November 03, 2010
By Jon Wongrey
Their faces and hands scream years of hard work, and they hate to disappoint
By Jon Wongrey
He could have delighted me with many tales, for it was my understanding that in his ancestral rope there have been many of his kin who have worked the shallow-water mangrove swamps of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula for blue-wing teal. But my Spanish is somewhat limited. Yet there are two words by which we communicated throughout the morning as swarms of bluewings plummeted into the decoys. Muchos Patos! Many ducks. Sugar on a candy cane.
They bring to the sport an industrious, vigorous element executed to perfection and forever attendant as sentinels and listeners and workers.
Bird boys construct blinds from materials indigenous to the mangrove swamps to enhance concealment and allow for shooting freedom.
Their burnt russet eyes house many waterfowl seasons where the torrid climate has corroded and stamped their faces with many lessons.
Their genius and skillfulness to search and imprint on down ducks is hewn from the stone of duty.
Their work is arduous and yet is done with aptitude and zeal and there is much poetry in their endeavors in a place where the pipe of waterfowl is puffed to life.
With the blood of the ancient Mayan Indians coursing their veins, bird boys navigate seemingly forbidden, secretive corridors spinning your suburban compass.
The rhythmical composition of well-muscled arms and backs are the engines of power in the shallow water.
To hunt with them is perhaps one of the greatest of hunting experiences you can witness, for they have an internal monitor that services and charts their mission to complete their assignment.
The tightly woven mangrove swamps are well suited to hunt ducks in late winter, for there are no nights or days raw with wind and snow and sleet.
Bluewings are generally the first waterfowl to head south from the mixed prairie grasslands of the Dakotas and the prairie provinces of Canada in early August en route to the Yucatan where it is agreeable to watch these small birds on slender feathered wings drive into the decoys like drops of rain in the land of the bird boys.