by Kyle Wintersteen - Wednesday, October 23, 2013
As planned, on Saturday I crutched to a favorite wood duck hole against doctor's orders and went duck hunting. It wasn't easy navigating the thick early season grass with my "marsh sticks"—as they've come to be known—and soon I wondered if I'd made the right decision. As I put my weight on a crutch in order to plop down onto the bank, it sunk into the mud and the rubber tip (you know, pretty much the most important part of the crutch) broke off. We never did find it.
No worries. I knew there would be hardships in using crutches for a task completely outside their intended design. And within minutes a drake mallard decoyed like a house of fire. It didn't circle or even give us a discerning look, but rather landed amidst the decoys before we could even depress our safeties. With a simple "hey duck!" the bird took to wing, and my buddy Ben swung through and killed the rising greenhead with one clean shot.
The mallard seemed to foreshadow an action-packed morning, but the recent cold front and full moon had apparently pushed out the many wood ducks we'd anticipated. No matter, it had been a fun morning with friends immersed in Pennsylvania's orange October oaks. And the important thing is I was out hunting rather than sitting at home elevating my tattered leg.
Plus, an unexpected benefit of crutching to the hunt was soon realized. We stopped at a small medical supply store to pick up a new tip for my crutch, and my friend, Tyler went inside. I wasn't present but apparently the conversation proceeded thusly:
Tyler (dressed in full camo): Hi, I need to buy a rubber tip for a crutch.
Clerk: Were you hunting?
Tyler: Yes ma'am, duck hunting.
Clerk: Was the guy on crutches hunting?
Tyler: Yes, which may explain how he damaged his crutch.
Clerk: (Following hysterical laughter.) Our family farm is covered in mallards and pintails right now. Would you like me to talk to my Dad about getting you permission?
So, you see, crutching to a hunt is hard work. But it's not without advantage.
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