‘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’!”