Wet Feet x3 / by Phoebe Bean

Deer season in Vermont starts this Saturday, which, for safety reasons, will mean the end of hunting grouse and woodcock. Thus, with no fishing or upland bird opportunities, what are we left with? Ducks. I have a love/hate relationship with duck hunting; suffering from poor circulation, my feet and hands are often numb within minutes of being in the blind (hand and toe warmers are my best friends), and I struggle with the morality of hiding in my prey's habitat and sneakily popping up to turn their pleasant day into a chaotic war zone. However, there is some skill involved with calling ducks into the blind, and, at least in terms of my skills, the ducks definitely have a fighting chance. 

Often crouching in two feet of frigid water, I usually begin to feel less sorry for the ducks. 

Often crouching in two feet of frigid water, I usually begin to feel less sorry for the ducks. 

Since my arrival in Vermont this fall, I've been out scouting for potential blind locations by myself three times. I emphasize the "by myself" part because I've never made this particular mistake (which I will explain momentarily) while in the company of other hunters. I emphasize "three times" because apparently, third time's the charm doesn't apply to me, and I haven't learned from this mistake yet. So, what do I keep doing to myself repeatedly? Not wearing waders! Foolishly thinking I can avoid wet feet in swampy areas by only wearing waterproof boots, I walk back to my car irritated by the inevitable sloshing noises coming from my now numb feet, accompanied by looks of pity and disgust from Jess, my godparents' labrador. 

Yesterday evening, Jess and I checked out a a local spot that I had heard ducks in before, and I again forgot my waders. While scanning the horizon for birds, I stepped straight into a beaver channel and the water rushed over the top of my boots. Luckily, the 60 degree weather we've had over the past few days saved my (wet, of course) feet from complete agony. I am convinced that someone gave all of the ducks a copy of this year's hunting regs, because every single evening I've been out they all come in literally one minute after shooting hours are over (kudos to you, ducks). Nevertheless, it was still lovely to be outside and watch the sunset. I'm hoping that since I've now admitted my ridiculous stubbornness about not wearing waders, I'll make smarter decisions in the future (stay tuned)!

Last night's sunset from the swamp.

Last night's sunset from the swamp.