As we wrap up another Duck season here in Arkansas, I find myself looking back on one of the tougher seasons I’ve had. This year’s weather and migration had most of the state chasing their tails when it came to consistently getting on the Ducks. 60 degrees one day, 20 the next, more rain than expected and it just plain made it tough. We did, in spite of the conditions, round out a decent year. We just had to work a little harder than normal at it.
One of the silver linings that I found, in a slower than average duck season, was all of the aspects of the sport I enjoy outside of the actual kill. There is so much involved with being an efficient duck hunter that it is hard for those not familiar with the sport to understand its appeal. We prep all year for the time when these birds migrate through our great state. For my camp that includes prepping the woods, cleaning out boat rows, planting food for them in the fields, fixing up the blinds and the list goes on and on. That is not even taking into account the time, effort and money involved with the toys and tools that we “need” in order to perform the task of hunting ducks. The time and money I have spent working on and fixing boat motors and ATV’s would make me sick if I added it up but what I have found in the end is that the effort as a whole is what I enjoy most. There is a satisfaction I get from getting up while it is still dark and getting in the boat I fixed and running through the woods that we cleared, following the markers we put up while scouting and finally into the honey hole of the day. Putting out all of the decoys that we cleaned and fixed from the season before and giving some chatter from the call that I spent countless hours practicing on as a kid so that my feed call would sound like what I heard those ducks doing.
All of that effort is what makes it so sweet when you hear those whistling wings and all the sudden your yacking with your buddies stops and you all freeze because… its time. Working those birds round and round just hoping this will be the group that does it. The rush when you see them cup their wings and drop a little lower and the pure excitement when that scout comes in wheels down and the rest follow enough for the shot caller of the crew to holler “Shoot em!”, (or whatever your catch phrase is, we all have one). For me it is the entire process, a labor of love that makes the sport so enjoyable and the shooting is just the cherry on top.