Last week I finally removed the Federal Duck Stamp from my wallet and, with a sigh, tucked it away for safe keeping. It was time to admit to myself that the season was over.
That's when it really sunk in—no duck hunting for 210 days. For a moment, I thought, That's not so bad. It's only seven months. But I could feel the panic building.
I know, I'll take up fishing!
I kidded myself for a couple seconds that bass and stripers could even come close to filling the void left behind by mallards and pintails.
Fishing!? Nooooo! I'll never stoop to fishing!!!
I dropped to my knees atop a pile of decoys I'd been rigging the night before and threw my hands in the air like William Dafoe at the end of Platoon.
Seven months without duck hunting! I'm not going to make it!
I'm fairly certain I would've gone into a full-fledged nervous breakdown had I not heard it: kerr-honk ... kerrrrr-honk ... kerr-honk, kerr-honk, kerr-honk-honnnnk, kerr-honk!
I looked out the window to discover northbound Canada geese in the midst of spring migration. Within 48 hours they would hit peak numbers.
The sights and sounds of thousands of geese alone cheered me up, but it was also a chance to bid farewell to the geese. Call it closure or whatever, but watching them return north improved my mood.
So, to my friends, the geese, and their cousins, the ducks: Travel safely, mind your mates and tend your nests. Don't worry about me. I'll find a way to keep busy—I always do—but I'll mostly be looking forward to the day when I can once again enjoy your beauty as you humor me with your approach, cup your wings and flare at the last moment, just out of range.