I’m not sure why I do it. The hours are long, the weather is miserable, yet I subject myself to it over and over again: The 4:15 a.m. wake-up call. Coffee. Breakfast. Airboats into the marsh like soldiers on a mission. But we’re just city boys trying to escape the noise and responsibility of the city. This is a Texas Coastal Duck Hunt!
At 5:30 a.m., we are at our blind, spreading decoys out in an effort to make our flyover friends covet this spot more than anything else. We scrutinize, argue and debate until we have a result likened to a Picasso masterpiece – yet in the back marsh of the Texas Coast. Then we wait for shooting time, practice our calling and drink some more coffee. We debate shot size, gun types and all the things we think will make us better. Better than what, we don’t know, but hopefully better.
Quack Quack Quack Quack Quack. We sound off as they peel overhead, looking closely at our spread; they wonder why that one decoy is listing some, find it odd and bail for another place less assuming. We make a quick move for the decoy, sure of its role in our plight, and get ready again. It works, and they come in hot, cupped wings engaged as they make for the landing. Then I scream, “Take ’em!” The roar of our shotguns vomiting steel satisfies our lab, Hank, and he makes quick work of the retrieves. Next, we eye the prize of our valiant efforts and ready ourselves once more.
Eventually, the Texas Coastal Duck Hunt scenario repeats itself multiple times over the course of the morning. On the airboat ride back through the marsh, we are all smiles, satisfied that it was all worth it and knowing why we’ll do it again. And it isn’t just one thing – It’s all of it: Watching the sun rise over the horizon, the waking of the day and the knowledge that most people will never experience this. Unfortunately, they will never see a coastal sunrise, never understand the ways of a duck on the wing, its long migration or why protecting its habitat is so important.
Hunters appreciate the environment and spend millions of dollars and time to ensure there is habitat for these animals to thrive in. Yes, it’s all so we can hunt them, as we did in our Texas Coastal Duck Hunt adventure, but we know that without them, the balance is lost. Therefore, we tighten regulations on ourselves all the time to protect them. They play a unique role in the circle of life. We make it our work to ensure they are here for the next generation. If you ever get a chance, gun or not, go experience it. Without experience, how will we ever know enough to care? Forgotten, it will be lost, and it is our duty to ensure that never happens. Conservation is everyone’s responsibility. After all, we are mere stewards of this planet, entrusted to it for future generations and their enjoyment. For the Adventure Ahead.