After years of culling through duck hunting partners, some mediocre, some bad and some terrible, I have finally found the perfect one. Consider these character traits:
Punctual. When I am ready to go to the blind, he is more than ready. In fact, he leaps about in excited anticipation. There is no grumbling about the undignified, early hour. There is no scrambling through a boar's nest of equipment, wasting precious minutes, searching for a missing piece of gear. Together, we are always in place and ready before the legal opening time.
Uncomplaining. There is never any whining about the awful weather conditions. Never once has he said "I'm cold" or "I'm wet" or "you set the decoys out too far" or "we're in the wrong place for this wind" or "let's quit."
Selfless. He never sky busts and then, chagrined, admits those mallards might have been a bit rangy. He never giggles, at least out loud, when I miss a shot. He lets me do the calling knowing full well that I am better at it than he'll ever be. He wants to keep hunting when I want to keep hunting and quits, without whining, when I want to quit. He has never been a claimer, screeching "my bird" when any fool could clearly see it was my expert wing shooting that brought the duck down.
Gentlemanly. He sits quietly in the blind never droning on about his past, heroic duck hunting accomplishments. His breath doesn't reek of stale bourbon. He doesn't smoke cigars or chew (and spit) snuff. He is genuinely interested in my stories about my past, heroic duck hunting feats. He never needs to "borrow" shotgun shells because he is out. He never needs to mooch a cup of coffee from my thermos because he failed to arise early enough to cook his own.
Hard working. He will retrieve all of my ducks without ever saying "it's your turn." In fact, he will search diligently for my cripples and flyers through waves, cattails and ice until he finds them. This he does without complaint. He even seems happy and proud to do this work for me. The one issue we have is his unwillingness to pick up the decoys after the hunt. But we are in negotiations about this.