You know how some drug addicts admit to being hooked from their very first hit?
Well I can confirm - I,?Matt Heinrichs, am I full blown, late season, field hunting duck-aholic!
Now, I have hunted ducks over water since I was just a little guy.
A tornado of mallards decends upon a snow-filled corn field during a late season duck hunt in northwest Iowa.
EDN photo by Matt Heinrichs
However, ice up usually meant time to store away the boat and decoys, and time to bust out the ice fishing gear.
I had heard tales of grizzled old waterfowlers burying themselves in snow-filled corn fields for a crack at late season greenheads.
With the cold snap of winter, migrating ducks would pile into these fields by the hundreds if not thousands, providing hot action for souls daring enough to brave the freezing cold.
For some reason a heated ice shack and a warm cup of hot chocolate always sounded like a better option to me.
That is until this past weekend when a friend of mine invited me to hunt with him and his crew in a field that, thanks to the wonderful world of the internet, I knew had surrendered more than a few ducks.
Ice fishing could wait.
With temperatures barely reaching double-digits, a trailer full of decoys and a hot cup of coffee in my hand, I headed out to meet up with the crew.
After a pregame breakfast of coffee and duck jerky - and some good-natured ribbing - we made our way to a field that my friend had said was holding thousands of birds the day previous.
Not long after shooting hours, the fun began as small flocks of ducks started trickling into the field.
The slow but steady action kept me interested, but in the back of my mind I was wondering about those tales I had heard when I was a kid. I desperately wanted to see the giant flocks of northern migrators that, until this point, had been nothing more than fantasy.
We were working a small flock of ducks out front when one of the crew uttered those three magical words, "Oh my God!"
At once we all looked up just in time to see a flock of more than 400 ducks descend from the heavens. Calling ceased and we watched in amazement as the ducks worked over the field like a swirling tornado of feathers.
Closer and closer the birds came and you could feel the tension among the group begin to rise.
The scene was like that of an old war movie, as soldiers alertly waited while enemy forces slowly drew nearer and nearer.
"Wait for 'em,"?my friend said calmly, as the swirling mass of green nearly covered our spread. "CUT?EM!"
Blind doors flew open with near perfect syncrasy and the blast of shotgun fire rang out as bird after bird rained down from the morning sky.
And with that one perfect flock, I had become an addict.
Forever hooked on snowy morning mallards.