Moving into the U.S., Whistling Ducks Create More Hunting Opportunities

Sounding like squeaky wheels needing grease, about 50 squealing long-necked birds circled overhead before settling into the water just outside our decoys.

These birds looked like no other North American waterfowl. In flight, the gangly birds stretched out their elongated necks and dangled long legs behind them, looking more like an ibis than a duck. Their wings beat strong, but slow, more like geese than the frenzied flapping of other ducks. They also stand upright like geese and easily walk on land.

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Great Athletes

My two favorite activities, football and bird hunting are just a month away from their 2015 season. Like most hunters during this part of the year, I begin to plan and daydream for what is coming for both activities. Timing key dates for both has always been a struggle for me as I plan and try to do it all.

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In Pursuit of North Dakota’s Upland Smorgasbord

Morning dawned bright, clear, and crisp in western North Dakota as I fumbled through a storage box in the bed of my beaten, old two-wheel-drive Ford Ranger pick-up. It’s not much to look at, but it carries a lot for little gas money, getting me to places I love to visit. Out amongst frosted sunflowers a rooster crowed, not the barnyard variety. My pulse quickened. Somewhere further, another chimed in as if to remind the first he was still there too. Their banter reminded me of why I love this place so much. Yep, I was home, even if I don’t actually reside here.

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Small Gauges Scaled Right for Doves

Shooting doves is an economy of scale.
A mourning dove weighs about 4 ounces. A Eurasian collared dove weighs about 5.3 ounces, and a white-winged dove weighs about 5.4 ounces. Hurling 1½ ounce of lead out one end, coupled with the recoil of a 12-gauge shotgun on the other end, is way out of scale for the task.

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Seven Deadly Decoy Set-Ups for Doves

A barren patch of dry dirt caused dust clouds to appear with each step. Several gray plastic decoys had been strategically placed. Some appeared to be feeding on remnants of sunflowers seeds that had spilled onto the ground from all the picked brown disks drooped to one side. They stood like forgotten lifeless sentries in a field that was once adorned with oversized yellow flowers the size of dinner plates. A metal pole inserted into the ground would be the anchor for the lifelike dove that would be perched atop. Spinning. Drawing attention to other gray birds. Enticing them to fly close so its handler may fire hot lead or steel. 

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Pursuing a Nebraska Mixed Bag

Nebraska seems to garner less attention than its neighbors to the north and south. But that’s part of the charm. South Dakota has more pheasants, but Kansas holds more quail and the Dakotas have plenty of prairie grouse. The annual waterfowl migration passes through all four. However, Nebraska often produces good hunting for both upland birds and waterfowl simultaneously, and that’s the cherry on the sundae.

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