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Hunting is a labor of love, whether it be a love for the quarry, for the individual with whom you are hunting, or the family that will be fed through the fruits of your labor. In the case of the teal that went into this recipe, the hunt was a labor of love by Rob for his father, Ed, who at 76 is as full of shenanigans as our five-year-old daughter. Here is Rob’s account of how the hunt went.
The day started earlier than the anticipated wake-up time of 5 AM because despite the previous night’s preparations, the bags were in need of repacking and the equipment list needed one final check, so 4 AM seemed appropriate. Thank goodness for the extra time because donning waders is an elusive task even for the most limber of individuals and particularly tricky for those with stiff joints. But small victories should be celebrated such as getting both feet successfully past wader ankle constrictions and only becoming slightly entangled in suspenders.
When everything was pulled together and the two were ready to head out, Ed put the keys in a safe place and asked Rob to grab a bag of decoys from the shed. These were not plastic decoys which are light and easy to carry, but cork decoys, from the 70s, that have been so loved there is hardly any paint left on them, and they soak up water like the California farmland.
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After a three-mile ride on a two-seater ATV, filled with two adults, a large Labrador, a bag of decoys, guns, and a sled for carrying gear, they got to the parking area. Wading through waist-high water and thick tulles in your golden years can be difficult, so for safety’s sake when the gear was all put together they linked arms and shuffled the 100 yards to the blind over the course of the next twenty minutes. Upon reaching the blind tactical and evasive maneuvers were undertaken in order to safely deposit Edward into the barrel and not the pond.
As time was now of the essence Rob began putting decoys into the water. He was guided by the helpful beam of Ed’s flashlight and the forceful description of the exact location of placement.
Finally, as the sun’s rays began filtering through the tulles and the birds took to the sky Rob called out incoming ducks, well in advance of their arrival, only to be informed that those birds were flying too fast, too close, or that Ed wasn’t quite ready for that one. In other moments, birds were missed due to the simple fact that Ed was asleep.
During the last flurry of ducks before the end of the flight, Rob missed his easiest shot at a teal to which Ed responded, “There is no such thing as an easy shot at a teal, but that was an easy shot.” He then announced it was time to go in and that Rob should begin picking up the decoys because they would be heavy with water, and it could take some time.
Back at the cabin, the two spent some time looking for the safe place in which Ed had hidden the keys. Finally, upon gaining entry Rob made a fire and cooked breakfast, of which Ed consumed three bites before gently drifting to sleep, knife and fork in hand. Rob cleaned the birds, helped his dad to bed, and headed back home. Later in the day Ed called and thanked him for the hunt.