Presently, I am busily taking inventory of my past season’s waterfowling history and sifting through the stock on hand. I have decided, much to your good fortune, to offer up a few items for sale. I am, as we speak, in drastic need of some serious reduction.
This, of course, is a normal business procedure and should not lead to the mistaken belief that I am ceasing operations altogether, despite my aging complaints regarding cold weather, aching joints and the continually rising price of trendy, sexy camouflage hunting attire. However, we all must adjust from time to time. With that in mind, Dear Reader, I offer the following for your consideration.
FOR SALE — Duck hunting rights to Luther Ferguson's cypress pond, including the sprawling pasture through which you must walk to get there. There shall be no extra charge for the Brahma bull, whose knowledge of hunting rights and permitted access ranks right up there with his patience and sense of humor.
FOR SALE — Climbing rights to the only live oak tree in said sprawling pasture leading to Luther Ferguson's cypress pond. Caution: The tree increases approximately 10 feet in height for every 10 pounds added to an already-overweight frame. Purchase within 10 days and receive a psychological treatise on counteracting bovine aggression and an updated list of my favorite chiropractors and orthopedic surgeons.
FOR SALE — One first-edition copy of Cletus Monroe's just-published cookbook, DUCK CAMP STEW AND OTHER GASTRONOMIC DISASTERS. Included are one large bottle of Kaopectate and a $5 gift certificate toward the purchase of an in-home stomach pump. No responsibility assumed for anyone's actually trying to eat the Goose-foot Gumbo on Page 17.
FOR SALE — My complete stock of shotshell reloading equipment plus a selection of ruptured shotgun barrels. Powder-burn treatment and replacement of facial hair are available at most cosmetic surgery clinics. As for an easy way to figure out how to actually do your own reloading, you’re on your own.
FOR SALE — One 15-foot canoe in fair condition. Reason for selling: I need the down payment on a Mississippi River grain barge, the only boat from which I will ever again shoot waterfowl. With this sale goes one case of 3 1/2-inch magnum shotgun shells and one 110-pound Chesapeake Bay retriever, two wonderful reasons not to shoot ducks from a canoe. A hyperactive hunting buddy who can't comprehend the phrase “please sit still” might also be movable merchandise were it not for the illegality of the slave trade.
FOR SALE — One lightweight, portable duck blind. The words “lightweight” and “portable,” as well as “sets up in a few minutes” are copied directly from the case in which it was delivered. You also might be interested in my lightweight, portable back brace after carrying and using the blind a few times. As for assembly, “a few minutes” is merely the manufacturer’s translation of “eternity.”
FOR SALE — A pack of meticulously detailed, expensively bound blatant lies. A 500-page book officially titled FIFTY SURE-FIRE WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR WINGSHOOTING SKILLS, winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Fantasy Fiction.
Finally, my wife offers the following:
One hand-crafted goose call which will be practiced again inside the house over her dead body or, in all likelihood, mine.
A pair of self-mounted hooded mergansers that have “blighted my living room for the past 15 years!” Also a copy of A WATERFOWLER’S GUIDE TO HOME TAXIDERMY, slightly singed from being extracted from the fireplace just in the nick of time.
A six-months-overdue sporting goods bill whose balance roughly equals the accumulated interest of the national debt.
Bless her heart, I know she's just kidding when she says she'll trade all three for a set of legal, notarized, no-fault divorce papers. Just to be on the safe side, though, I refuse to discuss any of the above merchandise with any prospective buyer who happens to be a member of the legal profession.