Is My Booty Frozen Off?
Remember, fellow Camo Queens, the good old days when you first met your outdoorsman and you were willing to do all sorts of “new” things just to be able to hang out with him? God forbid you’d be away from each other for half a day! I remember the first time my camo guy conned me into duck hunting in the middle of winter because all his hunting buddies were busy. He made it sound like fun: we would snuggle on a bench in a sheltered blind, sipping hot cocoa laced with vanilla schnapps, and wait for birds on the wing. It would only be a few hours. That doesn’t sound so bad, does it? Sure, but here’s how it plays out in real time.
Beeeeep! Beeeeeep! The alarm clock goes off like a bomb promptly at 4 a.m. on Saturday morning. What? My brain assumes this is a nightmare and I’m not really awake. But a cheerful, masculine voice keeps insisting that it’s time to get up. My rational brain does the sensible thing and buries itself under the pillow. Everywhere else in this time zone, sane people are getting their full quota of REM sleep.But not me. An invisible hand whisks the pillow away, so I go along with the nightmare. No, there’s no time to brush your teeth or brew coffee, barely enough time to get dressed and hop into the stink wagon. Off we go.
We do, thankfully, stop and fill up our travel mugs with gas station coffee, which at 4:15 a.m. tastes like the elixir of life. Sort of. Okay, not so much. Then off to the fields to set up. Set up? Oh yes, my camo guy explains, I get to drag a 200-pound bag of decoys through the snow and knee-deep slush to the blind and then scatter the decoys to entice the poor little real ducks to come check out the hot babes. Apparently ducks are a lot like men—easily seduced by plastic enhancements.
At least I’m moving, generating some body heat. In the dark, I can’t be sure how the decoys look, but I don’t have a clue what I’m doing anyway. What exactly is a duck looking for when it spies an attractive though oddly immobile flock of feathered fellows? Hell if I know. Then I remind myself that when we go shopping, the outdoorsman goes into rapture just walking past the mannequins in the lingerie department.
Now it is time to get into the blinds. Wait, I am laying down . . . and I am by myself. How am I going to drink my spiked hot chocolate lying down? Who am I going to talk to? Who is going to be keeping me warm in the frickin’ blizzard and gusting winds that are about to carry me and this freakish rat-trap blind away? Apparently you’re supposed to drink the coffee beforehand, be quiet, and wear a lot more warm clothes.
Oh, and did I mention that once I’m in the blind, the camo guy closes the lid? What?! It’s pitch black, cold, and smells like I imagine last year’s rotting corpse would smell. There’s a tiny peep-hole, and I can just barely make out a patch of sky. This is starting to feel too much like some B-grade horror movie. No one will ever find my frozen, blue body because who in their right mind would ever wander out into a mucky swamp and start pulling up on random mats of grass expecting to find a damsel in distress? Or her bones in a shallow grave. I don’t hear any birds, but questions are fluttering around my mind. Namely, do we have a large life insurance policy that I do not know about?
Little do I realize, but this party is just getting started! I am in the blind, wondering what it feels like to freeze to death, and falling into a trance as I lie on the frozen ground looking at the sky through my peephole when a chorus of honking and quacking begins. Quack! Quack! Quack! HONK! HOOOOONKKKKK! At first, I think the birds have arrived. Then I realize that no living bird sounds anything like this—it’s just the camo guy pretending to be ducks and geese. Which is exactly what it sounds like. Then an eerie silence . . . we are waiting for the poor little waterfowl to wander by on this lovely Saturday morning. More artificial quacking. Then, off in the distance, a reply! I peer through my peephole and, sure enough, the ducks are coming in!Awww, don’t they look so confident in their vee formation? I can hear them quacking merrily among themselves as they approach their plastic friends on the ground. My outdoorsman quacks and coos, working hard to earn their trust, persuading them that the plastic friends scattered over the marsh are indeed friends. I think that they are buying it. They come closer and closer until I can see the beautiful markings on their wings, the flash of yellow feet. I think, this is not so bad. It’s peaceful out here in the fresh air listening to the ducks cooing as they—BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM!
Holy crap! My ears are ringing, the outdoorsman is yelling commands at the dog, and the once-peaceful little ducks are raining to the ground. I watch in silent shock as the dog finishes off any poor suckers that weren’t quite dead from the ass full of lead they just got, and the outdoorsman hoots and hollers in glee. The outdoorsman commands the dog back to his crate and looks at me, whispering excitedly, “Wasn’t that awesome?” Well, it turns out he’s not whispering, he’s shouting, but my ears are still echoing with the shotgun blasts so it’s like the whole world of sounds is smothered in plastic wrap. I can see the outdoorsman mouthing words, but I hear them only in my imagination. My lip-reading skills aren’t the best, but he’s clearly excited about reducing the local duck population. I’m not sure I agree, but then, just like that, he slams shut the trap door and I’m in the dark again. Time for more mass murder. I love the smell of gunpowder in the morning. . . .
After four more rounds of suckering ducks to their demise, I’m wondering how much more of this I can take. I am blue from head to toe, my eyelashes have frozen together, and I’m sporting some lovely snotcicles. More worrisome—I can no longer feel my butt. How cold do you have to be to lose sensation in your ass? And what if it’s permanently numb? Thankfully, my outdoorsman comes to tell me that it’s time to pack up for the day. Thank you, sweet baby Jesus! But first I have to round up the decoys and drag the bag back across the soggy, frozen fields that stink worse than an outhouse after a chili festival.
We get all loaded up and the outdoorsman says, “Wasn’t that fun?!”
Well, what can I say when his eyes are lit up with sheer joy and he acts like I just handed him the moon just by going on this little trip with him? Frankly, at this point, if my lips weren’t frozen I’d gladly give him a hearty “Yeehaw!” if it would help get this show on the road, fire up the stink wagon, and get us the hell out of this swamp. On the bright side, we get back home before any of the neighbors’ lights are on, so I feel completely justified crawling back into by luxuriously warm bed, and I’m fast asleep before the outdoorsman thinks to ask for help plucking the ducks. If I were still awake, I would’ve just laughed and told him to pluck off.
Kristen Berube lives a crazy, laugh-filled life with her outdoorsman husband Remi and their three camo-clad children in Missoula, Montana. A graduate of Montana State University and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, she loves being a mom and enjoys hiking, fishing, and camping. “Confessions of a Camo Queen: Living with an Outdoorsman” is her first book. –
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