wordsfromanneli

Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


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Aching Bones

The cold snap has hit us. The suddenness of the bitter cold was a shock to us west coasters. We’re tough when it comes to wild winds and torrents of  rain, even crashing trees and power outages, but drop the mercury a tiny bit and most of us coasties are wimps. We don’t like the cold.

That wind is supposed to be southeast. Every day, every day, all through the winter, it’s southeast. What a shock when it switched to northwest. I swear I could smell polar bear fur in the wind.

Ruby, our 13-year-old springer spaniel has done some retrieving while duck hunting in the last couple of weeks, using joints and muscles she hasn’t used in a long time. Now, old age is catching up to her. She’s been having trouble with the stairs, not wanting to put weight on her left shoulder.

Just now she is soaking up the warmth of the tiles in front of the woodstove in our family room.

She does have a nice soft dog bed, but the tiles have been warmed by the fire and it’s just what her shoulder needs, while she dreams of duck hunts of the past.

 


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The Duck Blind

Since time began, humans have hunted for their food, just as all living species did to stay alive. It wasn’t until animals were domestically raised in huge numbers to provide beef, pork, and poultry, that hunting began to fall out of favour. The masses of meat-consumers don’t want to know about the killing of the animals they  enjoy when they sit down to chicken, turkey, pork chops, or beef steak, and hunting came to be frowned upon even as chicken heads continued to roll.

I’m a realist and while I don’t want to see an animal get killed, I know it has to happen so I can enjoy that meat. I’ve had to accept that hunters are not murderers, but providers of my food.

It happens that the Captain has hunted ducks since he was a young man. He braved weather that only the obsessed would do, coming home after many a duck hunt, half drowned, and with  icy toes and fingers.

You’ve heard of the old German saying, “Vee get too soon oldt, unt too late schmardt”? Well, just in time, the Captain has decided to improve on his old duck blinds and go for comfort with a newer model. The duck blind will be set up at the edge of a field where ducks often come and go. It’s often a game of “wait a while,” being patient, and keeping quiet and still. It helps if you can be out of the worst of the weather while you wait.

This box built of plywood has a hinged wind flap that will help protect the hunter against some of the worst weather and also help to hide him from the “duck’s eye view.” On calmer days, the flap can be let down.

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A door on one end is wide enough to allow a man who is bundled up in old gray Stanfields and raingear to pass through.

The hunter’s mutt has a private entrance. This makes repeated opening of the big door for the dog unnecessary and helps keep the wind out. Also, it allows for less  movement that could scare off ducks. This is where Emma would come in with her new neoprene vest on.

There are times when the ducks are not flying, so the hunter can rest on the bench and maybe have a cup of coffee from his thermos, and eat the sandwich he brought from home.  dscn7760

These photos are of the unfinished duck blind. It is now painted a neutral colour and will most likely be spray-painted in camouflage  colours or be covered with tall grasses to disguise it.

Ducks are smarter than you think. For example, look at the town crier below.

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The hardest part was probably getting the heavy box out to the field. It had to be loaded into a utility trailer for the drive to the fields. Three duck hunters, friends for decades, muscled the blind into the trailer. You have to give the old men credit for their successful effort, as one has had his knees replaced, another has had a hip replaced, and the third has a broken leg. That’s dedication.