A friend sent me some stuff over the internet last week. While I admit to being an amateur at internet stuff, I’m of the opinion that probably 90% of internet stuff is jokes and funny stories passed along from user to user, until finally each piece of information, no matter how worthless, is exhibited to every compooter owner in the world.

Of course, we’re all familiar with the fact that, using the Hasmatic Code from II Hezikiah, “Internet” is “Ten Satans” spelled backwards. Remember how the country went to pot (literally!) after it was discovered (too late!) that some hard rock bands were producing records that, when played backwards, emitted Satanic messages? Well, I’m not sure how Satanic it might be, but included in what Laura sent me last week was the simple statement that “A duck’s quack does not echo, and no one knows why.”

Does anyone care why? If the statement is true, that is.

It is entirely within the realm of belief to assume that a government study somewhere, funded for millions of dollars, came to this conclusion. If the government has seriously studied cow flatulence, it is easy to see how the Powers-That-Be might also be concerned about duck quacks echoing.

However, the government might have learned, for free, that no duck quacks were echoing in most Southern states this past season, for the simple reason that we had no ducks. Summer didn’t end here in the Delta until January 27th, and Spring commenced on February 9th, so ducks who normally winter down here had a quickie visit. I killed my first duck when I was nine years old, down at the old Swan Lake Club, so I claim a half century of expertise on the subject, and I can’t ever recall a dryer, warmer duck season, the very year we had a closing late enough to allow us to shoot ducks when we had ducks!

Instead of spending untold millions on a study by non-hunting echo-specializing scientists, why couldn’t Uncle Sam have just sent out a survey form to every hunter who bought duck stamps, iron BBs, patched his waders, painted his decoys, and otherwise anticipated a bountiful duck season this year, asking, “Have you, or anyone who occupied a blind with you this season, heard a duck quack? If so, did you hear it echo?”

Heckfire, they could have enclosed a check for ten thousand bucks with each survey, valid only if you sent the questionaire back in. They’d have gotten the answers from experts, saved money, and made the guys who invested uselessly in duck stuff happy.

Yet it’s not the killing of ducks, nor even the hearing of quack echos, that makes us go back to the lakes, rivers, pot holes, and flooded fields every season.

Adam and Cuz never fired a shot on the hunt when they found a full-grown hawk frozen in the ice. They chipped “Iceberg” free, bundled him up in Adam’s coat, and spent the rest of the week nursing him back to health. I’ll never forget the look on Betsy’s face when she walked into the den that day, to see a full-grown hawk sitting by the fireplace, eating bits of fish fillet from her son’s hand!

Mom Raines and I didn’t pop a cap the morning we saw a bald eagle swoop down and try to catch one of our decoys. The sound of his talons on plastic will never be forgotten, nor his accusing shriek when he realized his error. The eagle probably won’t forget the laughter of the two hunters, either.

Richard Taylor and I stood in a Mississippi River bar pit one evening waiting for the wood ducks to come to roost, which they did, but only ten minutes after shooting time was over. We stood concealed next to our willows in waist-deep water until black dark, as woodies poured into that hole, often lighting within arm’s reach. When we waded out at pitch-black dark, trudging duckless back to the boat, I whispered, “Wow!” then, “Why am I whispering?” And Richard whispered back one word: “Reverence!”

Ronny James, Brer Beau, and I sat on stools in a flooded beanfield one afternoon and never fired, just muffled our laughter because of the aerobatics of one hen mallard. That old susie would do a roll on every pass over the decoys, flying upside-down above us! Same hen, every time.

It’s the Being There that counts, not what you kill, nor the non-echoes of quacks!


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