It started out simply enough, the thought of a late week duck hunt.

It started out simply enough, the thought of a late week duck hunt.


That waterfowling mission was prompted by the perfect storm of a day off, the first split of the Texas North Zone duck season winding down, and a Ducks Unlimited migration alert text received earlier this week.


That text read simply: "840K mallards on Missouri River in #SouthDakota. Weather system moving in!"


Weather system moving in indeed.


In truth, that weather system — a shot of early season Siberian cold — is producing a winter storm in our area as you read this and sub-zero thermometer readings in Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota to the tune of nearly 20 degrees below zero.


That’s, as they say up north, a bit airish.


And it’s more than enough motivation to cause the bulk of the duck population still stuck to our north in the Central Flyway pipeline to pack their bags and flee southward for warmer weather.


Which is exactly why I found myself in a mid-week duck blind with Pottsboro outfitter J.J. Kent (www.kentoutdoors.com; 903-271-5524) and Metroplex residents Jim Wallace and Ryan Woods.


As we sat in that heavily brushed duck blind around a sizable North Texas stock tank, like every other Texas and Oklahoma resident in recent days, we talked about the weather.


Albeit with a gleam in our eye and a slightly giddy tone to our voice.


Duck hunters, you see, are a rare breed that actually enjoy harsh winter weather…as long as the power stays on, that is.


While Arctic fronts and Winter Storm Watches cause some to flee to Wally World for bread and milk, we grab the waders, the scattergun and the dog and point the truck in the direction of the nearest duck blind.


Why is that? Because ice storms aside, the colder and snowier it is in these parts, the better we like it because the ducks are moving down the flyway.


Hopefully to a decoy spread bobbing in the choppy water in front of the blind.


The day before our hunt, Kent and a couple of his clients had found the vanguard of this weather motivated duck migration as waterfowl winged their way down the plains.


"We shot a limit of ducks by 8:30 a.m.," said Kent. "We could have taken many more. It was the kind of hunt where you would shoot, the dog would be in the water retrieving, and you’d be reloading your shotgun with more ducks coming in."


On many fall and winter days, Kent and his guides are "running traffic" as they hunt local birds trading between roost spots, feeding areas, and loafing ponds.


Not this week — most of the ducks that were being worked were high flying "flight ducks" on the move in front of the building weather.


"I think we should do pretty good today," Kent said in the pre-dawn gloom as we loaded up, got our safety instructions, and looked to the sky as shooting time approached.


When go-time finally arrived on the watch, we wouldn’t have to wait long as a small flock of gadwalls swept in low, swung over once, and cupped their wings to dump into Kent’s spread of Avian X mallard decoys.


"Get ‘em boys!," Kent cried. We responded by sending out loads of Hevi-Shot and Winchester steel, giving Kent’s retriever Bo his first action of the day.


Over the next hour or two, that scene repeated itself again and again as more small flocks of gadwalls, a teal or two, several ring-necked ducks (blackjacks or ringers as they are known in the Texas’ waterfowling vernacular), and even a lone canvasback drake flew overhead, put the migration on pause, and dropped towards the decoy spread for a closer look.


Between flocks, we talked of the coming weather as we eyed the clouds to our northwest and checked our smartphone apps for the latest forecasts about the ice, snow and cold approaching the southern Great Plains.


The remainder of our duck blind chatter centered around waterfowl hunting, our favorite shotguns, the best duck recipes we had sampled, and how we got started in the sport. We also made conversation about topics ranging from politics to family to sports, the latter including UIL realignment and Auburn’s miracle touchdown play last weekend to win the Iron Bowl against Alabama.


Every so often, a flock of migrators would be spied and Kent would lean on his acrylic Zink Power Hen open water call to reach out and grab their attention.


As the birds moved in for a closer look, Kent would switch to his Zink PH-1 for a softer approach to plead them out of the sky where they would hopefully put their "boots on" and reach webbed feet for the decoy spread.


For the most part, our shooting was good and we missed few opportunities. Kent even showed off a bit, taking a hard overhead snap shot at a ringer roaring through at Mach 2. His shot column connected with the bird, sending it into a tailspin that ended in the tumble weeds behind the blind.


Some ducks — including a flock of wise-guy wigeon — proved to be a bit spooky after flying hard for hours in front of the cold air surge.


But most were not, putting the flaps down and aiming for the strategically placed hole in Kent’s decoy spread.


It wasn’t quite the red-hot duck shoot of the day before — we ended up just a few birds shy of a four-man limit — but it was plenty warm enough.


So much so that we ended up with Texas-sized grins on our faces, several backslaps and handshakes, and a good day spent enjoying the duck blind camaraderie that makes waterfowling so enjoyable.


Not to mention the collection of the main ingredients for a country dinner straight out of Miss Kay’s "Duck Dynasty" cookbook.


Just as the early December wind swung around to the north, sent autumn leaves scurrying, and signaled the arrival of the Polar Express.