Cold Mornings, Dark Skies, Bright Green Birds: Duck Hunting in Snohomish Valley

Two men in a duck blind before sunrise survey an open field.

Around these parts, winter means duck hunting: cold mornings, dark skies, and bright green birds. In the latest Filson Life, follow Alex Busillachi and Blake Berry of Slade Northwest through a successful Snohomish Valley hunting trip.


Waking up in the early morning under a deep and dark sky usually signifies the start of an arduous day, however for a waterfowl hunter it signals pure excitement. As the city of Seattle slept and became a mere reflection in the rearview mirror, we set a course due North towards the historic Snohomish Valley where we were met with a stiff wind from the southeast and a flurry of rain, which every waterfowl hunter knows are keys to a successful day.

As our mudded truck tires lurched to a stop at our destination, we unloaded and were greeted by Pat Murphy, the owner of Northwest Performance Dogs and the Manager of Lord Hill Duck Club. After a quick planning session in the clubhouse we headed down to the shop to load up the buggies with our decoys and gear. Then, as quickly as we could, we hit the dirt road towards a field of flooded corn.

As the sun began to rise over our decoy spread, we were reminded of the reasons we hunt: it’s not about the amount of ducks harvested or shooting our guns. It’s about appreciating the world around us. It’s about sitting next to our peers and enjoying each other’s company away from the modern technology that disconnects us.

The ducks were out in full force. Mallards, Pintails and Widgeon were in abundance as they consistently committed to our decoy spread throughout the morning. We took our time picking out drakes and we were rewarded with the amazing show of Pat Murphy working the dogs as they retrieved every duck that was harvested that morning. Watching our labs Drake and Xander do what they love was a treat in itself and was a true highlight of our day.

As quickly as the duck season comes is as quickly as it goes, and with only a few more weeks left in the season we will make sure to get out as much as we can and create more memories in the field. When we look back over the years on our hunts we rarely speak about the amount of birds harvested, but always speak about the times we had doing it.