It looked like a hurricane. Every wind gust knocked leaves to the lawn. Some still attached to branches. Sheets of rain pelted the roof and made ponds in the back yard. I pulled on an old pair of waders and a camo rain coat. Zeus sat whining at the door.
My dad just rolled his eyes. Then lit a cigar and settled into his recliner. I must have looked bat-shit crazy heading out into 40 mph winds and torrential rain. But the next morning was the opener. I needed to find ducks.
The woods smelled like autumn. Wind-rattled trees creaked overhead. I was totally soaked clearing deadfall from the trail and stalking slowly through the aspen tickets. When I got a glimpse of the marsh a pair of wood ducks took to the air.
Followed by a few teal. Then a flock of mallards. Then a couple of geese. Then gadwalls. More mallards. More wood ducks. Within a few minutes the marsh was a waterfowl tornado. I stepped out of the woods to check the water depth. My boot filled with water and I suddenly remembered why I ditched those waders. We stashed some gear in the aspens and took off to let the birds settle down.
For dinner: potatoes, salad, steaks and nervous excitement. I couldn’t stop thinking about that damn duck tornado. To hell with sleep. I had plans to make. Gear to pack. I’ve hunted this same marsh at Lost Lake Woods Club every opening day that I can remember. Now I get another shot. And it’s promising to be a good one.
We took cover in water up to our knees and reeds over our heads. Hunkered down on little wooden marsh seats. This is my moment. The few minutes before shooting time. Before all hell breaks loose. Before the shells are spent. Before the cigars are smoked. Before the feathers rain down. It’s silence. Anticipation. Then my cell phone alarm. Load ’em boys. Duck season is back.