Time Spent on the Marsh is Time Well-Spent
Jan. 5, 2014 8:16 am
Updated: Jan. 9, 2014 2:46 am
This year’s winter trip to Chincoteague was different than any other year. Jon, Suzy and I were the only ones who went; at least from our family. Jon’s hunting friend,
Kevin and his family, went also and we spent some time with them, but it was just us two old folks and our lab rattling around in the old island cottage we stay in. We arrived Saturday afternoon and it was 55 degrees and sunny so we spent some time out on
the beach and the wildlife loop. We couldn’t wait to head to one of our favorite restaurants and gorge ourselves on Chincoteague oysters. We ordered a double-order of Oysters Rockefeller and I had crab-stuffed flounder. Delicious!
Over the years Jon has become friends with a man who lives on the Island and is a fellow-hunter. Ryan took the week off so he could spend time hunting with the boys
from Ohio. When Suzy was a pup she met Ryan and fell in love – we have pictures of her kissing him and sitting on his lap in the duck-hunting boat. I knew she would be excited to see him again.
About 30 years ago I went out hunting with Jon in his duck blind on the shore of our local lake. It was a “blue-bird” day and while he did not shoot any ducks, I got
some awesome pictures of Goldie, our golden retriever we had at the time. I have not been out hunting with him since that time. There has always been a child to look after, or a child (albeit a grown child) to hang out with and enjoy time with. Monday was
another one of those blue-bird days so the boys did not spend all day hunting. They came in around lunch time and we all piled into the duck hunting boats and went for a boat ride to the tip of the beach, known as the Hook. To get there by walking is a several
mile hike and that is where the best shells are. About 15 years ago I took Kristal and Steve on that hike to look for shells while Jon was hunting. We gathered huge bags full of conch shells and headed back. Every 15 or 20 minutes we’d stop and re-assess
our shell collection. Those shells were heavy so we just kept dropping a few out of our bags until we only had about 6 shells when we got back to the car. This year we filled a bag with shells in a matter of minutes and put it in the boat. Kevin has small
children and they had a blast. I won’t lie – the grownups had fun, too.
Tuesday I spent the afternoon with Kevin’s wife and children while the guys were hunting. We took a walk out to the pony overlook and got to see some of the wild ponies. We also saw a couple thousand snow geese.
We had dinner at The Village Restaurant and headed back to our cottages. In years past we went to the “Horseshoe Drop” at midnight for New Year’s Eve, but this year we decided to celebrate with the Australians so we didn’t
have to stay up so late. J We were in bed before midnight and sound asleep.
Wednesday morning Jon and the guys went out sea duck hunting so Suzy stayed with me. We went for a nice long walk and then spent the rest of the morning reading and
enjoying some of the Christmas cookies I had brought with us. Jon was back for a quick lunch of several dozen fresh shucked oysters and was heading back out for more hunting, this time to a place where Suzy could go. I could go, too! It was a day just like
it was 30 years ago when I went on my last hunting trip. I zipped up the old camo coat and out into the marsh we headed. Suzy thought it was grand that “mom” was in the boat. It quickly became obvious that I was her cushion.
Jon put out his decoys and we settled down to wait for some birds. I haven’t been married to a duck hunter for 32 years and not learned something – I know the ducks
don’t really fly when it’s 55 degrees and sunny, but as far as I can tell one would have to be insane to go hunting in any other kind of weather! We did get one lone duck, a bufflehead, swimming amongst the decoys but Jon didn’t want to shoot it. I wondered
if he left it alone to back-up his stories to me about all the ducks that land in his decoys and he just doesn’t feel like shooting. I’ve always figured that’s what he tells me when he comes home empty-handed. I’ve heard all the stories about how Jon makes
delicious hot sandwiches while sitting and waiting for the birds, so I started hinting about how lunch was not very filling and a nice warm snack would taste so good. Finally he got the hint and dug out his little stove. I got a hot ham and cheese sandwich
and a cup of tea! As you can see by the picture – Jon has a “Sue” Chef. She assisted quite eagerly by eating the excess ham and cheese. &nbs