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Think Your Duck Opener Was Bad?

Think Your Duck Opener Was Bad?

We toil and wait all summer until one day, finally, it's the opening day of duck season. It is this great anticipation which, I believe, makes success on the opener all the sweeter—and defeat, like I experienced last week, all the more painful. Here's a brief synopsis of my day:

4:00 a.m. Wake up and do a back flip out of bed. It's here! Duck season is here!

4:30 a.m. GPS malfunctions en route to creek where numerous teal, mallards and wood ducks were seen loafing day before

4:45 a.m. Stumble haphazardly through a beaver swamp. Where am I?

4:50 a.m. Flush grouse. Jump like startled schoolgirl.

6:00 a.m. Locate creek and place decoys. Shake with gleeful anticipation.

6:40 a.m. Season officially begins.

6:41-10:00 a.m. Nothing happens.

10:15 a.m. Get checked by game warden. Watch two drake wood ducks buzz decoys while handing him license.

10:30 a.m. Warden completes check, asks buddy to demonstrate how his Benelli Vinci works—magazine spring flies into water.

11:30 a.m. Decide to investigate jump shooting opportunities upstream

11:40 a.m. Buddy realizes his waders are leaking. I chuckle to myself.

11:45 a.m. Slip on slick rock, fill waders with water. Upper body sweating, lower body freezing. "Waterproof" pocket fails: Wallet soaked; cell phone fried.

1:00 p.m. Miss drake wood duck three times.

1:15 p.m. Snap fuzzy photo of dejected hunters leaving creek using fatally wounded cell phone:

1:30 p.m. Walk to truck. Discover wet feet are stuck in wader boots. Hold onto truck while buddy attempts to dislodge them. Endure passing motorists' catcalls.

1:40 p.m. Stuff soggy socks into sneakers, drive home, inform wife won't be providing dinner.

Thing is—and here's what the anti-hunters certainly don't understand—I still had a blast on the opener. My friends and I exchanged jokes (my stomach actually hurt from laughing), we saw a mature bald eagle and, hey, we finally had shotguns in our hands and duck stamps in our pockets. I feel sorry for hunters who can't have fun without shooting ducks, and I suspect they're the reason why pressure actually decreases even as hunting improves later in the year.

You better believe I am not deterred. As I write this, my waders are on a boot drier, and my decoys and shotgun are ready for tomorrow's hunt. Rejoice, waterfowlers: The best time of year is finally upon us.

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