Tough side of waterfowl hunting

January. A New Year. Bitter cold, ice, snow. And what  do outdoorsmen think about?

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A trio of steady customers from Tennessee show off another limit of mallards they took while hunting with Perry May.

Hunkering down by the fireplace and watching football becomes the pursuit of many as the cold winds howl outside.

“Not me,” says Perry May, a lifelong waterfowl hunter from Dexter, Missouri. “January can be one of the best waterfowl hunting times of the entire season.”

May knows waterfowl. He tagged along behind his father, who worked as a conservation agent, from the time he could tag along.

“Waterfowl have always intrigued me,” May said. “They are so much fun just to watch as they zoom around the skies, having flown from hundreds or thousands of miles away along their historical migration routes.”

May can wax poetic all he wants. I have hunted with him many times. His passion is to work his calls, perfect his decoy sets and fool a flock of green heads into cupping up and committing to putting their orange feet down in the middle of his shooting zone.

“The Black and St. Francois rivers are flooded, Bill,” May said over the phone. “And we just got five more inches of rain. We are going to have standing water for a long time to come. You need to get down here now. There are more ducks in the area right now than I have ever seen at this time of the year.”

I glanced at my desk calendar. It read December 2, 2015. Visions of tens of thousands of mallards, gadwalls, pintails and widgeon cluttered my head. I had seen the masses of birds on May’s leases many times and now he was telling me that there were even more birds in the area. Almost unbelievable, but May had never told me an untruth.

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