They’re down by six. There’s :03 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Your team has the ball. That familiar nervous excitement wells up in your gut. They line up on the 45. Only a Hail Mary shot can win. The ball is snapped. The QB rolls left, he sets his feet….he launches the ball. The wideout turns in the endzone. For a split second you think this can actually happen. He jumps and cradles the ball. You jump up from the couch! He bobbles it. And drops the game winning pass. Yeah. My duck season ended just like a Detroit Lions game.
I’m not bitter. It was the last game in a 3-13 type of season. At least it ended with some excitement. The sun was barely rising when we crossed the ferry onto Harsen’s Island. Running late, we decided to scout some new spots in the daylight. When we spotted a sandbar covered with swans it seemed like one of those plans that is just crazy enough to work.
We set a string of divers in the white-capped choppy side of the sandbar. The mallards and the mojo stayed in the calmer slack water protected by the tiny island. We set the boat off to the side and folded the blind as flat as we could to provide some cover. We sat behind the boat on our marsh seats while Zeus stayed warm and dry protected in the vessel.
Groups of 5-12 divers buzzed around the rig and checked out the decoys. They wanted to land but they were spooked by the boat. We tried to use the glare to our advantage but the late season ducks have seen all the tricks.
When the clouds rolled in we lost the cover of the glare so we packed it up and tried another spot. Zeus was getting restless unable to see the birds we kept pointing out and occasionally calling to with that raspy rolling diver sound.
When he finally got out of the boat Zeus had fun racing back and forth on the sandbar. I had slightly less fun yelling at him to stop eating the giant piles of swan shit.
From the sandbar we watched the ducks trading over a reedy point. It seemed promising but when we got there we had little to work with. The water was ankle deep and the spotty cover was only about waist high. We set some mallard blocks back in the grass and the divers off the point with the wind to our backs. Before we even hid the boat a bluebill streaked into the spread with wings fully cupped and committed to land. Our guns were fully cased.
A few buffs and what appeared to be a Greater Merganser just about landed in our spread each escaping a shower of hot steel. We joked about our poor shooting. We hypothesized why we missed (clearly the ducks are make of kevlar). I knew each of us were simply hoping that we end the season on a good note. The weather was tolerable but the wind was starting to take it’s toll. Zeus started shivering I couldn’t tell if he was trying to keep warm or keep his balance on top of the stack of a broken marsh seat, some scrap wood and bucket we mounded up to keep him out of the water but low enough to hide in the cover. I was taking in the sights and sort of stating a silent goodbye to the season when all hell broke loose.
A flock of buffies screamed into the spread over my right shoulder. For a split second they looked like they were going to land right in the center presenting me and Dustin with perfect shots. I picked a drake from the center of the flock just before they turned on a dime and shot back in the direction they came from. I swung and pulled the trigger. Nothing. I picked another drake and fired twice. I didn’t even cut a feather.
I’m not really down on myself for missing. I mean there’s always next year. Right Lions fans?