THE TEAL boiled over the far edge of the Arkansas ricefield, each flock a giant smudge on the horizon that formed and dissipated and reformed into the shapes of giant black commas and dark towering thunderheads rising above the distant trees. I needed three more birds for a limit. There might have been 600 in a single flock. I tried not to look at the ground because, at my feet, spent shells littered the rice dike—their sheer volume a candy-apple-red reminder that I should have spent more time on the skeet range over the summer.
I’ve never thought it was fair to start off this way. You’d think the early birds would be gimmes, but they are not. There should be an easier on-ramp to duck season. Snow and ice were months away, and most hunting seasons hadn’t even opened. I hadn’t gotten my groove back yet, but these teal couldn’t have cared less. They were living it up in a world of waste grain and bugs.
Now another inkblot of feathers rose off the September sheet water, swirled for a moment as if gathering its wits, and streamed straight for the decoys. I tightened my hands around my shotgun. This looked like a repeat of the first teal flock to swing my way: Empty blue skies were suddenly filled with shotgun blasts, feathers, and hoots and hollers— and there was not enough to show for it. Not on my end of the blind, at least.
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LIVING THE DREAM
After the author arrives in Maine’s fabled North Woods with a moose tag in his pocket, an adventure he’s been wanting to take his entire hunting life, reality sets in, and he learns a valuable lesson: Be careful what you wish for
Get the Drift
How to make an accurate windage call under pressure
An icebreaker outing in a pristine spot produces the rut hunt of a lifetime
A Local Haunt
The author finds a sense of place in an overlooked creek, close to home
A Hop and a Pump
Jump-shooting rabbits with classic upland guns is about as good a time as you can have in the outdoors
Welcome TO camp
Is there any place better than a good hunting camp? It has everything: great food, games and pranks, and of course, hunting. Shoot, we don’t even mind going to camp for grueling work days in the summer. Here, our contributors share their favorite stories, traditions, and lessons learned from camps they’ve shared. So come on in and join us. The door’s open.
Before you even claim a bunk, you need to eyeball the hardware your buddies have brought. In the process, you’ll see that the guns at deer camp are changing. What was walnut and blued steel may now be Kevlar and carbon fiber. The 10 rifles featured here aren’t your father’s deer guns. They’re today’s new camp classics
THE JOURNEY TO PIKE'S PEAK
Last summer, the author and three friends ventured off the grid to a remote fish camp in Canada. They hoped for great fishing, but what they experienced was truly something else
When early-season whitetails vanish from open feeding areas, follow this woods-edge ambush plan
A pup’s first year, from preseason training to fall’s big show
DE-radicalizing the Extremists
Parents for Peace enlists ex-believers to help families win back loved ones drawn to Islamism, QAnon, and other ideologies. Demand has never been higher
No more walks on the beach, we hope! Even for a medical soap that thrives on tears, angst and broken hearts, last season was a gut punch: The show's beloved mainstay, Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo), spent months in a COVIDrelated coma.
Young and restless
DON McLEAN KID LOSES $3M SLICE OF PIE!
Disinherited after trashing angry father
NARROWING THE DIGITAL DIVIDE, BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY
With help from Washington, the 120 million Americans without high-speed internet access have their best shot in a generation at getting it—so long as they’re flexible on how
The power of suggestion
Though the media makes it out to be voodoo, hypnosis may be your secret sauce for success.
Can Miami tackle their tackle issues?
The Miami Dolphins currently have a 2020 first-round pick, a 2021 second-round pick, a 2019 second-round pick, and a player who has started 56 games for them over the last four seasons to choose from at right and left tackle.
Y&R: JACK MAKES A DECISION ABOUT PHYLLIS
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Lost in the Shouting
In the school board battles across the country over race, the voices of Black parents talking about what their kids actually experience are often drowned out