“…Now I will stand in the rain on the corner…”
During breakfast this morning, I scrolled through my social media newsfeed and came across a post involving karaoke and the Led Zeppelin song, “Fool in the Rain.”
Whether or not I’d become one today had yet to be decided. I’d been offered a duck hunting invite last night with a friend, but work (and the desire to stay dry) was an overriding factor on my plans.
“I’m out. Don’t feel like sitting in the rain this morning.” I typed with both thumbs on my smartphone. I almost regretted hitting send. Have I gotten soft?
You’re only given so many days in the fall, and ask any guy dressed in camo at the local café and he’ll tell you that there aren’t nearly enough. I’d been spoiled by the dry weather and would need convincing to head out in the “ducky” precipitation.
For some reason, when you picture a duck hunter, trudging through a cattail slough, decoys slung over his shoulder and a trusty retriever at his side, there is always rain whipping him in the face. So far this year, however, we’ve needed sunscreen more than rain gear.
A ten-minute debate with myself offered more excitement than the recent version involving presidential candidates. The promise of a bark-covered umbrella bought my vote.
I decided to venture to a nearby spot that is known to be a favorite hangout for wood ducks. Would they put on tiny little ponchos and join me?
“…I’ve got no reason to doubt you, baby….”
Within 20 minutes, I was setting up in the corner of a small, wooded pond getting as wet as my decoys, hoping for ducks to come shuffling downtown.
My waders were well qualified in keeping my lower half dry as I set out my small spread of fake mallards. As the morning drug on, they’d also double as a rain gauge, filling with water as it poured from the sky. The leaning tree that I took refuge under was under-achieving as drops from each branch would land squarely on my nose. Despite my ninja-like shiftiness, the next drop would inevitably find its mark.
Mature trees surrounded the small wetland with just a few narrow gaps offering natural runways for the landing ducks. While this gave you some idea of where they would come from, it also hindered your ability to have any sort of warning of their arrival. Usually it would involve a quick head-snap, followed by fumbling and fowl language.
“…And I’m shaking so much, really yearning, Why don’t you show up, make it all right..”
The element of surprise could be reason numero uno for my love of duck hunting. At any moment a teal could whistle in from over your head giving you .258 seconds to crack off a shot.
A four-legged hunting partner, whose willing to get more wet than you is a close second. My 5-year-old yellow Lab, Mika, hates being in the rain. Can’t stand it. Will scratch at the door incessantly to go outside to relieve herself, until I open the door and she sees the rain. Then she’ll hold it until the next moon landing if she has to.
But slap on some camo, grab the shotgun and she’ll beat you to the door to go head-first into a monsoon.
As the morning sky grew lighter, the rain fell harder. I’d put one drake woodie in the bag and it was beginning to look like he’d be the only one. Today would not be one of those days where you decide to “wait it out for awhile.”
“…It ain’t the first time believe me, baby, I’m standing here feeling (turning) blue…”
I like shooting limits as much as the next guy, but I’m not disappointed when I don’t. As I packed up the bag of decoys, hung them over my shoulder and began the walk back to the truck, I bent my head away from the wind and smiled. I was soaked to the bone, had only one duck to show for it, but wouldn’t complain if you paid me to.
You only get so many days in the fall; each day you pass up is one day closer to the end. I’m sure I’ll wake up slowly, rub my eyes and question my sanity about hoofing it out in the elements to chase ducks a few more times this fall, but afterwards, I’ll be glad I did. It’s like some sort of waterfowler’s code. Make fun of us if you want, but we’re happy to be fools in the rain.
“…I’ll run in the rain till I’m breathless, when I’m breathless I’ll run till I drop..”