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My waterfowling started like many others have, with an invite from a friend or co-worker. Conversations about upland hunting lead into talk of waterfowling, mainly ducks. My co-worker , Chet, soon to be my best friend, eventually invited me to go along this upcoming season for some ducking with a warning of how addicting it is. I became excited to try it out and learn a new set of skills. Little did I heed his warnings, thinking it was just something I could do ocasionally. Boy was he right and I wrong.
Season finally arrived with plans for me to join on the first day, Chet's truck pulled into the driveway on Sunday morning around 8 a.m. and I squeezed my 2-3/4" shotgun, only one I owned at that time, a box of shells, waders and an overnite bag into the bed of the truck. Which already had a flat bottom boat and tons of other equipment that I could not imagine needing for a 2 day duck hunt. I climbed into the truck with him and his son which is the same age as me. We carried on conversations about hunting, shooting, and work. I was not sure how things would go as Chet was not the most social person I have met, to the point I was surprised at the invite. At the end of the trip we were on Presque Isle Pa. going to check on the blind. We loaded the boat with some tools, paint, and a few decoys, two full bags, to save time for the next morning. After the paddle and drag for a couple hundred yards, we unloaded the boat and proceeded to check for damage on the blind as his son started to paint, a compulsion of his I would learn through the next few years. Then we got into brushing up the blind, something I thought did not need to be done, because ducks can't be that smart. After which we went to the hotel to eat some dinner, Burger King, and watch the Steelers.
Soon it was 4 dark 30 and we left the hotel picked up a few snacks at the convenience store, yeah they are open all night. Drove down to the gate at the park to wait only to see about a dozen other vehicles waiting to get in, are there that many insomniacs in the world. At 5a.m. sharp the gates were opened and we were off to the races. Not knowing how much had to be done I was a little confused when they started giving directions on what to do and how fast to do it. But I carried bag after bag after bag of decoys down to the boat. Then 2 of us paddled across to the other side and unloaded waht we could on the first trip and I paddled back across to pick up his son and the rest of their equipment. We made it back across loaded the boat with all the equipment and the two younger guys dragged the boat around the shore to the blind. We unloaded it as fast as we can and proceeded to put out decoys.They pulled out these longlines and snapped weights on the ends and we started to hook the decoys to the lines. They were telling me to hook the bluebills to this line the ringies to this line, the goldies to that one. What the heck are bluebills, goldies, and ringies. I thought we were hunting ducks, mallards are all I knew about. After Chet gave us directions on where to lay the lines it was time to get ready as Big Red was starting to rise in the east.
We took our spots in the blind Chet to the right, his son to the left, and the newbie in the middle, positions we have upheld for 6 years now on opening day. Soon enough two mallards dropped into the decoys, they asked if I was ready and they dropped the doors, the hen picked up first and the shots rang out at the same time, then the drake picked up and three more shots rang out. Two ducks, yes I knew they were ducks, were retrieved by myself and his son. We saw a few more fast flying ducks go through the decoys and I missed all of them, giving me the feeling that they are a little faster than you average pheasant. Many jokes and stories later it was quitting time which meant to gather the 100 decoys we had put out and putting everything away for tomorrow.
I was hooked more than I even knew at that time. I was excited about the two ducks in the bag even if they were community ducks. All the prep and decoy work was something that intrigued me. Let alone the amount of wildlife we had seen, so many ducks even if most were at a distance always gave hope, and seagulls,shorebirds,and herons made the day go by way too fast.
Chet and I became the mainstay of our outings as the year went on as his son 's work put a hamper on his time. I learned about the wind direction affecting their landing, opening holes in the decoys, and started to recognize the more abundant ducks in our area. We were able to get my son to join us a couple of times and he even bagged a goose before I did and his first duck. but he was not bitten as badly as I was and is still a deer hunter at heart.

As the year went on I found myself wanting to do little other hunting than ducks and wanting more and more knowledge about this new obsession. Chet gave me the names of some websites and I became aware of how many waterfowlers and different types of waterfowling there was out there. After joining a forum I was invited to join a local Delta Waterfowl Chapter in which I became involved in woodduck boxes and youth hunts, my favorite day of the year now. Through the forums I was also introduced to field hunting for geese which is also a passion of mine now. But I still find myself looking forward to everyday I can spend with Chet chasing ducks and learning more about this sport I love.
 
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