It’s 5am as my eyes open to the soft sound of the alarm on my phone. A feeling of excitement comes over me; its a mid duck season Saturday and after some intense talks, I negotiated with the wife a hall pass on parenting duties. I quietly creep out of out of the comfort of my cozy bedroom; careful to not make a sound awakening the sleeping 9 month old and the crimson wrath of my wife. I mumble to my Amazon Echo Dot, “Alexa, What is the weather like this morning?”. She rattles off the local weather this morning; Calm, 40 degrees with a high of 58. I slam a breakfast bar.
A buddy of mine stumbles out of the Mancave and into the kitchen. We are not savages at this household. Our guests are allowed to sleep inside but the upgrades to the mancave make it an ideal place to spend the night, especially after a beverages. We discuss our plan of attack andload up the guns, ammo, decoys and kayaks. I slide into my Frogg Togg Camo Waders and he does the same. We hop in the truck and head out with hopes and dreams of shooting our limit of ducks.
We arrive at the super-top-secret-duck-and-goose honey hole. The time is about 6:15 am and its dead calm. Alexa was accurate on only part of her forcast. She was right about the calm part, but not quite the 40 degrees part. It’s colder than my smart speaker friend told me. I am glad I have insulated waders today because the water droplets that are sitting on the top of my kayak are turning to ice. Looking up in the sky I can see the constellation Orion shining bright. When I start seeing Orion, I know that cold weather and winter is close. We silently paddle out to a small floating bog. It is hard to see shoreline across the water as the fog is thick. We toss out our decoys in a “careful and well orchestrated spread” and pull our kayaks up onto a floating section of bog. This particular chunk of bog juts out into the water from the shoreline on a point and is very near to a freshly worked on beaver house.
The sun begins to peek over the tree tops and shows light on our spread. It is a picturesque Minnesota morning; a special time to be outdoors.
An ornery beaver pokes his head out of the water and flails its paddle like tail with loud “SMACK”. This was enough to startle my friend up ready to shoot. I consider that particular beaver very lucky, as he is messing with two locked-and-loaded duck hunters. “This is his turf.” I say to my buddy. Anyway, he must know the DNR regulations, you cannot shoot a beaver and a beaver pelt full of BB holes is no good anyways. The beaver wanders off and our blood pressure returns to normal.
The faint grumbles of groggy geese begin to emerge from the still of the morning. We sit silent hidden in the weeds and I choose to blow a good morning wakeup call to the “plethora” of ducks that must be hiding somewhere close to us, just waiting to fly. I put the Duck Call to my lips and let out a quick “Quack–Quack–Quack”. In my mind I am pleased thinking it must sound like an invitation from the coolest duck around to come loaf around this beaver hut with me. It is my first year duck hunting so I am still working out how to use a duck call effectively. Across the water from us I hear a return “quack”. How suave I must’ve sounded.
The fog begins to float and disappear into the sunrise. Thuds begin to erupt around us in the distance. We see a few flocks fly around far off in the distance. I hammer on my duck call trying to entice a few flocks in. I feel like a four three foot t-rex trying to reach a steak at the top shelf of the super market; just too far away. We sit for a few hours feeling a smidge of disappointment. It’s now 9am. The guilt of leaving Mama bear alone with all the cubs begins to tug on me. Guilt mixed with no chances of bagging any ducks pushes us to pack up the decoys and float on. Paddling back to load up the kayaks I have a rock solid feeling of content.
We have no ducks to show but I am not leaving empty handed. I have a memory of a beautiful morning outdoors with a great friend. It may not feed the stomach but it does feed the soul.