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<P>LESSONS (Part 2)<BR><BR>As the days of summer passed and the leaves started to turn with the advent of fall, Mr. Feeney began the skyward looks again and the different talks. This fall was different in that the Kid was experiencing the same thoughts, skyward looks, and the anticipation of the cementing of experiences of a new found teacher and friend as the duck season approached. The Kid called the man “Mr. Feeney†a lot more often and Mr. Feeney called the Kid “Son†a lot more often. Only when the Kid seemed to be a little sassy did Mr. Feeney call him “Kid†and at that point the Kid knew he had been wrong and the response would always go back to the “Yes or No, Sirsâ€.<BR><BR>During that fall Mr. Feeney taught the art of “Diver†hunting to the Kid from the boat in what seemed to be in the middle of the lake. The setting up of what seemed like a thousand decoys, the low twisting and wing whistling, black and white streaks almost touching the water as they set into the decoys, the numerous missed shots by the Kid, and the many birds taken by the old man. The “King of the Divers†was introduced to the Kid when a small group of Canvasback Ducks came into the mixed spread of black and white decoys with the bleach bottles mixed among them. Mr. Feeney seemed never too interested in shooting one and explained they were becoming fewer and fewer and until they got back to where they should be he would not really take any.<BR><BR>The local marsh area produced newly found ducks as well when a very gaudy looking duck sat into the decoy spread and Mr. Feeney informed the Kid not to shoot that duck. The Kid asked why and he was told only that they were protected. It was the first Wood Duck the Kid had ever seen. After allowing the duck to swim through the decoys for a long period of time the Kid marveled at the colors. Mr. Feeney told the Kid all about the Woodies as he called them. He talked about their whistles as opposed to a quack, their nests in trees as opposed to in the reeds and how when the young hatched the hen would sit in the water below the tree and whistle the ducklings out of the tree nest.<BR><BR>Other whistling ducks were introduced to the Kid during the marsh and lake hunts. There was the Widgeon as well as the Pintail. <BR><BR>There were the long lulls in the hunting where Mr. Feeney would talk of the sun rise we had seen, the way the wind and weather was affecting the ducks and then the sunset we watched. He always talked about how all of what I had seen and done needed to be given to someone else during my lifetime. His conversations went from his father who market hunted to the duck stamp that was required and why to how we needed to make sure all of this was somehow passed on into the future.<BR><BR>One week end evening after returning to the garage, Mr. Feeney told the Kid to ask his mother and father if it they would allow him to take the Kid to dinner on the following Thursday. Not knowing what the old man was up to, but curious at the same time, the Kid went home and asked his parents about the dinner. They approved and the Kid informed Mr. Feeney. Thursday came and Mr. Feeney came to the Kid’s house in the boat hauling car. The Kid’s parents knew of Mr. Feeney and knew what he did for a living as well as the reputation he had for being a little strange to a lot of the neighbors. The Kid thought the neighbors have never spent any time with the old man therefore really did not know the vast amount of knowledge he processed. The Kid could have cared less what Mr. Feeney did for a living only that he had all of the knowledge of duck hunting and was willing to share it with the Kid. Little did the Kid realize that what Mr. Feeney did for a living would impact the Kid later. The Kid slid into the front seat of the car and he and Mr. Feeney headed toward the downtown area of town. They arrived at one of the local cafes in town and once inside went to a large room where a lot of other old men with the same look the Mr. Feeney had frequently exhibited, dressed in all kinds of attire, were standing around, talking, drinking coffee or soft drinks and with a little eavesdropping the Kid quickly found that most all of the talk was of duck hunting. Mr. Feeney went around to many of the men and talked about the same things he and the Kid talked about in the marsh and on the lake. Once or twice Mr. Feeney introduced the Kid to some of the men as “This is the Kid I have been telling you about!†The Kid did not care what Mr. Feeney told them nor how he introduced him to the others just as long as the Kid could listen to the other old men talk about their duck hunting. Then one of the men made an announcement that everyone should find a chair and order something to eat. The café waitresses came to each one there and took their order and most of the men seemed to know exactly what they wanted as if they had done this many times before. Mr. Feeney asked the Kid what he wanted to eat and the Kid ordered the usual youngster’s staple, a Hamburger and Cola. After most of those present finished eating that same man who said for them to eat stood up and talked about the lack of Wood Ducks, Canvasback Ducks and how there was a need for everyone there to give extra money over and above what the cost of a duck stamp was to make sure duck hunting was to remain and so future folks could enjoy the same things they had in years to come. The Kid did not know it until the ride home, but he had been drug to a local meeting of Ducks Unlimited. Mr. Feeney told the Kid that if he was to enjoy the sport of duck hunting as long as some of the old men who were at that café that the Kid needed to stay in touch with that organization.<BR><BR>Mr. Feeney by now had obtained two additional dogs and he had built a large pen in the back of the house for them. Of course this only set the eyebrows of the neighbors higher when the dogs were taken out of the pen and taught how to obey and retrieve. There were the decoys that were chewed up when the new dogs were puppies and then strewn around the pen, the constantly tipped over dog dishes, the small and large holes that appeared along the perimeter of the pen’s fence, along with the ever present laughter of Mr. and Mrs. Feeney and the Kid when the young dogs would do something foolish or not get a command properly. Mr. Feeney was laughing one time at one of the young dogs and while looking directly at the Kid asked Mrs. Feeney, “Look like anyone you know?†She just smiled and nodded her agreement and the Kid could for the life of him not figure out what was going on.<BR><BR>The lessons continued with the ever passing days to include more and more duck calling, how to take care of all the gear, packing and unpacking the car and boat, being prepared to hunt any type of duck that might be flying on any particular morning and just getting better aquatinted with each other in both a verbal and the ever knowing silent manner.<BR><BR>One morning as the two newly found friends sat in the boat at the lake a far away sound got the immediate attention of Me. Feeney. He looked skyward squinting into the direction of the sound. He said, “Geeseâ€. The Kid had not really heard geese like that before, only in the dark as they were migrating and the only geese the Kid had seen were flying very high in the tell tale V formations as they were flying south. The geese got nearer and nearer to the lake and Mr. Feeney pointed them out to the Kid as they approached. They were very low and honking constantly. As they came nearer they set their wings and sat in the lake about a quarter of the way across from where the two were sitting. Mr. Feeney told the Kid that there was the ultimate trophy of all waterfowl. He had not seen that many geese around in many years. He informed the Kid that if he ever got a Giant Canada Goose in the bag he had achieved the best in waterfowling and if he ever bagged a Wild Turkey he had achieved the best in upland bird hunting since there were very few of each of these left.<BR><BR>As the duck season came to an end that year it seemed like Mr. Feeney was not available in the open door of the garage as often as in the past. In fact the door to the garage seemed to be shut more often now. The Kid wondered what the cause of all of this was and soon to find out……..<BR><BR><BR></P>
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