Remembering the Thanksgiving Duck
As the doldrums of January and February set in, this journalist will have fond memories of reporting challenges during the holidays.
‘Twas the night before Thanksgiving, and all through the woods, not a creature was stirring—except for a group of men clad in camouflage, eager for the first morning of duck hunting season in southern Illinois. Some had gotten up at 2 AM or stayed up all night to enter a drawing for the best hunting spots that day.
While visions of sugar plums danced in most heads, I drove to the Highway 154 Boat Ramp parking lot and fumbled with my sound recording equipment in the darkness. My mission, at 4 AM, was to find out why the heck these hunters had gotten up so early to kill ducks…on a holiday.
Although I was told that the first day of the season is the best hunting, some were amazed to have made it. “I wasn’t sure I wanted to get out of bed to do this, but I did,” said a man named Brett. For others, though, hunting seemed to run in their blood. “Well, it’s a family tradition,” said Chris, a hunter who had brought his son along for his first hunt.
Before I had a chance to delve into other topics, like whether their families would be eating a Thanksgiving duck or if they’d use the flimsy tryptophan excuse to catch up on sleep later, most were racing away to their spots. In fact, when I asked them for an interview, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources personnel running the hunt joked, “You’ve got two minutes—
“We’re goin’ huntin’!”