After months of training our lab – I had no part in it other than confirmation he was still a good boy after he received bad reviews from the hubs – Duke was able to show off his new skills.
I’ve never been hunting, so I wasn’t sure what to expect when I was asked to tag along. I’m fairly certain it was a setup, to justify why we needed to buy so many duck decoys, duck calls and a duck blind, or why the summer was spent training the dog for something I thought to be senseless.
To my surprise, the duck blind – which I thought looked nice with its camo décor – actually needed to be all covered up with grass, twigs and old cornstalks. Why wouldn’t the sporting goods gurus make a prefabricated blind with fake yard debris and forget the camouflage pattern, if it’s just going to be covered up?
We sat in the blind for a good amount of time with both the dog and hunter looking up through the mesh for ducks, along with the occasional duck call. Duke actually did a better job at sitting still than I did, especially after I got a cramp from sitting cross-legged too long and couldn’t stand up. By the time I crawled out of the blind, grunting in pain, they decided it was time to try another location.
After driving on the edges of corn and bean fields, we finally came to a bend in the creek where wood ducks had been seen. Two dozen decoys later, the three of us sat on the ground behind tree limbs, watching and waiting. Even though I wasn’t sure how I felt about shooting a duck, who were just landing for a drink or cool dip in the water, I was anxious to watch Duke do what he’s been trained for. It never happened, but it was amazing to watch the two interact as though they were spies and could communicate without words.
At one point while walking the creek, with just a hand gesture to stop, Duke froze in his tracks. Oblivious to the need to be quiet, I kept on going. The dog gave me “the look,” as though I was an idiot. The signal was given to move forward, and I swear Duke was purposely side-stepping fallen cornstalks to keep the sound at a minimum.
Duke didn’t get the opportunity to retrieve a duck, although it’s obvious I’ve lost the battle to keep the 100-pound puppy from the hunting craze that’s been going on in this house, preparing for the “season.” I doubt I get invited again, although I did enjoy being so far away from the city, you could hear nature do its thing. Amazing how the dog has reignited his passion for hunting and my motherly instincts.
I asked again if the dog could wear an orange vest while hunting. He just shook his head, though I think deep down he was a little hurt I didn’t ask if he was going to wear one.
Sandy Turner is a mom, grandma, former caretaker and retired journalist living in Missouri.