So, yeah. I'm taking the plunge. I'm going to commit. To North Dakota. I don't know why I want to go. I'm not even going to attempt to field hunt. I'm going in late October, so there could already be 2 feet of ice on the remaining potholes. What am I thinking? I guess I'm hoping for the sensory overload, the motherload, and the truckload that I will hopefully endure while I'm out there. North Dakoa raises as many ducks as anywhere in the world. I'm not gonna say where I'm going, but I will say that I'm going with a partner in crime and his dog. I might even take a canoe...and I will absolutely not employ the services of a guide. Why? It's not because I hate guides. In fact, I can afford one and they are a sure thing, usually. I like the challenge. I killed ducks the very first time I went at it alone in North Carolina...so why not North Dakota - where there are exponentially more ducks?! I've done lots of cyber scouting, scoured the tourism websites, melted my google earth application, and have downloaded, repeatedly, the PLOTS guide. I think I know where everything is, as long as it looks like it did on March 11, 2011 (according to Google Earth!).
Since I'm going to drive - I hate the thought of the airlines tossing around my prized 20 gauge- I'll have quite the carload. Other than a former NCAA baseball player and his 90 pound black labm there will be other accoutrements. Decoys. Guns. Two Back-up Guns. Ammo - don't think it's accessible out there. Cooler. Canoe. Calls. Blind bags. First Aid kit. Dog food. Kennel. Waders. Warm clothes. Lots of them. GPS. Wader dryers. Toothbrush and toothpaste. At least two pair of underwear...maybe four.
My Duck Hunting New Year's Resolution was to apply for and document the process of obtaining a blind in Dare County. I gave that up. A week in North Dakota is, more than likely, going to give me ample opportunities at plenty of ducks. In an honest world, if I went up there and had good luck, I might almost stop hunting in North Carolina. At least from the shorelines anyway. Nothing beats layout hunting. I never get to shoot puddle ducks, so North Carolina would grant me that...though I still prefer divers. Which is why I'm not going to field hunt, yet. The Delta Marsh is also on my life list. And that, too, is for divers.
Still, I'm going into this the way I wish I would have started out in North Carolina - as a purist. I'm not taking any Drake paraphernalia, plastic decoys, or spinner-wings. My compadre and I are currently in the process of hacking out a stand of decoys that I have dubbed the "North Dakota Rig." I'll bet you there's never been a block-styled mallard to hit the prairie potholes in NoDak. At the moment, we've got a pair of widgeon, a tri-fecta of pintails, a tri-fecta of shovelers (imagine a Core Sound shoveler!), a dozen redheads, and a dozen blackheads. With more coming, a bufflehead, and several more mallards should be expected. They're cork and tupelo - we probably won't rig them out with ballast weights - we want them to gyrate nicely on those backwater sloughs that lack the wind and waves of the North Carolina coast.
Either way, we're just getting started. We've got hours ahead of us that will involve mapreading alone. The logistics will be overcome with a credit card, but luck, well, you can't buy it.