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Beyond the Blind

The Sacred Tradition of Duck Season

The Sacred Tradition of Duck Hunting

The itch usually starts in August. As the last vestiges of summer give way to the anticipation of fall, thoughts naturally turn to cooler temperatures and freedom in the form of a duck blind. 

It doesn’t matter if you’re counting the days to your first opener or your 51st; the feeling never gets old. Blame it on our evolutionary instincts, man was made to provide, and the pull of the woods and the water produce a force too strong to resist.  

So, the text goes out to the group, asking who's in for the opener, knowing full well the answer is a round of yeps. It’s always been the same answer from the same guys. Always will be. But part of the tradition is checking to make sure. Someone might be bringing somebody new this year – a well-intentioned in-law or a young pup just starting out – but the core group remains, bonded by rain-soaked memories and ties too strong to break. 

Speaking of memories, this is when the nostalgia usually sets in, a quiet moment of reminiscing about the cast of characters who’ve led you on this journey of learning and earning your way into the brotherhood. Your mind flashes back to the bumpy dirt road and scratchy bench seat, stealing glances at your dad to imitate how he sips his coffee and breathes in the early morning air with his arm hanging out the window as the radio crackles softly in the background. Grandad in red flannel in the passenger seat, his trusty ol’ 20 gauge and a sack lunch of a bologna sandwich and apple on his lap that grandma packed him the night before. And you, squeezed in between them, wearing waders two sizes too big with a smile to match. Whether they’re still here this season or they’re hunting that big swamp in the sky, you’re damn lucky either way. 

Yep, the end of summer is for making plans and patterning shots. Getting the crew together to try out the ammo and unveil new shotguns in shiny cases purchased with overtime money in the off-season. Those who describe hunting as an addiction are right. It’s a passion that gets into your blood and permeates your thoughts. It becomes part of your identity. Does a number on your bank account as well. But there are worse ways to spend your weekends, and most of those don’t fill the freezer. 

Those who don’t hunt don’t get it. And that’s okay. But there’s a sacredness that’s hard to describe. It’s the connection with nature and the indescribable peace that comes from being surrounded by God’s quiet beauty as you escape the rest of the world that’s getting louder by the day. It’s sneaking into your spot in the early morning hours to experience the woods waking up all around you, a 360-degree heightening of the senses to shake off a work week of staring at lifeless screens. It’s the literal and moral weight of the kill, knocking a honker out of the sky and grabbing it by the neck seconds later, holding your dinner and your responsibility with reverence and respect. It’s the camaraderie of the guys beside you in the blind and, later, around the fire, telling new stories and resurrecting old ones. And it’s the tradition you’re passing on to the next generation of ponytailed daughters in camo and sons in oversized waders. If the old adage is true and we’re all just walking each other home, there’s no sweeter walk than the one out to the blind on opening morning. 

The best time of the year is coming. And the good old days are now. 

Get ready, BOSSmen. Lights comin’ up in the swamp, and it's almost shooting time. 

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