The alarm clock rang out like it always did. The difference with this morning from any other would be the reason behind ignoring the body’s desire to get more sleep. I had went to bed only and hour and a half before and needed to get on the road. The destination in mind was 2.5 hours west and we’d need to beat the rush of other duck hunters out to our favorite spot. This spot is something that has become something of a ritual for the duck hunting opener. It is the place where I first went duck hunting and the place where I shot my first duck. It is the place were I experienced a world that fueled a passion that would forever change my life.
The first time I went out it was the buzzing of the wings and teal landing within the decoys before shooting hours that got me hooked. Shooting hours weren’t until 9 and there was plenty of time to enjoy the show. Guns were set back into the cattails and at that point pulling the trigger didn’t matter to me. Watching the world wake up with the theatrical flying of birds is something that cannot be adequately described into words. Only those who have experienced it, know the feeling.
The people that first introduced me no longer make it out. As they were older, certain life changes impacted them; kids happen, priorities are changed and getting out is no longer as easy as it once was. While the processes of getting out there and the people have changed, the circumstances have not. The reason that we go is to pile up a few ducks and have a good time.
The September weather is warm and the long walk out to the slew ends in copious amounts of sweat and a well-deserved break. Shooting hours continuously get closer with a constant eye on the clock as the anticipation of the seasons first shots grow. After we set out the decoy spread we take in the sights and sounds of opening morning; shooting star, boats being put into water, decoys splashing, and dogs barking in anticipation. Dalton sits on his platform just waiting for birds. True to form, in the minutes before the sun rises and the shooting begins, birds begin to funnel in. They are a guns length away from us unaware of our presence.
When the clock hits the magic number, the bells begin to toll. Shotgun blasts can be heard from all directions. Soon teal are buzzing past and landing within the spread. The first ducks are taken and Dalton is getting lots of action. Teal have to be one of my favorite birds to shoot because of their speed and ability to change direction without any warning. The flight is quick and teal are stacked up. The dog should be tired from water retrieves and blinds in the cattails but shows no signs of it. As long as there are birds to get, he’ll be up for it. Soon enough the sun is bright in the sky and the birds are gone. The day ends with a long walk back to the truck but the load is a little heavier which makes it all worth it. The old familiar place produced yet another memorable opening morning and that is all that I was looking for.