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Opening Day

The moment the diesel fires up and the decoys are loaded, it is finally time… dove season is as relevant as a salad at a steak house and there is no time like the present. An eager tail beats like a drum against the kennel wall as final preparations are made by the dim guide of the headlamps. A kiss on the, sleeping, wife’s forehead and an apple for the road is all that stands in the way of opening morning. The truck splashes down the trail that holds ruts full of memories from seasons past and fuels the anticipation for memories to come. The feel of early season is unmatched, it is still warm enough to wear a sweatshirt alone and play ball after lunch. However, today is different than the past, opening day changes everything from daydreams to trigger pulls.

What will soon be a routine is today, an experiment; what worked in seasons past is, an estimate and in the upcoming hour the unknown will be a click of the safety and a retrieve for the Labrador.

Each decoy is cast out clean and freshly rigged. No tangle is present because  this moment has been coming since summer. In a design that possesses a beauty many do not understand, the decoys mimic the natural positioning of the flocks that are to come. What often seems like throwing gravel into a creek to the newcomer in the blind, is actually a precise placement preparing for migrating friends. A quick jaunt out of sight and the truck is hidden for the hunt that is about to take place. The same tail that pounded the kennel wall now swiftly sweeps the field behind the blind door. It is crucial to get everything situated just as preseason-dreams mocked up, and brush the ground blinds to disappear from the bird’s eye view. The sky turns royal blue and the moment is near, final details must get worked out. Check the wind not once, but three times no doubt, because the first morning pass will soon begin.

Wings whistle above and the time is here once again. Continuously monitoring the time, five minutes till legal shooting-time and ducks slowly start to dive in. Three minutes till war, and the enemy swims like a friend  amongst the iron horse through the decoy spread. These next two minutes feel like they will never end, and at last the hunt can begin. Birds circle over-head as the clock finally reaches legal shooting time and the next pass brings offseason to an end. Wings cupped, shells in, safety off… will you successfully start season again?

“Take Em”