With the notice of the Rockingham County chapter of Ducks Unlimited, to be held at Sawyer's Banquet Facility in Plaistow on No. 16, we went into our archives and dug out a column we produced a couple of decades ago that dealt with our almost lifelong passion for this great outdoor pursuit. Waterfowl hunting and our passion for it has probably been one of our most motivating and life-changing chapters and has been a strong influence in much of my life's decisions.
For several decades we've been involved with both Ducks Unlimited and Delta Waterfowl Foundation that have supported our continent's waterfowl resource with both incredible research and actual "boots on the ground" to insure that this resource is in good shape. For info on the upcoming event, go to http://NH.ducks.org and we hope to see you there.
"Earlier this month during the opening of the Coastal Zone duck season, I was hunting with friends. We hit a local beaver pond near Great Bay. The guys were good to me, putting me on stand while they went out and slogged through the bog. My lab Blink was sad each morning when we go sea ducking and he doesn't get to go with he old man. Chasing big ducks in five-foot swells and having to jump out of and get back into a 22-foot boat isn't what retrievers were designed for, so the sad eyed pup had to wait until regular duck season opens.
"Blink was awesome, sitting in water up to his neck while the marsh erupted with ducks and the blasts of big smoothbores. When it came his chance for some action, he did his job well, retrieving three teal, two greenies and a bluewing. It was all over in less than 15 minutes. The others had very good luck, getting some nice drake woodies for themselves.
"Recently we went sea duckin'. We only got two birds, both big drake eiders, but what a meal they made. I breasted the birds out, marinated them in red wine for an hour, wrapped them in bacon, basted them in hickory-flavored barbeque sauce and grilled them over some red-hot coals. The bacon did flare off, which was what I wanted. In about 15 minutes, after moving and turning them a couple of times, they came off the grill, charcoal black on the outside and very pink, bordering on red, on the inside. I've never eaten more tender or tasty meat. Wild ducks give lots of cooks fits, until they learn that they must treat the duck meat more like lean beef than greasy domestic duck meat.
"What a transformation there's been in the shotgun world since the advent of choke tubes. Friend Brook Eliot works with Hastings, a company that spearheaded lots of the innovations in barrels, tubes and rifled shotgun barrels and tubes. He says that Hastings offers a selection of 16 different choke tubes for twelve gauge, suggests that improved cylinder and skeet #2 do well with steel loads for ducks and geese and offers this suggestion for people to pattern their guns without going into all of the technicalities usually associated with this drudgery.
"Instead of the traditional 16 zone, count every pellet-patterning process, you merely want to know how your choke performs with the load you use on the game you intend to hunt.
"To check that out, draw a full-sized outline of the game on a sheet of paper, step off the distance you want to test and fire one round. Then eyeball the target, determining if there are enough hits for a clean kill, if the pattern is even and consistent, and how the point of aim compares with the center of the pattern hits,' Brooks points out.
"And after spending hours and hours with a sore shoulder and calculator at the patterning board, his method sounds great."
Dick Pinney's column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Email him at DoDuckInn@aol.com.