I was saddened to see the small lakes and ponds around northern Colorado quickly freeze up as a big push of arctic air blanketed most of the country. These had been the go-to spots for the first split of my waterfowl season. The change in weather called for a change of plans if I wanted to continue duck hunting and re-scouting the area opened my eyes to a spot I have overlooked a hundred times. Nothing special, no blind to hunt out of, not much for cover, it was just a plane old ditch. With just enough current to ward off Mother Nature’s icy hold, the one thing it did offer was open water.
As I prepared the next morning, I was trampled with excitement for opening day of the second split of duck season. In the crisp and cold darkness, I set out toward the ditch. I armed myself with one lucky duck and four floaters. I could already hear the whistles of teal and the prominent quacks of mallard hens. I set out decoys and nestled down against the bank waiting for daylight. To my excitement, ducks were already swimming into the decoys and landing only feet away on the steaming water. It was almost comical to see how many birds were already checking out the five lifeless friends that zigzagged in the slow-flowing water.
With legal shooting light upon me, it was now time to get to work. The first two ducks were a gadwall pair that came cruising right down the path of the ditch. With their wings cupped, they tilted back and forth showing off their acrobatic abilities. Two shots rang out and two birds folded and crashed. I was barely able to retrieve them before the next set arrived. The aerial duck parade continued to unfold in front of me for the next hour and a half. It seemed every duck in the area flew in to have a look. The constant barrage of birds kept the barrel warm and a limit within reach. It wasn’t long before I had to set the gun down and observe these awesome creatures as they continued their decent into the decoys.
A spot that had been overlooked and rarely considered produced one of the most exciting mornings of the season. I now like the idea of being "stuck in a ditch!"
- Sitka Prostaffer Greig McAlpin