My baptism into the awesome sport of duck hunting took place when I was twenty-nine years old and should’ve known better.
My “John The Baptist” was long-time buddy Ned who had duck hunted since high school. Before dawn we waded into the shallow waters of John Redmond reservoir in eastern Kansas. I could hear the gentle whisper of wings overhead, and though I had never heard that sound, I knew what it was. As daylight approached we saw ducks flying far out over the reservoir and I remember how I thought, with their speed, their outstretched necks, they resembled little fighter planes like the P-51 Mustang my brother Paul had flown in World War Two.
Ned and I never fired a shot that morning but I was mesmerized by watching the birds fly. I loved seeing the sun slowly creep up over the horizon. And because it wasn’t very cold , I didn’t mind standing in muddy, waist-deep water as it seeped into my borrowed chest waders.
I had become a duck hunter.
Fast forward to now, when my friend Jay and his fourteen year-old son Chuck – or Charlie – depending on the moniker he chooses at the moment, are hunkered in a blind at the Lone Oak Duck Club in western Missouri. Fourteen-year-old Chuck has been doing this since he was old enough to walk. Surely he feels the same emotions I felt that morning long ago as I stood in the muddy waters of Redmond reservoir.
He’ll be a duck hunter all his life.