As you might remember, we've skipped Christmas the last two years. Last year we spent the holidays on the slopes in Breckenridge and the year before that we were on a beach in Belize. I highly recommend both. But this year, we stayed home - apparently pregnant ladies aren't allowed to ski and I'd rather die than be caught in a swim suit these days. So home it was. But this year, we decided to do things a little different.
Anyway, my husband has been training our puppy Sage to be a duck dog. For the last few months, he's taken her duck hunting or duck training a few times a week. He takes her out to a friend's farm and she swims, retrieves dummy ducks, responds to the whistle, watches the sky for birds and is basically his side-kick. She comes home soaking wet, covered in mud and burrs, and so tired she can barely move. You can tell she loves it because the few times he hasn't take her with him, she sits at the back door and cries like a baby for hours. It's the saddest thing ever. But when she's at the farm, she's a working dog and the happiest puppy on the block.
Apparently Sage is a very good little duck dog. She's still a puppy and has a long way to go, but she's got the instincts. I'm sure this has something to do with all the time and energy Ryan has devoted to her to get her where she is. He's so proud of her - you can see it in his eyes every time he looks at her. I can't wait until he looks at our son the same way. That's pure love. And because he's so proud of her, he's been wanting to show her off to me so I can be proud of her too. So
bright dark and early on Christmas Eve morning, we packed up the truck and the pup and headed out to the farm so mama could see her baby in action.
Of course we picked the coldest day the entire year, so we were bundled to the max.
Sage wore her duck dog camo vest too.
Doesn't she just look thrilled to get her picture taken?
This will probably be the very last time I can wear my super warm clothes because they barely fit over my ever-growing baby bump. Do you have any idea how hard it is to get dressed in 3 layers of pants, 3 layers of tops, waders, boots, coat, hat, gloves etc. while you can barely bend over? Neoprene and Cold Gear aren't that stretchy. Luckily, with a lot of maneuvering and Ryan's help, I got everything on.
Once we were dressed, it was time to head out to the blind.
It was dark and ice cold (barely 6:00 a.m.).
Ryan and Sage forged ahead, while I trudged through the water and ice and mud and questioned my sanity.
It was about this time when I thought maybe that swim suit on the beach wasn't a horrible idea after all.
Unfortunately, the pumps in the field (that keep the water flowing and from freezing)
were not turned on the night before, so we had a lot of ice to deal with.
Ducks will only land on open (unfrozen) water, so Ryan had to go out and break ice while Sage and I hung out at the blind and waited for the sun to rise.
She hung out in her kennel and watched for birds.
While I goofed off and took a million pictures of her.
And despite it being ass-crack early and bitter cold, I will say,
it was incredibly peaceful and beautiful out there.
And as the sun began to rise and hit the ice/water, it made the whole place glow gold and red.
Once Ryan finished breaking ice, it was time to get serious.
Sage gave me that look that says, "enough mom, it's time to work."
So I had to get out of the way and into the blind (which is basically a hole in the ground
covered with straw and filled with mud and ice water).
Who said duck hunting wasn't glamorous?
With all my layers of clothing and my giant belly, it took me about 6 hours to climb down the 3 stairs into the blind. I was kid brother Randy from "A Christmas Story" - so bundled I looked like a tick ready to explode.
No, I don't shoot. I was only holding the gun because Ryan said it'd make me look more like a bad-ass in the photo. What do you think?
The sun was finally rising, so we hunkered down in the blind and waited.
According to Ryan, the weather wasn't "ducky" enough for the birds to be moving. There was no wind and no weather, so they were all staying put.
We even tried calling them, but just got their voice mail.
There were a couple of ducks flying around, but nothing close enough to shoot.
Sage was great at watching the sky for signs of life.
She was so focused.
It made me such a proud mom to watch her do something she loved so much.
But as much as she might like the ducks,
I think her favorite part of hunting is just spending time with her daddy.
She loves him so much and just wants to please him. It's quite adorable.
It's obvious they have a lot of fun together.
And as the sun rose, we realized that there were no ducks coming.
Ryan helped me out of the blind (with a lot of effort) and we took an opportunity to get a few pictures with the dog of the day.
And my sweet little puppy looks much more bad-ass than I ever could.
And what a grown-up she's become.
But still, she'll always be my baby.
And so that was the end of our hunt.
We headed home, back through the icy waters.
A boy and his dog.
The best of friends.
And thus concludes our adventures in duck hunting.
Although I have a feeling Baby Mac will be back as soon as he's old enough to hold his head up.
And Sage will be fully recharged and ready to do it all again after a 20 minute power nap.
Special thanks to John at Duck's Rest for letting us hunt at the farm. I promise I really did have a great time and would love to go again (as long as Ryan promises not to shoot anything while I'm there).
* No ducks were harmed in the making of this post.