The morning was dark, darker than normal, and not a sound. The camp warmed well and Jameson was a man on a mission!! He was oiling his A H Fox 20 and counting the seconds till we could launch the float. He had on the fowl weather gear over trousers his Great Grandfather wore as he stormed the beach at Omaha in 1944- his hat was a classic that his trusted Uncle Nick gave him. We still had a few minutes before the time but he could not be contained any longer. I slipped the Whitney into the creek and held her tight to the bank as Jameson worked his way down into the float. He tucked his bismuth on tho the shelf, stored his thermos of hot cocoa and I pushed us down and away. The tide was coming in and we sculled into the slow rip and as we turned past Docs Point the far edge of the bank exploded with birds resting from a crisp December night. I was amazing to see them break and drive themselves within feet of the grassed float. It took a few more minutes to crest the mouth of Popes and it was now a few minutes past the legal hour. We held tight to the bank as we strained our eyes to pick up movement on the big river.
It was as if on cue the sun broke the horizon and the long thin wakes of birds cutting across the river were illuminated, Jameson loaded his Fox and I did same, the tide was starting to rip but the Whitney slipped through it without effort.
We closed on a small flock of blacks and mallards, there was shooting now from the jetty and the birds were alert, so I slowed the float to almost a stand still. Holding her into the tide and the birds settled and Jameson was now on pins and needles! We eased ahead and the birds swam towards the far bank, I saw 5 that were lingering to the port side and as Jameson shoot from the south paw, my plan was to cut those out of the flock. I eased ahead and turned the birds and was able to get between the 5 birds and the rest of the flock. As we we closing, buffleheads were zipping up the river and flew over us, no more than 12 inches and it sounded like small jet fighters. Jameson was startled and lifted his head, and when he did the blacks/mallards broke at 20 yards. He rose well, holding the Old Fox tight to his shoulder and his right hand way far forward on the barrels, Great form!! The gun rang out two times and as it would be for the rest of the day, not a feather was cut! He hung his head and broke the action, I put my hand on his shoulder and told him I wish I had a nickel for ever bird I have missed. He was down but then he saw another flock set in behind Shelldrake Island and off we went.
I can say that we never put a bird in the float- But it was one of my best days ever!! and Jameson is learning alot- its not about killing birds-its the art of getting there. We pulled up on the bank and had a piece of pie and a cup of cocoa. He asked many questions about times when i was sculling with Dad and I can say that this is the best of days for me!!!