“FOR EVERYTHING THERE is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven.”

You may associate this line with “Turn! Turn! Turn!” by the Byrds back in the ’60s or you might know it as Ecclesiastes 3:1 from the Bible, although there are slight differences in the words depending on whether you are listening to the Byrds or reading a Bible version.

The bottom line is it is true that for everything there is a season and there is a purpose for those seasons in everything we do under heaven.

For me, there is no better season than fall. Many seasons begin in the fall and during the Labor Day weekend, I jumped right into the one that ranks far and away No. 1 with me, a season I cherish, a duck and goose season I hold near and dear to my heart.

And though I truly love hunting and eating ducks and geese, the killing part of the equation, though necessary in the gathering of any meat for food, is nowhere near the top of the list when it comes to reasons why I love the hunt so much.

This hunt began on a sunny afternoon, partly because I was too lazy to get up an hour before dawn, partly because I like to ease on into the season. I like the job of checking through my bags of decoys to make sure anchor lines are stout and painted feathers are still true.

It is with great joy that I take my shotgun from its glassed-in cabinet, run a cleaning rod through its barrel, dab a bit of light oil on its moving parts and heft it to my shoulder to make sure it fits the same as it has for the past two decades.

I take deliberate time sliding my canoe into the bed of my truck, checking off a mental list of things like paddles, life jackets, camouflaged bag containing shells, calls and other assorted oddments of the hunt and, of course, my youthful, yellow-coated companion who has been waiting as anxiously for this day as I.

As I drive down a rutted road to a ducking spot of choice I notice things like maple leaves turning red, ferns drooping their recently browned fronds, flickers darting up from the grassy middle of the lane and whitetail fawns, some beginning to lose the spots of their birth.

When I arrive at water’s edge, I do not rush to depart the landing, instead standing for long minutes simply drinking in the sights and sounds around me. The dog cavorts madly in the water, imploring me with big brown eyes to get a move on.

I scan with binoculars the length of the lake, debating whether to settle on a blind over here or over there, although I long ago decided where I would sit for ducks on this first outing.

Finally, acceding to the wishes of my anxious partner, I load him in the canoe, settling him in between the decoy bag and a still-unloaded shotgun. Pushing off, I begin a slow paddle to a point that has served as a worthy blind for more decades than I sometimes care to count.

We watch, he and I, as a mallard hen and her brood decide we are closing the distance between us a little too close for comfort and as they swim away, my companion gives me a look with big expressive eyes that says without doubt “Why in the H-E-double toothpicks are you not shooting?”

I assure him there will be shooting before the day is out, though I have not quite decided in my mind if I will even shoot at any teal or Canada geese should they give me the chance.

Today, more than any other day of the season, is a time for watching, a time for smelling the good smells of cattail fronds, balsam needles and thick, gooey muck. It is a day to watch in peaceful contentment all that surrounds me and it is a day to listen to the wind sighing through the topmost boughs of pines, and the songs of ducks quacking and geese honking.

I may take a shot given the chance, I tell myself, but there is no inner conviction that I will. I have killed hundreds of ducks and scores of geese in my lifetime, and whether or not I shoot another this day is unimportant.

This day is simply about just being there. It is a day to hold a conversation with a hunting partner who thinks I can do no wrong, other than not shooting when ducks fly close by.

He does not understand that this season is for teal and Canada geese only, and that the wood ducks that settle in for visits in easy gun range are to be treated like good neighbors and best friends, which they are.

I do not expect many, if any, chances at teal, although the odds are better for them than geese. A shot at a goose will be nothing more than a stroke of pure luck, the only shot I know for sure I will take if that chance does come along. Teal are delicious birds to eat, but I know I will pass on them should I get the chance. Later I do just that, as a pair landing in my decoys become mere entertainment as they swim and dabble for food within 20 yards of us, much to the chagrin of my partner who practically dances a jitterbug waiting for a shot that I do not fire.

Why do I not take an easy shot, you ask me? Because I don’t have to. Because today, I have come to the blind with all the accoutrements of a hunter, but without the need of a hungry hunter to bring something home for the table.

I am here because duck hunting is something I was born and bred to do. I am here because ducks are in my blood, figuratively and literally, considering all that I have killed and eaten in my 57 years of hunting.

I am here because the season tells me I must. I am hunting because the duck blind is where I was meant to be; meant to be with gun in hand, dog at my side and the wings of waterfowl in the air.

Soon, just weeks from now, my yellow-haired partner and I will hunt in earnest in North Dakota, and I shall kill ducks while he shall retrieve. We are partners, he and I, partners answering to the age-old call of the hunt. It is as it should be.