My family began hunting Summer Lake in the 1940s. Both of my grandfathers hunted it, and in 1952 my dad hunted it for the first time, at the age of 12. I first hunted Summer Lake in 1976, at the age of 12, and my oldest son first hunted it in 2012, at age 12.
As with many families who hunt, Summer Lake is a tradition that gets in your blood. This past weekend we broadcasted a couple live Facebook sessions with the Oregon Dept. of Fish & Wildlife, on their Facebook page. The day before the season opener, we were joined by longtime biologist, Marty St. Louis, and he shared the trends of what’s happening at Summer Lake, with both ducks and geese. I learned a lot from Marty, including why snow geese continue bypassing Summer Lake and other traditional stops, despite their numbers being very high.
We also broadcasted a live hunt. It was the first time Dad and I had ever hunted opening morning and not gotten our limits, but we didn’t care, as we had a great time. For us, it was about the experience. Maybe that’s because we’ve hunted so much over the years, maybe it’s because as we get older, we appreciate things we used to take for granted. What stands out most in our minds are the people we met. Many wonderful folks commented on watching our TV show, The Hunt, now on Netflix, and how much they appreciated seeing that. In newly acquired Season 2, Episode 3 is a hunt the we filmed at Summer Lake.
We also saw many old friends, people who’ve been hunting Summer Lake for decades. I saw high school friends I’d not seen for years, and Dad talked with people he knew who had been hunting there since the 1950s.
Echo, my 3 year old pudelpointer had a great time. Though I missed a couple easy shots at snipe, we did connect on some mallards. Echo retrieved her first two banded ducks, which I was excited about.
I can’t think of a better way to kick off Oregon’s duck season than going to a place we’d been so many times. Watching the red light go dim, hearing shots ring throughout the valley, and gazing as ducks filled the air, is part of what makes this opening day adventure so special.