BRINKLEY, Ark. -- It was 7 a.m. and already Wiley Meachum was apologizing.
"I remember when this used to be a good duck hole,'' he said. "I hate that I got you out here for this."
The rest of us just looked around at each other and shrugged. Meachum, 79, is the elder statesman of duck hunting in these parts of Arkansas. He may well be the only 79-year old duck hunter in the country who still spends almost every day of the season hunting.
The Duck Trek spent a day with him last year at his Piney Creek Duck Hunting Club, and experienced one of those trips that was special in a lot of ways. You should check it out here.
To those sitting around his duck hole this season, it was just as special.
A stringer of ducks was hanging from a tree with about a dozen mallards and gadwalls attached, already a good hunt by anyone's standards.
But in the days leading up to our hunt, the same number of hunters had been walking out of the woods by 7 a.m. with full limits of mallards. It was obviously not going to be that quick of a hunt on this day. The only one who cared was Meachum.
He's the consummate guide and after 62 years of hunting the same area his standards are way above the average. By 9:30, we were all leaving with limits of mallards and some extra gadwalls thrown in for a total of 39, but Meachum never stopped apologizing.
His biggest apology centered on watching flocks of mallards, numbering well into the thousands, spill into the woods 100 yards behind us in a scene that lasted 10 minutes or more. He was sorry that he couldn't get all those ducks in front of his guests, even though some of them had never seen a sight like that at any distance.
While this wasn't a planned Duck Trek stop for this year, the special nature of spending a day with Meachum is worth bringing up again.