Yoga for Duckhunters

from the studio to the tidal flats

Category: sometimes i’m funny

thingamajigs

cc-remote-writing

I recently took a survey of women who love to hunt or fish. Several of the questions asked about the reactions of men and the challenges of being a woman in the outdoors. One of the questions asked if I felt that women are naturally better at a certain aspect of hunting and/or fishing than men. And if so, what? This was the hardest question on the test. I am very helpful in camp or on a hunting trip but, above all, my tolerance is the highest. It seems as though the men I have hunted with constantly ask for my assistance and then cannot tolerate it. On the other hand, I am always being offered assistance and tolerate it very well.

Last season on a caribou hunt, my hunting partner and I were field dressing a caribou. I had not field dressed a caribou before so my role was as student observer. “Will you at least hold the leg,” my partner asked. Sure, I thought. That’s the least I could do. As I held the leg and watched the proceedings, my mind began to wander until the leg thwacked my partner in the head. He gave me an intolerant look that seemed to conclude that I could not at least hold the leg. “Ooops,” I said. The second time the leg thwacked him, his eye twitched. “Maybe you could put the hamburger meat in that game bag over there.” When I let go of the leg and it thwacked him a third time, he seemed to have lost all tolerance for my help.

Another time I was called upon for help it was to make sure the trailer lights were working properly. I was to stand at the back and answer a series of questions. It felt a bit like an intelligence test, and I wanted to be sure to pass. “The left tail light should be blinking,” he called out. “Yes,” I said. He seemed pleased by my answer. “Now the right tail light should be blinking,” he said. “Yes,” I said. He got out of the truck and announced that it was a miracle they worked. I said, “Well they didn’t work.” He said, “What?” I said, “You said the left tail light should be blinking, and it wasn’t.” He said, “Why did you say yes, then?” Apparently, I had over-focused on the word “should.” “Let’s try again,” I said. But, he preferred that I find a safe place to hide while he chained himself to a tree in the back yard.

Sometimes I am asked to go retrieve a specific item that either a) is being called by a name I am not familiar with b) is not in the place it is said to be or c) has been mis-identified. In some cases, all three possibilities occur at once. My partner often refers to items as the “thingamajig” or another less-appropriate, all-encompassing title. He believes that the actual name of an item is not necessary in groups of equal intelligence and experience. In fact, a thingamajig can be used twice in the same sentence. For instance, “Can you get me the thingamajig out of the thingamajig?” The more stressful the situation, the more vague the nouns. If he is attempting to start a fire and asks for me to get the thingamajig and I come back with a wrench, he doesn’t think it’s funny.

I cannot recall ever personally asking for anyone to retrieve a thingamajig in my life. I am either very proficient at already having my thingamajigs in order or never forget the correct name for my items. I’m not sure which. But, I think if there were ever a situation where I was in need of a thingamajig and someone brought me the wrong thingamajig, I would be very compassionate and understanding. And if someone let an animal’s thingamajig thwack me in the head a couple times, I’d probably just say, “You know, all those stories about how I’ve done this myself a hundred times and loved every minute of it. Those are completely true.”

duckmas

duckmas

Twas the night before Duckmas
and all through the reeds
no ducks were sleeping
from the knocking of knees

The decoys were slung
to be placed with care
in hopes of making ducks
appear out of morning air

The hunters were snugged
into their beds
with visions of limits
hanging ’round their heads

The duck dogs were curled up
with feet-twitching dreams
of the last time they nailed
a two-bird retrieve

When out on th edeck
arose such a sound
I grabbed my 12 guage to be
ready for what might be coming ’round

Out on the porch
I saw a flickering light
it was a fellow duck hunter
who planned to stay up
for the night

He’d tripped on the garbage can
and fallin on the deck
his duck lanyard nearly
strangling his neck

We sat on some lawn chairs
out under the stars
waiting for dawn
to make us what we are

duck types

threefaces

It’s good for a duck hunter to know what the ducks are thinking, I was told. What I needed to do was, “be where they wanted to be” and “know where they wanted to go.” To do that, I would need to think like a duck. Not knowing how to go about thinking like a duck, I took an online personality test and answered the questions the way a duck would. One of the statements on the test was, “Some say I have my head in the clouds,” to which I strongly agreed. After answering 58 questions, I learned that ducks would be well suited to a career in home economics or nursing.

Famous people with duck personalities include Tyra Banks, Victoria Beckham, and Jessica Alba. It makes sense that the personality type is more common in women than in men because I modeled my answers after a hen mallard instead of a drake. The more I learned about duck personalities, the more I realized that they were not the greatest at relationships. According to an online personality type forum, it turns out that ducks can be backstabbers and have an irrational fear of vaccinating their children.

The web is full of great information that is helpful to hunters. You never know when it will benefit you to know whether the particular duck species you are hunting is best represented by a pirate, ninja, or cowboy, but you can take a five-question quiz to find out. It just might be helpful in the field to have an in-depth understanding of which 80’s rock ballad best portrays the state of mind of your quarry. Although ducks do not read, there is no reason that they cannot be characterized by great novelists of the Western Canon or have been Joan of Arc in a past life.

Some of the information was clearly not reliable, however. I steered clear of any anthropomorphic characterizations of ducks, for instance. Daffy Duck started out as a real duck in his first feature with Porky Pig, but it is unclear to biologists and hunters alike what exact species he is supposed to represent. His lisp is the only real duck-like quality that he possesses, and this is said to be because a duck’s mandible would cause a lisp should one attempt to speak as a human. Donald Duck is also questionable. Just because ducks and sailors both like water doesn’t mean a duck would wear a sailor suit.

Although it was interesting to learn about duck personalities through social media apps, there were some obvious flaws there, too. The tests are not bimodal, for instance. The results may vary based on duck species, gender, and age. It also does not indicate biological habits of the species or seasonal behavioral changes. If I was going to figure out anything about ducks, I was going to have to actually do it the old fashioned way. I was going to have to go to a bar and offer to buy one a drink.

update: published in the Redoubt Reporter: Quack Psychology – Know the Mind of Your Quarry September 11, 2013