The wood duck pitched into the little pond almost at the hunter's feet, just as he was rising to flush a pair of springtails he had spent an hour creeping toward. The little hen saw him as she touched down. She bounced off the water as though it were boiling, squawking and peeping and sending the pintails off as well. He swung and fired and she fell in the center of the pond. And there she stayed; it was a hot day, and so still that no breath of air came along to waft her ashore. For two hours he tried to retrieve her. He had no dog, and the bottom dropped off steeply within a yard of the edge; every time he tried to wade he went in over the tops of his hip boots. He was afraid to strip and swim the dark water. The pond was barely 20 yards across, but no combination of branches and sticks he could lash together would reach the bird, and there were no stones to throw. The time came to meet the guide at the pickup point. The hunter waited a few minutes more but the little hen might as well have been anchored. He hurried across the mile of tangled fields and was puffing and streaming sweat when the truck pulled up with his son in the right front seat. "What did you get, Dad?" the boy asked. The man hesitated, thinking about the long hot hike. He wanted to say "Nothing," and go get a shower and dinner, but there was shame in that. For years he had been telling the boy the rules of hunting, and the reasons for them. "Just one wood duck, my man, but she's out in the middle of the pond. I'm going to have to get a fishing rod and come back." The boy came with him. As they labored along the edge of the woods bordering the pond the man checked his watch and saw that there still was a quarter-hour of legal shooting time. "Wait here until I call or you hear me shoot," he said, and crawled through the bushes toward the water's edge. He could not see the hen, and silently cursed the snapping turtle he assumed had got her. Something moved in the shadows, and he saw that it was a drake woodie, his feathers a kaleidoscope of colors when he swam into a slanting shaft of sunlight. The little duck peeped and peered, swimming around as though looking for something. The hunter's heart turned over, and he stood up. "Go away," he said to the drake. It flurried away, and the pond suddenly roared with the sound of wings as an unsuspected flock of black ducks took off. The flustered hunter slid down the bank, falling to his knees in the water, and watched them go. As he rose, smiling ruefully, one last black came up, passing barely 20 yards away; he swung and fired and fell again as the bird folded. The black fell close enough to wade to, and as the hunter was floundering ashore his hand struck the soft cold form of the the hen wood duck. "Hey Dad!" the boy called as he ran through the gathering dark. "Did you get anything?" "Yes," the man said.