This past week while most other hunters have been chasing deer, I have been targeting waterfowl. There are two reasons for this. First, I harvested a nice buck in the archery season. Second, the two weeks of the rifle season here coincide with the best waterfowling of the year. The big flights are now passing through.
As good as the duck hunting gets, there are some complex issues associated with late-season waterfowling that few people speak of. The main one involves the two most important pieces of kit you can take on a late season hunt: neoprene waders and coffee.
Coffee, as we all know, is only rented. And there is always a point during a hunt when you need to get the coffee out. This means you need to take your waders off.
This seems like a simple solution.
It would be but for the fact that this point also invariably coincides with the moment all the birds in the area decide they want to land in your decoys in an orderly fashion over the course of the next hour or so.
This leads the hunter in question, whether male or female, to make a decision that could, either way, lead to disastrous consequences. Basically, the hunter is given a choice between nature’s call and the duck call.
Certainly, the hunter could ignore the ducks and choose the bladder-friendly approach. A quick drop of waders is all that’s needed to contribute to rising lake levels. In the best-case scenario, no ducks will decide to visit at that time and all will end well. Sure …
In the worst-case scenario – also known as the one that will most certainly occur – record flights of full-plumaged mallard drakes will begin to rain down on the decoys and your hunting buddy will limit out on them as you are still focusing on a different type of aiming.
OK, then. What if you decide to ignore the desperate pleas from your bladder and instead shoot at ducks?
This could turn out equally bad. In the worst-case scenario– also known as the one that will most certainly occur – the hunter will be forced to suddenly move the wrong way as record flights of full-plumaged mallard drakes rain down on the decoys. This wrong movement will break the tenuous hold the bladder has on his or her dignity. Then the hunter will be faced with trying to pick a bird to shoot at while being distracted by a disconcerting warmth spreading through his or her waders towards his feet.
This will end in certain embarrassment. That’s right; the hunter will miss with all three shots.
This will eventually lead the other hunter to ask several unanswerable questions.
Among them: how could you possibly miss all those birds from such close range? Why are you wearing your waders in the truck all the way home?
This, by the way, is yet another reason why you should never eat asparagus before a late-season hunt.
The only hope is if the other hunter made the same decision as you at exactly the same time. In which case, neither party will shoot at birds or have cause to ask the unanswerable questions. Instead neither hunter will suppress the memory and never speak of that moment again.
All things considered, that just may be the only right call.