Duck Hunting, A Driving Rain, and a Lil’ Disappointment

On a duck hunt, a cold, driving rain can make me wonder if I’m truly a hunter. My commitment is strong enough to get me out in the dark to set up and wait, but can be called into introspective question when my hands become so frigid that they are rendered useless.

It’s sort of like doubting your commitment to Christianity when you feel you cannot forgive Osama bin Laden. You have to keep trying. And, similar to a person of faith seeking to become what they pray, a hunter must stay. Or, in my case, bail when your fingers won’t shoot.

Pond with plants and algae in a duck habitat on public land.

Duck habitat before the rains

My boyfriend must be warmer-blooded person because he stayed out in the rain by himself for another half hour, at least. By the time he returned to the truck, he looked shocked by the cold. While we were wearing appropriate clothing, including neoprene waders and Frogg Toggs, there’s nothing like a 47-degree soaking to dampen your enthusiasm. Honestly, if I’d been in a blind, I think I might have enjoyed it. (More on that later.)

Instead, after more than a couple of hours, I ended up sitting in the truck watching an Alton Brown video of his visit to the Garden & Gun office kitchen. How did this happen? The road to hell was paved with good intentions. Yesterday afternoon, we scoped out or location and found what appeared to be the perfect spot to set up a blind. We used garden stakes and camo tarp and wrap. We took of some brush and set it up in front. When we got back to our hotel, the rain began.

Duck blind set up for a hunt in Texas.

Setting up the blind the day before the hunt

In the morning, we were excited despite the rain. We got back to our spot and hoofed through muck down the dirt levee until we reached the blind. We nestled under our blind. A wind kicked up and the ducks started flying in. So exciting! So very exciting until the wind kicked up the tarp, a.k.a., poncho above our heads. The poncho began wildly and loudly flapping, and spooking the ducks. Now, we desperately yanked down our blind and split up to stand in the reeds.

I could not see. I moved back and sat on the ground behind the reeds. The rain was pelting my face. I tried to find the happy medium between shielding my face and being able to see. Maintaining any semblance of peripheral vision was a challenge. If I looked up, the rain poured over my glasses.

This is when idiomatic expressions and their etymologies come to mind. Something blew our cover? Yes, our actual blind blew its own cover. Sitting duck? The one that came closest to me had landed and sat on the water a moment — until it realized it had joined a decoys party.

When we gave up, I held the gate open for Byron to pull through with the truck and two other trucks were coming through. One tailgate was full of ducks. I felt stupid. We gathered to compare notes and the successful party harvested a total of 11. I told another hunter about our fatal error with the flapping blind. He commented that they weren’t really flying today, which was a polite way of consoling a loser. The man with the tailgate full of birds remarked, “you’re a hell of a woman to be out here.”

Rainy marsh pond during a duck hunt.

View from my seat on the edge of the pond in the rain.

I don’t normally play the woman card, but I gotta wonder if I man would be too macho to write a blog admitting he got to cold too keep hunting. It may not be a gender thing, but I am a creature who loves comfort. I’m the type who likes to get into jammies around 8 p.m., wrap up in a fleece blanket and curl up on the couch with the dogs. They love being outdoors too and know when it’s time to come in to cuddle.

As for our next hunt, tomorrow morning, we are going to get out even earlier before they start flying and hope it is raining a little less.

The Sage Leopard