An Open Letter to My Duck Dog

By author of The Duck Blog

Let's Work Together to Enjoy the Next Few Seasons

We've had some good hunts through the years. Let's make sure that continues.Hey Birdie. No, don’t get up. You look pretty comfortable curled up in the chair. Besides, I don’t have any treats right now.

Anyway, I was looking through some photos and realized this past duck season was your fifth, and that you’re probably nearing the mid-point of your hunting career. That was sobering. I’m still getting used to the idea of you as a distracted puppy at the wood duck slough. Now, I realize you have five Dakota trips behind you, twice as many Wisconsin North and South Zone duck openers and a growing resume of retrieves. Why am I blabbing on about this? Well, I really enjoyed our game-farm pheasant hunt the other day, and it struck me that I probably let you down a bit this past year.

Yeah, I know that cut on your leg hampered you a bit after our good early woodie action. And I guess we had a pretty nice trip to North Dakota, other than the incident with Mr. Kramer’s chicken. But I feel bad that we didn’t hunt much after that. Guess I got preoccupied with the open-water diver thing.

But moreover, I think I shortchanged you on training this past summer. I realized during our pheasant hunt that your grasp of field commands is good, but it could be better — especially those land-water-land retrieves on a “back” cast. Also, it seems like you get tired more easily nowadays, and much of that is my fault for not working with you on a regular conditioning schedule. I could offer excuses, but we both know I didn’t make it a priority. And if we’re supposed to be a team in this waterfowl thing, we should prepare together. Besides, it’s always fun, right?

So even during spring turkey season, I’ll make the effort to take you for walks by the park. And we can do some yard and driveway work, too. And this summer, we’ll head to the quarry for swims and land work — especially those casting drills across the channel and into the willows. Yeah, we might have to take Buster with us (can you imagine trying to dry off that shaggy beast?), but that will let us work on steadying drills, too.

And this autumn, we’ll hunt more; doves, duck openers, South Dakota and beyond. Oh, I’ll still do the open-water stuff in late October and November, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take a few mornings or evenings to shoot a mallard or two. And I know a great spot for freeze-up greenheads and black ducks.

Yes, promises are cheap, and I’ll only make good on these intentions through commitment. But like I said, it will always be fun. And if we only have five or six more seasons to spend afield together, I want to make sure we make the most of every minute.

Sound good? Good. No, I still don’t have any treats.