When I awoke on December 12, 2012, I was as excited as a child on Christmas morning! That day was the day I was going to take my sister Tara on her first duck hunt. She had been deer hunting for many years, but had never been on any kind of bird hunt. It was approximately a 4 hour drive for us to reach Gregory, Arkansas…just 20 miles from Stuttgart, the world-famous duck capital. As we were driving down the last rural county road to the lodge, we began to see the bean fields covered with feeding flocks of ducks. This got us excited for what would lie ahead!
When we arrived at the beautiful lodge for Bust-A-Duck guide service, we took a few minutes to play fetch with the owners dog while awaiting the arrival of the other ladies who would join our hunt. As everyone made their way in, we introduced ourselves and visited near the bonfire that had been prepared. We discussed our expectations and excitement for the days that lay ahead. Tara and I gravitated to a lady hunter named Amy, from Georgia, as this would also be her first time duck hunting. This of course helped my sister Tara not feel alone in her inexperience.
We awoke that next morning at 4:30am, ate a small snack for breakfast, then began the long process of layering our hunting clothing and struggling into our neoprene waders. As anyone knows who has done this, it can be quite a task! Finally everyone was dressed and ready. We loaded up the big, camo, 1980-something suburban (which we called the mud chariot) with our blind bags, snacks, and guns. Just the idea of riding in that beast made us all smile!
As we drove the fields through water and huge mud holes, the excitement was evident on everyone’s face. Upon reaching the blind, we exited the doors into knee deep water, grabbed our blind bags, removed our guns from the cases, and headed towards the blind through the mud. What a perfect experience for first time duck hunters!
As we were getting situated in the blind, we watched our guide Matt place the decoys strategically in the water. Waiting for shooting light, we told stories and educated each other on the sport of duck hunting. At dawn, we could barely see the silhouettes of the ducks flying in the morning light. We were all very anxiously awaiting for our Matt to say “Ok ladies, load your guns”. When he finally uttered those words, it was the best noise we could imagine. The clink of shells being loaded into 12 gauges…that makes a woman smile!
Finally the time came, and we had a good group of 5 or 6 ducks flying in. They committed to land and the guide Matt says, “Shoot, Shoot!” . The blast of shotguns and smell of gunpowder filled the heavy air. As the flock flew off, it became apparent no ducks were hit! Tara, my sister, decided she’d shoot at a straggler duck that was flying away from her at approx 40 yards. One last 12 gauge blast, and our guide Matt exclaimed “Who shot that duck? That was awesome!“. Tara quickly confessed to shooting the duck through big smile on her face. I knew at that moment she would be hooked for life!
Our day only got better… By 11:00am we five ladies had shot our limit of 30 ducks. We had such a great success rate and excellent team work that day. Smiles spread across everyone’s face as we arrived back at the lodge with our trophies from the day to warm food, great memories, and conversation for hours.
As we loaded up on the last day and said our goodbyes to the great women we had met and made friends with, I knew this would not be our last trip duck hunting. All Tara talked about on the ride home was duck hunting and what a great time she had. I could not help but smile knowing that she had such a great experience and that I got to share that moment with her. I know one thing for certain, Tara and Amy will be members of the duck hunting community for the rest of their lives. There is no greater feeling than seeing the joy and excitement on a new hunter’s face as ducks descend through golden morning light into gun range!
NOTE: Shoot Like A Girl teamed up with Babes Bullets and Broadheads to put on this duck hunt!