Outdoor people are simply sickly people. Fishermen have their arms in a cast, and hunters always have buck fever. I can add a new ailment to my list of preexisting conditions, the bird flu. Two years ago, my good friends Eric, Bryan, Boardman, and another known as ‘young air force’ took me duck hunting. What they exposed me to that day changed my very idea of fun stuff to do outside.

Waterfowl hunting is so intriguing to me because it reminds me of learning how to be a steelheader. In many ways, I wish I could go back in time and relearn fishing all over again. I miss that electric sense of accomplishment when I catch a fish using a newly developed skill. That feeling came back with the first mallard I shot. It felt like electric accomplishment colliding with curiosity for what happens next. When our crew finished firing Eric sent his dog to retrieve birds. If you have not witnessed a hunting dog fetch a bird, I added a link of a short video that gets my heart pumping- check it out!

Sitka Waterfowl: Say When

I often wonder what the hell I was doing with my life before I got my Labrador, Oly. Raising a bird dog has been challenging and truly one of the greatest joys of my life. My friends Larry and Erica help with the training, mostly because I am clueless and inexperienced and they are the opposite. The time has finally come to get him on some birds. I plan on going out soon, fully expecting I will ‘ugly-cry’ when he retrieves his first bird.

My latest challenge has been calling. I bought my first duck call a few weeks ago, took a training class, and out I went. I called in my first mallard on my last trip. As he tipped his wing and made a turn back in response to my calls, my chest tightened, my blood rushed, and I barely got out the words “take ‘em” for the first time as my boyfriend took a shot.

Having these simple outdoor joys and trying new things seems to do this thing people are always talking about, living a fulfilling life. Who knew that contracting all these outdoors diseases would be my key to that?

Bad Ash