I am no greenhorn when it comes to catching poultry.
In fact, I pride myself on my stalking skills and quick hands. I have, on several occasions, plucked flapping roosters from mid-air, tucked them 3 at a time under my arm, and deposited them where they belonged, all in under two minutes. I have even caught, by hand and without the benefit of dark night, the ever elusive Guinea Fowl.
But catching ducks completely defeats me.
You would think it would be easy to catch these fat, waddling little turds but oh no, it is not. Yes, they waddle but their top waddle speed is just about 5 feet per second faster than I can run. And when cornered, they don't panic and flap wildly like chickens, they instead run straight at you and under your legs. Also, unlike chickens, they don't have poor night vision and thus don't become easier to catch at nightfall.
I have nearly twisted myself inside out trying to catch errant ducks, an ill-advised activity as I age. In fact, duck-catching has directly resulted in my first, sad, purchases of Ben-Gay. ? Mostly I just try not to catch them, finding every and any way possible to avoid the task.
But right now, I REALLY need to catch some ducks. We have too many drakes (boys) for the number of hens (girls) right now and that means our poor girls are taking, um, a lot of abuse. A LOT of abuse--male ducks are pretty bad to start with, but you screw up the boy-girl ratio and wow, do you have trouble on your hands.
I have even lined up a great new place for our extra drakes to live--and I am doubly motivated because I am bartering them for some chislic. But I will be damned if I can catch them.
Over the weekend, I upped my game and Amazon Primed myself one of those wire poultry catching sticks. It is basically a wire coat hanger with a wood handle, bent on one end in a hook perfectly sized for poultry legs. I had one as a child and spent countless hours catching and releasing our chickens as I honed my skills. I felt that if I just got one in my hand, victory would be mine.
So I was understandably excited when I arrived home today and a long, narrow cardboard box greeted me. I tore it open like a kid at Christmas and without even changing out of my work clothes, I went out in the yard to try out my new weapon.
I scattered some feed in front the barn and waited for them to circle up. I knew from experience that they would show up quickly and stay until I made a sudden move. If I could nab just one from the first group without excessive drama, there was a chance I could keep picking them off before they realized what was happening.
It was not to be.
Inevitably, I missed on my first try and with that, the game was up. Alarmed quacks spread through the group and everyone scattered. Undeterred, I gave chase. I am thankful we have a long driveway and no close neighbors because I can only imagine the comedy of a grown woman, in dress clothes, chasing a flock of fat ducks around the yard while waving a giant wire stick. Also cussing, so much cussing.
And so, for the moment, I am defeated. My daydreams now include retrofitting t-shirt launchers to throw giant nets and setting snares under trees. I am inside, nursing my fallen pride with a hot tea and my sore joints with Ben-Gay but planning my next move. I am down, but not out...not yet.