Squadron Leader

The opener: Squadron Leader | Shooting Sportsman Magazine
Photo by Patrick “Buzz” Hayes

It was a January hunt at Honey Brake, in Louisiana, where I shoot photos 30 days or so every duck season. That day we had many larger flocks of pintails cruising the property. Bluebird days and a bit of wind are ideal for “sprigs” to show themselves. That morning, even though we were seeing lots of birds, we weren’t getting many to finish in the decoys. When we spotted the juvenile red-tailed hawk, we knew why. It just appeared from behind the blind, and my guess is that it had been perched in one of the larger trees just out of sight. The photo makes it look like the hawk is leading a squadron of pintails, but the ducks weren’t following that bad boy anywhere. Needless to say, the hunting improved dramatically after the hawk moved on, and we enjoyed another glorious day. (By the way, fourth from the left at the top is a lone greenhead.) —Patrick “Buzz” Hayes/@theconfluencegroup

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