The Birthday Present

One of the original 12 plastic, decoys, on display on the gun rack in our old ranch house. Of the 12, 9 remain after 55 years of yoeman service!

In 1952, for my seventeenth birthday, my parents gave me twelve, plastic decoys, manufactured by the Animal Trap Co. Of America, Lititz, Penna. I wonder if they are still in business? These were the latest in hunting technology, twelve Mallard Duck decoys, six drakes and six hens, brightly colored and “almost guaranteed” to bring the Ducks in.

Having previously acquired both a Duck and Goose call, our neighbors wishing I had chosen other endeavors, daily gaining in Duck calling proficiency, and by coincidence, the Duck season just opening, my Dad was ready to go out with me and give my twelve, new plastic decoys their baptism of fire.

The place of our choice was one of the many small lakes near the mouth of Cedar Bayou, that originates between Dayton and Baytown, Texas and flows into Trinity Bay east of Baytown. Then, and now, a one-hour plus drive from our West University home. The area around the mouth of the bayou is still a most productive hunting and fishing venue.
Early on the Saturday morning of our hunt, my Dad and I rented a wooden skiff from the Cedar Bayou Bait and Boat Rental Co. (it still remains open to this day) and attached our new, 5 HP motor. We then motored about two miles up the bayou turning into the second lake, where one of Dad’s friends had built a blind, put out my twelve new, plastic decoys and proceeded to shoot our limits of Blue Bills and Red Heads!

My calling skills were expanded, since you call these diving Ducks with almost a squawk. We picked up my brand new, plastic decoys, retrieved the ducks, motored back, returned the boat, cleaned the ducks and drove home.

At the time, I said to my Dad, “This duck hunting, especially with my 12 new, plastic decoys is really something, and not too hard either.” My Dad just smiled.