Wednesday, November 10, 2010

When it was all over, I walked up. We didn't find one of 'em, not one stinkin' dink body. The smell, you know that gasoline smell, the whole hill.

Not one stinking duck body. The whole pond!

I got up early. I drove in the dark and the mud. I listened to redneck jackasses talk about "socialism" and "them faggots in Frisco." I put up with it all because I was number 4 on the lottery line and I was going to get a good blind. I had come through last night and poured over the blind listings and had ranked them in order of how they'd been shooting. It took half an hour and I did it and they all stared while I did it. I had my list.

I got the second blind on my list and I was happy! Finally, I was in the right place at the right time with the right tools and I was going to kill ducks!

First came the walk through the dark with all my gear on my back. Half the time I skated across mud on a trail I'd never been on with no real idea where I was headed. By the time I made it to my blind I only had about thirty minutes to get everything set up: dekes in some semblance of natural order, pit blind cleaned out and brushed up, gear stored away, wet dog dried off somewhat, gun loaded, camo on, lights out. Barely made it all happen.

It was so overcast that ducks would appear out of nowhere. Half the time I didn't even shoot as they were whistling past me before I knew what was happening. The few shots I took I missed which I chalked up to the quickness and utter unpredictability of the shooting. I would later look back at this part of the hunt as the "salad days."

Cut to a few hours later. I'm out about eight or nine rounds but feeling good. Then the sun pops out straight into my eyes. A quick look at the compass and hey, what do you know, I picked the fucking blind that faces the sun all day. Behind me, an active road. In front of me, the pond and the sun. I rearrange the dekes off to the side in the hopes that I can get some shots not into the sun. I do. I miss them. All of them. Including the drake, wings cupped and landing gear deployed, who is inches above the closest deke. I had just dropped Ghost out of the blind so he could pee and as I look up I see the drake. He sees me and starts backpedalling. Silly duck! I can't shoot anymore! I fire twice and miss twice and have to fight the urge to throw the gun in the drink. I curse out loud instead. Several more ducks fly out of the marsh, I'd hurt their feelings I guess.

It all spirals out of control from there. More ducks come at me in increasingly easier patterns which I miss in the most spectacular fashion. My cussing grows loud enough that even I realize I'm being too loud. Around me, other hunters are dropping ducks at a steady clip. I am throwing $1 shells into the sky with no idea why or how or what. Had I simply dumped the whole box into the marsh I'd have accomplished the same thing minus the torrent of curses and the unnecessary discharge of a firearm.

I walked the mile back to the car at one point. I had lunch and decided that Ghost was a jinx so I left him in the car. I swapped out chokes. I made an altar to no deity in particular and burned it after a nondenominational prayer. I made a fake vodoo doll of a duck and stabbed it and then brushed my gun with it. None of this helped but it did keep at bay any of the local douche bags who thought they might want to have a word with me about my "Reading Is Sexy" sticker.

I walked a mile again. If you're keeping count it ends up I walked four miles for no good reason. I guess that's the point of all of this: there was no point. I drove up to the Red part of the state to shoot ducks and I failed to shoot any ducks. There were ducks though, lots and lots of beautiful mallards and pintails and even some gadwalls. It would have nice to shoot a gadwall, they hardly ever travel down to LA. Anyway, I walked back and climbed down into the pit and waited. I missed some more lay-ups and thought briefly about crying. I gave myself a time out instead, for an hour.

It didn't help.

My last three rounds were fired almost vertically at a passing group of mallards. I missed all three shots, shouted "Fuck you!" to the ducks and threw my gun into the drink.

Then I fished it out, got my decoys, and dragged my sorry ass back to my sorry ass hotel in sorry ass Willows, CA. Fuck yeah.

Now pass me that bottle of tequila, will you? My throat is parched and I'm in a foul mood.

Peace out, bitches! (except for every fucking duck in the Sacramento NWR. Y'all can fuckin' kiss my ass!)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

No sir. Not embarrassing, because no one's ever going to find out they're down here. 'Cause you're gonna spot 'em and you're gonna air 'em out!

I have driven for eight hours through traffic accidents, wind advisories, rain, and crank addled truckers. I'm two clicks past the Do Long bridge and there are most certainly "gooks on the wire" as the young man from the Bronx once uttered. Geese everywhere you look. Water water everywhere and oh yes, I'd love a drop or three to drink. Ducks. Flights of ducks and then someone says "plate" or "plate of dead ducks" and the whole sorry hallucination starts all over again.

There are more ducks here then I know what to do with and I am going to try to kill as many of them as I can. I must get on tonight. I must get a winning lottery number tonight. I must be allowed to fulfill my destiny! (Extra hot sausage if you know where that comes from.) It is raining something ugly and I was advised not to go to the white trash bar in town. I don't know that there is a correlation between these facts but I thought it safest to mention them both in the same breath. Just in case.

Willows, CA: a one horse town if ever I've seen one. And I have. Par for the course I'll dine on Mexican food as they are generally the only people who can cook when you're in the middle of nowhere California. Sacramento seems far away and exotic. San Francisco doesn't actually exist here. It's like saying you ride a unicorn. It occurs to me my name might not be very popular here. It also occurs to me I'm armed to the teeth. Hear on the radio: "Why do people think freedom of religion means we have to accept these other religions? We can't! We're Catholic!" Note to self: never get out of the boat. Absolutely goddamn right.

It's time. It's time to go out and win that fucking lottery and get a goddamned good blind.

Peace out, bitches!