First hunt at Big Branch WMA

A friend from work and I decided to try duck hunting from our kayaks this morning. We went to Big Branch National Wildlife Management Area near Slidell, LA.

http://www.fws.gov/refuges/profiles/index.cfm?id=43558

I bought some camo burlap to make my light colored kayak blend in better with the marsh. I trimmed it to fit approximately to the water line of the kayak. Naturally, I used “duck” tape to hold in place.

 

A strong cold front had come through earlier in the week and we had hopes that some fresh birds had come down from the north. Hunting reports say that most of the ducks are still stuck up in the Midwest and it has yet to get cold enough to move them south. Global warming is ruining the duck hunting in south LA. It is not getting cold enough to make the birds fly all the way south anymore.

This was the first time we had hunted the area, so expectations were not too high. I got to the spot about 5 a.m. and was greeted by 7 empty pick up trucks. There were already a group of guys out in the marsh and we would need to be careful not to encroach on their places.  We noticed several guys in the marsh as we tried to find a place to set up. The marsh was very shallow, so we pulled up out fins and rudders and took to the paddles for most of the hunt. We had not been hunting long when a group of gadwall (gray) ducks came by. My friend and I both fired, and I’m not sure which one (or both) of us downed the duck. I moved over to a small island and tucked myself back in the weeds along the shoreline. I had a pair of gadwall catch me unaware as they approached me from behind. I was a little slow in deciding whether to shoot, and in the mean time they climbed and veered away.  Then three redheads moved in front of me, and I knocked down two. I had to chase one bird and it took a few minutes to run him down.  After chase number one was over I tried but could never find the second duck. I shot at a few more ducks when I probably shouldn’t have (too far/high). We came in about 11:30, as hunting must cease at noon. My buddy had a gray, bufflehead, and a scaup. I had a redhead in hand and downed but lost a couple of other birds.

 

It was not a bad trip considering that we really did not know the area or how to hunt it. I think we would like to try hunting it on a weekday when there are fewer people there. It could be easy to “jump shoot” some ducks because the kayaks sit so low in the water that the ducks don’t realize that a hunter is there.  After duck hunting with guides for the last several trips it was fun to try it on our own. And the price was right too. I think we will be back soon. Image