The Duck Hunt

 In Hunt, Waterfowl, Whitetail
The photos included in this piece were shot on the morning of the events recounted in this piece on 35mm Kodak Film.
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ust as it is true that “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord,” it is also true that “to be present in the duck blind is to be absent from your family.” In large part, the choice to chase waterfowl – I mean really get after it – is a choice to be gone, to miss some milestones. I’m as guilty of it as anyone. This last season I crossed multiple states, invested hundreds of hours, and spent hundreds if not thousands of dollars in search of greenheads and honkers. I’ve missed out on more walks to school, more nights in bed next to my wife, and more of my children’s firsts than I care to count.

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uesday morning, the fourteenth of January, after scratching out a matched set of mallards, while we were still axle deep in the mud on what, I’m told, was once a boat ramp, my wife’s father was flatlining in an ambulance on the way to the hospital. I remember exactly where we were, topping the hill into Bona, when we got back into cell service and I got the text to start praying. I remember exactly where we were twenty minutes later, leaving Aldrich, when I saw three missed calls from my wife and was pretty sure what I was gonna hear when I called back.

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ometimes, towards the end of a long, dry season when the conditions are perfect, you feel like you’ll just die if you miss that next hunt. You’ll be sitting on your hands at home as your buddies are getting covered up by migrators who have traveled a hundred miles on weary wings just to meet their demise at the end of what could have been your scattergun. You lay awake at night trying to figure out how to manipulate or bargain your way into one more morning hunting. Then, sometimes, towards the end of a long, dry season when the conditions are perfect, someone does die and you realize how trivial everything seems.

“H

e’s gone,” I managed to make out through heavy sobs as we passed through Eudora. In that moment everything flipped upside down on me. Hunting became so silly and my heart ached at what I had sacrificed chasing after it. Why would I spend even a second away from my precious children? Why would I wake up even a minute early to leave the warmth of my still sleeping bride? What could be worth it?

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ow two months on, and in the middle of another crisis, the ship has started to right itself. I’m still not sure whether or not that’s a good thing – if you’ve grieved the loss of a loved one, you know this feeling all too well. Whatever the case, the clouds are starting to lift and my desires to do silly things like chase birds, ride bikes through barren landscapes and fool fish have returned once again.

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he things we enjoy do have purpose and value. It is not wrong to love duck hunting. It is not wrong to look forward to waking up at three in the morning to pile into a boat and skim across icy depths to reach a pile of brush from which you hope to lure foolish birds into the range of your double gun. While it may not be the meal itself, it is nonetheless the spice of life, and while spice is not necessary for survival, it does make the surviving more worthwhile. 

“In the midst of our grieving and sadness, it is with great joy that we honor the life of Pastor Durwin Keith Kicker from Marshfield, Missouri. He was born March 18, 1963 to Eldred Ray and Vergie Lee (Stidham) Kicker in New Orleans, Louisiana. After 56 full and amazing years on this earth, he joined Jesus in his eternal home on January 14, 2020. For the last 25 years he faithfully served as Pastor of First Baptist Church of Marshfield, Missouri. Durwin reached thousands for the Kingdom of God and leaves a legacy that will continue to grow through the lives he impacted in the name of Jesus.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Eldred and Vergie Kicker; and his sister, Deidre Schad.

Durwin is survived by his wife, Kimberlee Ann, of the home; his daughter, Anna Neale (Isaac), Springfield, Missouri; his son, Kyle Kicker (Kimberly), Springfield, Missouri; grandchildren, Temple, Liberty, Mercy, Theodore and baby boy on the way; sister, Donna Copeland, Tulsa, Oklahoma; brothers, Darrell Kicker (Hinano), Kapolei, Hawaii; Dwayne Kicker (Desiree), Carlsbad, New Mexico; brother-in-law, Rob Schad, Marshfield, Missouri; father and mother-in-law, Lloyd and Luanne Hart, Cape Fair, Missouri; sister-in-law, Kari Baltzer, Minneapolis, Minnesota; as well as a host of nieces, nephews, family, church family and friends.”

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