Anatomy of a Duck Hunt . . .

or “Mom, there is no one to take me duck hunting.  I’ve called everyone . . sniff . . sniff . . and tomorrow is going to be the best morning yet.  I just know it.”

And I sympathized with Termite, I really did.  We have the boat, he has acquired all the proper gear and clothing and weapons and ammo.  The problem is, both his big brothers got off work at the same time and took him hunting two weeks ago; and they both went back to work at the same time, leaving no one to take him hunting this week.

The frustration is, that even though Termite can operate the boat himself, find his way to the duck lease  IN THE DARK, and then hunt following proper rules and regulations, HE IS ONLY 12 and legally (and responsibly on my part) isn’t allowed to do any of these things without adult supervision.

The solution was Dotter (Rach) and MuzicMan came to the rescue Saturday evening and took Miah (special son) overnight, thereby freeing me up to supervise Termite on an early-morning hunt. (Yippee, I’m thrilled!  But not half as thrilled as Termite, who quacked jubilantly on his duck calls!)

We finally made it to bed around midnight.  Yep.  Midnight.

When the alarm rang at 4 a.m., I jumped out of bed and into my insulated camouflaged coveralls.  Not.

When the alarm rang, I groaned and fell on the floor and groaned again at Termite to slide down off the top bunk.  He, of course, hit the floor ready to rumble.

The morning was still.  Silent.  The air was abnormally dry.  The only sounds came from our gear landing loudly on the bottom of the metal boat.  With one big push and the swishing sound of metal slicing water, we glided into the bayou and on our way to see what the skies would hold.

marinalights

The marina lights faded behind us as we pressed on into the dark morning . . .

darkness

with only a lantern’s beam revealing brief glimpses of the shoreline, for once again, the newly-purchased spotlight remains dark after a night of presumed recharging.  Never trust rechargeable spotlights. Never.  We shined a lantern flashlight intermittently because the boat’s running lights (which would show our location to rapidly-passing sport-fishing boats) had also failed.

At this point, I was tense.  Very tense.

All is well, though, as we hugged the right-hand bank until we found our turn into the marsh,

marshbow

which offered its own version of scariness, though not from speeding sport-fishing boats.

darkmarsh

The fear here was in the form of dark, shallow, and narrow passages that must be memorized.  One wrong turn could result in running aground or wandering lost until sunrise.

Time is of the essence, for we must get into place before the sun breaks the horizon and the waterfowl fly down to feed in the open ponds . . .

mojomounting

And like the 12-year-old-man-boy that he is, my son got us there with nary a wrong turn and immediately set out his battery-powered duck in hopes of fooling the incoming ducks. . .

mojotermite1

and luring them down with a decoy whose wings flap, imitating “coming in for a landing”.

bucketdecoy

He made haste as he puttered around the pond . . .

decoyprepare

placing the last of his decoys to his liking.

blindsides

After quickly running us into a shallow, grassy knoll, he instructed me on how to lift the “boat blind” on either side and lock it into place with the hitch pins.

grasstermite

Mats of woven marsh grasses put the finishing touches on the bow and over the engine.

myspot

The idea is to blend in with the marsh as much as possible.  Experienced hunters say ducks won’t land in the pond if sunlight reflects off anything odd looking–white is the worst color to have sitting in your boat or showing on your clothing.

shaggy

Now, down to the business of waiting for the sun to rise and the ducks to fly .  .  . and hopefully land.  (And please get that white water jug out of sight!)

moonsetsunrise

This time between moonset and sunrise was magical.  Ibis, herons, egrets, and anhingas flew over so closely we could almost reach above and touch them.  They are protected by law and seemed to know we would not shoot them.  Pretty amazing.

termitewatching

morningsky

Almost as amazing as the sky.

For the next two hours, Termite sat patiently, watching the sky for ducks, which flew so high that they barely heard the boy calling to them to perfectly, hailing them down to feed among the plastic ducks.  Evidently, those flocks had already fed in someone else’s pond.

resetdecoys

With one duck to his credit, Termite called an end to this hunt.  Without complaint, he lowered the blind, and paddled around the pond, resetting the decoys in a new pattern for the next time someone would have mercy on him and venture out into the dark marsh before daylight for the hunt.

ospreyfishclose

For me, the opportunities to photograph, preserve, and share with you the way of life we freely enjoy here is reward in itself.  Like this osprey catching a fish and flying off to eat it as we made our way home.

If I were warm in bed, I would have missed this scene and the six pair of orange gator eyes glowing in the lantern light on the edge of the pond, the moon saying good night as the sun said good morning, my son again personifying adulthood, and the sky bragging a palette all its own.

Thanks, Termite, for being that tenacious boy who can do all these manly things, just not yet on your own, and for not giving up when you want something so badly.  Though it’s hard for me to always appreciate your persistence, that tenacity will pay off one day as you make your life in the Louisiana wetlands.

Coming Soon:  A Day in the Life of Bayou Woman

You may also like...

Comments

Anatomy of a Duck Hunt . . . — 19 Comments

  1. You know… he’ll NEVER forget these times you go duck hunting with him! The osprey picture is wonderful. I hope you don’t mind that I put it on my blog with a link to you. I think some of my readers would love to read this post.

  2. Heidi! You could make me a plaque that says that? LOL!

    Oh, and I’m still have the soaps sitting on my desk. I’m gonna sniff all the scent out of them before I get to bathe with them!!

    I just wish the osprey would have been on the other side of the bayou where the lighting would have shown his colors more.

    BW

  3. Oh Bayou Woman, do you have any idea how magical this post is? You’ve taken us all on a duck hunt, which is something that most of us will never experience. Not much duck hunting out here on the Illinois prairie. Deer? Now, that’s another story. Blaze orange is the color of the day.

    You make me long to load up the Equinox and head south for a road trip. That’s what I would really love to do with what’s left of my life – see the U.S.A. in my Chevrolet, meeting people and eating in small diners.

    The last photo of Termite paddling out of the marsh is pure magic, as was the moment for you and your son.

    Suzanne, the Farmer’s Wife

  4. Suzanne,
    Thanks so much! And guess what? We share a favorite author! One day I’d love to visit her home, as well! When you head south, let me know so I an leave the light on at Camp Dularge for you!
    BW

  5. What an amazing life you lead, and the photography was magical!

    I hope you don’t mind but I would really like to link you to my blog. I may NEVER get to the bayou’s except through you, but at least I can get there this way.

    Linda

  6. Glad to hear Termite got at least one duck. I’m SURE you reminded him to load his duck calls this time. LOL! Christmas idea Mommer…a 12 volt “cigarette” plug for the boat and a new 1 1/2-2 million candle power light. The pics are great! Keep making memories.

  7. MAGICAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I’ve sent this wonderful Blog and your fantastic photos onto my grandson who is thoroughly an enthusiastic hunter, trapper, fisherman and all around nature lover!

    We had 2′ of snow here until today when it began to rain and melted half of it. Lots more snow coming our way this week! We live in the snowbelt of
    N.W. PA…….up close to Lake Erie!

  8. Man oh man that brings back some memories of hunting with Dad and big brother as teenagers back when Toledo Bend was still huntable. Great times. When Term gets to be our age it looks like he will have some fine memories to look back on as well.

    Dinner Pics?

  9. Hi Kim! Well, come on home for a spell!

    JudyB – What an interesting blog you have and such beautiful photos! I’ll be visiting more often. BTW, some boys from Slidell painted “the cypress cottage” for me post hurricane season this year. They drove down here every day!

    Rick – Thank you, sir. And how did you find me?

    Steffi – Good advice. Already have the plug-in, but like all the rest of electronics, it’s inop. right now. The Q-beam is new but failed to take a charge from some reason—-back to Academy!

    Liz from PA – Welcome to the bayou and thanks for sharing with your grandson. I’d like to hear more about a young person who still traps, etc. Come by often and stay a while!

    RenRed – What dinner pics? (I just wish there were more ducks coming down to eat so it would be worth all the trouble!!!)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *