The Secret Language of the Duck Blind

If you Duck hunt and have spent time hunting out of a Duck Blind you already know the language of the Duck hunter. If not, you need to pay close attention.

You may hear it spoken someday and will want to know it’s meaning. It’s not difficult to learn, but the only place you can hear it spoken correctly or begin to understand it’s meaning is in a Duck blind. Blind talk is spoken in English, I have heard it translated to German but it makes no sense. A friend of my father introduced me to the language of the blind, and all I wanted to know about Duck hunting. His name was Orville, and he was a genius; I know this because he told me.

Orv taught others and me the fine points that only a genius would know about blind building, decoy spreads, shotguns, shooting, Duck calling, and most importantly the language of the Blind. Orv could Blind talk better than anyone, I’ve heard others speak it, but in 40 years, no one spoke it better than Orv.

When I turned 10 years old I could hunt, and Duck hunting was the first organized sport I participated in, Orv was the head coach. Two weeks before my first season opened, we needed to work on the Duck blind. It had been sitting idle for nine months and needed repair. If I wanted to hunt, and make the team, I had to get out there and help rebuild it. The head coach and his assistant, (Orv and my Dad) didn’t work on the blind; just the rookies that wanted to hunt and make the team, I wanted to do both, I worked like a mule.

Orv showed me what to do, and I did it, and at the same time, learning the finer points of blind building and repair. When the work was completed I knew I had made the cut.

“You do good work Stins.” No one had ever called me Stins before; I liked it, my first Blind word. No one uses their full name in the Blind, you get a nickname or they shorten the one you already have. When Orv called me Stins I knew I was in. He called my Dad Stins and I knew he liked my Dad. During the drive home, Orv extended an invitation, “Next Saturday come up to the house and we’ll get the deeks ready.” He was testing me, a new word and I was ready. “You mean the decoys.” Orv just smiled. That’s two words today and I haven’t even been hunting. To play Varsity you have to train and Decoy repair was part of my training.

I arrived at 7 a.m., Orv invited me in, and poured me a cup of coffee. “I can’ t drink coffee my parents won’t let me.” I told him. “Stins, if you are going to be a Duck hunter you have to drink coffee!”

I didn’t want to tell Orv that I could drink coffee at home if I wanted too, but I hated the taste. “We call it mud in the Blind.” Orv was teaching me another Blind word. “Do you have any hot chocolate? I like that.” Orv couldn’t believe it. “Hot chocolate! We don’t allow that in the Blind Stins, we don’t have a word for it” I couldn’t tell if was serious or not. “Let’s get the Decoys out and get going on them I don’t want to talk about coffee or hot chocolate any more.” Orv laughed and so did I. Orv had a special gift, he was the only grown up I knew that made me laugh. Years later Orv told me it had taken him seven years to graduate from high school, he liked it so much he wanted to stick around as long as he could.

Orv had lots of Decoys and a couple of them were beyond repair, they had big holes in them, “Orv, how did these get these holes get here, I don’t think we can fix them.” His answer came quickly. “Put those in a separate pile, mice got them.” Mice? How about a rat with a jackhammer, the holes were big enough to slide my fist in with room to spare. I learned later how mice got to decoys by the way of a shotgun, and learned two new blind words, Dry gulch and Arkansas.

Opening day we were in the blind before daybreak. A light North wind moved the Decoys just enough to fool the smartest duck. We were ready; me with my 410-bolt action and Orv with a gun that looked like a cannon. “Orv, what kind of gun is that?” Asking quietly as I could. “It’s a don’t move, a pair of loners.” I hadn’t heard those words before, “A pair of loners coming from the South.” Orv said just above a whisper. Before I could get another word out of my mouth, Orv bolted from his seat snatching his gun on the way up and Boom! I came three feet out of my seat, moving as fast as I could to exit the Blind; before I could get out, Orv spoke. “Where are you going?” “Pick up the Duck?” I told him.

“Come back here and sit down.” He was smiling so I knew he wasn’t mad. Orv explained to me over the next few minutes about the language of the Duck blind, and the only way to learn it was to listen. A pair of loners meant a single was coming in, or, was giving the Decoys a serious look. I needed to sit very still and not move when he said it, and he would do the same if I said it.

I’m going to need a notebook to write this down. I could learn some new Blind words, but whole sentences were something new, and they didn’t make any sense. I asked Orv about the shot that he took a few minutes earlier. “I better go pick up it.” No he told me that wasn’t necessary. It was a Miracle duck, it was dead, but it didn’t know it and just flew away. I had heard of Miracle’s before, I learned about them in Catechism class but I had no idea they worked on Ducks.

Orv hadn’t seen if very often himself, and that’s why you call it a miracle he told me, it’s very rare. I witnessed many that first day Duck hunting, all of them when Orv shot. God performed many miracles that day. Miracle duck was another blind word I learned; this was getting good. I learned other words that day, Orv keeps repeating the same ones after he shot, and another Miracle was performed on a duck. He told me not to repeat them; these words could only be used in the blind. I was only ten but it wasn’t the first time I had heard those words used. I spoke those same words latter on in life when a miracle was performed on ducks that I shot.

I hunted with Orv for many years after that first time, from that I discovered a passion that burns as bright today as it did the first time I set foot in a Blind. Orv was the best teacher I ever had, I know this…because he told me so.

Have a Great Hunt!

About the author


T. Patrick Stinson