Cypress Trees – As told to Glenda Salley –
I was less than excited to be up early on that cold December morning for my first duck hunt. My brother-in-law Jimmy Gammill showed up at the house in Drew with my incentive, a steaming cup of coffee. I could tell by his demeanor there was no time to be wasted in getting to ”the spot.” When we arrived at John Clark’s farmhouse, we found him checking the day’s weather on the computer. It looked like a good morning to go to the break. Jimmy and John had explained previously that on a clear day, hunting was best in the breaks, but open fields were preferred on a cloudy day.
Traveling to “the spot” took some effort. We had driven there by 3-wheeler and suited up in waders; mine were borrowed from Jimmy, who is well over 6 feet. I looked pitifully like a little boy wearing his big brother’s hunting gear, and when I put the waders on, they hit embarrassingly under my armpits. The bigger shoe size swallowed up my smaller feet, making my walking a comical spectacle.
We finally arrived at “the spot” and started our march to the break, wading in waist-deep water—well, to my waist. We found a nearly submerged log, where we perched and visited. I discovered that male bonding during the waiting time is the main reason why guys go hunting.
When the sun started lighting the horizon, the boys became more agitated, carefully scanning the skies for ducks. As the birds began to circle, Jimmy and John made ridiculous sounding birdcalls. I had always wondered whether those artificial sounds work. Boy, did it make a believer out of me! In amazement, I watched the ducks zooming in at an incredible rate of speed. That’s when the shooting began. I really wanted to watch the birds land, but I didn’t have much of a chance. As the morning continued to unfold, and the sun’s rays became bolder, I asked permission to leave them so that I could get some photographs. Without hesitation, they agreed because they really wanted me to have a good hunt too.
As I walked around, I had the strange sensation of a cool wetness covering my feet. It was then that I realized that my borrowed waders were leaking. When I yelled to Jimmy about my problem, he replied with a snicker that they might have been dry rotted. Thankfully, it was not a frigid day. Despite the soggy footgear, I captured on film some of the neatest sunrise photos I had ever taken. I used a great deal of film that day, photographing the sun as it came up most impressively through the cypress trees.
My walk had taken me in front of my friends. I was startled when I heard the boys holler to stand completely still. Immediately I froze to the spot, hearing the squawking of duck callers. Looking down in the still water, I could see the reflection of many ducks circling above. Suddenly there was a barrage of shooting overhead, and ducks “rained” all around me. What an unbelievable experience! As we left “the spot” to wander back through the woods, I trailed behind to snap a few shots of the successful hunt. Maybe one day that photo will also be a painting.