Duck Season’s Over, But Hang In There…Another One Is Around The Corner

duck hunt hunting decoys
Dan Z. for SNW

By Chad Belding

When the last decoy is lifted from the water, the last feather is carefully plucked, a glass of Jack Daniel’s is poured to celebrate with friends, and the final evening of duck camp wraps up, a mix of gratitude, pride, and sadness falls over us as another season comes to a close.

Duck hunting isn’t just about an escape. For some, it’s a part of our makeup that we can’t ignore. Call it whatever fits best; a celebration of the great outdoors, a personal calling, a way to connect with something greater than ourselves. Whatever. If you’re a passionate duck hunter, it means something more than just killing ducks.

duck hunt hunting dog labrador blind
Dan Z. for SNW

So every year, when the last sun sets on the last day of the season, there’s a weight that comes along with it. What now?

There’s not just something special about duck season. It’s the duck camp with old and new friends, stories, and new recipes shared, endless laughs, learning experiences, frustrations and trials to the successes and cheering. It’s the dogs shivering with excitement as the first flocks break into view, seeing the look on a new hunter’s face experiencing the same thing you once did. Watching the drakes hunt the sounds you’ve spent hundreds of hours perfecting. The smell of gunpowder, to the sound of silence that’s not really silent at all. It’s all of it. It’s everything.

duck hunt hunting call blind Courtney Nicolson
Dan Z. for SNW

So when each season comes to a close, it’s nearly impossible not to feel the sadness that comes along with it. But like a lot of great things, distance truly makes the heart grow fonder.

The anticipation of a new year, the planning, watching a mallard hen tenderly care for her clutch of little ones, protecting them from all the dangers of nature, daydreaming of that opening morning’s crisp air, getting some new gear you’ve had your eye on for a while, tending to your guns, washing the decoys, and cooking this season’s bounty—it sure makes a person grateful for the opportunities and grateful for what’s to come.

duck hunt hunting dog labrador retriever
Dan Z. for SNW

Even with that immense gratitude, I often hear hunters expressing deep sadness and even depression this time of year. Days spent on the water and in the blinds are some of the best of our lives. It would simply be strange not to mourn the pause of such a blessed part of our lives.

I even see it in our dogs. Have you ever gone to grab your gear to clean it off after the season closes and look over to see that look on your bird dog’s face? They get it.

duck hunt hunting ducks
Dan Z. for SNW

This past season was exceptionally challenging for a lot of hunters in America. If you’re one of them, don’t fret. The hard years are what make us better hunters and make the good seasons greater.

I’m not alone in saying that the countdown until the next opener in the fall is already on. In the meantime, think of all those good times out there and celebrate what makes this life so special.

One Response

  1. Haven’t duck hunted before, I do pigeon hunt, get to do that all year round, but i could maybe try duck this year.

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