by Mark Walters
Deep Muck Duck Hunt
Duck hunting always has been and always will be, one of my favorite outdoor sports.
Last spring I found a backwater part of the Wisconsin river, in Columbia County, that I thought might hold some ducks and that is where I headed this past weekend for southern Wisconsin’s opening of duck season.
Saturday, September 28th
High, 75, low 53
I thought I would really be on top of my game, so after watching The Necedah “Cardinals” host, and lose to the Brookwood “Falcons” I headed down to Columbia County shortly after midnight with a plan of obtaining my chosen destination by 3:00 a.m.- before any other hunters could get to it for the 9:00 a.m. opener.
My first bit of bad luck came when I was paddling my canoe in complete darkness, and was literally only 500-yards from duck paradise and two guys in a flat bottom boat, that was being pushed by a mud motor, passed me and parked where I wanted to hunt.
I was fine with that, picked out another bay to hunt, and laid in the bottom of my canoe watching the stars while using my golden retriever “Fire” as a pillow.
What would be a huge part of this experience, and my present life, are some injuries that I recently obtained. I presently have a broken rib, a sprained ankle, and a torn calf muscle. There are a couple other minor issues as well, and spending the next 17-hours in a canoe would prove to be quite the challenge.
Just before first light about a half dozen other flat bottom boats being pushed by mud motors made their way to the marsh but everyone kept a practical distance and all was well.
After a beautiful sunrise I tried to paddle my canoe a short distance over to some wild rice, which I would use to blend my canoe, and build a temporary blind around.
I could not paddle my canoe due to dense muck and instead had to push it in muck that came up to my belly button. I was wearing chest waders and the muck was the toughest I ever walked in and it really pulled on all of my injuries.
After setting up shop, I watched the skies that were loaded with teal, wood duck, and mallards. My goal was to pass on the teal and limit out (six ducks) on woodies and mallards.
At 9:00, the season opened and everyone around me was sending woodies and teal to heaven, I passed up dozens of teal experiences and then a flock of geese came my way and I sailed one. I told “Fire” to fetch it and she looked at me like I was nuts.
There is a side story to my dog, Fire, and that is that she has stolen our cats kittens, was growing breasts, and carries and sleeps with these kittens constantly and now when I really need her, she has a hormonal imbalance that is just nuts.
When Fire finally made her dive from the canoe she became plastered to the muck, and literally could not move. I had to move the canoe to my dog, by foot, and that is exactly how I attempted to retrieve the goose. I might add, that at this point I had been up 28-hours, and I was somewhat tired and in a ton of pain.
Over the next three hours, I held my ground and did not shoot a duck. At 1:00 p.m. I came to the conclusion that if I was going to harvest a duck or get any dog training in, which is something that I was really hoping for, I would have to relocate.
It was a 300-yard slog to get out of the muck, but life became better as soon I could actually paddle my rig. I watched the skies and looked for deeper water with cover.
My persistence paid off and I found a small cattail island near some wild rice, where I passed up several flocks of teal until I decided that I was being stupid and shot one.
When I told my dog to fetch it she told me that if I brought her home to her kittens, she would fetch it. I lied and she fetched the duck.
My shooting was good, it started pouring and I hunted until dark, my dog did not do so well. I was really intelligent and decided to wean my self from pain pills on this trip.
Between sweat and rain I was totally soaked, when I paddled to my truck at 8:00 p.m. I was in a ton of pain.
Next year I know how to hunt this place, one way or another, my dog will be into the game, and perhaps after two weeks of being in intense pain I have decided to quit wrestling kids in their 20s!
Loving Life, but a bit crippled! Sunset
THIS WEEK’S COLUMN IS SPONSORED BY: Downing Tractor Parts