I have been a duck hunter for almost 70 years. I started out duck hunting on an island in the Mississippi River in a makeshift blind consisting of tree trunks and fresh willows jammed into the ground with about a dozen decoys.
Things were unbelievably basic but the hunting was outstanding.
In later years, I spent a lot of time hunting in flooded timber, just standing next to a tree and a dozen decoys but, again, the hunting was outstanding.
It was only in more recent years that I have hunted primarily out of a “brick and mortar” type of duck blind — one with a wooden floor, plywood paneling all around, roof on the top with hundreds of decoys bobbing around out in front of the blind.
Some of these brick and mortar blinds that I have hunted in have all the comforts of home; one of them can accommodate 12 hunters and has a refrigerator, freezer, gas stove, propane heaters and TV.
It makes you wonder if the wives really know what’s going on out there. So much for “roughing it.”
Clearly, hunting out of a “brick and mortar” type of duck blind these days has become more of a social event rather than a hunting event.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy hunting with my buddies in a conventional duck blind and who wouldn’t enjoy it: you sit around all day sharing funny stories and, of course, catching up on the latest gossip.
Then, at mid-morning, you get treated to a plate full of biscuits and gravy, eggs your way, a choice of bacon or sausage, hash browns and sweet rolls. Not too shabby, right?
But there is something strangely refreshing about hunting ducks with just the basics — a brush pile with a few green willows stuck in the ground, a dozen decoys and a plastic lawn chair — that I have always savored even though we all know that the body count for the entire year hunting that way promises to be embarrassingly low.
Maybe it’s the smell of the cottonwoods, the willows, old logs and even rotting fish along the shore in those clear fall days that brings back lots of pleasant memories of a kid years ago who had a severe case of “duck fever.”
As much as I used to enjoy duck hunting with just the basics, I never dreamed that at 80 years of age, I would doing it again.
And let’s face it, most of my old duck hunting buddies wouldn’t dream of standing in mud or water behind a pile of brush to hunt ducks these days either.
But thanks to the pandemic, we are beginning to appreciate the little things that for years, we took for granted.
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And one of them is duck hunting with just the basics.
The problem is that today, duck hunting in a brick and mortar duck blind, when you think about it, could be a dangerous proposition because you are not really “outside.”