A number of years ago, when waterfowling was a passion and duck season the axis of my existence, I actually belonged to a duck hunting club. Nothing uppity, mind you. No tweed and Cavendish, just denim and Red Man.
At our weekend duck camps there was an established tradition. That tradition was, and I suppose still is, blatantly lying to all newcomers who join the group.
There was an unwritten rule among the old hands in attendance that a neophyte’s proverbial leg must be pulled and pulled often, at least until he eventually figured out that the limb was indeed being tugged, a realization that could take hours or even days. We older dudes took a lot of pride in our long-duration, opening-weekend BS salesmanship. You’d be surprised just what sort of things an adept liar can make the gullible believe.
As good as we were, however, one particular season’s prevarication marathon was a disappointment. That year’s new guy caught us red-handed in just under 45 minutes. It seems we seriously overestimated his degree of gullibility.
The tale-telling started well enough when old Cletus told our novice about the hunting shack’s one broken window, which got that way after a shot-dead mallard drake glided 600 yards across the marsh before crashing through it. We left the window broken in tribute to Clete’s old Labrador, who that day swam those 600 yards, got the key from beneath the mat, unlocked and opened the door and retrieved that bird, being careful to lock the door behind him as he left.
“Did I mention he also wiped his feet before he went in?” Clete concluded.
“Wow!” said the new guy. “Wish I had a dog like that. I‘ll bet those only come along once in a lifetime, huh?”
Next, Casper explained how he once managed to down two flying wood ducks with a single shot from a .38 Special revolver. According to him, he held a sharpened axe blade in front of the barrel, thus splitting the bullet into two projectiles as it left the muzzle. Casper admitted to being a bit disappointed that one bullet half’s trajectory did not result in a clean head shot, but merely succeeded in breaking the duck’s neck.
“Gee!” said the new guy, adoring admiration in his eyes. “Please, sir, will you show me one day how you did that?”
Luther followed with a description of his new homemade chemical concoction, a duck-in-heat lure that reportedly attracted drakes of every conceivable waterfowl species from miles around minutes after being sprinkled liberally on one’s decoys.
“Golly!” said the new guy, anxious to try such a wonderful elixir.
There were many more.
Joe Earl claimed he once knew a Chesapeake Bay retriever that walked on water (he never learned to swim). Willie described hip-shooting a limit of ringnecks while sculling his boat with his teeth. Leon swore his camp stew was wholesome and delicious, despite the fact that it was green and bubbled without being boiled. According to George, his wife always welcomed him home with open arms, cleaned his ducks, and fed the dog while George enjoyed a toddy.
The new guy bought it all, even an outlandish lie insinuating there are recipes in which one can actually make a hooded merganser edible. We had him oohing and aahing in astonishment.
Then, thanks to Clyde, it all fell apart.
“Not too far from here is the place where Ol’ Bob once shot a limit of ducks,” Clyde matter-of-factly stated.
“Say what? THAT Bob? Yeah, right,” came the newbie’s immediate retort. “You really think you can tinkle in my ear and tell me it’s raining?”
Dadgummit, Clyde. You know we always save the really outlandish stuff for last. Besides, nobody, not even the newest of new guys, can be gullible enough to buy that one.
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