What A Man Will Do For A Duck
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
"Lately people ask me crazy questions, like why exactly do I hunt?"
That's a song lyric on a duck hunting CD that I picked up off the Duck Commander web-site. I would credit the artist here, but I don't know who the artist is, for sure. It's really not music that most folks would enjoy, but for a duck hunter, it's a pretty good CD.
So, why is it, exactly, that I hunt?
First off, it's a sickness, a disease, if you will. When I first started hunting, I planned my hunting trips around my work and my life. When you become ill with this disease, you start planning your work and your life around hunting season. If you've never hunted, I cannot explain it to you, but trust me, it is something that I will do for the rest of my life and I'm disappointed that I had to wait 40-ish years to get started.
I've told this story often on this blog and other places, but when I was a boy, my Dad was a deer hunter. Unfortunately, as I grew up, I was heavily involved in sports and didn't get to enjoy the outdoors with him as much as most young men who have Fathers that are hunters. He practically gave up hunting to follow me around from sport to sport and game to game back then and I often wonder if he regretted that.
My Dad and Grandpa were serious fishermen. We spent every summer back in my youth around Lake Eufala, chasing those big old catfish. My Grandpa was one of those guys that could throw a bare hook in a mud hole and pull a fish out. I fished with them often, but never had the bug that they did about it.
I didn't have the luxury that alot of hunters had while growing up. I didn't get to hunt with my Dad and the rest of my family and learn the "tricks of the trade." There is hardly a day goes by now, whether in a deer stand or a duck blind, that I don't think what it would have been like 30-ish years ago to have gotten to enjoy that with my Dad.
About 4 or 5 years ago, I met the man that has become like a big brother and best friend to me. I am an only child and never had any brothers or sisters around when I was growing up, so, being that close and being around someone as much as I was with Bill, was something entirely foreign to me. It took some getting used to, for sure, but now, some five years later, he's probably my second best friend in the world.
My wife, God bless her, is and will always be my best friend. After all, she's allowed me to be me for 15+ years now and she is also the one responsible for allowing me, with no questions asked, to chase this passion that has come over me in the last 3 years. I'm often asked by people that hunt, but that don't know my wife, "what does your wife say about all this?" Well, she takes it in stride and she lets me get after it. There are worse things I could be doing and I think she realizes just how diseased I've become about hunting. My wife is the best wife on the planet (also documented here many times before) and I could not ask for more when it comes to a mate and a best friend.
Bill is as hard-core as it gets, not only when it comes to hunting, but pretty much in his entire life. He won't quit a job until it's done, whether it be plumbing somebody else's new trailer or putting a roof on the new porch that was just built. Hunting? Well, you won't find anybody that takes hunting any more seriously than Bill. There may be some guys out there that are just as hard-core, but there are none out there that are any more hard-core than my hunting buddy.
I enjoy dove hunting, turkey hunting, deer hunting, goose hunting etc. I like it all, but to me, there is something entirely addictive and special about sitting in a duck blind, whether it be on the side of the lake or up at Bill's farm. The camaradarie of duck hunters sitting in freezing temperatures, breaking ice, throwing decoys and what we call, "putting in work" is unmatched by the other forms of hunting, at least for me.
We get up at 4:00 am when we are hunting public spots and spend the next 45 minutes gearing up for a cold morning. We hit the spot around 4:45 am and begin toting the gear into the spot where we sit up. Once all the gear is in place, we begin the ice-breaking process, which can take 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the temperature the night before. This weekend it took all of two hours both mornings.
After that job, with a full lather of sweat in 15 degree temperatures, it's time to toss the deocys out. This is the easy job, compared to breaking ice, but means more time in the water, which also means more opportunity for bad things to happen. Walking around in the lake, before sunlight, in waders is a job. It doesn't appear that way, but if you haven't done it, in the dark, in freezing temperatures, well, trust me, it's more of a job than you would ever imagine.
After the decoys are set, it's time for coffe and time to await the arrival of Legal Shooting Time. LST is 30 minutes before official sunrise. Alot of hunters out there have no idea when that is, because we hear them, banging away at birds that they cannot even identify, well before LST. We heard a shotgun blast last weekend a full 25 minutes before LST. That's just crazy. I understand how it happens, because we had ducks in our decoys before LST also, but when you can't even tell what type of duck it is, well, it's too damn early to be shooting them.
The carmaradarie that I mentioned above is not just limited to me and Bill. We've shared duck blinds with a host of other people, including his other hunting buddies, his family, my friends and even some friends that I met on the internet. ;) What's that? Me? Would I invite some complete strangers out to the middle of nowhere, in Caddo County, to tote shotguns and shoot ducks with me? You're damn skippy I would.
After my experiences with IIF's through this very blog, I've met, hunted with, housed and enjoyed the company of no less than 7 or 8 complete strangers that I met through a Duck Hunting forum on the internet. They've all turned out to be guys just like us, hard-core hunters that are stricken with the same disease that we have. They also provide a host of new hunting stories, from their experiences with their own hunting buddies wherever back home might be.
The duck blind is kind of like the poker table, with the exception being everybody in the duck blind is your buddy. Whereas only a couple of folks at the poker table (somebody has to be the fish) might become your buddy, everybody that gets up well before dawn, puts in the work required to hunt ducks and sits back in the blind with a cup of coffee is indeed, your buddy. To all the buddies that I've shared a blind with, thank you. I've learned something from each and every one of you and I appreciate the opportunity, not only to hunt with you, but to get to know you as well.
To Bill, my hunting buddy, I can never repay all the time and all the lessons you've shared with me. All I can say is thanks, I appreciate it and I hope you know that I mean that from the bottom of my heart. Here's to as many duck hunts as we can get in between now and January 31st.
Until next time, I break ice, I set decoys and I shoot the easiest bird of the bunch coming in.
What a man will do for a duck!
posted by GaryC @ 3:24 PM, ,
Cash Game Failure
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
Since starting this humble little blog a few years back, I've been a winning player, (for a while) a break-even player (for a while) and a losing player. (for more than a while now)
For the last two years, I've been a steady-spewing, cash game failure and it really pains me to admit that. Having now admitted that (and thrown up a little in my mouth) I have recently had a revelation:
When I was a winning player, I played SNG's almost exclusively. No blogger tournaments, no cash games, no Blackjack, cough! So, with that in mind, I'm heading back to the single table SNG's for a while. I'll be at the lower limits for a while and see how it goes. Perhaps I'll play a game or two a night, perhaps more. We'll just see how it goes.
I'm a little saddened about the upcoming gathering in Vegas.
Two months ago, I really had no desire to go to Vegas in December. I didn't have the money to go to Vegas and I didn't have the time to take off and go to Vegas. I really didn't care either.
Now, while reading others posts in anticipation of the gathering, I'm definitely bummed that I can't go again this year. I know how much fun it is and I really wish I was going to be a part of it. Damn, I sure hope everybody has a great time and definitely have a Jack and Coke for me. Dial-A-Shots will be welcome and my phone will be charged, should you get the urge.
Until next time, I fold.
posted by GaryC @ 3:54 PM, ,