Mallards Don’t Discriminate

By Riley Christy

During the week I’m employed in a pretty mundane corporate job as a middle market underwriter for a regional insurance company. Have I lost you already? However, on the weekends I am usually mixing things up in the woods or the field with whatever animal is in season to hunt. Sometimes, I’m fortunate enough to work this passion into my day job by knowing the right people.

I work with a group of insurance agents who have high-net-worth individuals as clients. The sort of clients that have to worry about press coverage if they were to be seen out in public just trying to live their lives as the rest of us commoners do. For entertainment, most insurance clients are lucky enough to get a free lunch out of their agent, but for this crew, they often take these insureds out on lavish trips or experiences, praying they never get the inkling to check the market for cheaper premiums. 

One late October Monday, the time of year when I’m usually thinking about arrowing a bruiser whitetail, I got a call from one of my agents. He said, “Hey, we’re taking the racing crew up north for duck camp, and one of the CEO’s can’t attend. It’s super short notice, but we all thought of you immediately since we know you actually duck hunt more than once a year like the rest of us.” After careful thought and reflection, I replied, “I’m there,” before he’d finished asking the question.  

I showed up two days later, after a six-hour drive. I knew nothing, other than I was getting to hunt greenheads at a private club with some A-list members of society. The club has been around for 100 or more years, the walls covered in black and white photos of men of industry throughout the last century with a myriad of dead waterfowl. I was pumped…and also from another financial planet than the rest of the camp’s attendees.

At dinner, servers brought us filet mignon, and one of the members of the club pulled out a case of wine that he said paired well with red meat. Not being a wine drinker at all, I still obliged the host by taking a glass, pretending to do the little twirling motion as if I knew anything about fancy alcohol, and took a swig. I told him it was very good and asked where it was from. He said, “Burgundy.” I replied, “Hmm…never heard of that. It must be in the northern half of the state.” Once the room recovered from laughter the host politely informed me: “No…Burgundy, France.”

The next morning, the guides took us out on the private reserve, and we shot limits of mallards, gadwalls, and a couple beautiful pintail drakes. I assumed, being the last-minute spot-filler and with my lack of culture and sophistication, this would be my one and only trip to rub elbows with some of the Midwest’s elites.  However, my agent friend who extended me the invite came up to me when we were leaving and told me that I made quite the impression on everyone, and that I have a spot each year when they come back. 

Most of the time on these hunts, no one cares where you’re from or what status in life you hold.  They care about the adventure, the chase, the hunt-camp camaraderie, and getting away from the pressures of the world. In the eyes of the ducks or the game, they don’t care about titles or status. Mallards don’t discriminate. They will make you get up early, and call, and shoot, regardless of where you’re at in life. Hunting and the call to adventure are the great equalizers…even if you don’t know shit about wine or the regions of France.




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