This season will be a little bit different this year, at least for a week that is, because DU and I will be taking along a visitor on our hunting excursions. His name is Chaos, he's a redhead (no ginger jokes, please!), in addition, apparently he has an affinity for bars, especially those seedier ones filled with whiskey and a loose woman or two. A kind of exchange-student program, the idea was sparked by Adam Young, a dedicated and at oftentimes, overexcited young man whose overzealous nature concerning duck hunting drew me in like a perfectly placed decoy spread. His Twitter account was full of HELL YEAH, WATERFOWL of an EXTREME nature, and all the things that make waterfowl hunting a passion that so few hold dear. Young grouped together a gaggle of waterfowl hunters, spanning from Wisconsin to Iowa, California to Montana, Ohio to Massachusetts, Minnesota to Texas. He then proposed an idea to this like-minded group, to share a decoy for one season. We were to record our thoughts, feelings, experiences in not only written form but photographic as well (video for me, too, so stay tuned as you know it'll be good!). We all readily agreed, picked our dates and now we're waiting for Chaos' arrival.
Before Chaos set out to spread his own brand of mischievousness upon the homes of The Goose Mafia and Luke Kujacznski, Young asked me to write a story that could be used to explain Chaos' upbringing, how he came to want to fly around the country in such aberrant way, and of course, why we're partaking in such a project. I agreed, happy to help in any way I could, and wrote the following story. Keep in mind, I wrote the piece before the then-innocent decoy changed his name to Chaos (must have been that Goose Mafia crew that made the innocent little redhead transform into a firecracker...) and prior to his whirlwind adventure, which means that the story took place well before Young ever thought of the project. Young plucked the otherwise invisible decoy from obscurity, took him under his wing (possibly vice-versa but Chaos isn't talking) and let him fly.
DUCK, DUCK, DUCK, BOOM;
The Tales of a Traveling Decoy
Stewart was just the regular, run- of- the- mill decoy, from his red head to his stagnant cork tail. His life was the same as any other decoy. He was crafted from the hands of one more skilled than he then sat on a shelf with his fellow Aves members, waiting to be plucked and do what he was born to do.
Sure he wished that he resembled the Mandarin down the way, his orange feathers shining like a hunter walking through dead timber on a frosty December day.
And of course he yearned to mirror the head of the Mallard, trading his red hued dome for a richer, forest-friendly color.
But for all the wishing he did, he never foresaw what would happen when he was finally brought home.
It was a regular Joe, sporting old school camouflage, who brought home a barrel of decoys, Stewart included. Shoved into a mesh bag with his brethren, our main concern happily gazed out as his birthplace faded in the distance, swaying back and forth as his new owner’s feet padded across the gravel road.
I have finally made it, Stewart said to himself. I have made it and now I will be the most convincing duck that God ever put on water.
Stewart did not have to wait long.
His new owner was busy with his life, kids and pregnant wife, filled with a life Stewart had never known. So, with the time crunch, the owner only had mere days before duck season came around to put his new decoy family to deadly use.
Stewarts’s lids pulled back and began adjusting to the light as the garage door began retreating from the ground. Wishing he could flap his feathers and stretch out his concrete limbs, Stewart sat, immobile, watching the owner run about, collecting guns, shells, and beef jerky in his monster hands as quickly as possible. Voices were heard in the distance and as Stewart strained his ears to hear them, he noticed 6 pairs of muddy boots appear next to the mesh bag.
Laughing, a man tore open the bag and fetched our hero from his stagnant place. The man seemed to inspect every inch of Stewart before throwing him into the air.
Stewart’s first flight was a brief one but one that would make him different from his ducky counterparts forever. While they sat in their ignorance in that hole- ridden bag, Stewart was soaring through the air, just like a duck was supposed to do.
Stewart returned to the groundness of earth enlightened, and as his unaware neighbors were set upon the water in precise patterns, he saw them for what they were, faux ducks.
He knew he wanted to help these men, these hunters of the foggy morning but he also knew he wanted to tap into his natural instinct, to fly and be one with the expansive blue above.
Stewart bobbed along with the waves that morning, allowing his Anatidae body to succumb to the therapeutic modulation of the transparent liquid black. When the water allowed, he looked at the hunters, huddled in the boat, laughing like drunkards at a pub, red-faced and obviously thrilled even though no ducks had graced their skies with their streaks of color.
When the ducks did come, Stewart’s blue beak turned the angry hue of jealousy, seeing the birds in flight, dipping and diving to avoid the incoming steel assault.
Some birds fell and while our main duck fell with them, he still hankered for a chance to fly with the rest.
The hunt ended. Stewart watched as the hunters placed each of his brothers and sisters into the mesh bag. He watched as the hunters surveyed their empty spread, finished their coffee and took off, the long-tailed motor propelling them home.
Stewart sat and waited.
Other ducks came; they tried in vain to communicate with the odd Aythya Americana to no luck.
Night fell and with it our sad hero’s spirits.
He sat until the following morning when another group of hunters came upon the spot.
Laughing at the fortune of finding such a striking decoy in the middle of the swamp, they vowed to pass along the lucky duck amongst one another.
Stewart, in his glory, saw many lakes, ponds, swamps, and creeks.
He was amused by the large number of ducks who tried, again in vain, to make his acquaintance.
He was passed between the men for years until the group began falling off, one by one. One stopped hunting while another was too busy with his familial obligations.
The pair who remained pledged to keep the swap going, not only between themselves but anyone who lives for the pure passion of waterfowl hunting.
Stewart has been in trains, planes, and automobiles.
He flies weekly and has seen more of the world than the regular person does in a lifetime.
He has been across the world and back; now he is here for you.
The following waterfowl hunters are participating in the Traveling Decoy 2011:
Be sure to follow these folks, if you haven't already, no idea why you wouldn't, as Chaos makes his way across the country!