SKRE Stories – Joseph Baldwin

I’ll preface this by saying I haven’t seen any pictures of waterfowlers wearing SKRE gear, so I may have a first there. If not, I’m sure there is a first in my story, but I’ll get to that later. The morning started around 2 AM when a couple of buddies and I decided to make the 3 hour drive to the Texas coast for a duck hunt. We weren’t expecting anything amazing, as it was a warm day, but any day in the field is a good day.

We arrived at the blind about an hour before shooting time and started tossing out decoys. A line of divers out front at about thirty-five yards, two small groups of pintails to the right and left of the line with about a 10 yard gap, and a mixture of teal, wigeon, and gadwall tossed randomly in the mix. We got back to the blind and swapped stories while waiting for shooting time.

Fifteen minutes after shooting time, a pair of blue bills cut our spread, swung wide, then went back behind the blind. We weren’t paying attention when they first went through the spread, but we were ready for them when they swung back. Three shots later at about twenty-five yards and we had our first birds of the morning.

Once the sun had completely risen, we noticed something sitting on the water about 80 yards from the blind. We thought it was a duck another group had shot, and that it had landed out there and died. We weren’t quite sure though, and opted that once the day slowed down one of us would go check it out.

All morning, we had been seeing big groups of blue bills and redheads flying inland, anywhere from 100 to 200 yards ahead of us, but never even glancing at our decoys. One person in the group had mentioned how they’d seen on YouTube that if you flap your hat at divers, almost like a goose flag, it can get them to turn. With nothing to lose we all agreed we should at least try it.  The next flock we saw was about 200 ducks, and all 4 of us in the blind started flapping our hats. Now I’m not sure why this worked, or if it will ever work again, but that flock turned and started flying right at us 20 yards high.

After more shots than I’m proud to admit, we had 3 birds on the water and there was one in the flock I was sure I had hit. Knowing how tough some ducks are, I kept an eye on the flock and asked everyone else to do the same. Pretty soon one guy said he saw one drop out and hit the water about 350 yards out. I decided it would be a good time to go grab it, so it wouldn’t swim even further even it hadn’t passed yet. While I was out, I figured I would also check out that “thing” we saw on the water earlier in the morning.

As I got closer, I realized it looked like a tire, which is strange because we thought it was moving earlier. I decided it couldn’t hurt to check it out and walked all the way to it before I realized it was a sea turtle that became beached when the tide went out. Anyone who has spent a good amount of time on the Texas coast knows sea turtles are a big deal down there, so we decided the best plan is to call the game warden to hear his thoughts on the situation at hand.

The game warden said there wasn’t much he could do about it and gave us a number to an organization that specializes in saving beached sea turtles. When we contacted the organization, they told us to bring the turtle into the duck blind with us. Apparently, with the water as shallow as it was, the turtle wasn’t able to position his body with his head out of the water. If left alone, the turtle would drown. Once we got the turtle to the blind, they told us to let them know what time we would be finished hunting, so they could meet us back at the parking lot.

We finished out our day killing two more birds and taking a photo op with the turtle before leaving the coast. I doubt anything like this will happen again in my lifetime, and I wouldn’t have believed the story had I not been there. And that is what I believe is my first for SKRE gear. Saving a sea turtle on a duck hunt.