I can’t quite recall the first time I heard what has now become the unmistakable sound of wild, whistling wings. Try as I might, I cannot put my finger on exactly where the initial memory was made, but I do know that I’ve not forgotten the sound of the first or the last; nor am I likely to.
The music of wild wings is one of those measures that I take pleasure listening to every time I need it. I simply close my eyes and I can hear them and see them, ducks carving the wind. I cannot help but smile as these memories cup and drop from the heavens like the treasured objects from the works of old Nash Buckingham, my favorite writer.
My first sound of wild wings could have been a wood duck buzzing overhead under the cover of pre-dawn or dusk. Maybe the woody had been jumped by me from a brushy slough on the edge of the woods, its heart beating as rapidly as my own. Or the event might have featured several mallards from tree-top high, circling in flashes of emerald and orange, scanning the flooded timber for “their spot.”
Could it be that the difficulty in remembering the premier whistling wing experience is because of all those that have followed? When I hear them this year I will feel like a boy who is hearing, seeing and smelling the frost for the first time. So, yes, certainly: The magic becomes one of the ingredients of a person’s soul, part of mine anyway. The dark, the cold and the wind, the awaiting for official shooting time and that blood-stirring command to Take‘em!
These are golden memories of the waterfowl hunt, where blessings are counted along with serious discussions about family and life, from jokes to ribald humor best kept from tender ears. Stories of great hunts that began badly and tough hunts that went even forgather south. Inclement weather, leaky boats, epic spills, champion duck dogs, the deepest ditch, the most dangerous crossing, the slipperiest road… tale upon immemorial tale.
Yes, when I close my eyes to recall the whistle of wings, it’s the dogs and the people I remember most: Hardheaded best friends, two-legged and four, worth every risk to life and limb, and the pride and the joy of the young bringing his or her first duck or goose to bag.
Then there is the lifting jazz of those hunters who speak beautifully with traveling waterfowl, oftentimes simply wishing them well on their merry way. Symphonic, really, and sometimes the reward is a crescendo of air banking across turning wings, the roar of feathers when the flight comes tumbling to land among the spread. And what a glory it is when the birds work! The sight of that beautiful iridescent green head suspended right on top of the decoys, or that pintail drake with the sprig that is one-yard long… both of whom whir away after being smoothly missed in a roar of guns! Who can forget the glories as flight after flight drop into the deeks right after legal shooting time?!
But, oh, is there any more satisfaction than when it all comes together for a limit of wildfowl!? That’s worth a nip of doctored coffee, or maybe a touch of something sweeter, after the hunt, there among the warmth of dry clothes and good friends!
And, so, from each of us at Mossy Oak Brand Camo, from the ol’ mudders to the new musketeers, here’s wishing you a lifetime of safe and fun-filled waterfowl hunting… Whistling Wings memories shared with family and good hunting buddies, which, if we are very lucky, can sometimes be both!