Sunday, January 25, 2015

Duck Therapy

Going back to school to get a masters in counseling at 31 years old is a heck of a challenge.  But doing so while having a mobile disability, managing a non-profit, and getting married is gruelingly difficult.  There has been more than one occasion over the last year and a half that I thought, "This is it, I am finally losing my mind...Deep end here I come!", but only to be emotionally, and physically relieved by a hunting or fishing trip with a dear friend or family member.  Fishing and hunting has been the emergency raft in the turbulent waters of my life.

One dim weekend where my stress levels had been red-lined, and my mental capacity was at a slimy slug low, a childhood friend Chris Rogers, offered me a chance to go duck hunting on his private game reserve.  If physically possible I would have literally jumped at the chance, instead I settled for a hearty over the phone yes.

Dave Rogers, Chris's grandfather, founded and operates River Refuge Seed Company in Brownsville, Oregon which grows and sells wild grain rice to consumers all over the state.  They also manage many acres of wetlands that are ideal habitat for migrating and local water fowl moving south along the west coast during their annual migration for fall and winter.  Many such species that temporarily utilize the incredible habitat range from gorgeous multi-colored teal, widgen, mallard, pintail, buffle head, flashy wood ducks, multiple species of Canadian geese to blindingly white snow geese.  Much of the habitat is off limits to hunters thanks to the conservationist spirit and attitude held by the seed company.  Luckily for me the generous Rogers clan saw fit to help design, build, and loan an accessible duck blind for hunters with disabilities.  They are hard charging folks that took many hours out of their loaded work schedules to build this opportunity for disabled outdoors-men.

Chris and I met at 5am, and were flinging decoys by 515.  There is a certain satisfaction to swinging a brightly colored plastic duck around your head like a lasso and landing it with a hollow plop 30 feet from a grassy blind that makes your heart start beating with expectations of the day to come.

When flying low over a pond and looking for safe haven or food, duck's wings make a sharp whistling sound that is just audible if you are keenly listening.  The clock read 6am and Chris and I were sitting in our blind listening for the telltale sounds.  The first skimming of duck feet on the water set adrenaline pouring through my arteries and to my brain and finger tips.  The biting cold that had settled in from the crisp November morning was shaking off with the pulsing fire of excitement that only comes from a chance to take wild game.

The troubles I had toiled to complete, overcome, manage, and excel at the prior months vanished when the digital clock in my pocket glowed the legal shooting time.  Ducks, as do nearly all game animals in Oregon, have some sixth sense about these times because they only appear and disappear just before or after it is legally possible to take them.  This held true for our flying quarry as they faded away with the morning fog.  We had several opportunities throughout the day to take some birds, but mostly they were out of range.  Nevertheless, my day did what it was designed to do. Getting lost in cold morning hunting, colorful birds, encompassing fog, and a Thomas Kinkade like sunrise cured my temporary woes by replacing them with lasting lifetime memories.

January, 25, 2015
Jordan D Meekins