Herald Outdoors Columnist Bob Kornegay
Okay, okay. I realize it’s only August and duck season is still months away. But I just can’t help myself. It’s too hot to fish, too hot to go birding and way too hot to work. Therefore, I’m doing what all great thinkers do. I’m thinking. In this instance I’m thinking about duck hunting, already looking forward to next season.
I may have good reason. Looking back, I must say last waterfowl season was a good one. "Good", of course, is a relative term. In my case, perhaps "less bad" is an apt description. In any case it's good literature. Hemingway said it a lot in FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS.
However you choose to describe it, the past duck season has me believing my lot as a waterfowler may be improving after all these years. What a relief. For once, this column can be inspired by positives.
Positive #1 — Last year, I actually downed more birds than I did during the past three seasons combined. The fact that I also spent more shells and hunted more days is but a small matter. Believe me, those two extra ducks supersede all other variables.
Positive #2 — My retriever did not finish last season in her usual blue funk, pouting over the fact that the other dogs were frolicking and swimming and having fun while she spent days at my side watching me miss. She recently had puppies. She viewed labor pains and the milk teeth of nine miniature Labradors as a comparatively happy alternative.
Positive #3 — Last season, I only stepped into five stump holes, down from the average eight. The water temperature was also about seven degrees warmer overall. Cuss global warming if you wish, but it has at least one positive side.
Positive #4 — More birds responded to my calling than ever before, even without my watching a single “Duck Dynasty” episode. The fact that few of these birds were ducks doesn’t matter. If they ever open an owl or cattle egret season, I'll start a guide service.
Positive #5 — For a change, I only had to spend a minimal amount of time sharing a blind with Cletus Monroe. His wife found out the "Myrtle" he's been spending so much time with lately is not his next-door neighbor's bird dog. Understandably, my old buddy's leash has been drastically shortened. Word has it Myrtle has been confined to the "kennel," as well.
Positive #6 — Last season, for the first time in history, the wasps nested in the other guy's blind. The hibernating water snake did cause a minor biological mishap, but wet undies are merely uncomfortable, not painful.
Positive #7 — On three occasions, my normally disgustingly trusty 12-gauge actually did freeze up and jam, granting me three opportunities for legitimate excuses. Good thing, too. The guys were getting rather weary of "They were out of range" and "I'm only here for the fellowship, anyway."
Positive #8 — Opening day, when the outboard coughed once and burst into flame, it was raining cats and dogs. The blaze died down before it reached the ammo locker. Besides, it was but a half-mile swim back to the landing, clear-cut proof that good things often happen in twos.
Positive #9 — Conservation officers actually checked my game bag six times last year. In the past, they always ignored me and checked everyone else. They also had the courtesy not to laugh until they thought they were out of hearing range.
Positive #10 — My younger hunting buddies, for a change, did not bag more ducks than I did. Thank heaven for cars, girls, and other adolescent pleasures that keep smart-aleck kids out of the marsh.
Forgive me for gloating, but it truly was a remarkable season. Heck, I might even push my luck this year and go quail hunting, too.
Questions? Comments? E-mail Bob Kornegay at firstname.lastname@example.org