Duck occupies a position of such culinary esteem in my family that those autumn V's of migration are routinely referred to as "dinners."
Michigan may technically be prime duck territory, but our property is decidedly duck-free in the fall. For the Eisendrath boys a duck hunt meant being unceremoniously yanked out of bed, then dragged to the swamp that lay midway down our road to the lake. Sixteen and 14, bleary-eyed and clutching a shared shotgun in the pre-dawn woods, we were nevertheless in heaven.
As gray light rose, Dad would hyperventilate into his beloved duck call, producing a trailing series of squawks that didn't sound remotely duckish. A handful of these adventures actually resulted in the dispatch of a slow-thinking bird. More than actual hunts, they were opportunities for my father to teach my brother and me "character" or impress upon us that we'd soon be working at the car wash if our grades didn't come up.
Only after my brother and I left home did we all get more serious about returning with some actual grill fare. To this day, fall still includes a weekend in a Canadian duck blind; we are sometimes freezing, often soaked, and always full of criticisms of each other's subpar camouflage and shooting. Accuracy is never improved by our pretty-but-fussy shotguns, so longtime guide Tom quietly packs an extra one that actually works. Late on Sunday, Mom greets triumphant hunters and a microscopic duck harvest with good humor.