“Shadows of the Mindâ€

Discussion in 'Field & Outdoor Memories Photos' started by Dick, May 16, 2005.

  1. Dick

    Dick New Member

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    <HR style="COLOR: #3b491f" SIZE=1> <!-- / icon and title --><!-- message --> <DIV>The Kid would frequently walk to the river past the “Dark House†at the end of the street. That house was strange indeed for thy youngster. It was imagined to contain many strange items as well as occupants. <BR><BR>The outside of the house took on a different look each fall. The garage and shed doors would stand open with the strange contents half hidden. The strange old man who lived there rarely said a word, would throw things into large sacks, and get a very small odd shaped boat out and tie it on the top of his car where it would stay until sometime in January. The screened in porch had many odd looking items hanging from the rafters.The Kid always avoided the “Dark Houseâ€<BR><BR>Fall brought new events to investigate for the Kid. He would take his 20 gauge shotgun with him constantly to hunt Rabbits, occasional Pheasant and always Squirrels to bag. <BR><BR>During one of these fall days the Kid was walking along the banks of the river as a duck lifted off the river from near the closest bank. He took aim, fired and the duck fell into the river current. Wondering what he would do to retrieve the duck, he soon found that the only way he would get that duck was to wade into the icy water with a stick and try to hook the duck and bring it in. Unknown to the Kid the duck was in the main channel of the river and he soon was into the water to his waist. Jumping back to the bank he took off his jacket and started back into the river to swim after the downed bird. In a short time he retrieved it and once on the bank he admired its bright bluish purple head, white side and breast feathers, the way the wings were shaped and the positioning of the legs on the rearward part of the body. Yes, the Kid had just harvested his first duck, a Drake Scaup. Unbeknownst to the Kid this event would be his introduction to a very addictive sport called “Duck Huntingâ€.<BR><BR>It took long minutes which seemed like hours for the Kid to finally start to pull feathers off his first bird. As he was plucking the bird thoughts of how beautiful it was and how many other types of ducks he had seen during the fall and what it would be like to hunt these as well. He knew full well where the ducks were sitting since he had seen them many times while hunting other game. <BR><BR>On one fine sunny, chilly fall day the Kid walked along one of many sand quarries in the area where he enjoyed the fall hunting rabbits. As he walked along brush covered areas next to the quarries he noticed ducks sitting close to one bank. Lowering himself low to the ground he started to sneak to a point where he was next to the water and maybe get close to the ducks to get a good shot. As the Kid snuck around a brush covered corner he ran face to face with the strange old man from the “Dark House†half hidden in the brush. The old man barked at the Kid, “What the blue blazes hell are you doing, Kid?†Startled and frightened beyond belief the Kid stammered,†Sneaking up on those ducks out there!†The old man gave off a half grin and said “Those aren’t ducks, they are duck decoys. Are you trying to tell me you are duck hunting?†“Yesâ€, stammered the Kid. The old man widened his grin “If you are going to duck hunt you had better know how to do it and what you are doing is not duck hunting. Sit down, hide yourself and listen to what I am about to say. If you are to become a duck hunter you need to think like the ducks, know what each one looks like on the water and in the air, learn that ducks are a lot more wary than any rabbit, squirrel or pheasant you ever jumped out of the weeds.†The old man just kept on talking about strange things the Kid had never even heard about. Things like migrations, sounds of the different ducks, patterns the ducks made while in flight, colors of ducks, where ducks lived and so much more the Kid’s head was spinning trying to think of a way to get up and run, for now he knew the old man was truly not in his right mind. Then the old man whispered loudly, “Don’t move†The Kid froze both in mid thought and movement, for he was petrified not to do as was instructed for surely this old man would drown him and leave him right there in the quarry. The tell tale sound of a duck quacking rang out in the distance and all of a sudden the same sound was coming from the brush where the old man was half hidden. The old man had some strange object he was blowing into to make the sound. The Kid looked up and there in front of him were ducks, lots of ducks and they looked like they were going to land right in front of him. The old man whispered again, “If you’re going to duck hunt you had better get up and shoot that gun at these duck in front of you.†The Kid raised up, snapped the safety off on the 20 ga., and pulled the trigger only to see the ducks suddenly try to gain altitude. A loud bang went off next the Kid and he just about jumped out of his clothes. One of the ducks splashed in the quarry and laid there with a white belly pointing skyward. The old man said nothing, just grunted and got to his feet and began to wade into the shallow water of the quarry. His hip boots shined from years of wear and there were what looked like bicycle inner tube patches on the sides and knees of the boots. After bringing the bird back to the bank, the old man grunted something about Mallard and began to pick up what he called decoys and threw them into a bag.<BR><BR>The old man started out of the quarry he half yelled to the Kid “You want a ride home?†The Kid shaken by the experience of the old man, the one sided conversation, excitement of shooting at a duck on the wing, and watching the old man take that duck responded “No, Sir. I can walk.†To which the old man replied,†Suit yourself.†As the old man topped the lip of the quarry he turned and called back to the Kid, “If you want to learn more of this, be at my house on Friday after school.†He crested the quarry and disappeared. The Kid started the short walk home thinking all the way about what had just happened and what might happen if he did indeed go the “Dark House†on Friday. The thought of that chilled the youngster to the bone. That house and everything about it was strange and even stranger was the old man.<BR><BR>Friday came and the Kid found himself walking the familiar path down the street to the river. As he approached the “Dark House†his path did not arc around the house, but instead the Kid found himself knocking on the back door of the house. The old man appeared at the door after what seemed like an eternity for the Kid who by this time was thinking of running. With the old man standing there the Kid was riveted in his tracks. The old man asked the Kid, “Do you want to listen and learn something about duck hunting?†All the Kid could do was nod. The old man added, “Then go out to the garage and I will be right with you.†The Kid did as instructed and upon entering the open doors of the garage was dumbfounded by what he saw. There were decoys of every shape and color strewn around in different forms of piles. The Kid noticed that all the decoys seemed to be made from wood with some of them missing heads or seemly chewed up by some sort of animal. There were boat oars, spools of heavy cord, burlap bags, musty smelling canvas, and many unidentifiable things the Kid had never seen before. There was a ton of that stuff lying around the garage piled in every corner and some stacked higher than the Kid was tall. The old man appeared in the open door and blurted out, “Nice bunch of gear, huh, Kid?†The Kid nodded. The old man instructed the Kid to get a wooden crate and sit down. He then informed the Kid that they were going to tie some lead weights on those decoys. The Kid thought, if they were going to tie weights on all of the decoys in that garage, they would be there for a week. The old man instructed the Kid to watch him and he would tie the first few weights and then it would be time for the Kid to do some. The old man deftly threaded the heavy cord through what looked like a leather strap nailed to the bottom of the decoys. He showed the Kid some special knot to tie and the measured off a length of cord by unrolling it by ten arm lengths. He then tied a large lead weight on the other end of the cord and began to wrap the cord around the decoy in a figure eight pattern. The old man told the Kid that his arms were too short and he was to unroll the cord twenty times and then cut it. The Kid did as he was told and started to do what the old man called “Rigging Blocksâ€.<BR><BR>The old man sat on a crate next to the Kid and as they rigged blocks the old man asked the Kid to relate what he had said the previous time at the quarry. The Kid said he could only remember the excitement he had realized and could not remember anything the old man had said. The old man grinned and started to tell the Kid again. As the old man talked the Kid sat there in awe at all the knowledge the old man had about ducks. The old man would periodically wander off and talk about special times at special places and what had happened on those days. His conversation would drift from one facet of duck hunting to the ducks to the equipment. All the time the Kid tried to soak in as much as his young mind could absorb. Suddenly the Kid felt something was not right. He turned and there in the door was a very large dog. The Kid thought he was a goner since that dog was surely going to chew him up. The old man called to the dog and the dog came into the garage and the old man told him to lay down. The dog did exactly as he was told the laid down at the old man’s feet.The Kid had a dog, but it never behaved like this dog.The old man told the Kid that he could pet the dog and it was OK. The Kid reached for the dog’s head and petted him. The tail on the dog wagged faster and soon the Kid and the dog were getting used to one another. After what seem like a very short time the old man told the Kid to go home and if the Kid wanted to learn more be back at the garage the next day at three in the afternoon sharp. The Kid left with a feeling of understanding right along with some sort of feeling of wonder. <BR><BR>The next afternoon at three the Kid was standing once again in the door of the garage. The Kid knew from the looks of the house and the empty driveway that there was no one home. The Kid thought he was not to see the old man that day and felt a little left out of something. Just as the Kid turned to go home the old man’s car with that funny boat tied on the top pulled into the driveway. The old man stepped out went to the rear of the car and opened the trunk. He pulled out several ducks and told the Kid to come over there and get them and put them in the screened in porch. As the Kid picked up the ducks he noticed they had been cut open and the entrails were taken out. He took the ducks to the porch as instructed and soon the old man was there and he began to hang them from the porch rafters. The old man told the Kid that he hung the ducks there and they would age and when he was ready to eat them he came out and got one and plucked it for his dinner. One more lesson taught.<BR><BR>As time went on that fall the old man instructed the Kid to be at certain places at certain times and he would try to make the Kid learn more about duck hunting. There were the numerous trips to the quarry for some duck hunting, The old man would always sit and talk and the Kid would listen. As the fall became winter the old man would not go out as much, but instead would insist the Kid always sit in the garage with him to learn. The conversations with the old man were of calling of ducks, setting up the stool of blocks, how the wind would influence the ducks, how to identify different ducks, where different ducks could be found, why the boat looked so funny, how to load the equipment and decoys into the boat, how the boat would be hidden in weeds and there were also the many side tracked stories of duck hunts from the past.<BR><BR></DIV>