Sunday October 4, 2015 was the second day of Ohio's special youth waterfowl season but the first day that my son and I were able to hunt. Saturday was a complete wash between the weather, other youth sporting events and family commitments filling the schedule. Getting kids out is tough and getting tougher it seems. It's no wonder that youth participation and recruitment rates are struggling to keep pace with so much going on in our lives these days, but I digress.
Thanks to an offer from a good friend to catch the sunrise in the marsh, my son and I were out the door at 5:00 am with everything needed to shoot and retrieve any legal waterfowl that crossed his gun barrel. The safety discussion was had, the decoys were set and we waited patiently as the dawn approached.
Silhouetted wood ducks lifted from the opposite shoreline, calling to each other as group after group erupted from the cattails. None of them interested in responding our calls or decoys however. An impatient dog trembled on the platform behind us, sending ripples into the water with every exhale. Probably wondering why we weren't shooting at anything yet.
It wasn't too much longer before a lone duck returned to the marsh, splashing down on the opposite shore, near the area the wood ducks had roosted for the night. I'm not sure how long the duck hung out by it's lonesome self before it decided to fly over to the decoy party across the way, but I'm glad that it did. The teal crashed the party, plopping down in the duck weed covered water. Simultaneously, my son was shouldering the 20 gauge. Click, BOOM!
"Shoot it again!" shouted Mike.
"Timber, fetch 'em up!!" The dog super-manned off the platform straight into the water. Wrong way. Maybe the handler should've lined him up better since the cattails obstructed his view of where the duck was shot.
"Timber! NO!! Timber, over!!"
After a quick correction, Timber locked onto the location on the downed bird and finished the retrieve. It was an awesome moment with both of my boys. One that I know I'll never forget, and one that I hope my son will carry in his memory for years as well.
The rest of the morning was spent telling stories, making jokes and doing things that guys do when they're duck hunting. It was a perfect morning even though we didn't have any other birds join the decoy party. We hunted a few hours, picked up the spread and finished things off with a hearty breakfast at the local diner. Life is good.