The Occoneechee Experience

IMG_7150There are certain destinations where waterfowlers are all but assured of some success. The Arkansas timber. The bayous of Louisiana. The potholes of the Dakotas.   The Susquehanna flats. So when Bryan DeHart with Mossy Oak Properties NC Land And Farms invited me to Hunt Occoneechee Farms, (which I had hunted years earlier) I knew I was in for a hunt equal to any and all of the above.

The farm itself is located in the famed Occoneechee Neck, a large peninsula of land basically surrounded on three sides by the Roanoke River. With Lake Gaston to the North and West and the Albemarle Sound to the South and East, it’s kind of in its own flyway along the river. The first thing I noticed driving around the property was the array of opportunities available for duck hunting. There is a large 27 acre pond that was holding literally hundreds of ducks when we drove by. We saw ringnecks, gadwalls, mallards and widgeons. There is a 10 acre floodable duck impoundment adjacent to the pond. But in my book, the flooded hardwood swamp acres are really what makes this place so special for duck hunting. To view the full listing of this property click here.

The first morning presented Bryan and I with the duck hunter’s worst enemy, second only to frozen water, dense fog. Every duck hunter knows if you can’t see them, they can’t see you. The amount of quacks heard overheard made the anticipation of the fog lifting almost unbearable. By the time the visibility was good enough for both the hunter and the hunted, most of the birds had already settled where they wanted to be. We called in two pairs that floated down through the trees as pretty as anything you’ve ever seen on DU TV. Boom, boom, splash, splash both times. (Okay, maybe boom, boom, boom, boom on the second pair.) A handful of mallards in the timber ain’t too bad when you don’t shoot until after 10:00 a.m.

After a quick lunch we headed to the pond for an afternoon hunt. Now as stated previously, if I have my druthers, I’m a timber guy. But Bryan is a life-long resident of the Outer Banks and loves a good diver hunt. Plus, you gotta love the way a diver duck decoys. Setting up we ran out hundreds of ringnecks. We only threw a couple of dozen decoys, hid in the buckbrush and waited for them to come back. And man did they come back. We shot at groups as small as two or three and as large as 20 or 30. An afternoon ringneck shoot is super fun way to round out a limit. And a good thing for us we decided to bring extra shells. (More on extra shells later.)

My second morning in “The Neck” was picture perfect. Bryan had called the night before and simply said “I found ‘em. Be there at six.” Now I’m just old enough to appreciate technology but probably too old to fully embrace it. Thank heavens Bryan does. With a quick look at Google Maps, he led us right to a perfect large opening in a stand of hardwoods. With half a dozen decoys and one spinner doing his thing, we found a good cypress tree, cozied up and waited to see just how many he had found.

You know you’re in for a good hunt when your partner starts asking how long before shooting time….every two or three minutes. By the time I said, “it’s time”, it was on! Now like I said earlier, I’ve spent a lot of time duck hunting in the timber and I can, in all sincerity, say I have rarely witnessed the amount of ducks trying to get into that hole.

 

It was one of those mornings when you’re calling at one group and another group is trying to land behind you, or to the side, or out in front.

It was one of those mornings where there were so many mallards, gadwalls and woodies in the air that calling probably wasn’t even necessary.

It was one of those mornings where you say, “Don’t Shoot The Woodies!”.

It was one of those mornings where, shortly before you realize you’re done, your buddy says, “Got any more shells?”.

I’ve had the privilege to look at a lot of property that Bryan and Mossy Oak Properties NC Land and Farms has had listed in North Carolina. Most have tremendous outdoor opportunities available. Few, if any, are equal to Occoneechee Farms. Their trail cams are loaded with big whitetails and plenty of gobblers. And after just a couple of days chasing ducks, I’m here to tell you, it’s slam full of them too!

Phil Greer