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Canned Duck by Dr. Paul Bambara

Canned Duck by Dr. Paul BambaraA trio of mallards swooped down the wooded embankment in front of blind, swung out to the right and circled low over our decoys directly in front of blind, “Picture Perfect “. Six shots later, 2 ducks lay on the water and the 3rd was coming back for another look at all those ducks sitting on the pond and quacking enticingly at him. My partner and I frantically stuffed more shells into our empty guns just in time to open fire once again and produce a third duck for Tom’s Labrador to fetch back to our blind. As we added these latest ducks to our growing pile, we just couldn’t stop laughing. That morning, 4 of us would go on to shoot 38 mallards, going through almost 200 shells in the process, and having more fun than should be legal. Before you do the math and call the authorities, you must realize we were at a wonderful shooting preserve only 2 hours drive from New York City.
I had always been against canned duck hunts, having grown up adjacent to a marsh that I duck hunted in virtually every day of the season from the time I was 12 until I moved away for college 6 years later, and we had long seasons back then. I would get up, walk out the door, shoot the dawn flight, go to school, come home and shoot the sunset flight. Since I also ran a trap line at the same time, this was a daily occurrence. That kind of access to quality duck hunting is not available to the average person in the East anymore. A few years ago, we decided to try a hunt with Tom Mackin at TMT preserve in the beautiful Hudson River Valley north of New York City. To say I have a new appreciation for a quality preserve duck hunt is an understatement. We now have every Election Day booked for the foreseeable future. Friends beg to come along, but the original 4 almost never say NO!
Tom has an amazing set up. His blind is as comfortable as can be. It accommodates 2 shooters at a time, with plenty of space for the other 2 to watch and laugh at our poor shooting. His duck pond is set in a natural bowl. His duck release methods are a closely guarded secret, but it seems the ducks can come from any direction, and makes for very exciting shooting. They respond very well to calls, and often circle back 2 or 3 times. I guess that says something not so complimentary about our shooting.   He gets his bird from a non-enclosed breeder, which means these ducks are flight trained, not raised under a net.
Another plus to the multiple shots offered is the chance to try various brands of non-toxic shot. Hands down, 3 ½” Federal Black Cloud in size # 2, wins by a wide margin. A duck hit with this load drops like it ran into a brick wall. Heavy shot and tungsten have yet to come close. And plain steel seems almost useless. It often takes numerous hits with steel to put a duck down. That’s just our humble observation based on several hundred ducks in the pot. There is a price to pay both in $$$ at the sporting goods store and at your shoulder. We will all typically sport a bruised and sore arm for the next few days.
We arrive about 8am. Have a cup of coffee, change and leisurely get to the blind by 9. Shoot until lunch time. Laugh and joke while the ducks are cleaned for us. Have an over-the-top lunch at a favorite restaurant and are back home in time for dinner. As opposed to up before dawn, put out the decoys, freeze, hope for a few good shots, pack it all up, clean the birds…we have way more fun.

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Kevin Paulson

Kevin Paulson is the Founder and CEO of HuntingLife.com. His passion for Hunting began at the age of 5 hunting alongside of his father. Kevin has followed his dreams through outfitting, conservation work, videography and hunting trips around the world.

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