Slamming the Door Shut…

on the season that just wasn’t. The season that ended about the same way it began.

With frustration.

Seriously, I have never heard “Hey, let ME clean the birds today!” so many times.

For me, much of the frustration was personal; completely unrelated to the sport. The everyday happenings of life. Work, more work, increasingly busy teenage kids, and having Santa bring you a brand new hip for Christmas highlight a long list of reasons/excuses for a challenging season.

{As a side note, I do hereby blame a serious lack of posting these past several months on this same long list of reasons/excuses.}

We did, however, also experience a season where, even with allegedly excellent bird populations, the weather had us scratching our heads from the very beginning down to the bitter end of the season.

Our season, for example, started with our eight acres of water being better described as “Five acres of water and 3 acres of mud flat and no blind within 30 yards of the water line”…not so nice. Strange and unseasonably warm weather throughout the flyway kept whatever excellent waterfowl numbers the surveys counted fat and comfy somewhere far north of here (where they must currently still be lounging, as far as we can tell…)

When we DID get birds – and to be fair, we actually had decent numbers around, at times – they were among the spookiest, strangest, wariest fowl I’ve ever encountered. Birds were spooky, incredibly wary. All season long. Ducks were unworkable. Geese were either unable to be patterned, or set in strange patterns that rendered them completely unhuntable. All. Season. Long.

I’ve not totaled the journal yet, but the early guesstimate is we probably harvested 1/3rd of the fowl we typically harvest in a season. A very peculiar, very unusual season indeed.

I don’t like to be overly negative; it’s not my style – not really my personality. But I did start the season out grumbling about water levels, weather, slow migration, and life. As the season wore on, the grumbling turned to a feeling of disappointment – with constant comparisons to the string of outstanding seasons we have experienced in recent years. And with that, our appreciation of hunting with new friends, old family, sunrises over decoys, watching the dogs play, and being blessed with the harvests we DID have – started to fade, replaced with worry about numbers and limits and keeping up with the “standards” we had set for ourselves.

So with this season closed out and in the books, I have put some thought into this, and come to a conclusion.

While we do have the weather as an excuse, and while I know many who have had challenging seasons, I have decided, with abounding certainty, that the entire 2011-2012 waterfowl debacle falls firmly on my own shoulders. Yep, it was me, I jinxed everyone, and I accept this. My “Oscar the Grouch” mentality ruined it for the entire Central Flyway, and for that, I am sorry. I hereby extend my sincerest apologies to each and every one of you who took to marsh and field, river and lake, in pursuit of fowl. You have my wholehearted promise that I will take next season on with renewed vigor; with the optimism and enthusiasm you have known me for in years past. I vow to bring positive mojo, and to leave Oscar the Grouch in his trash can. And I promise to keep what’s important, why we are out there, what it’s really all about, at the forefront.

Oh, and I do also super-solemnly-pinky-promise not to mess up the crappie fishing with any such karma-related shenanigans. I am 100% ready, willing, and positively excited to start killing time (and crappie) between now and next fall…

~ benton

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