For many folks, duck season has ended. The final days always seem to bring a mixture of jubilation and tribulation. The highs and lows of emotion will encompass ardent waterfowlers to a day that had been set at the beginning of the season months ago, and dismally anticipated. There is peace and tranquility in watching the sun rise and pulling down one’s Stormy Kromer to keep ears warm, mixed with the whisperings of talk as friends enjoy hot steaming coffee while standing in water. The excitement will surely be missed watching ducks abruptly change their flight path and turn towards loud raucous hail calls. For those sitting in a grass covered boat blind or hidden along a bank, their patience will be tested as silhouettes fly closer and closer to a plastic mass of bobbing dekes.

Thrill of the Hunt

Until that very moment when the ducks have committed themselves and webbed landing gear are dropped and bodies rock back and forth for a splash amongst the decoys. If everything goes as planned, someone will yell, “Take ‘em!” and a volley of shots will ring out. Lifeless bodies will fall and the few ducks that are unscathed will fly away. Obedient dogs are sent to retrieve the feathered prizes. There is joy in retelling what has just transpired. There will be prodding for those that missed, and celebration for those that didn’t.

On the other hand, there will be no more 02:30am alarms and grudging moans while a mass of gear and decoys are loaded into trucks only to be unpacked and hauled on sore backs through a muddy farmer’s field or carried across sloppy marshes. Those sub-freezing walks to the blind along with the ever-changing weather patterns of Mother Nature will be but memories of frustration. The gratitude of not having to stare at blank skies devoid of life or second-guessing the strategic layout of the decoys will be welcomed. Self-reflections on wondering where the ducks are and why they aren’t working into the elaborate spread will no longer be questions that require an explanation. 

KC Blog The Last Flight Edgar Castillo looking camera left, dressed in hunting gear
KC Blog The Last Flight Edgar Castillo Stormy Kromer Hat sitting on the dashboard of a car

The Sound of the Season

Those disappointing days that started with hope but ended with empty straps are but in the rearview mirror. Sure, Canada geese are still open in some states, and for many the Spring conservation season brings the promise of clouds of snow geese that stretch to the horizon. They are merely an extension. There’s just something different and unique about duck hunting. Ducks are more graceful and acrobatic in their aerial performance than their bigger honking cousins. They tend to respond to calls better and work into decoys with more flare, slicing the air with their wings, and making that whistling sound that we love. Ducks are much more colorful with their exquisite plumage than the ho-hum shades of black, gray, and white of geese. Some ducks are so flamboyant in their design that they resemble hotrods of yesteryear. Even the hens with their less subdued mottled colors shine brilliantly in the right angle of sunlight. Ducks are simply different.

I offer this advice to duck hunters. As you contemplate the season’s end, don’t reflect too long on the negatives that happened during the time waiting for ducks to come in and all the mishaps that occurred. From missed shots, to lost gear, leaking waders, as well as dealing with a roller coaster of weather conditions…they are all but moments that make our hunts memorable. Sure, the tally of birds taken is always good, but don’t make it the sole measure of gauging success for the season. Achieving success should reflect back on the experiences one has gained, and the stories made during the season. Now, in this “off-season” it is the time for waders to fully dry out, decoys cleaned and touched up with paint, put more time and effort into practicing duck calling, and shooting a few rounds of sporting clays to improve marksmanship. The end of duck season brings forth a realization of how limited our opportunities are spent in the marsh and on the water, as there really are no endings, as there will always be a start to duck season.


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