Pluff mud misery

Published 3:06 pm Tuesday, December 6, 2022

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In high school, my brother introduced me to duck hunting. His college roommate introduced him to the addictive outdoor pursuit. Then, most January weekends were spent chasing ducks and fighting pluff mud on coastal South Carolina waterways. 


Pluff mud, for those that don’t know, was created after Adam and Eve ate the apple. I am sure Eden did not have any pluff mud. Pluff mud steals boots, strands boats, and makes you say words that would get your mouth washed out with soap by your mother. Therefore, it has to be created by the devil. 

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One time I was walking through the marsh grass retrieving a downed duck when I sunk waist-deep into the mud. I tried to climb out by tugging on the grass, but I was only left with cut hands and ended up stuck up to my belly button. 


As I caught my breath, the crabs scurried around with excitement. The tiny fiddlers had dreams of hitting the food source jackpot. This six-foot-tall creature in the mud would feed its family for generations. 


I reached for my shotgun, unloaded it, and tried to use the stock for leverage to slide on my belly out of the mire. 


Now, my shotgun was stuck past the action, and the mud had reached my ribs. Knowing that the tide was coming in, I decided it was time to call for help. I had wandered fifty yards from my hunting group.


My brother and his roommate were still shooting ducks so I had to time my yells between reports. With the constant wind and rustling grass drowning out the noise, I was almost helpless. I didn’t even have my shotgun to fight off the circling hungry crabs. 


Finally, the roommate heard a strong masculine voice calling for help which he described as a “third-grader crying.” 


Seeing my predicament, he knew it would take more than a helping hand to get me out. 


Shortly after, I heard the rumble of the two-stroke outboard start and then head my way. It pulled up to the bank and I heard, “Heads up!”


A long rope hit me in the head and I tied it under my armpits. 


“Are you ready?” my buddy yelled. I tightened my grip and told him to start pulling. 


I assumed he was going to pull by hand, but he decided to skip that step and attach me to the boat. The rope went tight as the engine roared. 


The suction of the pluff mud stretched my joints to fight the pull of the 25-horsepower motor. I finally popped free and slid on my belly through the tall grass. 


Thankfully, he stopped pulling before I got to the water or I would have gone from crab bait to crank bait on this low-country river. 


The pluff mud covered every inch of my clothing. I resembled a pig that just finished wallowing in a mud hole as I lay on the shore. 


The bank behind me looked like a giant prehistoric beaver slide that made a path straight back to the hole that contained my pride.