A small harvest, but memories made

JOE MAYROSE Guest Columnist

As an avid outdoorsman, I’ve had my share of hunts play out perfectly. Everything happens as expected and the hunt ends with wild game in hand.

I’ve had just as many hunts, though, not go as planned. This has kept me humble, and has made me a much better hunter over the years.

I have realized that success in hunting isn’t always about what you harvest, but rather the memories made while afield.

Being from Iowa, it didn’t take long for me to see just how amazing duck and goose hunting is in South Dakota.

Simply put, South Dakota is a waterfowl hunter’s paradise.

Unfortunately, a recent hunt I was part of turned into a humbling experience. Nonetheless, it was a hunt I won’t forget anytime soon.

On Friday, Nov. 11, my roommate, Mark, two of our friends, Dan and Jacob, and I embarked on a memorable trip.

Preparation for the hunt began the night before. After loading our decoys, waders and shotguns into the truck, we topped off the gas in the boat, made sure coffee was ready for the morning and headed to bed early, knowing we’d have only a few hours to rest before the alarm clocks would chime.

After arriving at our spot, we began throwing diver decoys from the boat in five to six feet of water. Our other decoys, most of which were mallards, were placed closer to shore, with two pockets on either side of us, allowing ducks an area to land close enough for a shot.

The brisk November air coupled with a stunning sunrise left no regret in waking up hours before sunrise on a scheduled school day off. As the sun crept slowly over the horizon, the sky began to fill with ducks.

Hundreds of diving ducks scooted effortlessly across the open water, keeping well away from our decoys and ignoring our enticing calls.

Finally, a lone drake bufflehead made his was left-to-right along the outskirts of our decoys spread. With a single shot, one of my friends dropped the beautiful drake. After a round of high fives on the nice shot, we retrieved the bird and took cover once more.

Little did we know, though, it would be our only opportunity to harvest a bird all morning.

What we guessed was more than 2,000 divers, mallards and geese made their way around the lake or out to other bodies of water, but nothing came nearly close enough to shoot.

Although we didn’t harvest nearly as many birds as we would have hoped, having quality time in the outdoors is the most important thing.

I’m sure a limit of ducks would have made a great morning even better, but trying a different type of duck hunting on big water made this hunt one that I’ll never forget.

After all, the memories we make is what it’s all about.