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- Category Hunting Stories
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- Prostaff Member Trout Whisperer
You ever catch yourself sniffing empty shotgun shells? In the heat of battle most of my spent twelve gauges hit the bottom of the duck boat. Exceptions to the rule occur, and those are the three inch mags that I tuck in my pocket after poking at Canadian honkers. My hands shake so bad after honkers I always slowly unload the tubes and vibrate the empties into my bulging shell pockets.
After the boat is completely loaded and the truck heater is on full blast I reach in my pocket for a whiff of gunpowder. It's intoxicating. As I slowly re-warm my body the thawing of mind starts to fly out the window to the blind I just left. Replaying shots, seeing blurred images of bluebills pitching and catapulting across the white capped waves. A drake mallard spiraled crashing and the flared white under wing of three hens wind whipped out of range.
Decoys dropped into the flashlight illuminated black swells and I'm to excited. Totally over dressed for all this exercise. I open the collar of my squall coat to vent some heat. Fifteen minute's from now I’ll beg for it to be back. My legs pry against the boat seat for balance but I still catch the gunwale every few wave tossed seconds.
Throwing a beam of light across this expanse of hissing and swelling water seems so ridiculous. Like I would row around and change one decoy now after twenty minutes of trying to just stay in the boat. It hits me now that at least half a dozen decoys could lose there mooring in this cauldron.
One wind gust catches the fourteen foot aluminum boat and my backside hits the middle seat. That same wind flipped my hood up and on my head. Im tired and I have not even popped a cap. One hand per gunwale and I sidle back to the motor. Single pull and I smash into the waves; just before slicing into the wall of cattails I hit the kill switch.
Grating of dying fronds and wind. Grayness in the east. Man its cold and I close all my zippers and pull up my camo neck muffler. Straddling the boat and shuffling and pulling gets the boat into the dying wall of vegetation. Now for the first time in over an hour I feel fairly stable. My machete slashes, fingers close on bunches of cattail stalks. Bending some of the cattails to break my boats outline suddenly strikes me as stupid. After less than seconds, the whirling wind kicks all my free camo off the boat.
Perched amid ships I start to place the shell box and load my pockets. Goose call's upper left coat pocket. Duck calls hang from tethers on my neck. Goose loads lower left pocket and duck loads counted two by two in my lower right. Now it's just me and my cigar and the hope.
Checking my watch it's been legal shooting time for all of ten minutes. One lone gadwall rings the dekes and commits after a third of a loop. It lowers as I rise. The upper tube of the over under connects. Wind and shot rag the bird to the water. Marked down and floating to the cattail wall I’m reaching for a new shell and not taking my eyes off the prize. During my retrieve three buffle heads have busted me and now look like specks of pepper distantly disappearing in the tumultuous sky. Clouds are rolling over each other in some vast gray gloaming smoke.
Six bluebills are coming left to right just on the outside edge of my spread. Leading the leader I pull, and the drake folds, close wing under and corkscrews down. I pull on the third bird in formation and two drop at the shot. One crippled hen swimming; I finish with a number six.
Looking up at sound, No warning, just ducks. Four, and there mallards. Snapping the breech shut I shoulder the twelve and no lead required. My greenhead goes nose first and the trio of hens let the wind catch and twirl them instantly out of range. Waving the white winged goodbye hens tell me my duck day is over. One half hour in the duck blind and five shells.
Its duck fever. I can hear the distant honking of geese. I bend at the knee and drop one shell but get two three inch mags in the tubes. On one knee I slowly rise to meet the kahonking. Nine Canadians on a bee line for me. As if in slow motion they flutter and glide and pump and barely make progress towards me. Honk, honk-honk -honk. The sound sends adrenaline through me and I begin to quiver.
There's no preflight check off. No spooked flaring. They just come on the string for my spread. It's too easy and I'm gonna shake myself silly. Well in range and I take the closest bird. Dead before it hit the water. Crushed and collapsed. A splash consumed by the wave it hit. Another goose from a string of three gets the second barrel. Wing busted and down.
Smelling shotgun shells, I love the leftover aroma.