Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Sunday was a wonderful day of waterfowling, but not for the reasons you may think. Yes, the big northern storm that Terry and I wrote about did indeed come-a-howling. But for some reason the ducks didn’t arrive on the leading edge as I had hoped and predicted.
Myself, The Hunting Partner, The Friend and Max (The Dog) went to one of our favorite spots and set up for what we hoped was going to be a lights-out shooting day. Shortly before sunrise there were a lot of birds moving, but they were ginormous flights of geese and ducks moving from point A to point B in the stratosphere. It was beautiful to watch the long ‘V’ lines stretching across the horizon as far as the eye can see.
The morning was calm and clear, but by 8:30 the storm started to blow in with thick dark clouds rolling over one another until the sun was blotted out of the sky. At that point the birds shut down and barely anything was in the air.
Our only harvest were a couple of teal that zigged and zagged into the decoys and were quickly dispatched. As Max lurched into the water for his only retrieves of the day, I was reminded why hunting is so special to me. I love the richness of the entire hunting experience: waking up with the marsh, the fellowship of hunting partners, connecting with my food source, the gunning, and Max.
As I watched Max effortlessly paddle out and back with the quarry, I was in awe at just how incredible it is to have such a strong connection with an animal. An animal! I wish I could adequately describe the way he looks in my eyes and communicates with me while the ducks are working the decoys. His eyes following their every wingbeat right until the point of shooting, where he leaps into action without so much as a command from me. He completes my experience as a hunter.
At just 3 years old, God willing Max and I will share many more days in the boat and the blind. He lives to please me, which is a tremendous responsibility as well as a humbling experience. The best I can do is offer a little praise and throw him an extra treat for a job well done. Oh, that humans were so easy. This is why I live to hunt.