Despite our trials and tribulations in the field, we
outdoorsmen and women get to see some of the most beautiful things in
the world. After a frustrating morning setting decoys and not seeing any
ducks, I captured this buck swimming the creek.
By Mark Fike
If you want to find out how frustrating being an outdoorsman can be, try hurriedly splashing your boat in the local lake or river come the first slew of warm days in February or March when cabin fever has driven you and your spouse mad.
You can only watch so many fishing shows. You can only pull up the weather so many times to hope the forecast changed for a good run of warm weather so you can grab the truck keys, fishing rods and head to the water. Your spouse probably wants you gone at that point after watching you go crazy.
Those first trips to the water with the boat in tow can be testing the patience of even Job. My trips tend to have a lot of bumps in the road or on the water. Who has forgotten to put the boat plug in the first time out each spring? I see hands flying up and some people sticking their hands in their pockets while reading this!
Fishing lines tend to break at just the wrong moment because they were never replaced after two seasons, the boat motor won’t start even though it ran fine in the yard. The battery for the trolling motor dies after just an hour on the water and then out of nowhere the weather changes leaving you freezing on what was supposed to be a nice 65 degree day.
If you are a hunter nothing can be worse than forgetting something important. Items on the important list of course include ammunition, your license, food and for some people (but not me!) their cell phone. I won’t even mention leaving your gun at home! I personally want to forget my cell phone so I cannot check email or texts and I won’t be bothered!
If you have not forgotten something critical before you started hunting, you probably have forgotten something during hunting. I will never forget the time I loaded my muzzleloader but forgot to put a primer on it. When a really high quality buck showed up and stood broadside, I could just about taste those backstraps!
CLICK! I hurriedly cocked the gun, too stunned to think while I was watching the buck in alarm and he was looking at me with the same expression.
CLICK! And away he ran. When I cracked the action and saw no primer to set off my powder charge, I was sick to my stomach. One small spark stood between me and a filled freezer and a story to tell. Well, actually I had a story but it was not a fun one. It was an embarrassing one.
Although I have not gotten lost yet due to not having a light, I have heard of many guys that got “turned around” in the woods, did not have a light and tried navigating with their cell phone until it died too. Spouses set off the alarm and call all their buddies to go search for them.
Perhaps the worst trials a hunter could have would involve a boat and guns. While shooting a hole in the boat would definitely rank at the top of the list, I have not done that either. However, duck hunting has its whole set of pitfalls to frustrate an unorganized hunter!
First you wake up late and have to fly to the ramp to back the boat in and hope you can get the decoys set before first light. When you get to the ramp you realize that half your decoys blew out.
Our writer, Mike Willis, came upon a bag of decoys in the road one day and was able to pass them on to me since I duck hunt. Some poor sap did not stow them correctly in his truck and likely was in a huge hurry after waking up late.
Once you get to the ramp and wait in line with all the other frantic camo clad fools that overslept and now have boat motor issues at the dock, you get your boat in the water only to find out you left your gun or license in the truck so you have to turn around, hit the dock and run like mad in your waders for the truck to retrieve what you forgot.
It is hilarious to watch as long as the guy doing the waddling is not your partner making you late for your hunt.
Duck hunters know that ducks fly at first light and some of the best action can occur in 10 minutes. Putting decoys out should be a few minutes of work even in the dark if you are only putting out a few dozen. However, decoy lines get tangled.
Or, there is ice and as fast as you are throwing the decoys in, your wake from your boat is breaking ice and the tide is pulling the decoys with the ice downstream. You spend many very tense minutes trying to chase numerous decoys that the ice is making off with while desperately trying to avoid getting a decoy line tangled in the prop.
Have you ever had to untangle a decoy line from the boat motor prop? Try hanging over the back of the motor and boat to do this and then listen as your high dollar shotgun shells begin sliding out of your coat pockets going, PLOP, PLOP, PLOP!
It never fails that when you get in the blind and stow the boat, you notice at first light that a decoy has a line wrapped around it or it is floating on its side. What an eyesore in a spread of decoys!
Perhaps the most sure thing that can and does often occur to duck hunters is the fact that ducks will show up at the most inconvenient moment. You can sit in a blind all day and never see a duck within range. Just try to go out and pick up the decoys to go home. Ducks will try to light on your head!
Put down your shotgun and grab a sandwich and a duck will buzz your spread and light in the decoys momentarily until you go for your gun.
Then of course you have the end of legal shooting light. It never fails that the minute of doom has arrived and as if the ducks have a watch of their own, they begin circling just out of range and then begin dropping in one minute after legal shooting light ends.
Still, we outdoorsmen and women have much to be thankful for. We can all enjoy the outdoors and the trials and tribulations that come with our time afield or on the water. The things we see and experience are top notch and memorable. Just when you are griping about a bad time afield, consider the best time at work…