A New Tradition

Nothing tops what was the beginning of a new Thanksgiving tradition for our family: duck camp.  It began one morning in October when, completely out of nowhere and to my utter surprise, my wife announced after fourteen years that she'd like to go duck hunting during the pending season. She clarified further: I don't really want to duck hunt; I just want to see what it's all about since it's such a big part of y'alls life. I gladly obliged.

With the exceptions of photographs and detailed hunting stories, which I can only suppose she listens to less than intently, her exposure to waterfowling consists entirely of hunting programs that are occasionally viewed at home. She later commented that she really had no idea that ducks actually got so close - boys, those little green-winged devils that came in at daylight were right in her face - or that Delta could possibly be as still and quiet (because like a good retriever, she remained intently focused during the entire hunt). First hunt for the girls. Forrest killed his first greenhead and his first full limit of ducks.  It was Duncan's first rice field hunt, and he killed his first green-winged teal (several) and first shoveler. The first morning was easy. We hunted a pit blind that is easily accessed by a wide, hard-packed rice field levee. You could practically roll a wheel chair to the blind. The second morning was also memorable, but more so for the walk in than for the numerous waterfowl we enjoyed. The hunt required an easy quarter-mile walk down a grassed turnrow, and then about a quarter miles walk across a shallow-flooded bean field. With a standard amount of gumbo mud beneath the water.

The strategy for keeping the children dry on the walk to the blind was simple: I'd walk ahead with the boys, put them and equipment in the blind and return to help the girls. When I got to the blind, the youngest son said, Mom is yelling to you, Dad.  I stop and listened carefully. I could hear the shouts but couldn't quite make it out above the wind.  I asked what she was saying. He replied, you told me not to say those words! Turns out, her first experience with real gumbo mud - wearing waders a full size too big - made for difficult walking while assisting a 4 year-old little girl. In th pitch black darkness. Dad to the rescue. Everyone remained safe, happy, dry the entire weekend. The ducks cooperated wonderfully. I was truly and most humbly thankful.

Ramsey Russell's GetDucks.com