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OUTDOORS COLUMN: I have a ‘motorvating’ pastime

Bob Kornegay

Bob Kornegay

I am at heart a lazy, inactive human being. But not when I go duck hunting. Oh, no. When I’m shooting waterfowl, I can become easily excited and am often launched into quite strenuous and even frenzied activity. You see, in the duck swamps of the South, there are certain “motorvations.”

Motorvations should not be confused with the similarly pronounced “motivations.” Motivations merely make a person think about doing something. Motorvations, on the other hand, make one do it. Often very quickly.

Take motorvation number one, a waterfowling anomaly known as the kamikaze duck. This is that one bird that always refuses to fold and give up the ghost without first striking its own suicidal blow.

The kamikaze duck, before the shot, flies recklessly and headlong into the hunters shot pattern. After being mortally wounded, he alters his death-wish course and purposefully crashes into or at least very near a hunter downrange from the scene of the action. Seconds before this occurs, this unknowing hunter is knee-deep in water, totally preoccupied and immersed in his own early morning, day-dreamy reverie. He stands there picking his nose and wondering why, oh, why he didn’t answer the call of nature before donning his chest waders.

With singleness of purpose, the kamikaze duck folds his wings and dies, fanatically satisfied with his hurtling trajectory. A direct hit is completely unnecessary. Simply splashing down unexpectedly within 10 feet of a hapless, unsuspecting gunner will invariably cause one’s picking finger to bury itself to the knuckle and chase the thought of “going” outside the waders completely out of one’s mind.

Another common duck-hunt motorvation is blind critters. These are members of the animal kingdom that dwell or rest in a duck blind. Like the kamikaze duck, the hunter has no inkling of their presence before suddenly happening upon them. Blind critters include venomous insects and arachnids, snakes, and even occasional benign creatures like roosting songbirds. Entering a blind in pre-dawn darkness and subsequently disturbing these various inhabitants can quickly motorvate the most lethargic hunter on the planet. In my own case, because of blind critters, I have at times executed vertical leaps of 20 feet or more while simultaneously discharging a shotgun three times in quick succession.

Bullfrogs and blue herons are not classified as blind critters, but rank right up there on the motorvations list. Bullfrogs sound uncannily similar to big bull alligators when heard from an up close and personal position. These amphibians are even more convincing when a hunter is chest-deep in swamp water and mired to the knees. A bullfrog-motorvated waterfowler can easily free himself from the deepest quicksand deposit the moment an unseen bullfrog gives out with an early morning croak from a distance of two feet.

Blue herons, on the other hand, do not sound like alligators. Frankly, I don’t know just what the heck they do sound like. Whatever it is, though, the pre-dawn call of a blue heron in an otherwise silent foggy swamp would qualify as the perfect sound effect for a horror movie or Halloween haunted house. The eerie, guttural avian reverberation literally makes one’s hair stand on end. That is, what little hair one has left after tearing through a shoreline briar thicket at speeds approaching 60 miles per hour.

Stump holes are also high on the motorvations roster. There are two types: holes without stumps and those with stumps still attached. Stumpless holes cannot be seen, but are easily located when stepped into. The motorvation here is not the hole itself, but what might be lying in wait at the bottom. Those of us who have been motorvated in this fashion have another name for empty stump holes. We call them launching pads.

Holes with stumps also cannot, in themselves, motorvate. If one ventures too close, however, he soon discovers that wasps and snakes are not just blind critters, but stump critters as well.

There are other duck-marsh motorvations as well, of course, but none of these, nor any I’ve described in detail, hold a candle to the ultimate motorvator: the one that kicks in when the grumpy old man, with game warden in tow, sneaks up and taps you on the shoulder, wondering why you have mistakenly crossed over onto his property.