And the Oopsiecoot is a good one.
It's appropriate that my last Scene from the Marsh was about Charlie's awesome sniper - er - ghillie suit. We've been having a little debate in the comments on that post about the effectiveness of ghillies, and the Oopsiecoot is Exhibit No. 1 in my case.
It was the second-to-last day of season - aka, Saturday - and we were hunting a spot we'd never been in before because all our good spots were taken.
My usual hunting peeps spread out: Charlie and Alison in one patch, me and Hank in another, Don in the next one, his nephew in one farther west of us. Things were fairly slow, but every time someone got up and walked around, it would stir up the coots, and they'd go looking for new spots to hang out from an altitude of, oh, 5 feet over the marsh.
|Source: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service|
Now, there's nothing unusual about coots flying near hunters - most hunters here won't shoot them on purpose. Hell, even Hank and I don't shoot them often, and Hank knows how to prepare them.
But when we're wearing our ghillies, the coots come really close.
I watched one approaching our tule patch Saturday and it quickly became clear that bird was going to come right over us, oblivious to our presence. This happens a LOT when we wear our ghillies.
When it got right between Hank and me, literally a foot and a half over the tules, I shouted, "BOO!" And just as the word was leaving my lips, Hank reached up, and his hand got literally within a foot of that coot.
That bird came UNGLUED, wings, legs and crazy white beak flailing in all directions. We just laughed and laughed and laughed.
This is what we love about the marsh - the comedy that never makes it into all-too-serious hunting TV.
When Hank and I were talking about it later, he reminded me of a story Charlie had told me, and had told Hank that day: Charlie had a duck come over him like that one day, really low. I think it was a wigeon or a gadwall - Charlie will correct me here.
When he reached up to startle that duck, it screamed.
If you know anything about ducks, you know a scream is not really part of their vocabulary. Wish I could've been there for that one.
Does this make us all sadistic bastards? It's possible. But I freely confess that I think it's just as funny to startle humans this way. I can only hope that the ducks laugh as hard as we do, in their own quacky way. They must, because ruddies like to startle us like this all the time.
This reminded me of one of my favorite videos by my students. It is all at once over the top, funny, and weird. Check it out:
© Holly A. Heyser 2012