Adam called and I answered and without so much as a “hello, how are ya”, he began to explain, “They call it a Grand Passage!” I sat quietly. “That’s when all the ducks up north have been kind of ‘holed up’ up there and suddenly the weather gets real nasty and they all decide to migrate at once! They say the skies just get black with ducks!” It seemed to me I had read about that in a book authored by Gordon MacQuarrie when he described the fateful Armistice Day Blizzard from 1940. It had been warm all the way up until that morning and in a few short hours it turned quite dramatically into a bad winter. The ducks poured through the upper Mississippi region by the thousands. I thought, “This is Georgia, it could snow ten feet and there wouldn’t be ducks like that for miles…" This time, it was the winter of 1993. Let me step back a year for perspective....Hurricane Andrew had made its way through back in August of ‘92 and virtually stalled out over GA. The rains fell heavy for about four or five days and the new 187 acre lake behind my house was swollen to unbelievable proportions. The water began to cut through the man-made dam and to save the lake they had to drain it to repair and change the dam design. This left small pockets of water everywhere. The lake stayed like that for the whole year and through the summer of `93 the pockets grew full of grass. By the time Adam rung my phone we had a 200 acre stretch of duck-hole heaven at our disposal. All that was missing were the ducks. However, the weather of 1993 was crazy. It had been all year, Mother Nature had thrown a blizzard at us in March much like many of us had never seen before, and she was leaving the year with the intent of leaving an impression. By the weekend we had a "yankee’s winter" upon us and we piled on all the clothes we could wear and still shoulder our guns.
The sun barely came up that Saturday, as if it wanted to stay in bed and avoid the blustery winds and spitting snow. It just poked its head out from under the covers enough to light the clouds. We did our best to set up with the wind at our backs but in our duck-hole bowl the wind didn’t really have a direction, it just blew all over. We partially stood, partially floated in hip waders and belly boats, bobbing like the decoys in front of us. At first light, they came. Cutting through the wind the divers bombed us first and everyone killed something. There were four us as normal, The Soggy Bottom(ed) Feather Dusters Association (SBFDA). The puddle ducks joined us minutes later. We stayed that morning as long as our bodies would allow us, missing more than we killed. Belly boat shooting, in tons of clothes, while floating, in the freezing rain, is much tougher than one would think. We killed 13 species of ducks that weekend and almost limited out daily. It was nothing short of magical for Ga duck hunting.
When I am outside in July and August and the 100+ degree temps are bearing down on me, I have only to close my eyes and remember days like that and the temps drop around me to quite cozy.
Pictured is two members of the SBFDA from around the time of the story.. John (aka the pres.) and Richard (aka "stuck")