And that was it. Only one other bunch appeared over the next two hours, and those birds settled across the trees in another nook of the pothole.
Our luck had run out, along with our hunting time. I had a plane to catch back in Winnipeg. We had to pack up and leave.
The slip. That's what the ducks had given us. Oh, we'd bagged several, and I'd gotten a firsthand look at this storied part of prairie Canada—so important to waterfowl and so tantalizingly available to hunters. But many of Manitoba's ducks had headed south just as I was coming north. I'd come to the right place but at the wrong time. That's just how duck hunting is sometimes.
I took solace in the knowledge that this afternoon I would be flying back home and leap-frogging ahead of the migration. I'd be waiting on the ducks' wintering grounds when they got there, and this time they would hopefully play by my rules. Soon it would be Minnedosa mallards in Missouri rice fields and Kentucky flooded timber, and this time I would have home field advantage.
As I boarded my plane in Winnipeg I was optimistic both for the days ahead and the seasons to come. The Minnedosa area, and especially the DU projects there, were in prime condition—lush with water and upland cover, and they had yielded an abundance of waterfowl this year. And thanks to the hard work and generosity of DU members everywhere, the habitat conserved on DU projects will be there in perpetuity. From Big Grass Marsh to Minnedosa and beyond, the vision of DU's founders has come to fruition. There's still much work to do, but there's also much that's been completed. I just wish those farsighted gentlemen could come back and see what they started.
Plan Your Hunting Trip Online Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) recently launched waterfowling.com, a website all about hunting ducks and geese in that country. The new site features a GIS mapping component of DUC projects that can be accessed through Google Earth. These projects represent only a small sampling of the more than 8,880 DUC projects encompassing more than 6.2 million acres of wetlands and wildlife habitat across Canada.
The website also provides links to a wealth of other important information for waterfowlers, including the latest provincial hunting regulations, required licenses and permits, and professional outfitter associations (for those who wish to hunt with a guide). Moreover, this site provides timely updates about DUC's conservation programs and Canadian waterfowl habitat conditions as well as trivia, recipes, tips, and more.