The start of every duck hunt has similarities. You begin in the dark, traveling to some place with a beacon of light in front of you, washing its way across everything in your path.
The places you are familiar with take on a new look in the dark. Those places you have never seen before, with nothing but harsh light hitting them, are less revealing.
Eventually the light goes out, and in the darkness, it becomes all about the hearing: The noise of waterfowl pretty much sounds the same everywhere.
Sunrises look pretty much the same from one end of the country to the other, but as the sun does its work, that's when a Duck Trek morning really starts to take shape. That's the moment when everything takes on its own personality, its own look and its own feel.
Every morning of the Duck Trek is like that. It begins with its similarities and ultimately shapes the day to create something different.
This year the Duck Trek will be waking up somewhere new. We're moving west from our usual path and hitting the center of the Central Flyway and even pieces of the Pacific Flyway, comparing our new experiences with some from our past.
In Canada, that might be lying on a hillside with wheat stubble scratching the back of your neck as thousands of mallards fill the air, all of them responding to a few short quacks on a duck call.
In Michigan, that could be standing in the marsh, knee deep in muck quacking at gadwalls. In Wisconsin, it's plopping down in a layout boat and growling at divers. Or in Arkansas, that could be hugging up to an oak tree, kicking water and watching mallards crash through the treetops.
That process is what intrigues so many duck hunters. From their standpoint, a duck hunt is pinpointed by their own habits. Knowing it is vastly different in other parts of the world makes the rest of it intriguing.
That is what this year's Duck Trek is all about.
From November through the middle of December, we'll follow the flight of the ducks from Canada down to the Gulf of Mexico, bringing the sights, sounds, culture and stories back to ESPNOutdoors.com.
The sun is rising on this year's trek and we're about to experience everything in a new light.