The Last Season

As he put the waders up in the shed there were still traces of mud on the boots and the wear was visible in the knees and seat. They had lasted several seasons and should get him at least one more. There were decoys that would need some touch up on their paint and that would be a warmer weather project. Carefully he separated the divers from the puddle ducks. Small amounts of dried Widgeon grass still clung to the anchor lines. He made a mental note to order a few more of several species for next year and was comfortable that he already had enough line and anchors to rig them out.

There was no hurry in his chores for the season had ended two days earlier and he had already taken care of the most important tasks. The gun had been broken completely down, cleaned and put away in the cabinet. The boat had been stripped and cleaned and the motor had the fuel run out of it and was placed so that any remaining water would drain from the lower unit.

He had already spent most of the previous day making inroads on the many “Honey –do’s” that were piling up during the previous months. This bought him time to take care of these last few things to put an end to the season’s “administrative chores”. His companion had been resting up after a lot of cold boat rides and long retrieves. Now the dog accompanied his master as he walked around the yard and busied himself in the shed. Content were the both of them. Clearly bonded and secure that they belonged together and it would be that way for many years, many seasons.

The nights seemed colder now that they held no promise of wings whistling overhead in the gray wet mornings. No cupped birds surprising the man and his dog as they set out the spread just before legal shootin’ hours. For now there were no more greeting calls or feeding chuckles to be made. The tall brown grass would not be in his face as he stood low, allowing a flight of ducks to make their final approach with feet dropping to the cold windswept water below. Face and hands that had been chapped for weeks were beginning to heal. The winter still had a long course to run before warmer breezes fell on his face and he would witness the rebirth of nature dressing itself in color.

It had been a good season, though some mornings brought more moments of reflecting on the wondrous beauty of nature than actually seeing waterfowl in the air. There were days he had communed with his dad, long in the grave, and remembered the shared times they had spent together. Harvests had been better other mornings and he still found himself amused at the shots he sometimes made and others that he had missed with no clue as to how. There had been great moments with friends as they supped together at the club and carried on conversations. The years had seen him as a youth with his first 20 gauge and first Greenhead. They had witnessed his coming of age and the joy he found at no longer being the youngest “boy” there. Quickly they had passed through his middle age and now he found himself one of the “older guys”. A whole new generation of hunters, busying themselves with rigging boats and taking care of other chores, now gave him more time to chat and share a drink with “the boys”.

His muscles still ached and he had not quite caught up on all the sleep he had missed, but the memories of the season would be with him forever. Long ago, his father had taught him the value of memories and he would certainly not trade these riches. As he locked the shed and walked with his dog toward the gate, he smiled and thought of the seasons to come. Each would bring new experiences and each would be memorable and this one had certainly not been a disappointment. He would carry this thought with him throughout the coming months in anticipation of again breaking out his gun and hunting gear. Unknowing as he strode casually with his four legged friend that God would soon call him home. It was as it should be, for no man knows his allotted time. No man knows when his walk upon this terrestrial ball will come to an end. He smiled as he reflected upon this season past, unaware that it had been his season, last.

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