Daybreak had illuminated two contraptions sitting atop metal rods in the decoy spread. They had plastic bodies of ducks and whirling attachments used to simulate flapping wings.
“Those are roboducks, Jon offered. “They’re designed to catch the attention of ducks and pull them into the decoys by masquerading as real ducks.”
Napoleon then added, “Just don’t shoot ’em! If the birds are low, wait until they are past the robos to pull the trigger.”
“Two pairs comin’ in hot,” interrupted Big D in his raspy “whisper.”
Both he and Napoleon started calling and then backed off.
“Low and coming right at the decoys,” D said. He made one more call and barked, “Take ’em!”
The three of us popped up and the safeties came off. I excitedly and with little thought for the costly hardware in front of us put a bead on the last bird (letting the first few through to the guys to my right, just as I was taught), and just as I went to pull the trigger, I heard the beginning of one last warning: “Watch the—” and the shooting began.
Now the seasoned hunters all knew better than to shoot low until the ducks were past the expensive animated decoys. I, however, was only capable of focusing on one thing, which was shooting ducks. So, when they started firing, my excitement got the better of me and I let loose as well.
When the dust settled, one duck was floating in the water, three ducks were peeling off into the tree line, and plastic shards of roboduck were raining from the heavens into the decoy pattern. I was frozen and didn’t know what to do or say.
Jon and Big D exploded with laughter and Napoleon instantly came unhinged. He launched into an expletive-laced tirade that rivaled some of John McEnroe’s antics at midcourt. I looked over tentatively and noticed an absolutely irate man whose forehead was rippled with near-bursting veins and a face that was red with rage . . . or perhaps frostbite. No, I’m certain it was rage.
It was nearly impossible to react properly to the situation. I was caught at that moment between apologizing profusely to Napoleon for having blasted the roboduck to hell and beyond or laughing right along with D and Jon.
Napoleon stormed out of the blind, jumped into the boat, pushed off from the bank, and rowed out to bring what was left of the apparatus back to shore.
Honestly, he could have cleaned up the majority of the “debris field” with a Dustbuster—provided he was prepared to go clear to Kansas. I had absolutely annihilated this thing, leaving only a handful of semirecognizable pieces, including the bill, a foot, half of one swinging arm, and a piece of the underbody that was roughly the size of a quarter. (I love three-and-a-half-inch shells!)
Napoleon returned to the blind in a completely sour mood. Besides an apology and a promise to replace it, I really didn’t know what to do. When I attempted to add a bit of levity to the situation by picking up the plastic bill and suggesting that the medical examiner would most likely need to use dental records to identify the victim, my comment drew another round of laughter from the boys, but dead silence from Napoleon, who was adamant that the whole thing simply wasn’t funny. (Of course, he was wrong—it was riotously hilarious. He must have woken up on the wrong side of the bed that morning. That or maybe because I just blasted a one-hundred-twenty-dollar prop he was using to draw birds into the decoys.)