The sights and sounds of fall are something I anxiously wait for all year long. Leaves rusting in the dark, deer meandering through the timber, and the anticipation of what’s to come keep me coming back time and time again.
Deer hunting is what started my love for the outdoors and continues to occupy the bulk of my fall schedule. However, as a Producer for Michigan Out of Doors TV, I have had the opportunity to experience and take part in a wide variety of outdoor adventures I would have otherwise never tried. One of the activities I first experienced as a cameraman, that eventually became a hobby of mine, is duck hunting. Nowadays, the whistle of a wood duck and the whimper of a dog ready to retrieve are a regular part of my fall hunting season.
Mornings in the marsh chasing waterfowl differ significantly from mornings spent in a tree. For one, I always have the company of my 6-year-old lab, Boone, when chasing ducks. Boone is a 75-pound lab that was born to retrieve. I’d like to take credit for his retrieving abilities, but truth be told, he was good at it almost immediately. He was retrieving waterfowl at 6 months old and has been doing it ever since.
He’s not perfect, just like his trainer, but when it comes to finding and returning waterfowl, he continues to impress me. Although every trip with Boone requires a thorough bath before he steps foot in the house to resume his duties as our family pet, I can’t picture duck hunting without him.
There’s also a social aspect to waterfowl hunting that separates it from deer hunting. More often than not, a morning in the marsh also involves a couple of friends, a hot cup of coffee, and a breakfast after the hunt wraps up. Having the ability to talk between waterfowl encounters and give each other grief about missed shots is one of my favorite parts about waterfowl hunting. The older I get the more I value the time spent with friends and family over any other part of the hunt and it’s certainly part of the reason why I occasionally favor chasing ducks over deer.
With two young kids, my spare time is increasingly limited and when the wind and temperatures are just right, I’ll probably always choose a tree stand over the flooded timber. However, as fall approaches, I can’t help but think about the sound of duck wings beating at daybreak and watching my lab do what he was born to do. There was a time in my life when I would have never missed an opportunity to jump in a tree stand, but now I make it a point to spend some time in the marsh every year.
Whether it’s duck hunting, deer hunting, or something else, don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone an experience something new this fall!
To view the article in the online 2021 Fall Partners Magazine, click here.