This was not how I expected to start my duck season.
Opening Morning: 5:30 am
My eyes where on fire. My nose dripped. The overwhelming stench of skunk assaulted my senses. Chad leaned on the tailgate in the dark driveway. His new pup, Jax, was the perpetrator. Camo vest, face and fur saturated in skunk juice. I loaded up the truck between dry-heaves.
We hammered the wood ducks and teal in the back pocket of the marsh last year. I scouted our spot the week before and it was filled with ducks. I was convinced it would produce again.
We set a few decoys in the dark. Then watched flocks overheard. We counted down the minutes which trudged like hours. I took a few deep breaths. I closed my eyes and envisioned the first shots. My entire being solely focused on what was about to happen.
Nothing. Not a teal. Not a wood duck. A mallard. A goose. Nothing.
Another party set up down the shore from us and the pressure had the birds working weird. The wind completely died and as soon as the morning fog burned off the sun was giving away our location like a blinking neon sign.
Jax wasn’t the only one to get skunked on opening morning.
I kicked rocks and cussed the entire walk back to the truck. I was beyond disappointed. I gave up. I was ready to head back for breakfast and to watch college football when a blue wing teal came streaking by the truck. My dad dropped it in tall canes. Zeus and I went to work. Something stirred in me watching my old boy pull off that retrieve. My resolve was new. I wasn’t going back without more feathers in the truck.
I stood with my back to the clump of aspen. We spooked the ducks up off the pond and it wasn’t even 10 minutes before they began to come back in smaller groups. Three teal zipped over the tree tops. A wood duck folded over the pines. Zeus flushed woodcock and grouse searching for downed ducks. It took us an hour to save the day from skunked.
Just about the same amount of time it took Chad to scrub the skunk from his pup.