The Worst Hunting Day of My Life

February 11, 2009 by  

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.

worstdayBack 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…”

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Comments

9 Comments on "The Worst Hunting Day of My Life"

  1. jacob on Thu, 19th Feb 2009 11:21 pm 

    ok,that is bad worse than a bad one i had half way through duck season in oklahoma.to make a long story short-we got a duck boat in sherman,TX-we go to my aunts house in ardmore,we get up the next morning,load up,drive to lake Texoma right on time.Were on a good pace when my dad takes 30 minutes to get his waders on-okay c’mon 30 minutes?we get the boat backed up to the water, by now its starting to get light and im very pissed at my dad-to mak ethings worse it takes 15 minutes to get the boat backed up and into the water ,and THEN i start floating off with the boat and was hanging on to the bow for dear life and got my jacket wet,wait it gets worse.
    My dad parks the car gets in the boat and we push off into the water-now we cant get the motor started!
    we finally after 15 minutes of playing around with it find out we had to flip the motor down.
    we drive to the spot where we hunted with kurk opening week and
    and by now i had no hope whatsoever that we were going to even
    see a duck.
    then it takes my dad 30 minutes ogf putting brush around the boat before he finally decides that were camoflauged enough.
    we did have 3 birds come in-seperately that is.
    we did laugh about it later though.
    yes it was a memorable trip that i will not soon forget,especially because it was a hunt of my early waterfowling.at 12 years old.

    jacob1996

  2. Dustin on Wed, 4th Mar 2009 10:30 pm 

    LOL!! Great story, I’d love to post my recent snow goose trip, but It would take a 300 page novel!
    the trips that go the worst are the best for memories :)

  3. chris on Thu, 12th Mar 2009 6:14 pm 

    okay this was the worst duck season ever i live in Louisiana so we depend on the freeze up north so we didn’t get many ducks but maybe next year will be better

  4. David on Sat, 18th Apr 2009 10:37 am 

    It’s like the bumper sticker says, “A bad day hunting beats a good day at work, any day!”

    I live in northern Minnesota, so every year, almost like clockwork, the duck sloughs freeze up during deer season. Since the state capitol is way down south in St. Paul, they have no clue that the Oct. 1st start cuts our season short by about 3 weeks. Anyway, noting the forecast, I took a day off to hunt ducks in a sleet storm with 40 mph winds right in the middle of deer season. I figured the ducks would come in close to get shelter, so set up my spread in the lee of some cattail islands. It had been blowing for two days, and as usual when that happens around here I saw some unusual species. A pair of oldsquaws landed 35 yards out, but I had no shot at that angle since the wind would have taken them across the deep part of the slough before I could have reached them. A small mixed flock of mallards and pintails (including a rare fully plumed drake sprig) landed 80 or 90 yards out and eyed my dekes, but wouldn’t come any closer. Somehow they didn’t seem to mind the wind and waves out there. Some divers buzzed up and down the main slough, but wouldn’t commit. After 45 minutes I all but lost sensation in my legs (had to stand in near freezing water the whole time), and I had to pee so bad there was nothing else to do but slog back up into the shallows. Of course, THAT’s when a pair of mallards showed up to check out my dekes. They spotted me holding the wrong gun, and took off up the slough quacking away! LOL. Not relishing the thought of standing still in that cold water any more, I decided to try to sneak up on the mallards and jump-shoot ‘em (it looked like they landed about 200 yards away). During the exhausting slog a fully plumed drake bufflehead buzzed me at about 600 mph. The only three shots I took all day made little splashes behind him, and naturally, warned the pair of mallards to bail outta their hole-up location as well.

    All-in-all that was not my worst day, but the memory of all the lovely birds I didn’t get will stick with me all the more because I didn’t get to take any one of them home with me.

    Dave

  5. ben on Fri, 4th Sep 2009 7:44 pm 

    great story..im a young boy but boy u have no clue how much i love to hunt ducks and geese its a great feeling every time i hear a goose honking or a duck .

  6. Ryan on Fri, 6th Nov 2009 10:54 am 

    i like the great stories! i have had my fair share of bad times to..
    i was hunting a small pothole early season in iowa and i had thrown out 2 dozen decoys and as shooting time came along i had birds left and right and i just couldn’t figure why i couldn’t get them to decoy??? as time went on i had shot one green wing teal and i saw something floating in the water when i picked my duck up i looked at my decoys on the right side of the blind and all the heads to my floaters had fallen of and were laying in the weeds next to my blind so I put them back on and had a much better successful afternoon coming out on top wit 6 green wing 1 hen mallard and 1 hen gadwall. it wasn’t my worst day but it is one i will remember for a life time!

  7. Cris on Sat, 5th Nov 2011 10:55 am 

    My husband and I have a white/yellow lab Albert. He has loved hunting since 4 months or so. He is 2 and a half. Today he refused to go hunting with my husband. This was very disappointing. The only thing that has changed is I play fetch with him a couple of times a day in the yard. New because he is out of the fenced in yard and in the big yard. Any suggestions as to what to do would be appreciated. He has not had any bad experiences with hunting at all. When my husband got the guns out Albert was very excited so we were dumb founded when he would nto get into the truck!!!!!!

  8. Branden on Tue, 15th Nov 2011 11:42 am 

    Ive had couple days similar to yours but never that bad. Well thats how it goes sometimes, but having those glory days makes it worth it.

  9. Reid on Fri, 9th Mar 2012 12:18 pm 

    I think you have failed to realize how good you had it. A truly bad day hunting would have ended with a real disaster,a sunk boat, damaged outboard, lost guns/decoys/gear, not a day where all of the hunting conditions went south. If no one got hurt, no property was lost or damaged, and you made it to and from the blind safely, that doesn’t really sound all that bad. Crummy days in the blind are just part of it. (I live in Florida, so trust me, I know about crummy days of duck hunting.) When I have days like that I say to my hunting buddies, “Maybe we should have just stayed home today.” Then I laugh, and realize that I’d still rather be sitting in a blind or in my boat at 0dark:30 in 18 degree weather hunting ducks than laying in bed, no matter how crummy the hunt may be. Enjoy the little things, like a nice sunrise and the company of a good dog, and good friends. But that’s just my $.02. Happy hunting.

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