My guess on wind
velocity may be low—I've got a little lee now that it's around to NW. Still
whitecaps on the open water. Snow has stopped.
Some shooting down
river, a dozen rounds or more, but nothing came up.
10:25 a.m. Goose
flight ended as abruptly as it began. One minute the sky was full of them, the
next minute they were all down. Had a single overhead for a good five
minutes—seven turns over the blind. Went off as far as the Windmill Woods, but
I still managed to call her back. Why do I always think of a lone goose as a
female? Sentimental, imagining that the gander has been shot, leaving a lonely
widow. The tragedy of breaking up a life-mated pair. Probably why I don't
relish goose shooting as much as I once did. Must be getting too soft-hearted.
Can't even shoot rabbits any more. I never could shoot a squirrel.
10:35 a.m. Not as
alone as I had imagined. A flicker of motion caught my eye. A mouse perched on
a cross-brace at the far end of the blind, plainly aware of my presence,
watching me constantly, yet edging closer and closer. Inadvertently I moved,
and he panicked, made a wild dash across the brace, leaped to the seat, the
floor and then into what I can now see is a nest of shredded paper behind the
box of spare decoy weights. Wonder if he has a mate? Be a lonely winter if he
doesn't. But why am I so certain it's a male?
11 a.m. Temp.
25�F. Wind: NW 10-15 mph
over in the woods. Big hawk patrolling back and forth along the hedgerow
between the cornfield and the new wheat, rabbit hunting. Watched him for a long
while. Looks as though he's not having any luck either.
Bothers me that so
many wildfowlers nowadays are old men. Not a man in the restaurant this morning
was under 50. I imagine it's partly the result of expense. The way the cost of
duck hunting here in the East has skyrocketed, you've got to have an old man's
bank roll to get anywhere near a good ducking shore these days—and then no
ducks! When you figure out the cost per duck, maybe all duck hunters are a
11:25 a.m. Stove's
going and the soup's on. Of all the gadgetry that I've been suckered into
buying over the years, this little alcohol stove is the one jackpot payoff.
Today I'm having vegetable soup—dehydrated mix, flavored with a couple of extra
bouillon cubes—and cubed steaks on pan-toasted buns. Almost as good as a Maine
reaction I've had to cooking in the blind. So many duck hunters seem to think
that there is something wrong about it, as if eating soggily indigestible cold
sandwiches was a necessary proof of manly fortitude. Jim refuses to wear
insulated boots. Says that if his feet weren't cold he wouldn't feel as if he
were really duck hunting. Perhaps discomfort is a necessary conditioning of the
mind if you're to achieve the man-against-nature illusion that's unquestionably
a basic appeal of hunting and fishing. There was that day on the pheasant
preserve over at Gettysburg when we tramped all afternoon in a driving rain,
and everyone agreed that it was a wonderful hunt. Then, the next time, on a
beautiful Indian summer day, we were all complaining that preserve shooting was
too far a cry from wild hunting.
12 noon Temp.
25�F. Wind: NW 10 mph