Two full years have passed since Wylie has hunted. Well, that`s not quite true; in Baja he hunted poisonous toads, skunks, bobcats, lizards, herring, and the occasional sea lion. In Austin he hunted raccoons, squirrels, armadillos and god knows what else on his daily forays into the thick woods of Barton Creek. But two full years have passed since Wylie has hunted ducks.
And ducks, my friends, are his raison de etre. Just as they are our raison de waking up at 5:00 am to go sit in a swamp when it’s five below zero.
Last week, however, the weather was a bit more civilized. The water was still liquid, the wind was blowing from the south, and despite these pleasant conditions, we decided to go out anyway. Our expectations for the duck hunting were low and our expectations for Wylie were even lower. We were fully prepared to begin his training process anew, all those hundreds of hours of rigorous retriever training lost for good.
The morning began well enough; Wylie sat calmly while I tossed the decoys into the pond, and then he sat calmly for the first hour of light as not a single duck flew overhead. No whining, no fidgeting, just sitting still and observing…this is half the battle for a good duck dog: to stay still, quiet and alert whether or not the shotgun is sounding. Perhaps all was not lost after all.
Since the ducks were not flying, we decided to take a walk and do some jump hunting on the adjacent ponds. Katie and Wylie walked to the upwind side while I wended my way to go sit in wait on the other end. Soon enough a flock of a dozen mallards appeared over my head, the plan executed to perfection. I stood and fired twice and watched as a drake was hit but sailed into a pond about a half mile away…
Part 2 to come….
I have followed your adventures for several years and thought how great it was to do what you guys were doing,and marvelled at the gentleness you displayed when nature was involved, so, much to my astonishment here you are killing ducts. In this case you left a hen without a mate, and for what?
Just a thought………..
I’ll be the first to admit that killing ducks is a cruel and vicious way to feed oneself. I’ll also contend that buying meat from a grocery store or restaurant is vastly more cruel to animals, and more often than not it contributes to ecologically devastating agricultural practices as well. I’ll also contend that a vegetarian diet, unless practiced at the smallest scale and following the strictest permacultural standards, is still more harmful to our overall ecosystems (not to mention the carrots themselves!) than a hunting and gathering diet.
Things are goings to die so that I may live, and that sucks. Yet I have made the moral decision not to commit suicide, and in doing so I have tacitly chosen to continue to kill other organisms.
I have, however, also made the moral decision to focus my life on conserving and restoring wild lands and waters so that perhaps there will be more more wild creatures, and healthier ecosystems by the time I do feed the worms in turn. I have canine teeth, as do you, and I have chosen to use them sparingly, respectfully, honestly and with eyes wide open to the havoc that they wreak.
I’d like to know a bit about the last five meals that you’ve eaten… honestly, I would, and I’m not being snide.
And I do appreciate your concern for those ducks, it shows me that there is one more person out there who sees the beauty in our wild creatures and wild places. One of my major goals in this blog is to point out these experiences we have in the wild, and our interactions with other creatures. And our diet, some of which comes from dead animals, is always a good time to remind ourselves of our place on planet earth.
All hail Wylie, the conqueror of all living creatures. Charm or ferocity, whatever is needed! All things are right in the world once again. –randy
That was an excellent response to Mike Shea’s comments. Keep up the thoughtful writing.
That was a long sail (pun intended) for a dead duck…..
And worth every minute of it for one bite of that delicious fowl
Sorry to hear you didn’t get to bring one home, because they taste even better after being aged a week!
Oh, you just wait. Part 2 will shed some light on that…
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