Blind Insights is a soul perspective into the lives of waterfowlers written by published author and speaker, Jason Cruise, founder of Mission Media & Resource Group.
I’ve never claimed to run a duck call like a pro, however, I never knew I’d be bested by a dog in terms of my consistent attempts to mine the depths of quackology. I carry the scars of this experience with me to this very day. I was standing waist deep in Mississippi Delta flooded timber the day Zulu, one of the best duck dogs I’ve ever seen, spoke real ugly to me … and she never spoke a word.
Every January I travel with a few of my soul brothers for a late season duck hunt. It’s a strategic meeting where we hunt the mornings, and study the Scriptures in the evening searching for ancient, relevant truths about manhood. It has become, without question, the highlight of my duck season.
We were hunting Magna Vista Plantation, a southwestern Mississippi operation owned by some of the finest people I know. Brother, let me tell you, we stomped the ducks. I’m talking about strait killing with epic vengeance. Our guide was an easy come, easy go fellow named Jeff Terry, and his dog was a modest southern belle, the aforementioned Zulu.
In conversations prior to the hunt Jeff informed me, “Zulu isn’t a field trial dog, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a dog that hunts better than she does.” Hunters have little capacity to be objective about their dogs, and that is the way it should be. A man deserves the right to be partial to his dog, and knowing that to be the case, I took it in stride with a “well, we’ll see about that” attitude lodged in the back of my feathered brain because I’ve hunted with some amazing dogs.
Our first morning gave light to green heads falling all over our hole. Zulu was calm and collected, much like her master. Gentle and sweet, she never whimpered, never fidgeted. She stood her post like a statue. When the Winchester Blind Sides greeted the first group of Mallards mere minutes into legal shooting hours, I saw immediately that Jeff was spot on with his subjectivity concerning Zulu.
When the blasting fell silent and the green head bellies began floating heavenward, Jeff calmly said, “Zulu.” That was it. One mild word and she launched. Zulu gathered every duck without even so much as a mark from Jeff. One by one she’d bring them back and go again until the water was fresh for the next baptism.
Knowing that the only way to improve your calling is actually to call at ducks, etiquette demanded that I ask Jeff if he minded me joining in with some gentle feed and chatter (only after we’d killed a few so as not to ruin the hunt). He was welcoming of the idea.
An hour or so into the hunt, and several ducks hanging from our rings, three drakes began dropping altitude. Like Jeff, I reached for my lanyard, too. That’s when Zulu, this woman with whom I was falling in love with at a rapid rate, turned on me like Delilah turned on Samson.
I’m forever amazed at how God creates a dog with its own personality. Every dog has its tells, and they are pure magic to watch. A good dog is so in tune with its master that the habits of the master cause Pavlovian-like automated responses from the dog who knows duck action is imminent.
In Zulu’s case, every time Jeff would reach for his duck calls, Zulu would look to the sky with a glare that penetrated all the way into what the Apostle Paul called “The Third Heaven.” Over and over again I watched it play out. Ducks would appear, Jeff would reach for his lanyard, and without hesitation, that was Zulu’s indicator to draw a skyward bead.
Those three drakes were dropping, and like Jeff, I reached for my lanyard. Zulu, on seeing Jeff reach for his calls, searched the sky like she had every time hence. As soon as I let out my first quack, the gentle Zulu violently slung her head, threw her eyes on me, and simply stared into my eyes. Every time after that . . . every single time after that . . . when ducks would appear and my hands would start moving toward my call, this scorned woman, who studied the heavens with intensity and passion, would now only stare at me as if to say, “Really now?”
Lanyard tucked between my whipped heart, I went back to pulling a jerk cord and just throwing feed calls. It was a blind date with Zulu. We’ve not spoken since.