3 of us went, 2 with swan tags. I did the deed of paying $3 a shell for some Hevi-Shot with hopes it would give me some long range knock down.
Saturday morning dawned clear and cold. Our plan was to sit in the crossing area when the swans were pushed off the water by the many Saturday hunters. We waited and waited and waited. No Saturday hunters. We can hear swans making a racket in the distance. We walk until we can see the birds. There are approximately 1.2 bajillion swans grouped together on the water!
We coerce Don (the one that already filled his tag) into running the birds off the water. Surely they would head for the refuge and come right over our shotguns.
Don disappears in the distance. We hear the birds get excited, then hear the roar of wings, and the first of the big white birds break the skyline! They are coming our way!
We are about 100 yards apart hiding in sagebrush. The first couple hundred birds swing to my right out of range. Then next 300 birds all in groups of 10-20 are coming right to us. Dan pops up, shoots 3x I see feathers, the swan falters, hangs in the air but keeps going.
Most went right over Dan and he is popping away at them. Finally, one group flares my way, I stand up shoot, the swan rocks, shoot again and down he comes! Not a crumple up "dead bird" but a gliding down "I'm hurt but not dead". He landed about 1/2 mile away toward the refuge! I let out a war whoop and start running!
I finally see a bobbing white head in the distance and realize the bird is running toward the refuge. I kick it in high gear and run, and run, and run. I finally get withing 80 yards of the bobbing head and shoot 3 times ($9). The head keeps bobbing, I keep running, reloading as I run. He's slowing down, but is within 20 yards of the refuge fenceline. I shoot twice more ($6), from about 60 yards and the bird crumples!
What a monster, he has a 6'5" wing span. Gorgeous birds these swans are.
I'd guess more than a 1000 birds came over us and Dan hit several but was unable to bring one down (steel shot). The hevi-shot was worth it!
We spend a few more hours locating a small group of swans. We develop a game plan for Dan to sneak on them which involved a 1/4 mile hands and knees through a mud flat with a few bushes for cover. Don and I watch from the car as the stalk unfolds. He did a heck of a job stalking the birds. He ended up just 40 yards away and when he jumped up, the birds just stayed on the water. He walked toward them. They take flight and he drops the largest with a head shot. At the shot a group of unseen canadians take off and are headed right toward Don and I in the car! We scramble, finding shotguns and shells and we hop out just as they pass over the car about 35 yards up. Each of us drop one!
That was it. Nevada waterfowl big game hunting at its finest. We took lots of pics with the film camera and will post them when developed.
Hevi-Shot is worth it for the long shots. Next year we'll try decoying more.