Just One Of The Guys

This story from the September 2008 issue of Wildfowl Magazine was awarded 1st place in the 2009 Magazine Humor category of the  OWAA Excellence In Craft Contest. 

I first noticed a difference in Bob the day I rode with him in his pickup truck to a big sporting goods store to take advantage of a preseason sale. Bob had been an over-the-road trucker at one time and could handle anything from an eighteen-wheeler to the dinkiest subcompact, yet he seemed to be having trouble parallel parking. He backed and filled and backed and filled some more until finally he gave up and left the truck at a funny angle, quite a ways from the curb.

I didn’t think any more about it until one day, about a week into duck season, we were sitting in the blind, killing time and trying to decide whether to bail out or give it one more hour. It was one of those days when the ducks weren’t flying and about all there was to do was drink coffee, pet the dog, and shoot the breeze. I could tell something was on Bob’s mind.

“There’s something I have to tell you and the other guys”, he said.

I figured he was going to say he was changing jobs or maybe had a health problem.

“I’ve had an operation”, he said.

Naturally I’m thinking gall bladder, appendectomy, the usual stuff. I was totally unprepared for what came next.

“Oh?” I asked. “”You doing OK now?”

”Oh yeah,” he said, sipping his coffee. “I’m fine. But you don’t understand. I’ve had a…well… I’m not Bob any more. I’m Bobbi Sue.”

It didn’t hit me immediately, probably because I was in shock. “You mean….” I fumbled for the right words. “You’ve had one of those… those… whatchacallits?…”

“ You got it”, replied Bob. “ I’ve had a sex change operation. But I don’t want it to change anything as far as our duck hunting is concerned. I just want everybody to keep thinking of me as one of the guys. In fact, if you’d like, you can keep calling me Bob instead of Bobbi Sue.”

Well, let me tell you, it’s awfully hard to think of a guy who is 6’3”, weighs 240, and chews tobacco as Bobbi Sue.

“How is Alice taking this?” I asked. This had to be quite a shock to his wife.

“You mean Al?”

“Oh Lordy, no”, I muttered, with my head in my hands. I was starting to have trouble dealing with this.

“When I left the house she… I mean he, was lying on the couch drinking beer, belching, and watching NASCAR on TV”

Bob continued to hunt with our group all season and there were no major problems. He was a likeable guy and a good, safe hunter, which is about all we require in a hunting partner. But as the season wore on we began to notice a few subtle changes. Once, when we drove out-of-state for a guided duck hunt, we got lost and Bob cheerfully volunteered to go into a service station and ask directions.

Something else was different, too. The rest of us just sort of voluntarily started cleaning up our language when Bob was around. One morning when a flock of teal buzzed our decoys and I never even had time to get off a shot I found myself saying, “My goodness! Those little fellows are certainly fast, aren’t they.”

We noticed some other changes, too. When nature called, Bob started getting out of the blind and walking back to our trailer to use the bathroom. In fact he once drove all the way into town and back. And, when it was my turn, I started going as far away from the blind as possible and hiding behind a tree.

And later, after the hunt was over and the guns were put away, when the rest of us had a beer, Bob would sip a glass of white wine. Once he even asked for a Singapore Sling but nobody knew how to make one.

About once a month Bob got sort of cranky but we just overlooked it and tried to stay out of his way till he felt better. And you wouldn’t believe some of the things he started carrying in his blind bag.

So, aside from these minor changes, Bob is pretty much the same. He looks about like he always did, if you can ignore the occasional touch of lip-gloss and eye shadow. He still chews tobacco in the blind but he doesn’t spit the juice on the floor anymore, and I can’t remember him breaking wind once all season.

We’re already looking forward to September and teal season. It’ll probably be ninety degrees, sweat will be rolling off the rest of us, and the dogs’ tongues will be hanging out. Someone will look over at Bob and say, “Aren’t you sweating, Bob?” and he’ll say, “No, but I’m perspiring a little.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A duck hunt without ducks

Our second hunt at the Five Guys And A Swamp Duck Club was a little slow for Maggie and me. Or I could say I didn’t miss a shot all morning (because I didn’t take any). This is supposed to be a good year for the duck population so hopefully they’ll show up when we get some cold weather up north to push them south. They don’t migrate because they enjoy flying.

Anyway at least the scenery was pretty.

Kansas big bucks

If this doesn’t get you fired up for deer season nothing will. These big guys showed up on my friend Scott’s trail cam recently. He didn’t tell me where they are and I didn’t ask but they’re somewhere in eastern Kansas.   Scott says the one on the left in the second photo is a shooter but Scott is a trophy hunter. I’m a meat hunter so my trophy is a ninety pound doe. 2 bucks

Missouri teal season

The Lone Oak Duck Club (aka The Five Guys And A Swamp Duck Club) sits at the far west side of the Mississippi flyway in Bates County, MO, only a few miles from the Central flyway. My friend Jon Blumb and I squeezed in a morning hunt before the early teal season ended September 27th. We saw a snowy egret, a pileated woodpecker, mosquitos, frogs and several acres of water lilies but no teal.

The big white bird in this photo is not a teal. It isn’t even almost a teal. It’s a snowy egret.

We called it a day at 8:45 AM and threw some training dummies for my black Lab Maggie who performed vigorously as usual. All she needs is for someone to shoot a lot of ducks over her. Maybe she should trade me in for another hunter.

 

Deer hunting in Scotland

Mt friend, photographer Jon Blumb, often goes to Scotland to hunt deer and fish for salmon.

Guided by head game keeper Bruce Cooper on Glenprosen Estate near Kirriemuir in The County of Angus, Jon recently bagged this beautiful 6+ point roebuck. Jon downed the buck at 160 yards with Cooper’s .25/06 Sauer rifle.They had been out since sunrise (4:30 AM ) and Jon shot the buck at 7:30 AM.

Jon sent me a photo of himself wearing kilts but his legs are almost as ugly as mine so I did not include it in this post.

 

 

My first banded duck

I don’t remember what year it was but it had to have been in the sixties. That’s a ’63 Ford Falcon in the background. Don’t remember where I shot it . Probably the Marais Des Cygnes Waterfowl Management Area near La Cygnes, KS. Could have been John Redmond Reservoir near Burlington, KS.

I’ve been duck hunting since 1964 and I have eight bands on my lanyard now. You see guys in magazine ads with duck and goose bands hanging down to their knees. Do they plink birds with pellet guns in parks? It might be believable if they were old geezers like me who have hunted for years, but they all look like they’re in their 20s and 30s.

No way!first banded duck