Friday, March 19, 2010

Duck Tale

Last night he says to me:

I was out there in my spot by Two Pond Tickle about five years ago now. It’s some hard to catch one of those big black ducks with the creamy chests, you know? You have to lay in the cover for up to four hours sometimes, not even breathing, their hearing is so good. Patience of Job you’d need, let me tell ya.

And out she comes from behind the rushes. Gliding out she was, I could hear her feet in the water, that’s how quiet it was. Beautiful colour - that black that looks like navy blue contrasting off the cream. She was putting herself upside down from time to time, all in a kind of rhythm, catching the little silverbacks in her beak, tossing them about before she swallowed them. I could hear the sound of the water drops, the paddle of her feet, the toss of her head, the way the breeze stirred her feathers.

I remember thinking, that’s like poetry out there. Herself reflected in the water, doing a dance, almost like that fancy ballet stuff, down to catch the silverback, up to toss it a little, then swallow it down, me all alone in the bush, not even breathing for sure as night she could hear me if I did. Those ducks are some good to eat. Lots of good meat on them.

It seemed like it took me an hour to raise the gun and get her in my sights. One clean shot and it was all over. Sunday dinner all ready to be plucked and gutted and roasted.

So I waded out to get her and took her by the neck. And something happened. Now you won’t be laughing at me? But I felt my heart breaking in two. And then, damned if I didn’t start to cry with the water up to me thighs in the waders and me holding the stupid dead bird by the neck. Me, a tough old hunter in me fifties, imagine! And I splashed back to the shore and dug a hole with the butt of me rifle. It took me a fair whack of time, it did. And then I buried her and put a cairn on the top and said a little prayer when I was done with all that.

And I went off and got myself a good camera, you’ve seen it.
And I threw away the rifle.
And the only thing I’ll ever shoot now are pictures.


  1. definitely my preferred way of shooting anything

  2. I have to agree with Twain12... that is the way I shoot as well... with my lens... :)

    By the way, the way you told the story and how it ended was brilliant....

  3. Wow. What a lovely piece - beautifully written - thank you.

  4. That's how we all should be shooting our birds. What a monumental moment that was, when his heart broke. He did the right thing subsequently. If only he hadn't killed that duck.

  5. Wonderfully told.

    Life is suffering. Sometimes you shoot the duck, sometimes the duck shoots you.

    That duck shot him right through the heart.

  6. There's no way I could ever shoot a duck or any other bird. An animal maybe if it was threatening my life or someone else's. A wonderfully told story.

  7. I am about to check out the results of my shooting today... with the camera of course. Never held a firearm of any type and never want to.

  8. Had myself a similar experience in my twenties. Squinted down the 12-bore at a young Mallard drake coming into land on a local pond, but couldn't pull the trigger. Hell, I'd done it a hundred times before with nary a qualm.
    Next day I threw the gun and all my fishing tackle into the attic, and as far as know they're still there.
    This world's got a load of food mountains, all in the wrong places. There's no need to kill more.

  9. marvelous tale telling. the ending was both sad and hopeful - poor duck!

  10. I'm no good with a camera. I can only imagine that if I took up hunting, right after pigs fly, I would cut off their heads and mess up their crops.

  11. I was trying to read the other comments but my eyes were full of tears, so I don't know what they said.


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