“Mmm…gotta love that swampy smell. Smells like crap.”
The smell hit us instantaneously as the cold air rushed in through the open windows. Up until then, I had started to feel a little sleepy and tired – not anymore. The rushing wind, pungent smell of the wetlands, and the eerie shimmer of the full moon woke me up. We had driven down to the Chesapeake Bay for the opening day of Maryland’s duck hunting season and we had gotten more and more excited as each mile passed.
Launching the canoe underneath the full moon, we silently slipped into the murky waters of the fabled wetlands surrounding the bay. The moon illuminated our path, silhouetting the lonely trees on the horizon, and produced a mirror-like effect on the waters we glided on. Off in the distance, we could hear a flock of geese cackling and flapping around noisily. The eerie silence seemed to amplify every single noise coming our way and produced an ensemble of natural ambient music. Periodically, we would stop paddling,listen, and marvel at how peaceful it was out here.
This was Maryland’s fabled Eastern Shore and we were right in the middle of it.
As we closed in on the island we were supposed to hunt on, a lone Sika’s bugle pierced the night air. As if to signal our arrival, the creature continued to let out the deafening call, it’s bugle fading onto the bay as we pulled up our canoe onto muddy shores. The tide was high and our hunting ground was almost submerged, save for a large patch of marsh grass. We piled our gear out of the canoe and waded onto dry land. We had a few hours until legal shooting time, however, much was still needed to be done.
We set to work immediately to get ready, gathering grass to hide the canoe, and threw our decoys out into the bay.An hour later, we settled in, rolled out onto our backs, and made ourselves comfortable. We looked up into the dark sky and closed our eyes. A sky full of ducks and an amazing sunrise was all we hoped for as we dozed off into a light snooze.
“Happy Duck Day fellas….”