My duck season so far


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This weekend opens the second phase of duck season. The first phase was fun though I didn't get out hardly for any ducking. It was warm, there are not many ducks around and my girl doesn't have ANY desire to retrieve so unless I am wearing at least rubber boots, I'm not interested in wading.

Regardless, we did get out to go chase some quail that first day and then went to go do some exploring. We tried to see if perhaps we could jump a woodduck or something.


It was too hot for her to run as much as she wanted since water is so hard to find around here for her to wallow in.


The day heated up quick and off we went exploring. I saw some pretty places where there should be wood ducks passing through.


And we ended up the day watching the sun go down out at the light house.


We saw some divers out on the Gulf and heard some shooting some miles away. There was one cloud of divers just about sunset that got the usual volley of shots but there really wasn't much going on out there. If you look close, you'll see some birds up high.


The next day, Belle and I headed out to the National Forest to try some of the places that looked like there could be birds of some kind: quail, turkey, dove, woodducks. Again, it heated up quick but there were some low spots that held some water in the cypress ponds we walked through.


I had a nice dove point. The silly birds weren't spooky enough to flush so I ended up having a pretty dove point from Belle.



I always love running across toothache grass. The corkscrewedness of the grass always tickles me when I see it. I always think there should be birds in here!!! There weren't any that I saw or found.



Once it heated up and we were back at the truck we spent more time exploring. There I reasons I dislike driving the National Forest when it is a wet year. You never really know how deep the pot holes actually are. This is a dry year....but if anyone needs a bumper, I know where you can get one!


Fall is nicely in swing down here.


This past weekend a friend came over and I took him out to hunt my quail lease. He has really bad knees so I figured a chance at hunting birds in a somewhat flat and controlled setting would allow him to get out and actually shoot something. We had a great time. Saturday was another HOT day pretty quick but Sunday dawned foggy. We were out there earlier and the fog stuck around until 1 pm. He can't hunt more than about two hours because of his knees but he had a great time. And Belle did a pretty good job overall.








I haven't decided what I will do for the second opener but I will be out....ducks or quail I haven't decided, but I will be out.

Some beautiful scenery! And some nice fat quail.

I finally saw a number of flocks of bluebills on Hillsborough Bay this morning.
First ones I have seen on the bay this year.
I did see 3-4 ringnecks on a golf course pond last weekend.

For the first time since I was 12 years old, I didn't even buy a hunting license this year.
If (IF) we get some cold weather around Christmas, I might break down and try to hunt the Bay in January. Not sure yet!
Thanks Carl. I hear ya on the hunting license thing.

I took my friend out to St Marks lighthouse this past weekend to check on the ponds that are along the road. It is usually a pretty good drive to see what kinds of birds and in what numbers are down here already. We saw coots (not that many though), gwt, bwt, a gadwall, a handfull of bufflehead, a redhead and a couple of mergansers. That is encouraging but the numbers that I saw were still pretty dismal. Usually those ponds are LOADED with ducks if there are birds down.
Lot if fun places you two were exploring. I do enjoy seeing some pics of your world down there.
Thanks Tod. Just as I enjoy seeing fall photos from your neck of the woods since our fall is often so short and colors so limited.
Nice photos and writeup as always.

Good effort getting your friend out there, having bad knees sucks. Belle posed for some stylish points, the older I get the more I enjoy pointing dogs.
So it was finally cool enough to take Belle out for an afternoon run and give her a chance to try out one of her new skid plates. It may be slightly large in her armpits but we will give it a try a few times. For sure her chest was less beat up. She did find some birds though.






Belle looks to have a big grin on her face. I'm also amazed at the lack of undergrowth in those pine thickets. Around here there are very few wooded areas you can walk through. You have to bust your way through. Wasn't like that when I was a kid but it sure is now. A lot of privet and greenbrier to contend with. I hope it never makes its way to your area because it would really mess up that beauty.

Great pictures Dani. Beautiful scenery. Do you run into many snakes when hunting? Do you carry anti venom for the dog? Just wondering.

Thanks for the wonderful pictures, Dani. It is fun to be able to see one of your dogs in action, like Belle. What a beautiful girl. Continued success during this season.

The quail numbers in FL are overall pretty dismal. The last set of pictures were on my quail lease and there are wild as well as tame covies on the property. There is one WMA that I love to hunt that is managed strongly for quail and this year is an EXCELLENT year for quail numbers at 0.7 quail/acre on that property. I haven't been out there yet...I plan to be out there on Thursday so I hope that Belle finds some truly wild covies. And maybe some woodcock.


All of these pictures I have posted are from areas that have been burned in the last two years. My quail lease burns every other year and this year is an "off" year. The other photos are from the National Forest and I try to find areas that have been burned in the last two years to hunt or in the hardwood swamps. Otherwise, the woods down here look exactly as you describe.


I know there are snakes out there but I have only run into them on a rare occasion. Belle has gone to the snake training clinics to be snake proofed. In the clinics it seems to have worked well on her, but it definitely doesn't keep her from accidentally running over a snake she can't smell. I don't keep anti-venom as I think that is a vet only thing. Plus it probably needs refrigeration and I am sure it has a shelf life. I run into snakes from time to time but knock-on-wood I have never had dog-snake interactions that have required a trip to the vet.

Thanks Al!
Question for you, Dani, on the last picture that you just added. I see a hill with all kinds of plants and trees growing. If that happened here in the high desert area of New Mexico I could say that a hill that I might be looking at was started by one plant, that being a Mesquite bush/tree. They seem to catch the dust and since we don't have much dirt, I'll say Sand. When I first came here I asked an old timer (like I am now) where could I find some top soil. He told me that good top soil is normally found under Mesquite bushes or trees. He was right on.

What happens next is that in the course of time, the mesquite continues to trap sand blowing in the air slowly suffocating the bush/tree. However new seeds fall and more mesquite begin to grow as long as there is that magic potion called rain. Now these plants begin to grow looking like more bushes or small trees and when another wind storm comes barreling through are area, the sand in the air gets trapped by the Mesquite.

Just so you know, I took 86 loads of soil from under mesquite trees and bushes, then planted rose bushes and only adding water. It was like a miracle to watch a small rose bush begin to grow and produce such stunning flowers that you could imagine. These bushes would continue to grow and grow far exceeding anyone's arm reach to lop them when necessary. But when I began to think of it, Bev and I were the very first humans to use this blowing sand (around here it is top soil), then added water and sat back and watched our rose bushes begin to grow and blossom like you can't imagine. If I lopped the bushes on a regular basis, I would get at least three blooms a growing season.

Is it possible that hill in the background had its beginning from drifting sand?

When Bev and I were younger (mid 50s when we moved here) we planted 315 rose bushes on our property. Each of them was lopped and if you have ever done that, it is tedious---YUP---hard work! Now that we are 80, as the roses needed to get pulled because of age we replaced them with hummingbird loving perennials. Those few bushes that we still have are between 15 and 18 years old. What we are seeing now is this; A. our rose bushes would first bloom at the end of April and finish blooming around mid-September, B. with the climate change that we are witnessing that same rose bush is now blooming in the second half of March and continuing to bloom until the first half of November. That was this year.

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Enjoyable pictures, and Belle looks great. thanks for sharing.

Your duck season is going about the same as mine, only better.
I can answer for Dani: The "hill" appears to be a very healthy secondary/tertiary sand dune system. The entire core is most likely beach sand, with very deeply rooted native scrub oaks and perennials.
Along some parts of the Gulf coast, if well protected from human impacts, these dunes can be 20-40' tall.
I am betting the flowers in the foreground are seaside morning glory, but i could be wrong.
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Carl said:
I can answer for Dani: The "hill" appears to be a very healthy secondary/tertiary sand dune system. The entire core is most likely beach sand, with very deeply rooted native scrub oaks and perennials.
Along some parts of the Gulf coast, if well protected from human impacts, these dunes can be 2040' tall.
I am betting the flowers in the foreground are seaside morning glory, but i could be wrong.

2040' feet tall must be a typo, right? I've seen some big dune on Cape Cod and Sleeping Bear Dunes on Lake Michigan, but something like 400 or 500 feet above the water surface is as tall as those get.
Al, the roses are beautiful!!!!

To answer your question, and Carl answered it pretty well....other than the 2040' tall dunes on the Gulf Coast [sly] ....I am sure that he meant 20-40' tall...that scenery picture is a beach sand would be a secondary sand dune along the beach. If you look at this picture, though it is blurry, you can see that dune line in the back ground.


Behind the palm trees, growing along the backside of the dune are scrub oaks of some kind. In the foreground you have morning glories growing as vines, the yellow flowers are Beach Sunflowers, that area also usually gets a lot of Indian Blanket growing and blooming there in the summer, there are sea oats and a few various grasses, thistles, as well as prickly pear cactus that creeps through the dunes. But it is pretty much all sand. On the back side of the dune there is probably somewhat better soil, but hardly better. That area of FL is mainly made up of what we call sugar sand....super fine, white sand. That's what the dunes are made up of and somehow those flowers and plants make a living in it.

So, I guess YUP the hill started as drifting sand. However, the primary dune is mostly gone due to some of the big hurricanes that have come up the east coast of FL so it wouldn't take much to totally destroy the secondary dune line. Jacksonville (and most of the counties along the eastern coast of FL) spent a good deal of money trying to rebuild that primary dune line (Matthew was really bad when he blew through). It seems to be helping a little now that the sea oats and grasses are getting re-established but that primary dune gets moved further back with each nasty storm that comes through and it shrinks considerably each time.