waterfowl

TIDEWE Chest Waders

| November 22, 2020
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.

I switched from hip waders to insulated chest waders for the 2020/2021 waterfowl season. I got tired of occasionally getting wet, and wanted more insulation than most hip waders offer.

I researched a bit, focused on finding the best value for dollar, and ultimately chose TIDEWE chest waders. The waders feature an 800g insulated boot, 100% waterproof 3.5mm neoprene with a Realtree MAX5 camo pattern, an internal chest zip pouch, a hand warming chest pocket, a shot shell holder for 6 shells, useful D-rings on the chest/shoulder straps that I use for clipping deke hauling carabiners, and an adjustable waste strap.

The sizing runs true to big in the foot, and are intended to be used by heavier, and taller people. I am 5’7″ and 135, with a size 9 foot. I ordered a size 8, and had to stitch the shoulder straps, because they weren’t adjustable enough for my height. Had I not adjusted the shoulder straps, what I consider the arm pit of the waders would have been much lower, down around my mid-section. If you are taller than I am, it won’t be an issue for you.

TIDEWE Chest Waders in Ice

I’ve worn the chest waders since the start of the season, used them in thick muck, frozen and icy water, and even in 9F weather, where ice formed all over the outside of the waders. I’ve had no leaks, or issues with the waders whatsoever.

The TIDEWE chest waders have over 450 reviews on Amazon, and a 4.6 out of 5 rating. So you don’t have to take my word for it exclusively. While the waterfowl season, at the time of writing this is well underway, no waterfowler would be unhappy to receive these as an early Christmas gift, and for less than $150 they would be a great gift for a significant other, sibling, parent, adult children, or a good hunting buddy.

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When Things Go Right

| November 12, 2020
Bufflehead and Green Teel Drakes
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.

Hunting has so many variables, like temperature, weather, animal behavior, logistics, and almost anything you can think of can easily go wrong, but when things go right, its so more rewarding than an average hunt.

The morning started out cold, the air still, and with a limited amount of bird movement. The couple birds that flew over easily got away unscathed. Sitting in 9F temperatures made us slow to react to the birds that came in with little heads up. Our decoy spread kept freezing solid, even with a jerk rig, and we were physically too cold and stiff to shoot anything.

It became fairly obvious we weren’t going to do well in the spot we were in, and collectively decided to move. I had figured it would be a waste and the morning was awash with failure at that point, but couldn’t see the harm in trying a new spot in an unfrozen part of the lake. Picking up and moving was made easier by having a quick to move layout blind, simple but practical camo burlap, and decoys with quick to clip rigging.

After moving, we only put out about half of our decoys to save some time. Concealed ourselves as quickly as we could, and waited. I had almost written off the morning, so it was great when birds started to move and give us opportunities.

My buddy folded a green teal, but I was noticing an opportunity with the duck hunting kayak to get the sneak on, and flush some some birds. I left my buddy at the decoy spread, and pursued birds. I dropped a Bufflehead drake, and the pressure pushed birds toward my buddy at the decoy spread, where he was able to drop a Bufflehead hen.

A little more bird stalking in the duck yak gave me an opportunity to drop the fastest bird I’ve ever shot. Another Bufflehead drake went ripping low across the water, I set my paddle down, picked up my shotgun, gave it the most generous lead I’ve ever given a bird, and folded it. I was instantly satisfied, when it folded, and cartwheeled the surface of the water for fifteen feet.

The morning had gone from terrible, to one of the best mornings of my waterfowl career. No, I didn’t limit, but I had done some of my best shooting ever, and on a day I had started to think would be fruitless.

My buddy added a Ruddy duck to his bounty, and the morning felt like an even greater success.

Sure, we had a bad start, terrible even, but we maintained positive attitudes, adapted, and turned the day around. We took home some ducks, and did some good shooting.

Really cold temps made staying warm hard. One issue I’ve had in really cold weather is wind and snow creeping down the back of my neck, and chilling me out. I bought a new camo balaclava, with a RealTree Edge pattern. Its longer than other balaclavas and leaves no gap on the back of my neck. I also bought a heavier weight, thermal underwear to stay warmer in my chest waders.

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Bagged a Mallard Drake

| January 11, 2020
mallard drake
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.

Bagged a Mallard Drake. While its not a big deal to a lot of waterfowl hunters who do it all the time, I’ve never made much of an effort to hunt migratory birds before. I’ve spent a few good days scouting, 6 mornings and one evening setting up, hours observing and learning about weather influence, proper decoy placement, and passed on a lot of diver ducks, waiting for a Mallard, Teal, other dabbling duck, or a goose.

After an unsuccessful morning hunt, and a solid day of working, I returned to the field for an evening hunt. I set up my mallard decoys just right for the wind conditions. A lone Mallard spotted the landing zone of my decoys, dropped in like a cruise missile, then flared to land. I took my shot and folded him right at the edge of some frozen ice.

I was rewarded for my patience(something I have very little of) and my persistence. I had bagged my target bird, a Mallard Drake, and no longer felt bad about passing on a bunch of diver ducks.

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