One of the great things about sitting in the headmaster’s chair at Regents Academy is that I still get to spend time each day in the classroom. I never want to leave the classroom because I love working with students. One of my classes is the junior and senior Omnibus class. These 10 students are a fantastic group of insightful and hard-working young scholars.
Recently the class completed a brief writing exercise that was an experiment in development through detailed description. They were tasked with choosing an experience in nature and then describing that experience in such a way that their readers shared the feelings they had.
Junior Dylan Richardson wrote about his experience duck hunting when he shot his first mallard. I share it with you here because I enjoyed it so much and was so impressed with it. When Dylan read it to his classmates, they spontaneously applauded, and I am sure you will also.
I waded through a flooded swamp with my four companions. We looked over the tops of the trees for ducks. Behind me I heard a duck’s quack. I turned and leveled my sights on what turned out to be my first mallard.
It was 9 o’clock in the morning at the duck pond in Alazan Bayou. My four companions and I waded quietly and alertly through the flooded woods around Coon Bayou. The morning air of December was crisp, cold, and still, but filled with the feeling of excitement, drowsiness, and anxiousness that all five of us camo-clad hunters felt. The oaks were leafless and unmoving in the calm of the overcast Saturday morning. We scanned over the tops of the seemingly lifeless trees for the silhouette of ducks against the gray and gloomy clouds. The water around us was black but mirror-like, covered with ice, tree limbs, and duck feathers. The combination of debris and the mirror-like reflection of the trees created a Picasso-style picture on the water’s surface. A calm and slow wind would randomly blow and bring with it a bitter cold that quickly numbed all uncovered parts of our bodies. Casual whistles and quacks of wood ducks and mallards in the distance echoed off the low lingering clouds and taunted us to leave our location. Random gunshots bellowed from the swamp to our south. Almost mockingly, the shots would ring, boasting about the luck of our fellow hunters. We ached from the arduous hike through the chest deep water wearing thick jackets, waders, and gear-filled packs. The sweat created by the workout was freezing to our foreheads. Our metal guns also were frozen to our hands. Suddenly, I heard the beating of wings to my left, accompanied by a long and deep quack. I released the thumb safety on my Mossberg 835, leveled my gun, and began to turn to my left. As I turned I saw the mallard cup its wings and come in for a landing. It created a beautiful image against the oaks and swamp. My heart beat faster as I took final aim and squeezed trigger. Then a flash came from the muzzle and smoke came out of the ports in the barrel. I didn’t even hear the bang; my ears just began to ring. I lowered the end of my gun to see my first mallard floating spread eagle and lifeless on the surface of the water.