Unfortunately, duck season has passed for the 2021-2022 season in most states. In Virginia you can never expect an amazing season, but this year was exceptionally good. Every year we end up saying the same thing, “It needs to get colder, there’s no birds.” Well, this year it was! Most of the Atlantic Flyway experienced cold temperatures and many freezes in late January. These last two weeks of the season are usually the best, but the last two days were incredibly special to me.
On Saturday, January 29th, I got ready for a typical duck hunt in Central Virginia. My father and I would be hunting a small beaver swamp off a rushing creek. This was the ideal spot because the moving water had kept our swamp open. Every other pond or swamp nearby was iced over and covered with snow from the night before. As the sun was rising, wood ducks started squealing through the trees. The high-pitched squeal of a wood duck excites me just as much as a turkey gobbling on the limb. To our surprise, wood ducks were flying but not within range. Shortly after, one drake wood duck came in and I was able to drop him with one shot. This was our only opportunity all morning, so we were a little upset. That frustration was soon met with joy when we discovered the wood duck was banded. My first band! I was ecstatic to say the least. Somehow this 2016 banded wood duck made his way from Minnesota, over the mountains, and into a small swamp in Central Virginia.
Still on cloud nine from the day before, I set my goose decoys on a small farm pond the next morning. This farm pond had about 60 geese using it, so I figured it would be a good hunt for my friend and I to do a quick limit. The birds worked as they should, and we quickly shot our limit which landed on the ice. One bird started to run away crippled, and I was not able to shoot him before getting away – I was terribly upset. As we were collecting the birds, the neighbor’s chocolate lab started sprinting down the bank. Sure enough, he was chasing that crippled bird. The goose slid onto the ice, and I immediately spotted the band on his leg. Let’s just say I didn’t hesitate to shoot. Thanks to the neighbor’s lab, I had shot two bands in two days – this one was banded in 2013 in Nunavut, Canada.
Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that I would shoot 2 bands in 2 days in Virginia. The best part was enjoying it with my father and one of my best friends. These are memories that truly can never be replaced. This is what makes working for Safari Club International (SCI) so special. SCI staff and members are working every day to protect those future memories. From hunting wood ducks in a swamp in Central Virginia to stalking Kudu on the plains of Africa, SCI is there protecting your hunting rights. If you’re not already a member, I encourage you to be. Stand with SCI, and you too can be First for Hunters.