During most of the years that I have been fortunate enough to go to Canada to film and hunt, I usually went out with my good friend Brent Reil who ran Beaverhill Outfitters.
On an occasional year, Brent would decide not to guide on his own so he would go to work for another prominent guide service in the area called Black Dog Outfitters. It was operated by a gentleman named Blaine Burns, and was located a few miles north of Tofield.
He had a beautiful large lodge with kitchen, living and dining areas, and sleeping quarters for at least 12. Plus, a sporting clays range was part of the facility.
During one season a few years back, my son Mark went along with me for the hunt. Blaine knew that I had been out with Brent so many times, so he let him be our guide for the three days we were there. Joining Mark was a group of four from Louisiana and Florida, who happened to be attorneys if I remember right.
All nice guys, and one of them was a "dead ringer" for actor Robin Williams. He could have been his twin. On the second day of hunting, we had a terrific Canada goose shoot during the morning, but failed to bag any ducks.
So that afternoon we loaded up and drove right out into the middle of a harvested pea field that had a stand of trees in it. As we approached, I could see that it probably measured about 40 yards square.
When we stepped out of the truck, close to 50 mallard ducks rose out of the middle of the trees and took flight. The guys grabbed their hunting gear and we walked about 20 yards into the trees and saw a small pond that could not have been more than 10 or 15 yards wide.
I had my camera in hand because I just finished the boys introducing themselves when we left the truck. Brent took off to park the vehicle, and we all just grabbed a stool and sat down next to a tree just away from the water. I knew this was going to get very interesting.
Brent and his dog showed up, and no more than five minutes later the first ducks started coming. The trees were not too thick, so we had a great view of everything that approached. Some of the birds were probably the ones we spooked off earlier. It was late afternoon when we got there, which gave us a solid two hours plus shooting time before sundown.
Most of the flocks were small, with less than 10 birds. The guys were in a line on one side of the pond, and everyone was experienced enough to know which birds were theirs, and which were not. And, they were all decent shots.
This was a "honey hole" if ever there was one. I got some of the best film I have ever done during this shoot. The ducks would just lock up about 200 yards out, and drop right into the pond without ever circling. Everything right in your face. Just awesome.
The boys were finished just before sundown with their limit of 40 birds. Almost all drakes, because they were trying not to take any hens. This is just one of the "unwritten" laws about waterfowlers during great shoots. We need the hens to lay more eggs so save them if you can.
We finished up the next day and said farewell to the fellows from the Southeast. And, my son Mark has always said this was the second best Mallard shoot in Canada he has ever had. Readers may recall the best in one of my past articles.
NOTE: A recent announcement from the California Fish & Wildlife states that this year's waterfowl season will not end on the last Sunday in January as usual, but will be extended to the 31st day of the month. This will give hunters an extra five days on the end of the season that is really needed in this area since we get migrating birds here late every year.