Young Ducks and an Alligator *Experience*

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“Listen Oliver, let’s just wait till duck season is over before we tell Mom about the alligator.  Ok?”

“Sure dad,” he replied.  Yet, somewhere during the 20 minute drive home this hush-hush agreement got lost in his little memory bank because as soon as we opened the kitchen door at home Oliver loudly announced “Dad almost got eaten by an enormous alligator!”

This is what happened:  Oliver and Braden knocked down a couple birds in the rice canal.  I sent Fiona, my lab, to get the birds.  She brought the first one, but dropped it somewhere before getting to me. I sent her back to get the one she dropped, but instead she grabbed dead bird number 2.  I then step down into the canal, thinking she dropped the first in the grass at the edge.  With my back to the canal, and up to my waist in water, my son exclaims “Alligator!”  I startle and scold him as a look over my shoulder “Oliver, don’t joke about….” I then set a personal record for high jumping with waders, and scrambled out of the canal.  I did not see it’s head, only its tail , which looked about 6-8 inches wide.

This is what I think happened:  splashing from half dead birds and the dog brought a large, hungry alligator to chomp down on something juicy.  By the time the beast gets there, I’m in the water.  The monster, (looking back I figure its at least 14-16 feet long, twice as big as the initial estimate by my friend Brent), started to eat me, but realized I wasn’t bird or dog and left without attacking.

Anyways, other than my second near death experience with alligators, we had a great time taking a couple young hunters on their first gun carrying duck hunts. Despite hurricane Patricia bearing down on us, we managed to get the boys their first ducks (bluewing teal) and their first poule d’eau.  As a bonus, while setting out the decoys, I managed to channel my inner Swamp People and grabbed 15 bullfrogs.

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All in all, exciting start to the waterfowl season.


Thundered and rained the whole time, but lightning only in the far distance.
 The teal were super fat, but this was the fattest.

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Nice amount of fat rendered from just three teal.

Looking forward to cold weather and the arrival of the big birds, but this was a great start.  Any of you hunt the youth weekend?

How an Alligator attack got my family into Ducks

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water dragons

Not your typical foursome

While at a play date with some of the other homeschool kids in our area, my wife made friends with a duck.   They shared a snack, made eye contact, and apparently had a “moment.”  So when some little kid started picking Veronica up by the neck, (apparently that’s her name), Susan did what sadly has been done before in this family, namely brought the duck home.  And, I have to admit I set the precedent of stealing park ducks.  Let me back up a bit and explain.

This park is within a quarter mile of a huge river, and has an irrigation ditch dug and managed by the river association.  This  waterway is used as a highway for all sorts of animals, including alligators.

disc with snake

Lots of wildlife at Letulle Park, some not so friendly

So I’m playing disc golf with a couple buddies about a year back.   The course has a T box just off a small, duck weed covered lake about two hundred yards from the river.  Right before I throw, three baby ducks waddle up just a cheeping. There were no adult waterfowl around. We all thought they were cute, but whatever, we are tossing discs. Plus we are grown men, who don’t get all moved by fuzzy little babies.

 I tee off and my throw lands next to the water. Not in mind you, but next to the pond.  The little ducks follow me to the disc.  As I’m bending down to pick up my disc,  up out of the duck weed explodes  a 4 foot alligator snapping its teeth and crashing into my legs.  Now, I’m a Christian and a grown man who likes to think himself an “Alpha Male” but, I kid you not, I squealed like a girl, dropped an F bomb, and wet myself just a little bit.  It wasn’t my finest hour.

The alligator was not scared of nor interested in me, but was after the little puff balls weaving in and around my ankles.  I jumped, stomped and yelled at the beast out of sheer terror and it quickly reentered the water.  I consider it providence that I wasn’t bitten and no duckling was trampled in the turmoil.  The two college guys I was playing with had a good laugh, and we carried on with the game.  Course layout predicated we continue walking down the pond’s length and the little gator followed us the entire way in the water.  As we rounded the end of the lake, with the ducks now on the far side of all three of us, the gator made another attack.

Gator

Nemesis

This time I was ready.  I swung my bag of discs and landed a few glancing blows that sent it back into the water.  However, it  never quit hunting us, following our every move with its soulless eyes.   By then I had bonded with the ducks.  We shared a common enemy.  I’m game for letting nature take its course, so I don’t “rescue” fawns, squirrels or other woodland critters.  But AFLAC ducks aren’t natural and these guys didn’t have a chance, so I scooped them up and brought’em home.

Well fast forward, and now dear wifey has brought home yet another duck.  She has issues–the duck I mean, not my wife.  For one, she’s been picking green tomatoes and rolling them into her nest, and sitting on them. But since I garden, and we need a source of eggs, ducks have been a welcome addition to my backyard poultry.  I fence them in my garden and that keeps the fertilizer where it belongs and they really get after bugs.  Ducks have much better personalities than chickens, but they lose more feathers.  Plus they are mouthy.

bath time 1 splash

However, they have one redeeming skill set that will allow them to stay with me as long as they like: