Jan 05, 2015, 06:42AM

Two Kinds of Hunters

I’m not the one wearing the camo.

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My sea glass hunting hobby only endangers my life at one time of the year, really, and hunting season is happening right now—for both kinds of hunters. While the camo-clad duck and deer hunters pepper Maryland's Eastern Shore, I'm merely trying to enjoy my beachcomber hobby and "hunt" for sea glass. I know that winter negative low tides rule for finding rare colors (and my favorite, marbles) in much the same way as the duck hunters know the best time to nab a feathered dinner.

I kayak out to my happy-place beach and on the way see four-five duck blinds—some of them on land, some built in the middle of the water, and one in the form of some kind of raft-boat situation that has been disguised to look like a small floating island. You know, for the dumber geese. Ideally, I'm kayaking in low wind, which means out on the water, I can hear distant gunfire all around me coming from both sides of the Chesapeake Bay.

My goal is simple: limit the amount of time my kayak is directly between the duck blinds and the ducks. I'm never quite sure which duck blinds are inhabited or not. There should be some kind of flag or "occupied" sign, like on airplane bathrooms. I try to remember to wear an orange hat, and am glad my kayak is bright orange. I was thinking about painting "NOT A DUCK" on my vessel in big black letters. When I see ducks land in the water, I hunker down in my kayak a little, hoping the hunters wait until I pass, and I hunker a little less so if it's Sunday, because apparently the hunters spend more time in church on Sundays than on the prowl for waterfowl.

When I arrive at my preferred island bay beachcombing beach, I stalk around the duck blind for a minute to see if I hear anyone inside. Since no other people visit the beach at this time of year besides the hunters, I search for dog paw prints in the sand. I can tell by where the prints are—in the low versus high tide lines in the sand—and how long ago they've been there, which gives me a clue about whether they're still on property or not.

I spend an hour or so (two if the weather’s nice) hunting the shoreline, and so far the gunfire hasn't gotten close enough to where I am to cause serious concern. I glance out at the water, to be sure I'm not standing between the tree line and any ducks or geese that might land in the water nearby. The danger is oddly exciting; there's kind of some fun in the hunt. (The only other dangers in my hobby really involve the fact that glass can cut you and there are occasionally jellyfish that will violate you with those nasty tentacles by stinging you in the ladybits).

Sometimes I figure the hunters must see me, and they’re just choosing not to accidentally-on-purpose murder or pepper me with enough slugs from a shotgun (or whatever kinds of ammo and guns they use) to make my life annoying.

I love eating duck, actually. Since I probably wouldn't be able to trade a jar of rare sea glass colors for a duck dinner, maybe I should just start wearing camo and learn how to shoot. 

—Read more of Mary’s sea glass articles or view her sea glass finds on Instagram.


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