It's a lot of work this whole duck hunting thing. Especially on the East Coast. Especially with close to 80 degree days in December. Especially on public land.
When it's too damn hot, when you sweat through your clothes, when you've got to swat mosquitos every other second, only to leave every inch of exposed skin dotted like you've got chicken pox.
But we keep on going, keep on trudging through the muck. It's in our blood, the sporting traditions of the South. We do it to be outside, at peace, with good dogs and good friends, friends we don't see enough. It's an escape, a momentary glimpse into a place where life's good and simple, and everything is clear as a mountain stream.
Sitting around the fire the night before, sipping on some bourbon, shucking a Pamlico oyster or two… things can't get much better than that, staring out into the crisp dark, the flat fields stretching on and on, that's when I know.
And sometimes, when all the factors mesh together just right, when there's thick fog and spitting rain and a cool breeze, I really know. A reward of a healthy pile of ducks sure makes it all worth it.
But at the end of the day, in total truthfulness, I would be damn happy out there, out with some good buddies, without any ducks at all. Believe it or not.