I'm sure glad I did.
I came into waterfowl hunting well into adulthood. Like you, a good dog (in my case, Koda) was a big part of the joy. Many of the other memories that you describe also resonate, but Koda is preeminent in my personal experience.
When she died unexpectedly three years ago, a piece of me did as well. I haven't been to the marsh since.
I was practicing my spey casting on the big river yesterday after work. Some Canada's passed over low enough to be in shooting range. Later, a trio of mergansers zipped upriver even lower.
I admired them and went back to my casting.
Maybe I'll waterfowl again, or maybe I'll just cherish those memories of my years with an outstanding Labrador. I'm not sure yet. I guess I'll know when it's time for me to know.