Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Revenge of the Christmas Duck

  Way back when I was a duck hunter. The Canadian geese were protected at the time and we rarely saw snows or blues. So I was a duck hunter. Along with my hunting partners, Brian and Keith, who happened to be identical twins we were the scourge of the ducks in our area. From the time we had to be hauled to the lake to hunt off the bank by our ever patient parents to when we could drive and owned our own boats we spent all winter duck hunting.
  We planned and studied. Collected masses of decoys and became pretty good callers. We made all of the blind drawings at the areas we wanted to hunt. Standing around in hundred degree heat hoping our number was called. Then spent days working on blinds in the same hundred degree heat with the added bonus of wasps, snakes and skeeters. Oh and chiggers and ticks. We had jobs at night so we could hunt during the day and all weekend. We had it bad.
  This is a little story about an “excursion” Brian and I decided to undertake on a holiday. Yep Christmas day we jumped in the truck and drove over two hours to be in our blind by daylight. I can’t remember why Keith wasn’t along but it was just the two of us.
  We got to the lake, unloaded the boat and headed to the blind. Cold and clear, man was it cold which isn’t all that normal for middle Tennessee even in December but today it was cold. Remember the cold part you will need it later. Set up the decoys and watch the sun come up over the treeline of Bear Creek. The ducks started flying and a few hit the water including a couple of blacks from a group of about fifty that snuck in while we were talking.
  During a brisk chase through the woods after a cripple involving a very bothered duck and an empty shotgun which led to much cussing and laughing, it finally sank in that we were the only ones in the bottoms. There were no shots coming from any blind. Our spot wasn’t bad but #11 was THE BLIND in the entire area and no one was using it. This required no real thought, we packed up, loaded the boat and drove 8 miles to get to a spot that was only about 600 yards from where we were hunting. I said we had it bad.
  This spot is a pump hole. Normally a corn or milo field it was flooded to create a couple of nice ponds. #11 sat in the middle of a wood duck roost and was a favorite place for anything flying down Bear Creek. No boat needed just chest waders. Sure enough it was empty so after parking we hauled bags of decoys down and got set up once again. By now it was midday and the birds were resting up. We take advantage to eat lunch and plan all the shooting coming this afternoon.
  Despite our best efforts we had a total of two ducks come in. A right to left suzie that I shot and a left to right greenhead that Brian knocked down. As the day wound down and the temps continued to drop we decided to pack it in and head for home. We gathered up the decoys and got them bagged with frozen hands trying to wind up frozen cords. Ice was forming on everything in minutes but the ducks coming in to roost in the ponds helped to take our minds off of the pain.
  The last thing to do was to go get the ducks. Brian’s had drifted into the bank so he walked over to grab it. Mine had hung up in a buttonball bush about 70 yards out in the pond. I started wading out knowing that the bottom was fairly flat and hard. This was a good assumption except for the wet ground the farmer had driven his tractor on during the planting season leaving a trench almost two feet deep in the bottom of the pond. Did I find it? Why yes I did. Did I fall in? Technically, no. But I did a fine bit of clogging while pirouetting, flailing about and doing an amazing imitation of a windmill, shotgun still in hand. I did not go under, I did manage to ship almost an entire load of water in my waders.
  At this point please refer back to the part where I said cold.
  By now it was extremely cold and ice started to form on my clothes within a minute. I couldn’t catch my breathe it was so bad but I continued on to get that stupid suzie. As I got back to the bank Brian saw how bad I was shaking and told me to get to the Jeep and the heater. By the time I walked the short distance ice was forming in my waders. Got the waders off and engine started but my clothes are freezing to me.
  If you have ever been in a mid 70s Jeep you know the heater is a heater in name only. It would be thirty minutes to get anything out of it. So instead of shivering in the truck I stood in frozen clothes and wet socks, no boots and watched the ducks pouring out of a darkening sky and land yards from me. First a few, then dozens, finally the sky was filled with ducks pitching in to go to roost.
  It was one of those hunts that stays with you. I’ve been on hunts where we took more ducks or had worse things happen. This one though we always called the Christmas Excursion or Suzie’s Revenge and always with a laugh. We had a good day, Suzie got me back and I will never forget standing at the water’s edge watching and listening to hundreds of ducks going to bed while slowly freezing into a duck hunter popsicle.


texwisgirl said...

Nature came back and bit you in the butt for sure. :)

heyBJK said...

haha! You are a diehard hunter, my friend! Funny how nature turns the tables and laughs back!

larryb said...

Great post Tommy. Perfect example of,if it don't kill us, it'll sure toughen us up eh. :-)

bullsandbeavers said...

Hi Tommy, Enjoyed reading your posts and thanks for sharing. Look forward to seeing more of your articles.

Anonymous said...

What a great post and boy-o-boy, you sure did have it bad! (but then again, all the best ones do!)

JoshDickerson7 said...

great read thanks Tommy

Public Hunting Only said...

Well written sir. I could more than see this happening to myself as well.


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Born and raised in middle Tennessee.I'm a working wildlife and landscape artist specializing in watercolors. Now making cedar lures and custom turkey calls.



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