Teal may have access to posted legal shooting times. They swoop low over decoys early, knowing hunters will hold their fire. Then this speedy little brown duck disappears after it’s legally time to shoot.
Normally this is no big deal for most experienced hunters, but Walker Zaman, a lieutenant Colonel in the Bangladesh Army had just flown 22,000 miles to see his family and hunt ducks on Smithville Lake. Teal happened to be in season and he had long dreamed of enjoying a waterfowl hunt.
The September weather was perfect-for anyone but a duck hunter. Walker’s brother, Wasim Zaman of Overland Park, felt a sense of panic. He searched the sky for signs of teal, but only saw crows and cormorants. He wanted his brother to get a shot and hopefully a teal or two.
A flock of wood ducks blasted by for a close look at the decoys and continued on. They were not in season, but Walker studied the beautiful birds with admiration until they were out of sight. Then the sky was empty again and the sun created a lazy day on the lake until mid-morning when Mother Nature changed on Walker’s behalf.
Clouds started rolling in and teal started flying. Soon a stiff breeze rocked the decoys, making the possibility of Walker shooting his first American duck more realistic. Unsettled conditions will often make ducks fly instead of settling in sunny spots of leisure.
The flock came without warning like teal often do. Danny Guyer of Iron Duck Hunting first saw the flock behind several trees, twisting and turning in the wind while looking for a place to land. He started a light series of calls to confirm this was the place to land.
Walker and Wasim positioned their shotguns and waited for their chance to shoot. Teal swooped around the trees and started to drop into the small decoy set. Walker froze, waiting for his chance. Wasim suddenly lowered his shotgun barrel and watched his brother; this was his show.
The ducks curved towards the shore and spotted both hunters. Walker picked out a duck, squeezed the trigger and missed. He did not shoot a second time but turned to his brother with a huge grin showing that it was not about shooting a duck but about having the opportunity. Wasim slapped him on the shoulder and laughed.
“I hunted a long time in my country, Bangladesh, but these days hunting is illegal,” Walker said. “Conservationists say not hunting ducks is important. Normally we hunt Siberian Ducks, but their numbers are down. We can no longer hunt but would like to. Many of us long for the days when ducks were plentiful.”
Other flights of teal flew over, too high to shoot. They were headed to another destination and no amount of calling would change their minds. Walker studied these ducks as he had watched the wood ducks, relishing the moment.
The brief weather front suddenly stalled at midday and bluebird weather returned. Flights of teal dropped into distant sunny spots and the shoot was over until evening. Walker and Wasim decided to end the hunt and spend time with their family.
“This is a wonderful country,” Walker said. “I’d like to come back and hunt again and again. I have 30 days leave every year from the Army, and I plan to always save it for this trip. Hunting is a great sport that not many countries have. Hunters should appreciate what they have and I think they do. People closely follow the rules and regulations here, and I think that hunting will always have a future in America. I wish to hunt here every year for ducks and geese and maybe do some turkey hunting too.”
Walker plans to return next November and hunt for the big ducks and geese. Problem is, Bangladesh has a tropical climate and he doesn’t like cold weather, but that won’t stop him. He is already shopping for a blind heater and warmer hunting clothes.
Kenneth L. Kieser is currently the president of the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association. His current novels, Ride the Trail of Death and Black Moon’s Revenge, are available from all major book stores or amazon.com. For an autographed copy, contact Kieser at: [email protected].