Spring brings about the liveliest changing of seasons, from the hibernation periods of winter into new growth for the summer ahead. This time of the year also serves as a reminder to waterfowl hunters that we must commit our own time to the stewardship of nature, which serves to produce those bounties we are so fortunate to chase in winter. For those opportunities to remain available to future generations, it is our duty to also serve as conservationists to the land. Even a task as small as the construction of wood duck boxes in your local grounds serves to play a role in continuing our fine traditions of hunting in the outdoors.
The woods around my property in Hankamer, TX play home to many species of wildlife. One of the finest specimens whom take refuge in those woods are the wood ducks. They roost in the trees, find shelter in the smallest of sloughs and feed amongst the shores of our small ponds. Primarily native, they must also fend off the many other animals living in those woods to raise new offspring for the coming years. This is where putting up wood duck boxes benefits them by providing shelter for hatching new generations.
As I pulled off the highway to a small dirt road, Dan was already parked at the gate awaiting my arrival. This meeting usually takes place during the early morning hours of darkness during duck season, but on this day we made time after work, months from hunting season, to build a wood duck box.
We pulled through the gate up to our camp house to get the project started. I dropped down the tailgate to give us a makeshift shop and sort out the tools. Using just one piece of 1×12”x12’ pine, a few simple cuts brought the box to life. Dan put a few screws in each side to give the shape rigidity and before we knew it, the box was ready for the final touch. Using a hole saw, he made the entry so that the wood ducks may take refuge much like a nice knot in a tree. The final step was to grab a pocket worth of screws then head off through the dense spring growth of the back pasture to reach one of our ponds for installation. Dan’s English setter, Hobbes, wasted no time sprinting into the cover as we made towards the woods. Far different from the winter landscape, an abundance of dense, green vegetation made the path a bit more obstructed.
Finally, we hacked through the brush to a tree, nestled on the edges of a pond where wood ducks are often found. Dan gave the wood duck box a sturdy securing with those screws in a prime location. In due time, hopefully a wood duck finds this box to bring future generations of birds into these woods. With the crack of a celebratory beer, we nodded at each other over the project and slowly made our way back to the truck with Hobbes leading the way, telling stories of previous waterfowl seasons as well as the many to come.
Story by John Dunaway of Abstract Conformity.