake.
Bean Lake used to be a 100 acre soybean field. It was approved by the government and entered into WRP (Wetlands Reserve Program). In 1998 it was farmed for the last time and has now returned to wetlands, as it was many, many years ago. The field had proved to be excellent earlier in the season ... but that was before this last cold front.
Fat Boy and I arrived at Point Blind and soon discovered that the ice was about three inches thicker than expected. We switched to Plan B.
We walked out on the frozen lake and set eight Flambeau Persuader Goose and twelve Enticer Duck Decoys in front of the blind. These are full body decoys with legs.
Using a steel fence post we managed to break a small hole in the ice and, using a shovel, splashed water over the surface around the feet of the decoys to give the illusion of open water.
Not many flocks of ducks or geese flew over that morning, but smaller bunches and a few singles decoyed well. We ended up with 3 mallards, 2 gadwall, 1 scaup and 2 Canada geese. We missed some shots we should have had, but that's pretty normal when you're hunting with Fat Boy.
As usual, we had a wonderful time, a great hunt and enjoyed another beautiful day in the duck blind.