With thanks to Winchester here are some of the best entries for our Duck Tales competition. The winner of the Winchester Gun Safe is Daniel Lorenzini We'd like to thank all the readers who took the time to share their 2016 Duck Season story.
The days counting down to my very first every duck opening had come down to just one more sleep.
It was an exciting night around the campfire along the Broken Creek hearing all the stories from experienced hunters, most of whom have never missed a duck opening.
I can't wait to be in their shoes sharing stories with my children in decades to come.
I woke to the sound of brewing coffee and excited GSPS and Brittany spaniels. The morning was perfect, the sun was on its way up and the scenery was picturesque.
We split up into small groups and spread out along the creek. Waiting for 7.20 am, we readily stood in silence along the bank.
At 7.22 am, I heard what I thought was another hunter further down the creek blowing a Wood duck call, much to my surprise the sound was rapidly approaching us.
I spotted the Wood duck and couldn't contain my excitement but all my preparation and practice came down to this exact moment. My first duck! It was a perfect shot! I will never forget it. I managed to get a snapshot of the very spot where I took my first duck. It's not all about reaching your bag limit, it is about the entire experience. Sharing moments like this with your best friends and family is what hunting means to me.
While it was a quiet Duck Season overall, my mates and myself never gave up trying to find a duck for the whole season.
On closing weekend I went out with my mate Dave and his labrador Harley.
Harley never left Dave's side the whole weekend: it didn't matter if we were in the boat watching over decoys, out hunting foxes or sitting in camp watching over a campfire of burning red gum. A loyal lab is truly a duck hunter's best friend.
Heart Morass State Game Reserve
With such fascinating scenery I was more than excited counting the hours pass.
I couldn't sleep with all the night birds calls especially Black ducks; sounds of black Swans taking off, water splashes of jumping fish in the nearby river. A simply magical starry night with fire flames lighting our faces in the night darkness.
I was the first to wake up and get ready with full hunting gear that morning. I lost my first shots at Mountain ducks due to overexcitement and such surprise to see what I was dreaming of all the night.
I never gave up and carried on calling ducks. Suddenly I see a duck coming from afar toward my decoys; once it reached my range, I fired a shell to take that Grey teal down.
I can't tell you how I felt that moment as it was my first duck ever.
This year our two-and-a-half year old son Alby got to experience the hype of going duck shooting with his uncle, Tony Bursill who had travelled seven hours from Eurobin, Victoria to join us for opening.
The first thing packed in the ute was his plastic side-by-side shotgun that was purchased as a birthday present from Toyworld. The joy on his face carrying the duck back to the ute was just priceless and that alone was our proudest moment as parents.
All our children have grown up around guns and all aspects of hunting. They have been taught from a young age the importance of gun safety. It is safe to say that this is hopefully the first of many more openings Alby will get to enjoy with his family.
My duck opening was very quiet, giving me some time for thinking. I love wetlands (“my heartlands” as an old FGA bumper sticker once said).
Water is the giver of life and a gift of God. It doesn't matter I didn't get a bag, I just love the experience.
To paraphrase Fred Bear (Bear Archery); when a hunter is on the water in a blind with high moral values and with the proper hunting ethics and richer for the experience, that hunter is closer to God.
After just obtaining a junior firearms licence I scored an A in the duck identification course I participated in, held at the Leongatha RSL with Geoff Cooper from South Gippsland FGA.
On the day before duck season opened my dad and I went to some local dams to see if there were any ducks around and there were plenty. Unfortunately, opening morning we went out with the shotguns and there wasn't a single duck in sight.
The following morning we only went to one dam that is just down the road from my house.
We stalked the dam very slowly and quietly, as we got to the dam bank we popped our heads up and a flock of around 15 Chestnut teal rose from the water and *BANG* *BANG* I dropped two.
I retrieved them, took them home to then skin and butterfly them.
Here is a photo of myself showing the perks of being the kid in the camp.
I bagged out on an afternoon shoot along the Piccaninny, a creek that flows out of Kow swamp. Dad and I raced out after work with his new G3 punt he bought just for duck hunting.
The early part of the shoot was slow, pairs of blackies and Grey teal rising too early for us to get a shot off, however in this process they formed a large mob that followed the creek.
I asked Dad if he wanted me to cut across the bend and get him to punt up to me. Dad reckoned this was a good idea so I jumped out and crossed the bend.
I walked a lot farther than I thought I would need to find adequate cover, when I did the ducks fell like flies. First a pair of blackies pitched-in in front of me and with the first barrel I got both of them. As I went to reload a woody came screaming in and tried to veer away. He fell on the second barrel; I thought I was king!
Nothing could escape my trusty mark 10 Miroku! Until a mob of teal proved me wrong by flying fast overhead. That was all for the initial action until Dad picked me up in the boat. On our way back a Mountain duck got up in front of us and I recalled a jerky recipe and managed to bag him.
With that the clock showed it was too late to shoot and we spent the next 10 minutes getting back to the car. Dad and I enjoy the rest of the duck season but opening weekend is used as a social event to catch up with family. We still manage to obtain a feed of ducks but the best part was enjoying each other's company.
CUNNING, CULINARY GREY TEAL By Mark Harvey
Just to give you a perception of what my ordeal is when I exhaust all measures in pursuit of a plump Black duck; the challenges are not only the cattle that graze away and disturb my quarry, but cunning Grey teal that always seem to master the intelligence and take flight, giving the duck population the heads-up of my presence and jumping into the sky out of range.
When the farmer tells you that on the river there are hardly any birds and they are mainly teal, the challenge is only to grab not only the delicious little eater but to seek revenge for previous seasons.
My opening two days later, yielded me four birds, three Grey teal and a female blackie without losing any others.
Like everyone else, it was tough especially having drought conditions and low birds numbers.