Monday, August 1, 2016

Duck Blind Drawing - A Family Affair

Duck Blind Drawing - A Family Affair

Ask my dad or brother and they both can tell you about my first duck.  Since the moment I got out of bed on opening day in 1998, I've been in love with waterfowl hunting.  Like so many other waterfowlers I enjoy every aspect of it.  From decoy preparations to the cold wet November mornings.

In order to go waterfowl hunting you have to have somewhere to go. Throughout Illinois there are Waterfowl Blind Drawings, where each blind is allocated a number and a drawing takes place for ownership of that blind for the season. My first waterfowl drawing was in 1999 at Wolf Lake in Cook County.  Hundreds of people were there, walking around sharing stories in hopes of winning a blind for the upcoming season.  At the time I wasn't old enough to participate but my dad and brother put their names in.  Even though we didn't win a blind that year we were still able to get out and enjoy this state park.    Wolf Lake was good to us, we harvested a lot of birds during our tenure hunting there.

Then one year we switched.  After years of hunting Wolf Lake we switched and the next thing I know we're hunting Mazonia State Fish and Wildlife.  This year was my 14th drawing at Mazonia.  During all that time I've NEVER won a blind but I continue to show up to keep the hope alive. 

This year,like many years prior we attended the draw and you can see on our facebook pictures of our experience. I got up there early and met my dad to set up. After putting up the tent, tables and flyers, it was time for the most important aspect of attending a duck blind drawing,GRILLING OUT!  Every group had their grills going, cooking brats, breakfast burritos, burgers and so much more.  

The waterfowl community is a welcoming one.  If you ever go out to a waterfowl drawing, don't be intimidated. People will invite you over for food and conversation,  sometimes even giving you some tips on how to succeed at a certain blind.  

After a while of talking with fellow hunters, my wife showed up with my daughter Autumn.  My sister and brother in-law came shortly after.  We sat, talked politics, shared laughs, reminisced about past hunts, and most of all enjoyed some good food.  A little while later my brother, his wife and son along with his buddy showed up and the laughs continued.

Finally, the drawing time had arrived and names were about to be picked.  Name after name was being called out and still we had nothing.  All of a sudden there's a name I recognized.  My brother Rick won.  He's been going for 22 years and finally won his first blind.  Twenty two years, wow, congrats!  The only problem was that it was one of the last blinds to be picked and not one that we wanted. Regardless we have a blind for this upcoming season.

As I looked around as everyone was packing up I realized that all my family was there and I smiled. Who would have ever thought 18 years ago that the annual duck blind drawing would become such a family affair.


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