A late December forecast for highs in the 70s almost coaxed Kenneth Mullins to turn off the alarm clock and go back to sleep rather than duck hunt.
"It was the last day of Arkansas duck season before the Christmas split. So, reluctantly, I got dressed and drove the two miles to the duck club," Mullins
Given the expected warm conditions and a possibility of thunderstorms, Mullins chose to go it alone. "My blind was an open water hole on a two-mile wooded slough," he recalled. "It had been productive earlier in the season."
After setting out the decoys and seeing very few birds by 8 a.m., and with darkening skies and approaching thunder, Mullins decided to pick up and leave ahead of the storm. Before he could gather his gear however, he noticed five ducks flying directly toward him.
"I picked out the lead bird, which seemed unusually white, and as I shot, it folded."
Upon retrieving it, he was pleased to see he had shot a drake goldeneye, a rare encounter in the flooded woodlands of southwest Arkansas.
Mullins retreated to the cabin to ride out the storm, which passed quickly, and was contemplating calling it a day.
"But with more than two hours of shooting time left (we quit hunting at noon), I decided to go back and check out an area that had not been hunted recently."
The walk into hole No. 17 was over a half-mile and just as Mullins was approaching the blind, a group of a dozen mallards flew directly over him. "I shot three times and dropped two greenheads, one of which was not hit well and required a short chase and a couple extra shots."
He was lucky to retrieve it as it sported not one, but two bands, the second offering a $100 reward. It also happened to be his 40th banded duck and the third double-banded mallard drake he's shot in 50 years of hunting.
"Days like this are what gets me up and going when the weather conditions may not be exactly right," said Mullins.
If luck has handed you a banded bird, don't miss the opportunity to be featured on the pages of Wildfowl. Before you proudly display your silver on leather or lanyard, take the time to submit the story behind the band.
Simply fill out your information (here) and since luck's already on your side, you could end up in the Passages or Band Tales section of Wildfowl.