The tradition of Thanksgiving usually involves cooking a turkey, hanging out with family and friends, and watching football.
For a select few, like myself, Turkey Day also marks the opening day of duck season in the state of Kentucky, where I usually am during the holiday season. The tradition of getting up at the ass crack of dawn to go duck hunting on Thanksgiving morning has been going on for as long as I can remember, and trust me, I remember almost every single hunting expedition (if you could call it that).
You might assume that each hunt is as memorable as the next because the hunts have been so great, but that’s simply not the case. It’s actually because every year that we (myself, my father, and some friends) gear up to go duck hunting, things always seem to go horribly wrong, and we rarely ever even see any ducks.
So I thought I would recap some of my recent disastrous duck hunts and share it with the world, and lean on some country music hits to help tell the story.
Why am I putting my hunting failures out for everyone to read about? Well, hopefully a select few can relate to the duck hunting catastrophes, and at the very least, you can get a few laughs out of my misery.
“When It Rains, It Pours” by Luke Combs
This is the perfect song to describe a duck hunting trip that simply had nothing go right. It’s probably our fault for always putting our trust into an old Jon boat, because if I’m being honest, that always seems to be at the center of the problem.
We woke up, got everything loaded up, and drove to the boat ramp with high expectations and a backpack full of shotgun shells. We were all ready to go and hopefully limit out, but unlike us, the boat decided that it was going to take the day off.
Long story short, the boat never even got started once we got it launched, so we had to swallow our pride and load it back up on the trailer with other hunters wanting to get their working boats in the water.
Trying to make the most of it, we lugged all of our stuff around the point by the boat ramp, and we were still so close to civilization, I’m pretty sure I could see someone drinking coffee on their lake house porch when the sun came up.
And since we weren’t very far from the launch ramp, that apparently made us a prime target for the game warden. The guy came walking around about 30 minutes after the sun came up and asked to see our licenses, and we all had ours…the only problem was that I had left my wallet in the car (for probably the only time in my hunting career).
So the game warden and I really got to know each other as I had to walk a mile back to the truck to retrieve my license and show it to him.
By the time I made it back to our spot, it was time to pack it up and get on with the day. Everything that could have gone wrong did, and as Luke Combs put it, when it rained, it poured:
“Need a Boat” By Morgan Wallen
Continuing the “boat problem” pattern (maybe we should just get a new boat), another duck hunt went wrong when we got out on the middle of the lake and our boat again decided to call it a day very, very early.
So early, in fact, that our duck hunt was over before the sun came up. That’s because as we were traversing to our spot on the lake, the engine gave out in the middle of the water, and we were effectively stranded.
Have you ever had to call someone on Thanksgiving morning to get their fishing boat out of storage so they can tow in your hunting boat at 6 in the morning? Not an ideal situation, but if you have good friends, it at least helps to get you off the water so you can give it the old college try next year.
So in both senses of the phrase, we “needed a boat” to come rescue us from the middle of the lake, and we also “need a boat” to replace our crappy floating clunker with a motor attached to it.
By the way, we still have the same boat, and that brings us to our final anecdote:
“Going, Going, Gone” by Luke Combs
This unfortunate event happened just this morning, and likely inspired this entire story. It’s one of the rare circumstances where people knew I was a writer and said “you could write about this,” and it actually worked out.
Here’s a tip for all of those duck hunters out there. When you launch the boat off the trailer at the boat ramp, you should probably either have someone in the boat, or have someone ready to hold onto a rope attached to the boat so that it doesn’t float off.
That might seem like a common sense thing, but it wasn’t for us this morning. It was all systems go until the boat slid off the trailer and into the water…and just kept going. Profanities filled the cold morning air as one person in our group realized that our boat was “going, going” and had a great chance to be “gone” if no one acted fast.
So Will (not his actual name but we’ll just say that it is to keep his identity a secret) went diving into the water with chest waders on to take one for the team and grab onto the boat and pull it back onto shore.
Another piece of advice for duck hunters: Keep an extra hunting jacket, pants, and boots in your vehicle in case you ever decide to do an impromptu “Polar Plunge” before your duck hunt.
You would think that after years of being underprepared and being met with chaos every single year would deter us from ever duck hunting again.
However, each year that passes, we just add to the storybook of horribly hilarious mishaps, and isn’t that what tradition is all about?