It was a chilly November morning, 4:30AM to be exact. The alarm went off and I stumbled out of bed. Now, I am no stranger to early mornings to go hunt whitetail, but this particular morning was different. I was awake before sunrise to go experience my first duck hunt.
We arrived at the lake where I got my first glance at how much gear was required for this hunt. There were several bags of decoys, blind material, blind bags, ammo, and shotguns. Since this was a small group and there were only four of us we all carried our fair share. We strapped everything on and started the walk to the blind. 300 yards is all it took before I realized how out of shape I really was. I was dressed in overalls and a coat with gloves and a hat and I was sweating bullets. I work a desk job, and at this time I was not very physically active. I went on the occasional walks with my dog but nothing regular. After several breaks and a lot of sweat I made it to the blind, only to find out that we were far from ready for the hunt and there was more work to be done.
Now that we were at the blind it was time to set up. We needed to add the material to the blind to fill it in and set out decoys. I learned a lot about “the spread” and the importance of decoy placement that morning. We finished everything up just in time for sunrise. I have always been mesmerized by sunrises and sunsets and this morning did not disappoint. The sun peaked over the trees, reflected on the clouds and water, and highlighted the decoy spread that I proudly assisted with. I caught myself trying to take everything in and realized I needed to be focusing on the sky.
Shortly after sun up, the ducks started flying. I sat still in the blind since I did not know a thing about calling at the time… I made a good lookout. The decoy spread worked like a charm and the ducks would circle around and come close enough to bring down. Now I am a big believer in being in the moment and I was so in the moment that day that I didn’t take a single shot. I was watching for ducks, listening to the calls and how the ducks were interacting with the callers, watching them circle and analyze the spread and then try to land.
I did not harvest my first duck on this trip but it taught me so much that it didn’t matter. I learned that waterfowl hunting is a lot harder than it looks, I was not in shape enough to be able to enjoy the hunt to it’s fullest, and the preparation behind the hunt goes unappreciated. After that day, I was hooked on the quack! I wanted to learn more, I wanted to get better at calling, and I wanted to get in better shape!
A few weeks later I still wasn’t confident enough to help call but I did get to harvest my first duck and it was a very humbling experience. To this day I continue to better myself as a person and as a hunter, which includes preparation time at the gym, kitchen, range, and the endless call practicing in the car. Lesson learned: Never be afraid to try new things even if they seem difficult, “Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.”