by Mark Walters
Hereford calves, my daughter Selina growing some farming roots, driving lots of miles, and trying to shoot some teal for my pup Fire to fetch are the gist of this week’s column.
Read on for the details!
Sunday, August 31st
High 81, Low 54
The day started for Selina and myself at 5:00 a.m. with a 240-mile round trip drive to my friends Charles and Marianne Schicks “Cha-Mar Farm”, near Johnson Creek. I would be purchasing four calves, of which if I can pull this off, Selina will be joining 4-H and showing one in the Juneau County Fair next August.
I have re-immersed myself into a larger scale of hobby farming and now have some pigs for butchering and six calves for selling along with a flock of chickens.
Being well aware that the following day was the opener of Wisconsin’s Early Goose Season and more importantly to myself, the opener of Wisconsin’s first, Early Teal Season. My plan was fool proof. After dropping off the calves, I was going to drive up to Sportsmen’s Lake, which is a beautiful lake and wildlife area near Owen where I have had great waterfowl hunting in the past.
I would build a temporary blind and then the next two nights, I would sleep in my new enclosed trailer that I had a rigged for my job and that I hauled the calves in this morning. I had no doubt that the following day I would easily harvest my limit of six teal.
I am now on Sportsmen’s Lake. So far today I logged 400-miles on the Chevy and I am really excited about the upcoming hunt.
I watch day become night while sitting in my canoe “scouting” with my pal, Fire and do not see a single teal. I feel that if I do not see teal under near perfect conditions that they are not here, and make a big decision. I am going to drive for another (it took this long) three hours to Trempealeau and hunt the Mississippi River for teal and geese.
On the drive, which I would not even stop to eat, a big storm approaches, when I arrive at a remote landing near Trempealeau, the storm hits. Wind, solid rain, with lots of lightning. I cannot even rig up my trailer for sleeping as it is raining too hard.
I sleep in the back seat of The Chevy Hotel, must leave the windows up as it is raining, quite muggy in truck.
Following morning, teal season opens at 9:00 a.m., storms are pretty brutal until about 9:00! I patrol the wild rice in my canoe for three hours with shotgun and pup ready for action. I do not see a teal nor talk to a hunter that has shot at one.
At noon, I make several calls to a ton of my comrades throughout the state that are also hunting teal. I only receive one positive report and that is from my stepson, Travis, who is hunting in Columbia County and has five teal. Trav tells me that if I drive to “Teal Paradise” I can hunt with him.
I am two miles from my truck and a powerful storm is approaching. I paddle hard. Just as I reach my truck the storm hits. I have lots of work to do and another 140-mile drive. It is extremely muggy. I strip down to my boxers and unload gear from canoe in a pouring rain. I am obsessed with having daylight to hunt in, once I arrive at “Teal Paradise”. I need to eat; I need to put on dry clothes. I drive all the way to Portage wearing only the wet boxers that I loaded gear in the storm with, I do not eat!
Trav is used to my unusual ways, when we sees me at a BP just east of town. Trav has just purchased a new mud motor and is very proud.
We travel by jon boat to Trav’s secret spot. A flock of teal flies overhead, kind of bad luck comes our way, and I do not end up with a teal. Another flies overhead and either Trav or myself drops the same bird. Fire made a long retrieve. I am happy, 700-miles on the Chevy and my pup has feathers in her mouth.
Teal vanish until season closes at 7:00, I sleep in a cattle trailer, I mean new camper. Cook stove does not work, dinner is a pint of homemade salsa, and Brewers lose again.
Following morning I am up at 4:00, teal are on another lake, Life is good!
You have to be a waterfowl hunter to understand the obsession. Sunset
THIS WEEK’S COLUMN IS SPONSORED BY: Cedar Country Cooperative.