My duck hunting season began this past Saturday at Grizzly Ranch, a former private duck club now belonging to California Waterfowl Association. I got to hunt this beautiful property thanks to CWA’s hunt program, when the hunt’s actual winner couldn’t go and so as runner-up I moved into the top slot. There were several sons and daughters with their fathers at the morning safety briefing, which is always good to see. After a quick lottery we had our blinds and all headed out to the boat house where maps, walkie-talkies, and spotlights were handed out.
With Tracy Fremd, my neighbor and last year’s winner of CWA’s Artemis Award for her efforts to support women hunters, and my dog Schatzie aboard, we motored out to the blind. Those two had recently hunted together, when Tracey borrowed Schatzie for the opener. Lucky dog!
We set out the provided decoys and hunkered down in the island blind to await shoot time. The quacks and whistles around us faded as dawn approached, but even so, a beautiful sunrise on the marsh always makes the 2 am wake up call worthwhile. The ducks we did see were local and wary, and mostly skirted us high and wide. Still, it was nice to have ducks in the air, and to hope they would give us a shot. We dropped the only two that came within range, and while that’s not much of a strap, it’s gratifying when the number of ducks and expended shells are the same. The blinds around us had more action, and we hoped those were ones with kids in them as the distant silhouettes fell to their volleys.
Grizzly Ranch was a wonderful way to start the season. It’s a real gem, well maintained by CWA, and will gleam even more when the migrators arrive.