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As a teenager my dad took me hunting for deer. I was gifted my first and only rifle at 11 years old when I passed my hunter safety course. Over the years I was blessed to harvest several deer and one antelope, however I never had been on a bird hunt or even fired a shotgun until last year (clay pigeons). I still love being in nature and participating in the millennium old tradition of hunting, although now I prefer to shoot animals with my camera, so I was excited to get the invite to tag along on a hunt for duck and geese. 

We set out for a leisure afternoon hunt about an hour way, arriving at the empty corn field just after noon. The lightly snow covered ground was littered with footprints from the birds picking clean the ears missed by the harvest.

First thing to do was set the stage. Opening up the trailer we pulled out several bags containing dozens of decoys, male and female mallards as well as geese, placing them strategically around our target zone. Next was the blind. A camouflage structure, blended with the existing hay bail, with an open top for shooting out of. Once everything was prepared, it was time to call 'em in.

It didn't take long for the action to start on this glorious day. The boys started calling and after only a handful of minutes the first round of ducks was overhead and circling down. As they dropped lower and lower our calls stopped, guns at the ready now. It was only a moment of waiting, but felt much longer in the eerie silence of suspense, not moving a muscle as they got closer and closer. Waiting for that perfect moment. Waiting for someone to say the magic word. "Now!"

Everyone stands up like missiles launching. A round of shots blast. Ears ring. I snap as many photos as I can while trying hold my camera steady. It's over in an instant leaving behind the delicious smell of gunpowder floating through the air. Time to collect. For the first round we had the dogs help us out, but being old and half blind and deaf they struggled a bit so we benched them. Most rounds of shooting ended with at least a couple birds to show for it. 

The fading sun diminished over the horizon and it was time to call it a day. We had hit our limit on ducks, 5 per person, and walked away with 4 geese. It seemed as though there were more birds flying around us at the end of the day than at the beginning. Even as we stood up, walked around and talked with each other there would still be some coming in for a landing amongst our decoys. As we lined up the birds for our end of day trophy photo, we couldn't help but stop and stare at the thousands still filling the sky, thanking God for his glory and a perfect afternoon.