Watch: Hundreds of Mallards Pass Within 30 Yards of Hunters

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“We’d scouted the day before and there were a few in there, but not like that”

A gigantic raft of mallards lit up by a spotlight in the flooded timber.

The ducks swam straight into the hunters’ spotlights as they came out of the flooded timber and into the flowing creek. Photograph by Grant Noble

If you want to see what a truly giant raft of mallards looks like, check out this video that longtime waterfowler and hunting personality Dennis Loosier, better known as “Dr. Duck,” shared to Instagram Tuesday. Loosier recorded the video while hunting public land with some buddies, and it’s the stuff that mid-winter waterfowl dreams are made of. The footage shows a group of Lord-knows-how-many mallards swimming out of the flooded timber and down a creek, where they pass within spitting distance of Loosier’s boat.

Outdoor Life caught up with Loosier a few days after he posted the video. He detailed what they saw in the timber that morning and gave some explanation as to why the birds were so bunched up and willing to swim so close to the hunters.  

“I’ve been blessed to witness a lot of waterfowl, and a lot of big numbers,” says Loosier, who’s based in East Texas but spends duck season traveling and hunting throughout the Mississippi Flyway. “So, when you see something like that it’s pretty special.”

Loosier says it was around 3 or 4 a.m. when he and his group first saw the huge raft of mallards. (If you look closely you can also pick out a couple pintails in there.) The hunters were running toward a hole in the flooded timber, but as soon as they noticed the ducks, they stopped and parked on the creek to avoid disturbing the birds. Loosier and his buddies then just sat there and watched with awe as the ducks swam straight toward their spotlights and around their boat.

“The last thing I wanted to do was just run ‘em out, so we set our boat probably 50 yards away,” Loosier tells Outdoor Life. “Then, I don’t know if it was the lights or what, but all the sudden they just started swimming to us. They swam around us, and we kept calm, and I think that was part of the success we had later that morning. We had a great hunt that day.”

Loosier, who’s seen plenty of waterfowl in his time, explains that he’s never had so many ducks swimming so close to him. “And most of the time,” he adds, “when you see birds in those numbers, they’re swimming away from the light.”

In hindsight, he thinks the birds might have been “a little desperate,” which would explain why they were willing to swim right at a group of hunters shining spotlights. The woods they were hunting in were mostly frozen over because of the arctic front that had just passed through the area. Most of the nearby fields that normally provide food were covered in ice and snow, too. Loosier says the ice was 3 inches thick in most places, and the only open water the ducks could find was in the current along the creeks and the main river. The hunters just happened to find themselves in the right spot under the right conditions.

“We’d scouted it the day before and there were a few in there, but not like that. Some must have come in later that afternoon, and then maybe through the night,” Loosier says. “I think it just proves that if [mallards] can find open water, they’re going to stay on it, and sometimes that means they’re going to stay as far north as possible.”

Read Next: Why Do Duck Hunters Despise Each Other?

The video clip has generated a lot of responses on social media, many of which are negative. Some have accused Loosier of pushing out the birds, along with “ruining the sport of waterfowling” by posting videos that draw attention to hunting on public land. Unfortunately, he says, this just shows how some waterfowl hunters have gotten selfish when it comes to sharing the sport with others.

“If you do read the comments, they’re all complaints and they’re not solutions. It’s about my opinion and it’s about greed,” says Loosier, who makes a living installing HVAC systems and not by outfitting or making videos. “It’s a pretty sensitive subject, but my main goal is: I want to influence our younger generation to duck hunt as much as possible.”

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