It’s June, and I’m already counting down to Christmas. Trust me though when I tell you there are no visions of sugar plums dancing in my head. The only thing I’m dreaming about is green heads and flooded timber. The day after Christmas I leave for my first Arkansas waterfowl hunt…. And it can’t get here soon enough. Four years ago I became hooked on the addiction that is waterfowl hunting, and never looked back. Guns, decoys, waders, and all the other necessary gear soon found its way into my possession, and then a year and half ago everything changed.
My Christmas present that year was 10 pounds of yellow fur that has ABSOLUTLEY changed my view on the enjoyment of hunting. Before Chili (my yellow lab), a good hunt was only a good hunt when birds rained down from the sky. In the last year and a half that ten pounds of yellow fur has grown into 80 pounds of yellow duck retrieving muscle. Aside from that, he has also given me a new appreciation for the sport. I have had the good fortune to experience many good days in the field, deer hunting, waterfowling, and fishing, but none of those days compares to the day Chili made his first retrieve. When that green head splashed down and out in front of me and my little guy made a text book retrieve, I was as proud then as any father has ever been of his son. All of our training had finally produced results.
Now starts a new chapter. December is only seven months out, and Operation Arkansas is now fully under way. Chili and I spend five to six days a week training one or two times a day. 6:30 A.M., lunch times, sunny and rainy days alike, we train. We work on multiple marks, handling, steadiness, blind manners, and basic obedience. All of this training is working towards one goal: Arkansas. When the time comes and those green heads lock up over the decoys, I know I’ll be having the time of my life. I know this because I’ll be with friends. I’ll be in the duck capital of the world, I’ll be doing plenty of shooting and my share of missing, but mostly I’ll know it because Chili will be at my side watching the birds work… and he’ll be ready.
- Todd Sadler