I’ve used railroad spikes rummaged from track-side woods, U-bolts from an old trailer frame, pipe fittings, and busted concrete block. Once, caught especially short-handed in the blind, we tied a decoy line to a pop-top can of Beanie Weenies and let her fly. The decoy held fast, thank you very much, although we went without our mid-morning snack that day. Most of those DIY anchors came from my early days as a duck hunter, when dollars were as scarce as bluebird-morning mallards. But I learned early on that when it comes to decoys, you do what you have to do to stay anchored.
Anchored. Over the years, that seems to describe what duck season has come to mean to me. Its hold on my head and heart and psyche. Waterfowling anchors my calendar, my thought processes, my imagination, my dreams, my moods. By late August each year, I’m feeling restless and unmoored. “Hard to live with,” according to my wife, and I know she’s right. I seem to list with any breeze, rocked hard by any challenge.
But come the duck opener, I am tethered—mentally and emotionally. I’m tied to the weather, the unfolding season, the wind forecast, the way the cattails turn to an ochre tan. I can weather the storms. I can handle the headwinds. Because I know I have mornings in the marsh to come, and long days to plot and plan for more. It’s during these next few months that I feel the most rooted.