I had never been hunting – I was in England so this time is huntinG. Our family friends in England – the father, LM, asked if I’d like to go. Sure – often up for a new learning experience. He was taking his second son – his first son, R, did not like killing animals. R had no trouble eating them though. R was pretty sure, he had known me most of my life by then, that I would not like it. And frankly, I think R hoped I wouldn’t, because he felt a unique kinship with me and that might go by the wayside if I enjoyed hunting.
As we drove to the hunt, LM abruptly stopped the car. LM: J, get that bird.
We were picking up road kill. Ugh. Nothing wasted around here. They actually had fared okay – the bodies where the meat was, was intact. The heads….not so good.
LM left me with his second son, aged around 10, and the “guide”. It was a sort of club so there were around 10 or so in different blinds.
We waited. The guide was giving J instructions. I was listening. J had a child’s enthusiasm and energy. This was a sport that required steady, relaxed, caution, and stealth. The guide was very patient.
Then we heard the first group of ducks approaching. There! We saw the first ducks flying over so beaut- bam!
Two were hit with one shot and dropped like rocks to the ground.
Wow. Um. OK. R was right. Can I go home now?
I remembered my manners: Great shot, though, LM.
I kept these thoughts to myself.
J missed every shot.
Several more ducks were shot and as dusk became night and no more ducks were flying; they stopped.
Now it was the dogs’ turn.
One dog brought a duck in it’s mouth. LM told his son: J, take the duck from the dog.
J was busily petting the duck saying, Nice duck, nice duck.
I thought: Doesn’t look good. Don’t think LM will succeed in interesting his second son, last chance, in hunting either.
The dog, thinking J was taking the duck, opened its mouth. The duck dropped onto its feet, looked around, squawked or quacked and ran (as much as a waddling duck can run) off.
The dog took after it.
Eventually the dog brought the duck back.
LM said: J take the duck from the dog’s mouth and ring its neck.
J just couldn’t quite get it done right – couldn’t get the first instruction done even – his reluctance was clearly guiding him.
So LM took the duck from the dog’s mouth-
Just then one of the hunters somehow engaged me in conversation and somehow pointed me away from the action.
I was grateful. As we heard the first thwack against the tree, the hunter said, “Bet there’s a few producers you’d like to do that to!”
We laughed. It distracted me and lightened the moment enormously for me. I’ve often wondered whatever happened to that guy – what a great insight he had and great management of people and kindness.
Having gathered up all the ducks, we all got back in the vehicles we came and headed home.
R was waiting: Well?
Ohh, unbeknownst to me where life would take me 12 years later, I said: I can check that one off. Interesting, though.
R was quite self-satisfied with the I told you so look.
That evening, the cook made a delicious dish. Road kill.