The Jolly Rancher

My neighbor, Fred Walters had earlier signed on to a 600 acre quail/dove lease outside of Lockhart, Texas, then late in the season had asked me to join him on a quail hunt, and reminded me to bring along some heavy shot for, maybe, a passing duck.  Following his orders, along with 20, 8’s for quail, I slipped 5, 6’s, into my hunting coat pocket.

Having no dog, we had busted into a couple of average sized coveys and had reduced their numbers by 4.  Luckily we found all of them, and as we looked for the last quail, in the brush some 300 yards ahead, we spotted the damn of a stock tank.  Fred hollered over to me and said, “While I look for this bird, why don’t you walk on up and see if there are any ducks on the tank?  If there are, go ahead and shoot ‘em.”

Shuckin’ out the 8’s, I slipped 3, 6’s into my pump and clipped the other 2 between the fingers of my left hand.  Quickly, but quietly, I walked up behind the damn, eased my eyes over the edge for a look and to my surprise there were many, many different varieties of ducks swimming and feeding in the small tank.  Quickly ducking back down, my mind racing, I tried to wave for Fred to come on up, but he couldn’t see me through the thick stuff, so I decided to tie into them by myself.

Taking a deep breath, I eased over the tank dam, and the surface of the water exploded as the ducks took to air!  Up they came and boom, boom, boom, my 12, gauge barked!   I had picked out a duck for each shot and as they caught the wind and swung back over me, 40 yards up, I quickly slipped the 2 shells that I had jammed between the fingers of my left hand into the pump and let fly, boom, boom and 2 more fell.

Glancing back into the tank, I counted 11 ducks down and counting the 2 that had plopped near me, 13 ducks in total.  On each shot I was careful to pick out just one duck, but the spread and pattern of the shot had knocked down 8 more.  Dreading retrieving them, because I knew we’d be over the limit, I started picking up the ones close to shore and then started “chunking” the ones left out in the middle.

Fred ran up, having heard the shooting and correctly figuring I had gotten into some ducks, we counted, 2 greenheads and 2 pintail drakes along with 9 other of ducks, a mixture of teal, gadwall and widgeon!  We each had a lot of ducks in our freezers back in Houston, so we were over our daily bag limit by 3.  Having shot too many ducks, I was crushed, but Fred assured me there would be no problem.  He said, “We’ll just clean ‘em all and leave 3 big ducks with the rancher.  Hopefully, then we’ll be OK!”

The rancher happily took the ducks we gave him and then he said,  “Don’t forget that I like quail too!”  We got him some quail the next week!