Subtitled: What happens when you duck hunt for nine straight days.

Duck season in Florida is 60 days long.  Plus nine for early teal.  This means you MUST maximize your time or the season is gone.  This year, I’ve set a personal goal to be on the water 50 of those days.  This means that, for the past nine days of the first split, I’ve been in a duck blind every morning, including Thanksgiving and Black Friday.  Here are a few random observations and thoughts from the duck blind.

10. On the mornings the ducks don’t fly, the fish always seem to be feeding on top.  Bass, snook, redfish, trout – there ain’t much better than holding a shotgun and watching a school of reds crushing mullet, milling around in your decoys.  This is particularly enjoyable when there aren’t any ducks anywhere.

9. The flip side of this is, should you eschew your shotgun for a fly rod, ducks seem to materialize from everywhere.

8. Also on the inverse proportion scale, the number of mosquitoes is directly correlated to the wariness of the birds you’re hunting.  Yes, when concealment is key, when you can’t move an inch for fear of flare, those are the mornings the bugs are the worst.  However, when the ducks are stupid, the biters seem to take a morning off.

7. Thermocells do not work in 25 mph winds.

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6. Divers love decoys.  The more decoys the more better.  Our current diver spread is at 150, and we both think a few more wouldn’t hurt.

5. Every duck is pretty.  I think that’s part of what makes me love duck hunting so much.  We’ve killed 5-6 species already this year.  You have no clue what’s coming next.  Even the hens in their summer plumage have a great beauty.  It’s like fishing inshore – you don’t know what will hit your plug next.  It’s the same thing with duck hunting.

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4. Florida mallards, or mottleds, are my favorite.  Wigeons are number two.  But there’s something about 100 bluebills dumping into your decoys that just makes my heart jittery.

3. I think my gun may have a problem – it seems to misfire every time I pull the trigger.  Maybe misfire isn’t the right word – it just seems like it shoots three times every time.  Hmmmm.  Will have to look at that after the season.

2. You can’t always trust your hunting partner to watch the flank.  Sometimes, when you do that, you end up with teal trying to land on your head, only to result in no shots being fired.  This generally leads to uncomfortable questions and accusations about who stood watch over what quadrant.  This conversation will then escalate, resulting in broken relationships, sales of boats, and retirement from the sport.  It’s best just to keep your head on a swivel and be ready.

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1. Tomorrow will be better.  Doesn’t matter how good or bad today was.  Tomorrow will be even better.  This is the duck hunter’s mantra.  It doesn’t matter how tired he is.  How early he’ll have to get up.  How bad it was today.  Tomorrow WILL be better.

Travis Thompson
About the Author

A 5th generation, Floridian, Travis has been hunting and fishing his home turf for as long as he can remember. When he's not in the woods or on the water, he's spending time with his kids, Olivia and Will, the lovely Mrs. Thompson, or futilely attempting to train two French Brittany Spaniels . . .