Duck Hunting photo

Clichés become clichés because they’re true. “You can’t kill them from the couch” or “You don’t know if you don’t go” are, perhaps, two of the tritest but truest phrases in all of hunting.

Although I do have to work almost as much as people with real jobs do, writing does afford me the luxury of picking the days I hunt and the days I work. So I tend to forget how true it is that sometimes you have the best hunts on the least likely days.

Last week the forecast for central Missouri was for temperatures in the 70s and very light southern breezes for the next few days — definitely not the weather you want for a duck hunt. My host, Ira McCauley of MOmarsh, called me as I was pulling out the driveway. “We don’t have very many ducks and we don’t have a lot of water,” Ira said. “This weather doesn’t look very good, either.” I half expected him to tell me to come some other time. Instead he said “We might have to make lemonade out of lemons, but I like these early season hunts because you never know what will happen. I hope you packed some shorts!” That is an attitude that kills ducks, because, you know, you can’t kill them from the couch.

Ira had set a couple of his Invisilay blinds (a great way to hide in shallow water, and stable enough to stand up in). There was no wind and, to top it off, fog kept the ducks from seeing us and us from seeing them for the first hour of the hunt.

Eventually the fog burned off and a few ducks started to move. I always thought I was pretty good at spotting ducks, but Ira, who starts hunting waterfowl in September and doesn’t stop until the end of spring snow goose season, made me feel blind. He would be calling long before I ever knew there were ducks in sight. Mallards, gadwalls, pintails, teal and a random ringneck worked into our decoys and by ten or so when we quit we had a nice mixed bag, not a one of which we’d have shot if we had stayed home.