Crosswinds: Smells Like Duck Camp

Some smells are difficult to forget

Hits you in the heart, doesn’t it?

Brine of old sock. Brew of sodden neoprene. Mildewed mattresses. A redolent stew of wet feathers, wet dogs, wet clothes, wet everything. Season it with the scent of bacon and old beer and there you have it: The smell of duck camp. There’s nothing else like it in the world.

Maybe that’s a good thing.

When it comes to waterfowling, we all tend to focus on the pomp and glory: The sunrises, the sight of a dog parting the water, the shimmer of iridescence on feather and wing. But let’s be honest. Not every treasured memory is gilded so.

And it’s not just the homey odors of duck camp that cause us to blush. It’s all of it. Slightly sulfuric marsh. The heady scent of our shooting gloves freighted with the complicated notes of cordite and Cheez-Its.

Bottle that stuff and you could put Chanel out of business. Who wouldn’t want a classic spritzer of Eau de Cattail Slough? Parfum de Wool Sock? Dog Fart No. 5?

But they don’t bottle it. They can’t. There’s just no way to capture such voluptuous elixirs. You simply have to be there.

Maybe that’s a good thing.