There’s some advantage to being the senior member of a well-mannered duck hunting party. At least for a while. I’m talking “senior” as in card-carrying AARP member. Do you need some help loading the Ranger? No, we got it. How about the decoys? Got them, too. Where should I sit? etc….etc…
“You just get your waders on if you want them to help keep you warm and sit right here in the front seat,” Little George said. “You don’t have to have your waders if you don’t want. We’ll put out the decoys and go get the ducks.”
Well, since it was 28 degrees and the seat of the pit blind was surely wet to icy, I chose to wear the waders. But it was a nice gesture. So was the ride down the levee right to the edge of the blind, although I had to crawl down into the four-foot deep blind without even so much as a hand (I think that was because nobody wanted to assume any legal liability).
By the time George, Little George, Bil (you haven’t met Bil with one “L” here before, but it’s time) and Adam, got settled in, all the niceties stopped.
“Is it legal shooting hours yet?”, I asked as a big group of ducks worked overhead, checking out the impressive decoy spread that Little George and Bil (as in somebody’s Brother-in-law) had laid out.
“It isn’t,” Little George shot back. “But you can go ahead and shoot. You probably won’t come close enough to scare them. I don’t think that’s illegal.”
I knew a good thing had to come to and end sometime.
If you’ve never watched the sunrise over a flooded rice field, heard thousands of geese take off from the rice stubble or seen a dozen ducks cupped up over decoys at the first light of day, well, you have just missed it. It’s awesome. As I have said before, it makes grown men act like little boys.”
Soon, the sound of George and Little George, the official designated guides for this trip, hitting their duck calls made it pretty evident it was time to shoot. Besides, you could see the green on the ducks heads.
Boom Boom Boom . . . sounded the shotguns. Then Little George looked at me and grinned, “Take ‘em!” Uh, I think they’ve already been taken. It got worse.
“Mr. Kinny, have you ever even killed a duck?” he asked. I think that was for the benefit of Bil, because I know the rest of the group has seen me killed plenty of ducks. About that time one came on MY END of the blind, flared off at about 40 yards and I rose and shot. And missed.
Little George apologized to the retriever.
I am left-handed and it was a right-handed shot. A few minutes later, I got another chance. This time I was dead on. The duck folded and fell. It brought a round of shocked oohs and aahs and even a round of applause. Have you ever heard sarcastic applause, muffled by gloved hands, of course? It didn’t last long. When I shot my second duck and the dog brought it back to Little George, he told the retriever, “Don’t get used to it. He doesn’t do that very often.”
It ended up being a good morning. Not by duck number standards, but high on the fun and enjoyable meter. And we all shot ducks. The most enjoyable part of the hunt for me was when I realized that the top of the blind, which was on a levee planted in bright green rye grass, was camouflaged with strands of green Christmas garland. Several years back, Mrs. George had thrown an old fake Christmas tree and several miles of garland out by the curb across the street after Christmas. I backed my truck over and picked it up. Of course, they laughed when I said I would put it around the duck blind. Where I was hunting in the woods, there was lots of green. Green camo was good. I even put up the whole tree (minus any decorations, of course) on one end of the blind. Worked like a charm.
So here they were using MY technique. Let’s just say I was very proud.
Perhaps the biggest group of ducks we saw came about 9 a.m. right after I had crawled on all fours up out of the blind (Hey, that “senior” member means you can’t stay down there forEVER!!!) The ducks weren’t the only “nature” calling….
Anyway, here they came. Everybody hunkered down in the blind, called wildly and watched as the ducks circled, but for some reason lost interest. And for some reason they all looked up at me with less than empathetic scowls, all at the same time. I was twirling my arms, much like a big mojo duck decoy, but that impressed neither my hunting buddies or the ducks. I was just hoping they remembered Rule No. 1 of the hunt:
Don’t shoot the mojo….