Over the years I have learned that the greatest part about duck hunting the way we do it is the fellowship memories and the stories. There are many great stories that go along with every hunting party. If for some reason your group does not have a story then either y'all have not been together very long or y'all are just plain boring.
In the fifteen or so years that I have been duck hunting at Briary River we have created tons of great memories and many stories. The thing about memories and stories is that the days when everything goes to plan are very seldom remembered. It’s the days when it all goes wrong that stay fresh in our memories.
One of these days rings true in my memory.
It was a cold January morning and the pond had some ice on it. We had been watching some mallards that would land in the front part of the pond where we do not hunt for several weeks. This week we had a teenager hunting with us that was just getting into duck hunting. Well Buckman and myself devised a plan.
Since there are very few safe shots in the front part of the pond, especially for a beginner, I was going to sneak around behind the mallards and flush them out toward the other hunters and our newbie. I knew that I had a very limited amount of time before they decided to leave so I was acting fast. I snatched my waders on and headed around the pond through the woods. Once I got to the pond I knew that I had to get into position to have the ducks between me and him so when I started to push they would hopefully go out his way.
I was walking across the pond which was about 2 1/2 feet deep trying to stay hidden. In the center of the pond is the run of the branch which I crossed easily even though the water was getting up near the top of my waders. Or so I thought. Three steps after I “crossed the run” there was nothing there. I took a step in what should have been 2 1/2 foot water and the next thing I knew I was over my head. It was so cold that my brain shut down for a few seconds and my chest would not work.
If you have never had to swim in freezing water let me warn you that it is not as easy as you would think. You have to fight to breath, your arms and legs do not want to work, and your brain is struggling to rationalize what is going on. The run of the branch is only about 6 feet wide but it felt like I swam for hours to get out of if. In the end the duck flushed where I hoped they would when I began flailing and the kid got the shot. But as you have probably already figured out my heroic sacrifice so the kid could get the shot was quickly overshadowed by the fact that they were laughing hysterically at me.
This is only one of many times that our hunts have been interrupted by unexpected hilarity. It was not the first and I certainly hope that it will not be the last. While I have no clue how many ducks I killed that day, I will always remember it by the fellowship that was had over my miss-fortune.
Creating memories The Briary River Way