“Pee Dee River Ducks”
By: The Buckman
The night was dark. The stars shone bright and a Carolina moon hung over the river swamp. It was cold, the kind of cold that seeps through the body and into the bones, so cold that there were no calls from the insects of the night. Only the warble of a distant owl and the slow cackle of the dying embers of a camp fire broke the cold dead silence of the winter night.
The Buckman was stretched out with his boots off, feet warmed by the dying fire, wrapped in an old quilt, hunting coat balled under his head for a pillow, dead to the world breathing in, absorbing the swamp around him, oblivious to the cold, one with the world around him that most would find so hostile. At three-thirty his eyes popped open and the fire of life blazed through them and it would have been obvious if there were anyone there to see him that this was indeed a man of the wild.
If there were time to waste this was not it, and upon awaking, I immediately shook off the cold and set about the tasks at hand. I expertly stoked the fire and added the wood needed to break the chill of the night for those less adapted to the extremes of nature than I. I scooped fresh coffee in the pot and swung it over the fire. I tied on my boots and began loading the boat with the tried tools of the endeavor at hand. I placed the two shotguns under the seat, swung the decoy bag full of our blocks in the front of the boat and tossed in the blind bags with everything else we needed inside the console.