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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I think every waterfowler has harvested one particular bird that stands out in their mind as being truly exceptional. A trophy bird can be a trophy bird for a variety of reasons, whether it's an exotic species, a high-quality specimen, a bird you worked hard for, or a bird that was harvested in memorable circumstances.

I think it would be great to devote a thread to stories (and preferably pictures, as well) of our trophy birds, and why these hunts stand out in our minds.

I'll start...

It was the last day of the 2014-2015 season. A few of my family members and friends decided we'd like to finish the season with a good, strong effort, so we made a long drive and set up an ambitious decoy spread in hopes of luring one of the few wary, late-season birds that remained in the area.

I had one target on my hit list that day, and that was a drake pintail. I'd harvested several pintails in my day, but never a nice late-season drake with a long tail and perfect plumage. I kept my hopes high as I hid in the reeds and waited for the afternoon flight to begin.

We sat for several hours, and it seemed that the hunting was as slow as could be. But it turned on as fast as lightning when I looked north and saw a flock of about 20 pintails passing us by. With one quick hail call, they swung around and dove into the decoys with reckless abandon.

I couldn't believe it. Just like that, I had a flock of pintails over the decoys. I picked out a nice drake and fired. I dumped the drake I was aiming for, but a stray pellet managed to wound another drake as well. I watched in disgust as he set his wings and sailed into some reeds about 150 yards away. My dad managed two birds out of the flock as well.

After retrieving the first three, I set off for the reeds where my second pintail landed, and commenced in a search which I thought would end in failure. But I desperately wanted to find it, and after stomping through the reeds for about 15 minutes, I scared it out into the open water and delivered a finishing shot.

I picked him up, and I think I almost had a heart attack when I noticed what was on his leg.



I consider this bird to be the trophy of my lifetime due to the bird's quality, the effort expended to get it, the luck involved with hitting and recovering it, the fact that it was banded. I doubt I'll ever have a better hunt.
 

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Awesome story! Every time I lose a bird in the reeds I always say "yup that was my banded bird gone forever just my luck!" ;) great looking pinny
 

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Well here is my story and I'm sticking to it. Way back yonder when I was a wee lad of 5 I was hunting on an evening hunt with dad and one of my brothers out of our bateau on Lac Au Seine in Central LA. It was a cold cloudy and windy day. The boat was rocking some back and forth on the lake. I was sitting in the front with dad in the middle and my brother in the back. Eventually a drake blue wing teal sneaks in and lands at the edge of the decoys. Now mind you, I had been hunting with them before but never had shot a shotgun..plenty bb guns though. So dad picks up the "canon". An old single shot 12 gauge with a hammer on it and a cut off stock. He hands it to me and points out the teal. Says to put the bead right where the duck's body meets the water and pull back easy on the trigger....I did, KABOOM !!! I almost was knocked off my feet and stumbled back and dad caught me. When I stopped crying over the pain I realized the teal was graveyard dead. We motored out there and I got to lean over and pick him up....much to everyone's surprise he had a band on his leg. So there you go, my first duck was a banded blue wing at 5 years old and nearly broke my shoulder. To this day I think I've only killed one more banded duck that I can remember. Two years later grandpa got the reds at dad and went out and bought me and my brother each a model 1100 in 16 gauge. We each still have those guns and probably are our most cherished possessions.
 
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I think every waterfowler has harvested one particular bird that stands out in their mind as being truly exceptional. A trophy bird can be a trophy bird for a variety of reasons, whether it's an exotic species, a high-quality specimen, a bird you worked hard for, or a bird that was harvested in memorable circumstances.

I think it would be great to devote a thread to stories (and preferably pictures, as well) of our trophy birds, and why these hunts stand out in our minds.

I'll start...

It was the last day of the 2014-2015 season. A few of my family members and friends decided we'd like to finish the season with a good, strong effort, so we made a long drive and set up an ambitious decoy spread in hopes of luring one of the few wary, late-season birds that remained in the area.

I had one target on my hit list that day, and that was a drake pintail. I'd harvested several pintails in my day, but never a nice late-season drake with a long tail and perfect plumage. I kept my hopes high as I hid in the reeds and waited for the afternoon flight to begin.

We sat for several hours, and it seemed that the hunting was as slow as could be. But it turned on as fast as lightning when I looked north and saw a flock of about 20 pintails passing us by. With one quick hail call, they swung around and dove into the decoys with reckless abandon.

I couldn't believe it. Just like that, I had a flock of pintails over the decoys. I picked out a nice drake and fired. I dumped the drake I was aiming for, but a stray pellet managed to wound another drake as well. I watched in disgust as he set his wings and sailed into some reeds about 150 yards away. My dad managed two birds out of the flock as well.

After retrieving the first three, I set off for the reeds where my second pintail landed, and commenced in a search which I thought would end in failure. But I desperately wanted to find it, and after stomping through the reeds for about 15 minutes, I scared it out into the open water and delivered a finishing shot.

I picked him up, and I think I almost had a heart attack when I noticed what was on his leg.



I consider this bird to be the trophy of my lifetime due to the bird's quality, the effort expended to get it, the luck involved with hitting and recovering it, the fact that it was banded. I doubt I'll ever have a better hunt.
Awesome story! Just out of curiosity what was the information on the band?
 

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My trophy is a blue goose.

I have hunted Missouri during the Spring Conservation season a few times, and have never shot a mature blue. Around this time last year, I began searching for a hunt in Saskatchewan for snows.

I spent countless hours searching the web, making calls to outfitters, calling references, etc. I found, what I believed, to be a great outfitter in the northern part of the providence and booked a hunt with him.

Upon arrival at hunting camp, we were informed by the outfitter that the snows were in the area about a week prior, but a big migration happened and they left the area. Obviously, this was not the news we had hoped to hear. As the hunt progressed, the outfitter did his best to put us on honkers and ducks and we witnessed some of the coolest decoying action a person could ask for. On the morning of our final hunt, all the decoys were set and we were waiting for shooting time to begin. Then, like ghosts, a flock of 10 snows/blues appeared. They swung once and landed within 10 yards of the blinds - it was amazing! The guide whispered that we still had two minutes until shooting time - so we waited and waited and waited. It was, without a doubt, the longest two minutes of my life. For those two minutes, I was able to watch these beautiful birds walk around in the decoys and listen to the array of sounds they make. Finally, the guide yelled take 'em - we went from bird watchers to hunters in a millisecond.

When the shooting stopped, I went out to pick up the birds and the attached picture is "as he lay." When I finally picked up the blue goose, it made all the time, effort, and money invested into this trip worth it!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Awesome story! Just out of curiosity what was the information on the band?
He was banded in the Delta, Utah area in February 2010. I really didn't expect him to be a 5+ year-old, so that was a fun surprise.

Keep 'em coming guys. I'm loving the stories/pictures of all your success.
 

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On December 16, 2015, I was hunting with a friend out of the Post blind at Harrison Duck Club. We were taking turns shooting and it was my turn when a flock of teal approached the decoys. I saw the white bird in the flock and concentrated on that bird alone. The bird fell on the second shot. Here is a picture of the bird with a green wing and cinnamon teal for comparison.



At first I thought it was an albino, but then noticed the eyes were black, not pink. There were also some black feather markings including one complete right wing feather that was black. So I presented pictures of it on the web and got some guesses as to what it might be. Some said it was a call duck and others suggested it might be a leucistic duck. So I researched both.

It ain't a call duck. The bill and body size and shape rule that out. So leucism it is then. My best guess (and I'm no expert) is that it is a leucistic green wing teal. It could be a cinnamon or blue wing, but blue wings are never found in cold weather, and it was definitely flying with about 20 other green wing teal. Cinnamon teal tend to be found as singles or pairs and rarely in large flocks.

Believe it or not, in my 50 plus years of duck hunting I've never felt a desire to have any birds mounted. That changed on Decemebr 16, 2008. Jeff Nelson got the bid and here is the result.





Jeff does a fantastic job and he's done 3 mounts for me so far.
 

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I can't with any certainty say that I have one trophy in particular that is more impressive or has more value, sentimental or otherwise, than any other.
Over the years I've taken a few bands, shot some crazy weird birds, hunted some exotic locations, and had some killer hunts with good people. I've never really been a band guy, the info is super cool, I love finding out where the birds have been, but aside from that it's just a cool rarity. I once shot a Mandarin duck on the Logan river, guaranteed to be an escapee, but still a neat bird. I shot a super rare King Eider on the bay of Valdez in Alaska. Just rare for the location, only a handful have been taken there over the years. I was lucky enough to take a late season Cinnamon Teal on the GSL, some time ago. Awesome little bird that made for a sweet mount.
I guess each trophy is unique in its own special way. Next on my "to-do" list, I want to hunt Eiders on the east coast with my 10ga. For whatever reason I've just always wanted to do that. After that I want to have an old 8ga. sleeved to accept 10ga. or 12ga. loads and hunt with that. Again, not really sure why, just something I'd really like to do.
Later,
Kev
 

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I've been lucky to shoot several what I would call trophy birds over the years. But there is a pair of Snows that I'll never forget.

A friend John and I were hunting Snows last fall in Canada. We had lost a great friend of ours earlier that spring. Our group of friends had kind of lost our edge and it just wasn't the same with Ryan being gone. It was the third day of the trip and we were feeling a little beat up from lack of sleep and setting up a huge spread every morning. It was a eerie morning because of a ground fog that hovered about 20 feet above of the ground. We could hear Snows flying over the top of us but we couldn't see them and they couldn't see us. We had vortex's and e-callers and whole circus show set up. We shot some birds but it wasn't the barn burner we thought we would have from spotting the evening before. The fog burned off later in the morning after the flight was over and birds were feeding in fields around us. E-callers will give you a headache after a few hours of blaring in your ear. We decided to call it a morning and pick up the spread. We turned off the vortex's unloaded guns and I turned the Ipod in the e-caller over to music. It was a nice relief to hear something besides Snows squawking. All The Best a John Prine song started playing and we were standing next to our blinds chatting about the morning, and we hear Snows coming towards us. It was a pair headed right at us. They were whiffling and calling at us like they were on a string. We stood there chuckling in disbelief at the show this pair of birds were putting on. As they approached the decoys I say to John what do you think? He said ya. We both bent over grabbed our guns load a shell, hit the bolt release. Our guns went off at almost the exact same time hitting there intended target simultaneously. At the same time ole Johnny Prine was singing the chorus. I wish you love I wish you happiness, I guess I wish you all the best.

Thanks for all the memories Ry
 

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The only banded bird I've shot has been a pintail. I've since misplaced the information regarding where it was banded but it was banded in Alberta Canada. The date it was banded until I sent in the information made the bird at least 16 years old. Quite a few miles passed under those wings.
 

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I've been lucky to shoot several what I would call trophy birds over the years. But there is a pair of Snows that I'll never forget.

A friend John and I were hunting Snows last fall in Canada. We had lost a great friend of ours earlier that spring. Our group of friends had kind of lost our edge and it just wasn't the same with Ryan being gone. It was the third day of the trip and we were feeling a little beat up from lack of sleep and setting up a huge spread every morning. It was a eerie morning because of a ground fog that hovered about 20 feet above of the ground. We could hear Snows flying over the top of us but we couldn't see them and they couldn't see us. We had vortex's and e-callers and whole circus show set up. We shot some birds but it wasn't the barn burner we thought we would have from spotting the evening before. The fog burned off later in the morning after the flight was over and birds were feeding in fields around us. E-callers will give you a headache after a few hours of blaring in your ear. We decided to call it a morning and pick up the spread. We turned off the vortex's unloaded guns and I turned the Ipod in the e-caller over to music. It was a nice relief to hear something besides Snows squawking. All The Best a John Prine song started playing and we were standing next to our blinds chatting about the morning, and we hear Snows coming towards us. It was a pair headed right at us. They were whiffling and calling at us like they were on a string. We stood there chuckling in disbelief at the show this pair of birds were putting on. As they approached the decoys I say to John what do you think? He said ya. We both bent over grabbed our guns load a shell, hit the bolt release. Our guns went off at almost the exact same time hitting there intended target simultaneously. At the same time ole Johnny Prine was singing the chorus. I wish you love I wish you happiness, I guess I wish you all the best.

Thanks for all the memories Ry
Waterfowling with a black powder double barrel is something I have wanted to try for years. That is a great photo!
 

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I've been lucky to shoot several what I would call trophy birds over the years. But there is a pair of Snows that I'll never forget.

A friend John and I were hunting Snows last fall in Canada. We had lost a great friend of ours earlier that spring. Our group of friends had kind of lost our edge and it just wasn't the same with Ryan being gone. It was the third day of the trip and we were feeling a little beat up from lack of sleep and setting up a huge spread every morning. It was a eerie morning because of a ground fog that hovered about 20 feet above of the ground. We could hear Snows flying over the top of us but we couldn't see them and they couldn't see us. We had vortex's and e-callers and whole circus show set up. We shot some birds but it wasn't the barn burner we thought we would have from spotting the evening before. The fog burned off later in the morning after the flight was over and birds were feeding in fields around us. E-callers will give you a headache after a few hours of blaring in your ear. We decided to call it a morning and pick up the spread. We turned off the vortex's unloaded guns and I turned the Ipod in the e-caller over to music. It was a nice relief to hear something besides Snows squawking. All The Best a John Prine song started playing and we were standing next to our blinds chatting about the morning, and we hear Snows coming towards us. It was a pair headed right at us. They were whiffling and calling at us like they were on a string. We stood there chuckling in disbelief at the show this pair of birds were putting on. As they approached the decoys I say to John what do you think? He said ya. We both bent over grabbed our guns load a shell, hit the bolt release. Our guns went off at almost the exact same time hitting there intended target simultaneously. At the same time ole Johnny Prine was singing the chorus. I wish you love I wish you happiness, I guess I wish you all the best.

Thanks for all the memories Ry
Very cool story! Isnt Ryan the guy who drowned while on vacation in St Maarten? I was over there when it happened if i remember right. lost a good brother named Ryan as well that spring your friend Ryan died. death sure sucks!! Best wishes to you!
 
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