My father and I didn’t have that many great father/son moments. We did however try a lot of father/son activities. Fair is fair: he’d have spent all the time with me I wanted, had I only wanted to.
We used to hunt and fish a little, though I was never really gung-ho for either. One year my father decided we should go duck hunting. (I never asked whether he knew how to cook a duck.) Dad got a bunch of decoys, and permission from a farmer way over near Roosevelt. For those not familiar with Roosevelt, WA–and most in Washington are not familiar with it–it sits out in an emptiness. There’s not much there, nor is it near much. We got up very early on an October morning, drove out to the guy’s wheat stubble field, and made ready to shoot ducks.
While my father distributed the decoys in some pattern which he assumed would be irresistible to ducks, I got busy ‘preparing a duck blind.’ We had to hack (it wasn’t ‘digging’) a hole in the frozen ground, large enough for a husky 5’10” adult male and a husky 5’6″ teenage male. Sort of like coal mining without the coating of ebony dust. This took us a little while as the sunlight approached in the east. Dad loaded his .12-gauge, and I loaded my .410. We got into the hole, knees drawn up, pulled a piece of plywood mostly over us, and watched the skies for the expected waterfowl.
An hour passed, a dull and chilly hour sitting in a frozen hole in the wheatfield. No ducks even came within sight of our location. (You’d think we were a Rose Bowl victory.)
Another hour, and the sun was up by now. Didn’t do us much good. Still no ducks. (You’d think we were a national championship victory.)
Now, I wasn’t the smartest hunter in the county, nor in that hole for the matter, but neither was I a complete idiot. I was about ready to bag this, but I didn’t want my father to resent me for asking to quit early. I didn’t have much finesse, but it was clear enough to me he was freezing his rear end off as much as I was. So I looked at my father and said, good-humoredly, “You know, Dad, of all the father and son activities you and I have tried together, this has got to be the dumbest sport there is.”
The thunderbolt did not come. So help me, the old man looked at me, smiled, laughed and said: “You know, son, you’re right. Let’s fill up this hole, pick up our stuff and go get some breakfast.”
From that day forward, such ducks as strayed into Washington were safe from my father and I.