The Worst Hunting Day of My Life
by Bernie Eckert
Editor Note: This essay was submitted to us by a high school teacher for one of her students.
Have you ever had one of those days when everything goes wrong? Well, trust me, you haven’t had a bad day until you go duck hunting and everything goes wrong.
Back in the day, my uncle and I had planned a trip to Assateaque Island (in Ocean City) to go hunting. We should have just planned the trip for another time and saved ourselves from so much aggravation. We did not know that it was going to be the worst hunting experience of our lives.
The first thing that happened was that we didn’t leave Baltimore until late, maybe around 10:00 P.M. It takes about three hours to get to Ocean City from Baltimore on a good day. It was not a good day. Then, there was an accident and we had to creep through stop-and-go traffic. We finally arrived at the house at close to 2:00 A.M., and we had to get up at 4:00 A.M. to go to the Ranger’s Station to sign in for a blind*. That was bad enough, but then things got worse.
We usually get subs to eat for lunch so we don’t have to leave the blind. Leaving the blind could make us miss out on getting good shots. Well, we were coming back from the sub shop when we saw a flash of light in the sky. Suddenly, all of Ocean City went pitch black. When we got back to the house, we discovered we had no lights, no heat, no electricity, no running water, and no refrigeration for our food. No electricity meant no alarm clock, so we didn’t even know if we would wake up on time. Well, we did get up on time, so that was good. We were pretty tired as we faced a very long walk out to the blind, but we were hopeful that the worst part of the trip was behind us and maybe some good hunting would make it all worthwhile. Not so.
When we got out to the blind, the water was a mile out because of the low tide, so we had to put our decoys in the mud. When the sun came up we saw in the distance what looked like little dots. It was ducks coming right toward us. Our excitement grew! In a couple of minutes they would be right in front of us. We could practically see the ducks falling as a result of our expert shooting. Carefully we aimed as they got closer and closer. Slowly we squeezed our triggers, expecting to hear the “BOOM!” that would bring us our prey. Click. Nothing happened. It was so cold outside that the guns had frozen up and would not shoot. We missed the only shot that we had all day—from 4:00 A.M. until 5:00 P.M.
A lot more happened to us, but it’s too much to write. Suffice it to say, we did not get any ducks. The whole trip sucked. The only thing that did not happen to us that day was a tornado.
Like I said, you haven’t had a bad day until you go duck hunting and everything goes wrong.
Editor’s Note: You did a fine job Bernie. I have a lot of memories of the bad days when I was younger. I actually cherish them now that I’m older, and if nothing else, use those days as a benchmark for future slower days. Then you can at least say, “At least it wasn’t like that one day…”