It is well-known and indisputable fact that ducks are the fourth most terrifying member of the fowl family, following in order, chickens, turkeys and geese. After reading the column that you are poised on the precipice of, they might move up the pecking order.
It started out as a regular, normal Friday. The guy I work with had asked me if I would like to each lunch with him over at his parents’ house. Not to be rude or pass up a free meal, I tagged along. The lunch crowd consisted of myself, my buddy, his son, mother and father.
Toward the end of the meal, people started talking about the ducks that were paddling around out on the pond in front of their house. I was well aware of this flock. My buddy had gotten them when they were mere ducklings. He kept them over by the shop out of which we work. He had to feed and water them, and I can still recall their little fuzzy yellow bodies strutting around under the heat-producing light bulbs.
Once the young birds got to a certain age, they were transported over to the pond. The plan was to let them live their lives on the water until it was time to round them up and take them to a guy who was going to make them delicious. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten duck, but my buddy’s family says they’re really good.
The flock started out with 23 young ducks when they came over to the pond. Evidently, coyotes think that ducks are delicious also because in a short amount of time, the group of birds had been thinned down to 17.
My friend’s family got the idea that they needed to take the 17 remaining birds back to the protection of a fenced-in pasture. They just weren’t sure on the best way to move the ducks. I suggested that my friend’s mom dress up in a duck suit, quack a few times and maybe the birds would follow her. She looked at me, and I could tell I’d better plan on getting my own meals for the near future.
After several seconds and possibly a few minutes of careful deliberation, they decided to have a good old-fashioned duck roundup. My pal asked me if I wanted to help. Since I’m always looking for goofy material to fill this column with, I smiled and said, “I’m in.”
So there were the five of us exiting the house to go do battle with the fearsome group of 17 white-feathered ducks. We brought the tools of modern warfare with us. On our side we had a Ford truck, golf cart, one small rowboat, a large portable dog kennel and a good-sized fishing net.
The entire flock was located floating under the sweeping branches of a willow tree on the northeast side of the pond. The plan was for my buddy to attack the flock from the water in the small rowboat and push them onto the shore where the rest of us would surround the ducks and capture them in a pincer-like movement. My friend’s son was the one with the big net, so he was doing most of the catching. He has youth on his side.
I must admit while there was a large group of the quacking birds, capturing one or two didn’t seem too hard. As they were detained, it became my job to jail them in the portable dog kennel. I tried to explain to the angry birds that we were doing this for their own good, but they wouldn’t listen. As the imprisoned population grew, they quacked at me with disdain in their voices. They could sense the fear in my eyes.
The ducks kept doing the same thing. The boat would chase them on shore; they would circle around the willow; and we would pluck one or two out of the crowd. We had fairly good luck until we got to the last duck. Every time we encircled him, he somehow would break through our lines and make it back to the water. He was crafty.
I originally joined this mission strictly as an observer. As time went on, I found myself becoming more deeply entrenched in the conflict. By the end, I wanted that duck just as bad as the rest. War can play games with one’s psyche.
During one of our last attempts to capture the beast, I somehow found myself down by the water’s edge as the last line of defense. As I stood on the beach, the bird came rushing at me.
You don’t know what pure terror feels like until you see white-winged, quacking furry flapping its way directly at you. I swallowed my fear, planted my feet and prepared to catch the duck being chased by the kid with the net. The duck head-faked us to the right and made a quick juke to the left. We both lunged.
I’d like to say that I caught that duck that day. I’d like to say that I didn’t slip and fall on the feces-slickened shore that day. I’d like to say that my good friend didn’t almost fall out of his stupid little rowboat from laughing at me. There are so many things I’d like to say.
All of this happened about a month ago. If you drive by that pond today, you’ll still see a single white duck swimming proudly underneath a willow tree. Every time I see him, I swear that he points at me and laughs.
Oh well. Coyotes gotta eat too.
You can contact Wallace at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow him on his blog at http://gregwallaceink.blogspot.com.