The Last Day of the Last Season By: Caller 2000 The Sheriff read the sign on the post at the entrance, "Quack and Shoot Duck Club and Farms, No Trespassing," as he turned into the lane. He recalled he had been here once before, ten years ago or so, he was still a Deputy then. He had responded to a call for assistance when one of the elderly members had suffered a heart attack. There was four or five pick up trucks parked in front of the house as he pulled to a stop. He recognized all of the people standing in the small group talking. They were farmers who lived in the surrounding area. As he exited his vehicle Steve Deckard who owned the adjacent property approached him. Steve related to the Sheriff that he had come to investigate if anything was wrong when Shilo the chocolate lab of the owner came to his house and began to howl. Steve went onto tell the Sheriff that the dog and him had become friends in the past few years when he took over the farming lease at Quack and Shoot. He knew something was wrong because the dog never left area of the house without his owner. He had followed the dog to the duck marsh and found the owner in the duck blind. The owner had apparently died from a heart attack he thought. The Sheriff peered into the blind and saw the body of an elderly man sitting in an upright position leaning against the wall of the far end of the blind. As he entered the blind he saw for dead mallard drakes hung neatly in a row on the wall next to the man. There was a Model twelve-shotgun leaning in the gun rack on the front of the blind with the breech open. He checked for a pulse and could detect none. The man was deceased as Mr. Deckard had stated. The Sheriff noticed a worn envelope protruding from the breast pocket of the mans hunting coat. Upon removing the envelope and opening it he read the contents of the letter inside. It read: To whom it may concern, If you are reading this letter then you know I have enjoyed the last day of the last season of my life. As the sole survivor of rights to the Quack and Shoot Duck club and Farm I request that you do the following: Contact my attorney I.M. De Mann, In Sulfur Springs, Texas. As I have no living family. He has specific instructions as to how to handle my last affairs. Would you also take my dog Shilo to my neighbor Steve Deckard, they have become pals of sorts and I am certain Mr. Deckard will enjoy Shilo's company. Even though he says, Shilo is the wrong color. Please close up the house and lock the gate when you have removed my remains. I will not be back to hunt in the marsh that I have loved for so many years. I have gone to hunt ducks with those friends who proceeded me in death. Thank You Gus Brown Two weeks later as Steve was checking fence he saw the small airplane circle the distant marsh. He had observed this site before, nine times before, when each of the members and owners of Quack and Shoot had died. The plane would circle drop down over the marsh and distribute the ashes or some personal item of the deceased into the marsh. Steve reached down and patted the head of Shilo as the dog watched the plane descend over the marsh. Steve felt the warmth of a tear trickle down his cheek. He knew it was more for the dog than the man who had left him behind. He had not known Gus Brown well. They had met for the first time when Gus moved to the duck club four years ago. Gus had come to Steve's house one evening and inquired if Steve would be interested in farming the club. Gus had Shilo with him that evening and Steve recalled the little brown dog was just a weanling puppy then. They had made their arrangements and he only saw Gus when he would stop at Gus' house to drop off a check or tell him that all the crops were in. Gus had stayed to himself after moving in. Gus had always invited Steve to come and hunt with him. Steve had always said he would, but just never seemed to find the time to go. There was always work to do on the farm. Steve found himself with three strangers in Mr. De Mann's office. He was there in response to a letter he received requesting him to be present at the reading of the last will and testament of Mr. Brown. Steve listened as the will was read. He thought that he would receive ownership of Shilo formally and that would be it. Maybe there would be some stipulation regarding his continued farming of the club. Why else would he be summoned for the reading? He had thought. He listened as hundreds of thousands of dollars were left to Ducks Unlimited and Delta Waterfowl. He didn't quite understand the legal vocabulary, but he got the drift of it. Those hundreds of thousands actually added up to millions by the time all the annuities had run their courses. Then suddenly he heard his name being read. Mr. DeMann read that Shilo's ownership would be transferred to Steve, as he had guessed. Then he heard the most stunning news. He would be left the Quack and Shoot Duck Club and Farm in its entirety with two stipulations. 1. Any profits from farming the property would be shared on an annual basis with Ducks Unlimited and Delta Waterfowl. They were each to receive an equal share of the profits. 2. That Mr. Deckard was to purchase a duck call and learn how to call ducks. He was then on each Saturday morning of every succeeding duck season as long as he lived to take a different young man between the ages of 12 and 20 duck hunting on the property. That way Mr. Brown would insure that Shilo would get to hunt as long as he was able. It would further insure that Mr. Deckard would now find the time to accept the invitation to duck hunt that had been offered to him on so many previous occasions. During the continued reading of the will Steve found out that Mr. Brown had been an orphan and the institution he had known as home would receive a large endowment if they furnished Mr. Deckard young men and boys to take hunting. Mr. Brown had spelled it out for them it would be a joint partnership between the heirs of his estate. D.U. and Delta would continue to propagate ducks, Deckard would learn to hunt them and the Orphanage would furnish the opportunity for new duck hunters to become exposed to what Mr. Brown had made into the passion of his life. When Steve arrived home he explained to his wife and girls what had transpired at the reading of the will. He summed it up to them recalling the letter the Sheriff found the day Mr. Brown died. "Girls I guess I have become a duck hunter till the last day of the last season of my life." As time passed so did Shilo. Steve continued to take young men duck hunting each Saturday morning. He found that he enjoyed the experiences with each of the young men. He reformed the club that had once been so active. The new members, however, had to each comply with the most important rule of the club. Each Saturday morning each member must take a young man or boy hunting. He had them sign a contract to that effect. In his own way Steve perpetuated the dream of his benefactor. There would always be another duck hunter who would be there to hunt till the last day of the last season. Caller ------------------ Call em Down! Good stuff.