If you regularly read the drivel that I put into this space, then you’ll perhaps recall the tale I reported a while ago of oldest son Zach bagging his first ever mallard drake during the most recent duck season.
And the super-sized smile that accompanied his first ever greenhead harvest.
What I didn’t tell you about is the disappointment that younger brother Will tried bravely to hide, a discouragement that his eyes betrayed because he was still on the outside looking in at least when it came to the mallard hunting fraternity.
Like his older brother on previous hunts, it wasn’t a lack of effort that had kept young Wilbur from bagging green.
He had dutifully trudged afield carrying his 20-gauge shotgun, hoping that the duck hunting stars would align for him to finally bag a mallard drake.
Problem is, as I labored to point out in a previous tale, there aren’t nearly as many mallards in Grayson County as there were 20 years ago.
Or for that matter, even 10 years ago.
So while young Will had bagged his share of the gadwalls, widgeon, teal, and the occasional diving ducks that had hovered over our decoy spread, his brief waterfowl hunting career still held forth a greenheaded dream yet to be realized.
As anyone with siblings knows – especially when you are the youngest of those siblings – it doesn’t help when someone else in the family clan accomplishes something of note before you have your own chance to shine.
Especially when that first accomplishment seems to unlock the door for additional accomplishments.
As in Zach’s first greenhead harvest this season was not his last greenhead harvest this season.
All the while as younger brother Will patiently waited his turn, doing his best to hide the disappointment that duck seasons past and present were bringing, at least in the mallard hunting department.
So on the last morning of the 2010-11 season, I arose early and headed downstairs to awaken the boys from their pre-dawn slumber.
Come on guys I said. One more time afield before we call it good.
One more time for our routine of a quick Sunday a.m. hunt before heading back to town to meet mom and big sis in time for church services.
And with this final chance, I hoped, would come an opportunity for Will to punch his greenhead fraternity card once and for all.
After driving to our spot, shouldering the decoys, and hiking to the blind, there was nothing to do in the chilly early morning breeze but to wait.
Which we did, something that we always do before the start of a hunt.
What we didn’t know is that on this morning, my wife Charissa, normally a sound sleeper on any and all duck hunting mornings, was already awake doing the same thing.
Beseeching the Creator for early morning success for the four boys that live in our home – me, son Zach, son Will, and the chocolate Lab Buddy.
Call us the Duck Commanders, Burkhead Boys style.
With all of that in mind, an appropriate question here is this: does prayer work, even when it comes to duck hunting?
I think so.
Minutes after legal shooting time arrived, hunting partner Scott Rozell looked up and whispered “A pair of ducks have set their wings and are coming in.”
A few feeding chuckles and a soft quack or two was all that it took to keep the pair locked up and gliding in to what would be the season’s last spread of decoys.
Gadwalls, I presumed.
Suddenly it was time and I voiced the duck blind pit boss’ command to “Take ‘em!”
When I did, a volley of shots came from the direction of my two sons. One bird fell, the other faltered. Then a shot from Rozell ended the winged drama and ensured that the faltering bird became a part of the bag limit.
Upon retrieval and closer inspection, my duck identification skills were suddenly brought into question.
Because laying there before us was not one, but two…mallard drakes.
Including the one upended by my youngest son Will.
Whose smile the size of Texas indicated that once and for all, he was finally a card carrying member of the mallard hunting fraternity.
Welcome to the club Will.
We’re all green with envy.