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COLUMN: The hard work of duck hunting – but worth it
Outdoors

COLUMN: The hard work of duck hunting – but worth it

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I’ll be honest. I hated duck hunting when I was young.

Duck hunting required lots of energy. It seemed like it took weeks of preparation for just one morning’s hunt. At least that is the way if felt for me as a kid. It was akin to reading time during English class in elementary school. While the clock only showed 30 minutes of elapsed time, my brain experienced several years of doldrum.

First you had to rig the decoys. Then you had to wrap the lines around the bottom of the decoy. Then you had to hook the weight through a little loop on the bottom so the line wouldn’t become untangled. Then you had to place all the decoys in the bag. Then you had to take the heavy bag and place it in the boat. See how something so simple just became tedious?

We would pull out the clothes to wear that morning the night before. First you had your underwear. Then you had your underwear that went over your underwear. Then you had pants and long-sleeved shirt. Then you had a thicker shirt to go over that shirt. Then you had your outerwear. I mean, once Mom helped get clothing that would keep me warm and semi-dry, I looked like a mini-Michelin man in camo.

We would get a way too ambitious box of ammunition that held 100 rounds and make sure each shell slot was full and with the appropriate caliber and shot size. We didn’t have steel shot back then, so we didn’t have to worry about that part at least.

After loading our shotguns into the truck, we would then go through the steps of backing up to the boat trailer, pulling back forward, explaining that when I said left that it meant my left not Dad’s left. We would back up to the trailer again, pull back forward again, explaining that both of us adjusted our call and response based on the previous backing segment. Then we would argue over what 6 inches was. Finally, I would have to explain I had him back too far and dented the license plate.

We would both go to bed a tad early, as we would have to get up early. Of course, the brain doesn’t always cooperate, so I would lay in bed knowing I had to go to sleep only to peek at the clock every 30 minutes beating myself up because I hadn’t fallen asleep yet. When sleep finally came, it was interrupted just a few minutes into deep REM by the alarm clock.

You see, weeks’ worth of preparation and we weren’t even on the water yet!

Then we had the drive. We had the cold frigid arctic air of a sunless morning. We had the icy spray of water blasting over the bow. We had the bone rattling bounces of a boat slamming off the hard white-tipped water in the gusty winds.

Everything about duck hunting when I was young was horrible. Everything.

Except:

A ruddy duck flew into the spread and Dad waited for me to take the shot. The waterfowl folded and dropped with a symphonic sounding splash.

Maybe duck hunting wasn’t as bad as I remember it being when I was young.

The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission reminds everyone to practice safety first with the coming waterfowl season, and urges duck hunters to share their boat with new hunters.

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