You ever catch yourself sniffing empty shotgun shells? In the heat of battle most of my spent twelve gauges hit the bottom of the duck boat. Exceptions to the rule occur, and those are the three inch mags that I tuck in my pocket after poking at Canadian honkers. My hands shake so bad after honkers I always slowly unload the tubes and vibrate the empties into my bulging shell pockets.
After the boat is completely loaded and the truck heater is on full blast I reach in my pocket for a whiff of gunpowder. It's intoxicating. As I slowly re-warm my body the thawing of mind starts to fly out the window to the blind I just left. Replaying shots, seeing blurred images of bluebills pitching and catapulting across the white capped waves. A drake mallard spiraled crashing and the flared white under wing of three hens wind whipped out of range.
It's the slow burn in a shot of whiskey that sets my mind to rewind. I raise the glass to the mutt. Then I play the same old, in my head movie, over and over. I smell the day. I feel the wind. I see the clouds. I think of the sound of roaring wings. Decoys working against stretched tethers, feeling those cold shotgun hulls in my coat pocket. Water foaming out in the main lake driving ducks towards the shore. Rafts of feathers lifting off the water and sending my senses to a state of duck nirvana. Under my breath I hope them to me, to lift high enough to wing over my set-up. Some do, many loft, held suspended, stalled, then fight for flight, catch the wind and disappear like pepper flakes off the far horizon.