The moon shone bright as we set out the variety of decoys, ranging from teal to geese. I was with my dad and my dad’s good friend, Rob, who is an excellent waterfowl hunter. It was Sept. 10 – Youth Waterfowl Day. Only I would be able to shoot.
We motored out in the cool air across Marsh Lake, where our duck shack was located. The boat ride was smooth and relatively easy. After we settled into the blind, my dad announced, “Shooting time.” I loaded my 20 gauge, sat, and waited.
I was thrilled to be able to finally hunt. My dad had brought me along since I was 6. He at first would let me carry sticks and practice aiming. That gradually turned into BB guns – never shooting, just practicing aiming.
The month before I went hunting on youth day, I practiced in the living room with my unloaded 20 gauge, aiming and swinging the gun to practice following the ducks. And today was my day.
Just as the sun had begun to rise, a flock of blue-winged teal, about 15 of them, hugged the shoreline and buzzed us. I pulled the gun up, focused my aim, and pulled the trigger. The gun sounded like a firecracker as one teal hit the water. My first duck.
The adrenaline pumped through me as my family’s dog, Josie, dove into the water as soon as my dad said, “Fetch it!” The dog made an excellent retrieve and brought it to my hand. The duck glowed in the early morning sun. A male teal in his prime. I was so excited, I couldn’t even say anything. I just stood there with a big grin on my face.
The day went by and we heard a goose calling while circling high above us at more than 500 feet. Rob said, “I’m going to call down that goose for you.”
I thought it could not be done. But sure enough, he coaxed that goose down from way up there while I stared in awe. Rob called, and kept it up until the goose came down, looking for the “goose” that had been calling to him for the past several minutes.
The goose slowly descended and went in to land right in the middle of our decoys. He exposed his chest right when he was about to land. Perfect shot. I shot, and the goose hit the water with a thud. My day was already good, and it just got better.
About 30 minutes later, three gadwalls streaked across the early morning sky. I took aim at the lead one, but it flared as soon as it saw me. The other two hadn’t seen me yet, so I took aim at the next-closest one. Just as it was about to go over my head, I fired. It spiraled to the water. Two ducks and one goose – a fantastic day, I thought. But it wasn’t over yet. Yet another goose came by and went in to land. Well, you know how it went.
This is a day that I will remember forever. I thank my dad for letting me experience the outdoors and building these wonderful memories with me. I am always eager to hunt and truly appreciate spending time with my family and friends doing something I love.