Well it all started the evening of 1-27-2013, the preparation that is. The ever growing group of our Gladesmen have duties to get ready for the next hunt. Bill took it upon himself to cook a whole pig on Saturday afternoon for pulled pork sandwiches’ and backstrap cutlets, for Sunday lunch so good. We have feasts after the hunt as you can tell. The three groups of us consisted of Myself Zach, Nate, Will, Clayton, Jessica, Mike, Sean, Skip, Bill, and Chris. The four groups get our things together for our individuals and for the entire group. From cookware to hunt gear we have it all covered. We rarely forget things because we have lists.
Duck thirty in the morning we all wake up and are ready for our adventure. Duck thirty usually refers to the time of 2:30 am. We have to get a move on things because it’s about a hour and a half drive, STA 5 is located in Hendry County. It is a 5,100 acre man made wetland that the ducks absolutely love. There are 6 total STA’s and only 5 are huntable. We all arrive at the duckaholics parking lot at 4:30 am. I say duckaholics because there are that many people there. The moon was full and the temperature was chilly. Beautiful is what I felt, WE are going hunting today. Now there is a process that you have to go through to get to hunt this particular morning all ten of us did not have a permit so we have to put our names in a random lottery draw. The list was 97 names long including ours with only 16 available permits for draw. The odds were not in our favor but I had No doubt we were all hunting. Each permit allows up to three hunters to go in. We needed to pull 4 and that we did. The drawing starts at 5:00 am and by 5:30 we had the four. Words can’t explain the excitement and happiness we felt. In the trucks we go to our hunting spots. A short drive down the great dusty levee road and our caravan arrives. We had a brief discussion with each other about how we were going to hunt the area. We decide that we would split into two separate groups, 6 and 4. Myself, Nate, Will, Mike, Skip, and Sean would be hunting together. Bill, Chris, Clayton and Jessica would hunt a half-mile north of us in the same marsh.
Now its Go Time get everything otta the truck ASAP. Canoe, guns, hunting packs, decoys, coolers, and get your waders on we got to git. We are parked at one of our favorite spots so we know exactly where we need to go once we depart the levee in the canoe. Our Honey Hole is a small pocket along the cattail wall with good clean water about knee deep. The wind was from the northeast that morning so we set most of our decoys north of us, to help bring their ducks landing zone right in front of us. Mike, Sean and I agreed on where to set the decoys so that went easy. Sometimes Clayton and Bill get a little difficult on their decoy spread.
Next was face Paint time and hide the canoes, and pick our sitting spots in the cattails. Shooting time was somewhere around 6:50am; which other hunters in the area forget on a regular basis. After some trash talking to one another we watched ducks piling in to our decoys with the aid of the full moon light. We decide it was time to hide ourselves in the cattails then lock and load our shotguns. It’s fitting to be go time boys. We knew that the marsh was full of ducks that were going to get a loud awakening in a few short minutes.
Boom Boom Boom 12 gauges sounding off like M16s it is go time. Ducks by the hundreds were flying from all directions and if someone dropped you off blind folded and not knowing where you were at you would assume you were in a war zone. Which I guess is partially right war on the ducks. We normally are generally picky on the ducks we shoot but the last day of the season we are not. So any species present the right shot are going down we need 36 ducks 36 duck we will have. I consider myself the best shot in the group in front of Mike, and Sean. Skip and Will are the Old timers and aren’t as quick to shoot but I’m sure if they were young again they would probably out shoot us. Nate well he can shoot a duck flying with a thirty mph wind at its back with a sling shot if ya ask him, ask me and I call BS. In the mean time we had several good flights of duck pass within range that we did some quack smacking and some sure fire missing. Generally how it always goes for us. Nate was filming and hunting and the same time, which was very comical at times, he looked like a bobble head with a camera and a shotgun. Around 7:30 the ducks slowed down and it gave us time to collect a dozens ducks. We had shot a few species Mottled duck, Ringneck, Blue winged teal, Fulvous tree duck and Northern Shoveler. Good start if ya ask me or any of the Gladesmen. Some high fives yeehaws and thanks to the Everglades the six of us were back at it again. We finished the morning off at around 9:30 with our 36 duck limit adding 2 more species Green winged teal and Scaup. My most memorable shot that morning was Skip and I double downed a pair of ringers drake and hen. We all had our own Great shot of the morning and our fair share of laughable misses. Our other group of hunters did not do as well as us, it happens to the best of us (Clayton, Jess, Bill, and Chris) HA HA. They wound up 6 ducks short of their limit. The bird’s weren’t flying into their decoy spread from their point of view the ducks didn’t like the spot they were in. Maybe ya should of set your deks up like us Clayton Ha ha.
After we packed up our things in the duck blind and picked up all of our empties which by the way something everyone should do pick up your fricken empties. It’s an easy way for the FWC to give a hard time and a ticket. Not to mention you should treat this duck paradise like you respect it. We made it back to the levy and got our trucks packed up before 10:30 which gave us ample time to watch Clayton’s group to try and fill there limit before the legal shooting time is over for the area which is 11:00am. After watching them give it there all and take their merry time packing things up we all are starving for some of the delicious wild hog bbq we have waiting for us to devour. We met at the check station by noon and were through with no problems.
Now the stories and the feast begin. I myself brought a big tub of potatoes salad and macaroni salad to go along with all the meat. It didn’t take long until we were all so stuff we couldn’t really trash talk anymore and I actually found some shade and feel asleep for about 45 mins. We cleaned up and were on our way happy for the beautiful morning we had and the memories that were made; as well as the joy to looking forward to next season, and all the good times we will have.
Once on the road we all go our separate ways and get all of our clean up done before sundown and unwind from the long day filled with the action packed sport of Duck hunting. It was truly a Great Day for the Florida Gladesmen in the Everglades.
Check the photos here.