He’s at least a foot taller since I last saw him. Reclined in the passenger seat. Camo from head to toe. Passed out cold. My brother and I greeted Karin before she woke him up with a motherly tone. He was up by the time I walked out of 7-11 with essentials for the hunt. The usual staples donuts, water and coffee. Hunter loaded up his stuff including his black lab pup Abby. This was her first hunt on Lake St. Clair. And Hunter’s second.
Our hunt last year wasn’t exactly an easy one. Hunter only shot once but dropped his first ringneck. It took me a hilariously long 20 minutes to back-down the trailer and load the boat. A story Hunter was quick to share as we pulled into the boat launch at 5:15 am. I assured him things would go smoother this trip. Smart-assness is a quality that can’t be taught. And it’s a prerequisite in my duck boat.
Three guys, two dogs, 50 decoys and 2 mojos. Check. We cut through the darkness and knee deep water until we found a good spot. With the wind in our face we set a pod of diver blocks to the right and a pod of puddlers to the left. We left Hunter stationed in the reeds as legal shooting time set-off the alarm on my cell phone.
Shooting in Little Muscamoot bay pushed ducks our way. Flocks of birds, confused and anxious, settled safely into the weeds between groups of hunters. The wood ducks were really talkative and in bigger numbers in the bay than I recall. Hunter didn’t pull the trigger a lot in that first hour but at least there was constant duck action to keep him interested.
A break in the action. I left my brother with the dogs and snuk up to Hunter’s blind with a bag of donuts. I figured a kid who grows an inch per month must be hungry by now. We talked about his upcoming hunting trip to Saskatchewan with his cousin. We talked about school. His pup. His new duck call. His shotgun. Each question answered like an adult. Only slightly muffled by mouthfuls of a giant cinnamon roll.
A few flocks worked closer and closer to the spread. I was retreating to the boat when movement low on the water caught my attention. I grabbed my call. A few low notes then a rolling feed chuckle. Three bluebills banked right and set their wings set. Eyes locked onto the diver decoys sitting just yards in front of Hunter. The first shot dropped a drake. Then the unmistakable sound of an 870 racking the next round. The second shot hit nothing but air. The third shot cleaned up a double. Zeus and Abby went to work.