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Banding Together for Waterfowl

Manitoba Marsh Magic

A waterfowler's pilgrimage to the Canadian Duck Factory and the birthplace of DU's conservation work 
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  • photo by Rick Adair
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Another Curveball

The next morning Bob was confident that a large concentration of birds would still be using a 50-acre pond on a DU project he'd scouted west of the town of Minnedosa. We arrived on site before sunup, hiked to the upwind side, and tossed out our mallard decoys. Scott also stretched a long line of canvasback decoys toward the center of the pond. Bob had seen several cans and redheads here, and with luck the decoy line would funnel some in close to our hiding spot in the bulrushes.

But nature tossed us a curveball. As the sun rose, a thick fog developed. Soon we couldn't see 10 yards. The ducks were there—we could hear their wing beats as they flew by. Occasionally a duck pitched out of the murk, and we came up firing. By 11 a.m. we'd downed nine birds, a mix of puddlers and divers. 

After lunch at a historic hotel in the farming town of Rapid City, we continued searching for birds. We drove scores of miles and checked several marshes, but we never found the concentration we were looking for. More and more it seemed that Bob's pronouncement of a lull was accurate. We finally decided to set up on a beaver pond where we had flushed a few dozen mallards. Bob continued scouting while Scott and I hunted. Our bag for the afternoon was seven.

Bob was optimistic when he picked us up at dark. "I found a wad of mallards resting on one of our marshes and feeding in a grainfield nearby," he informed us. "I think we'll have some action tomorrow." That was good news to sleep on.

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