Reflections on Duck Season…

Submission by Travis Thompson

Every year, I try to take a few minutes and go over my journals and take stock of the season just completed.  I was blessed to take 84 hunts from the start of early teal through the end of regular waterfowl.  These are just a few of the musings and ramblings running around in my head as I look back over my logs for the recently closed season . . .

  1. It was a WEIRD year. Weird weather.  Weird migrations.  Not a bad year, but weird in terms of rainfall and cold fronts.  And birds in weird places.
  2. Hot dogs at 3 am off the roller grill at your local gas station – while generally considered a simple, yet elegant meal, 3 am is not the prime time for fresh hot dogs. Only took me 25-30 of them to figure that out.
  3. I can’t get next to coffee. I want to.  Makes me feel like my father or grandfather, sipping coffee out of a 1983 Coleman Thermos.  But I just can’t do it.  Code Red Mountain Dew is my poison of choice.  Not super therapeutic on those frosty mornings, but still gets the job done.
  4. Full choke is the way to go. You either whiff completely, or the duck dies.  There is very little gray area.
  5. If your duck dog awakens at 3 am, and you don’t take him on the hunt for some reason (alligators, using a buddy’s dog, etc) a couple of things will happen – 1) He will wake up your significant other (wife, girlfriend, husband, non-traditional partner). 2) Said partner will not be pleased, and will be less than enthusiastic when you arrive home from the hunt. 3) Your dog WILL smell birds on you and give you the “I know you betrayed me” look the rest of the evening.  Try to avoid this scenario at all costs.  Trust me.  I’m a professional.
  6. Top blind snack – Beef jerky. Be careful on the Sriracha stuff, though, as duck blinds usually are tight quarters with limited restroom facilities.
  7. Breathable waders are a gift from the heavens. I’m not sure how we did it before these things existed.  Mobility and functionality is amazing when compared to my old neoprenes . . .
  8. Out east, our wood duck crop was incredible. Sure things, all season long.  And they showed up in unusual places (salt marshes and big water, to name a few). One of my favorite ducks: to look at, to shoot, and on the table!
  9. By week 3 of the season, I should have bought stock in Alleve. And Tums.  And 7-11.
  10. I don’t think I have enough decoys. Is it possible to have enough decoys?  I don’t think it’s possible . . . Just to be safe, I’m going to order a few more.  Few more dozen.  Maybe 10.  10 dozen.
  11. After all, they’re on sale. Back me up on that to the wife . . .
  12. Every duck hunter should actually be obligated to support this theory to every other duck hunter’s significant other . . . Mentally, we should discount the known cost of all waterfowling paraphernalia purchased after the season, in case we are called in as rebuttal witnesses. It should be like the Pirate’s code, only stronger.  Her: “Dave – how much did Tom pay for those decoys that showed up at the door yesterday?” Dave: “I think those were the Buy-one-get-one special . . . I bought them and had the free box sent to Tommy!”
  13. Taxidermist time. If you’re like me, you now have to decide between the 15 ducks in your freezer – which ones are going to make it to the wall.  In my family of 4, we can’t mount everyone’s prettiest wood duck or redhead or ringneck – there has to be some order, some hierarchy to sort it out.  Otherwise my taxidermist would be able to live in a MUCH larger house.
  14. Boat maintenance time.  She was due for an oil change 12 hours ago, but you couldn’t miss a day.  So you kept pushing her, hoping she’d make it to the finish line.  She did, and now you need to give her the special treatment.  Wash and wax.  Oil changes.  Grease and lube.  Trailer maintenance.  The whole 9 yards.  No one will think less of you for caressi