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Mating Habıts Of Duck Hunters

Romance is as fleeting as a spooked greenhead.

Archeologists have come to believe that duck hunters are a separate subspecies of humanity. Why? Because our mating habits are different from those of normal humans.

It is an established fact that fewer babies are born to wives of duck hunters during August than any other month. Think about it. November is the heart of duck season in much of the country, and November is nine months before August. Go ahead, count them up on your fingers. That's what I did.

So let's face it, guys. From mid-October through the first of the year, we're duck zombies. Our time is taken up with important things like ordering more stuff we don't need from catalogs, repairing decoys and duck blinds, training retrievers and brushing up our shotgunning skills. And then the actual duck hunting starts.

It makes sense when you stop and think about it. I can name several incidents in my own life and in the lives of my hunting buddies that bear out this theory.

Take my friend, Bubba, for instance. Thinking a romantic night away from home (and dog) might improve their love life, Bubba's wife, Queeny, rented a fancy hotel suite that included a king-size bed and a hot tub. While Queeny was slipping into her new bikini, Bubba took several recently repaired duck decoys out of his suitcase and put them in the hot tub to see if they floated right. Needless to say, it changed the mood of the whole evening.

And then there's my buddy, Bobby Ralph. One cold November afternoon, his wife had their furnace disconnected. When Bobby Ralph got home from work, she told him it had conked out, thinking they would have to snuggle to keep warm that night. Instead, Bobby Ralph rushed to the sporting good's store and bought himself a new set of polypropylene long johns and a down parka.


And Leroy is just as bad as Bubba and Bobby Ralph. Leroy and Darlene are our neighbors up the street. Leroy has a big male Lab named Buster who sleeps in bed between them. One night last October, Darlene said, "Leroy, don't you think it would improve our love life if you and Buster and I didn't all sleep in the same bed?" Leroy thought about it for a while and then said, "You got a point there." He and Buster went and slept on the couch.

Sam's story is even worse. His wife planned a romantic picnic for just the two of them in a city park. She packed the picnic basket with his favorite sandwiches and snacks, and chose a spot beside a beautiful lagoon, well hidden by trees, where they would have some privacy. She spread a blanket on the ground, popped the top on two cans of his favorite beer, and beckoned him to come sit beside her. Unfortunately, the lagoon was covered with mallards. Sam spent the afternoon studying them, trying to pick up clues about how to get more realism into his decoy spread.

You think that's something? Listen to this: My Uncle Merle and Aunt Wanda went to Blockbuster to pick out movies to watch over the weekend. Aunt Wanda had it all set up, or so she thought. She would get Uncle Merle "in the mood" by picking out every movie she could find that featured torrid love scenes and scantily clad young actresses. She didn't notice what movies Uncle Merle had chosen till they got home. She pulled a movie out of her bag and said, "Let's watch this first, dear. It's the one with that famous love scene that was banned in 13 countries." But Uncle Merle pulled a whole fist full of movies out of his bag, stuck one into the DVD player, and said, "Aw, gee whiz, Hon. I had my heart all set on watching these," as he held up, "Fall'n Skies Volumes 1 through 4."

My cousin, Rodney, is no better. One night, when the fall air was crisp and the moon was full, Rodney's wife, Pearl, grabbed him by the arm and said, "Remember how we used to drive out and park in the country and neck when we were in high school? Let's do that tonight."

So they got in the truck and drove out of town a ways and stopped on a lonely road beside a cut cornfield. Well, everybody knows ducks and geese feed by the light of a full moon, so Rodney spent the next hour hanging out the window watching the birds pile into the corn stubble until Pearl got mad and slapped him up side the head with his Nash Buckingham bobblehead doll.

We all have our tales to tell. I sometimes hunt with a guy we call Swede. His real name is Athol, but he cold-cocks anybody who calls him that. One night right before duck season, Swede's wife, Darla June, cooked his favorite meal and bought a bottle of wine with a cork in the top, not the kind with a screw-on cap they usually drank. She planned to meet Swede at the front door wearing a brand new negligee when he came home from work.

The only problem was that Swede had forgotten to tell Darla June he was going straight from work to his duck camp to start brushing blinds and wouldn't be home till the next afternoon. That was three years ago. I don't think Swede ever has gotten to see that negligee.

I probably shouldn't laugh at these guys, because I'm just as guilty. My wife and I took a vacation in Hawaii and the hotel where we stayed threw a big luau out on the beach. After the shindig was over, my wife accused me of ogling the hula girls, a charge I hotly denied.

When we got back home, she bought a grass skirt, thinking it would add some spark to our love life. I used it to grass my layout boat.

Bruce Cochran carries out the ritual of waterfowling from Prairie Village, Kan.

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