I did not grow up in a hunting family so the world of ducks and deer and camouflage was completely new to me. While Caleb and I were dating I got to tag along on my first hunt, one that he looked forward to all year- the Thanksgiving duck/goose hunt in Arkansas. We stayed in what was dubbed the “Mouse Shack,” which was a make-shift building that they rented for the duck season. Through the years they had added bunk beds, a few yard sale sofas and even a cook top. But don’t be deceived, you could still see through the floor boards to the ground below and I’m told they killed about 30-40 mice on each visit (hence the name). As the only girl on the trip, I was given the sleeper sofa in the living room while all the guys (Caleb and his cousins and uncles) occupied the bunks.
The morning of the hunt started around 4 am. We pulled on our waders, jackets, hats and gloves and hopped on the 4-wheelers. The blinds were out in the middle of a flooded rice field, almost imperceivable to my untrained hunting eye. We settled in and Caleb gave me a debrief on what to expect come shooting time. The fields began to brighten and with it the birds filled the air. What had been a near silent environment was now filled with the sound of duck calls, shots fired, and the occasional congratulatory, “Nice shot,” comment. The hunt was over in about thirty minutes and we made our way back to the shack with a limit of ducks. The guys were full of banter and story-telling and reminiscing about past hunts.
That first hunt opened up a window into Caleb’s world, a world that my girls and I have grown to appreciate alongside him. Its not necessarily the ducks and the camo that draws me in, rather it is his passion and enjoyment. For him, hunting holds his fondest memories as a boy, a brotherhood of uncles, cousins and his beloved grandfather. It is a culture that is home to him, one that makes him come alive.
As the hunting season has opened in many places, I hope that all you hunters are able to get out there and enjoy the early morning chill and the thrill of the chase. And for all you non-hunters like myself, enjoy the dinner they put on the table!