Monday, January 30, 2012

Ignorant and Dumb

It's funny, you know...during duck season everybody with a phone and a gun wants to go duck hunting. And most people know that I don't mind taking someone as long as they 1) Take everything I say as law, and 2) don't sky bust or blow their duck call. I also like to share moments such as a pal's first duck or first trophy duck. I also like to show my skills off. I may be a terrible duck caller, but I'm better than any of my friends, and I can throw out a mean decoy spread. That's probably where my expertise lies. In fact, I hand paint most of my Herters and then repaint all those cheap plastiques.

Nevertheless, I have about 5 or 6 "regulars" that give me the call the night before a hunt. And most often, I oblige. They know of their own, pitiful places. And they might even have their own boat. But it, too, is pitiful. Generally speaking, most of my companions are congenial and offer me a biscuit or other "treat" that I like to receive. They know me all too well. Some former companions, though, have loose lips. They tell their other friends where the birds are, which happens to be at my blind. Then, I show up to hunt it and find soda bottles and what-not which gives away my friend who religiously drinks peach flavored sodas. Busted. Those guys are the worst. If they make it to the end of a season with me, they nevermake it to the next season. They are the folks who are too lazy and dumb to find their "own" spots.

I have other regulars who have to be nudged to contribute. I have to nudge them because, I believe, they feel like they don't know what to contribute. Sometimes, we have banner days...days that make us all feel like we ought to pay for the fun we had and the ducks we shot. Those friends are good with me. I know when to ask and I know what they can give. Often times, they really do want to do more than say "Thanks."

I have a few pals who every time I go, they flash the twenty dollar bill at me, and bring their finest decoys. I like these partners, not because of their open wallet, but because, they, too, understand that there is no price tag on the fun, but it does cost money to run a boat and keep a stand of decoys maintained. A twenty dollar bill is always welcomed, but always turned down. These friends either have, or will, return the favor. When I hunt with them, my biggest problem is keeping the gun loaded.

However, in the 5 or so years I've been hunting ducks, I have never had a clean-up day that came with help. We all know that clean-up day is the day where decoys are un-rigged and stored neatly. The rough ones are left aside for patches. The burlapped ones are left out to dry. the long line weights are stored in boxes, and the decoy barrels are dumped and wiped. Long line ropes  are hung to dry. And hopefully, the boat gets washed and de-feathered.

Year Six, though, was  different. I did something that I felt  was out of character  for me. I asked for help. I offered a contract to my regulars to consider before considering my invitation to hunt on the closer. Each had to agree to cook a meal (which they had to plan) for me, not to skybust, to allow for one regular the first shot at the first duck  (so that he could bag his first duck, which he did - and it was a drake wigeon), to speak in whisper tonnes while hunting, and to clean up the mess they had helped to make throughout the season. After the hunt, they were all very willing to help. Had I not asked, they would not have obliged...but only because they didn't know better. If you don't have boat  or an expansive stand of decoys, you can't imagine the work and effort it takes to manage it. Either way, they were happy to help and were helpful. Hopefully, along with the tradition of getting together for one more hunt, I've also started a tradition of helping to put away the mess when the season is put away.

Overall, the season was fair. In a bad year for most, I still got some ducks. 101 to be exact. I've come to expect bluebills, but I had to do without. My consolation prize, though, were the best teal flights I've ever experienced. They stuck around and showed up late, all season long. I did get a handful of bluebills, the occasional wigeon and redhead, and lots of scoters. The Black Duck still evades me. But there's always next year...and in the mean time, I'll try to get rid of those ignorant and dumb regulars.

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