Sunday, January 18, 2015


In recent years I have been slowly becoming disenchanted with waterfowling. I guess too much time on internet forums reading about everyone's complaints and arguments with one another about this or that and the way they think things ought to be have really brought me down. This compounded by the loss of almost every area I have hunted all of my life to the invasive grass species known as frag. I see rudeness and arguing at the boat ramp, while everyone hustles to try to beat the next guy to a spot that he probably doesn’t even know about. Many things have changed. It is enough to sour even my usual optimism, and I have let it. In all of that change the magic had just disappeared for me. When the season started this year I didn't care if I ever hunted ducks again. It troubled me that I had lost it this bad. I have spent my life hunting ducks and learning how to call them, and now I have no interest? What is wrong with me? I had to find a way to rediscover the magic. I searched for it with many questions.
What is the magic of waterfowl that draws us in even to obsession? I don't feel it is piling up ducks and geese, and taking a great glory shot at the end of the day. I don't think it is buying and collecting all the equipment that fills our garages and drives our wives crazy. Though it is true that I haven’t been compelled to buy much lately. I have changed the way I hunt to be able to get away from the crowds on public land. I guess I just don’t use that much equipment these days. Sure its about spending time with family and friends, but there is more, and whatever more is has really been missing. Its not that my hunts have been poor in recent years I have had some great hunts. I have shot some really nice limits of Mallards. Maybe that is my problem. Maybe my obsession with one species of duck has brought me to humdrum. Perhaps I need to go back to a day when I just hunted ducks. Goleneyes, scaups, shovelers, rudys, merganzers, or teal it didn’t matter back then. I would take any legal duck, and I see a lot of guys that get a great thrill out of that. I'm not sure what the answer is, but on a hunt recently I might have scratched the surface.

   In an isolated piece of habitat in the middle of nowhere that few know about and even fewer hunt I sat alone trying to find these things that have been missing. As I sat I realized that this sweet isolation is one of the things I have missed. There was no noise at all save the subtle sounds of nature. No trucks, no highway, no motor boats, not even the sound of a distant airplane could be heard. I could hear a woodpecker doing his thing. I could hear waves of blackbirds breaking the air with so many tiny wings that they make a huge whoosh sound as they go by. Occasionally a fish would splash about and I would wondered if I could catch any in this place if I were to try. At sunset this was all that was going on. I picked up my decoys walked out to the edge of the water and sat down as I started seeing and hearing big groups of ducks coming. I watched those birds pitch in with the backdrop of the setting sun as though it was my first time. I sat there listening to the mallards making all the sounds that I have studied for most of my adult life. Their many voices ringing so effortlessly from all around. I would giggle just a little each time one would make a sound that took me so much effort and time to learn. I sat until the sunset turned black and the ducks fell quiet. I then tip toed out as if to not disturb their sleep. It turns out I still love those ducks, and I guess I always will.

  I'm not sure I discovered the missing magic of waterfowling, but I did rediscover the love of the bird, and the habitat in which it lives. Next year I am going to go on a goose hunt and maybe a diver shoot. It has been many years since I have done those things. Perhaps this will help re-energize me.

1 comment:

ASmith said...

Could be you are just growing older and your love of chukars would be the next progression in your hunting life cycle.