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An Outdoorsman’s Journal – 10-8-2014

by Mark Walters

Mississippi River Duck Hunt 2014

Hello friends,

What started out as a one-man duck hunt and camping trip in the mid 50’s for my dad, the late Robert Walters, on a remote island on the Mississippi River near Ferryville, has blossomed into a group that numbered 21 this year and as usual was a blast.

Friday, September 27th
High 83, low 55

Shorts, swimming the last weekend of September and actually dangerously hot conditions while wearing chest waders and wading around in the Mississippi muck were a big part of our day.

My partner for the 4th year in a row would be my 13-year-old daughter, Selina Walters, and as always we would have a blast no matter what type of curve balls were thrown our way.

Our camp is huge and could be seen on a satellite map. My old buddy from since before we could grow hair in our armpits, Jeff Moll, was in camp as he has been for close to 40-years and today he was a “Wildman”.

Last year I was the one into wrestling, everyone else besides Selina, Jeff, and myself is between the age of 19 and 26. Today while the guys were swimming on a beach, yes that is right, swimming on a duck hunt in the Mississippi River in late September, Mr. Moll attacked and pinned two of our young comrades.

Tonight while hanging out around the campfire he was still feeling a bit feisty so I had to become the camp police and made sure he was a good boy.

Saturday, September 28th
High 82, low 51

The season opened here at 9:00 a.m. this morning and Selina, Fire, and myself were in our blind, which was some camo material and vegetation with our canoe inside of it long before you could shoot. At first there was a lot of woodies and teal flying around us and I was really excited about our day.

An hour before the season opened it seemed as just about every duck in the region vanished and folks if you were hunting near the Ferryville/Lansing area you know what I mean. This was my 43rd year here and I feel that I have never seen it even half this slow.

Ducks in the air, and guns going off tell the story, neither was prevalent. The weeks leading up to this hunt was marked by high water that put the islands and vegetation under water, and that was in part to blame for the lack of action.

In my heart, I feel the early teal season was the real doom to this 9:00 a.m. opener. Simply put the birds were educated to stay away from humans during daylight hours.

At days end, our group of 21 had shot maybe 25 ducks, which in past years would have been 80 to 100, and many of the guys in camp did not shoot a bird today.

Sunday, September 29th
High 80, low 50

There is always a sub story to a hunt like this and this year there is a big one. Jeff Moll is here with three of his boys, Ryan who is 26, Ross who is 20, and Nate who is 18.

Nine of us stayed on the island until Monday. On Tuesday though, the younger boys (Nate and Ross) call Niagara home, they stayed in camp until the end of the day, drove home with their dad and the following morning, Nate drove to Madison where he got on a plane and flew off to basic training in San Antonio, Texas for the Wisconsin Air National Guard.

Ross Moll got in his pickup and headed to Kentucky where he was starting a job the next day as an apprentice railroad bridge builder.

These boys have been a part of this column since their birth and now they are truly flying away from the nest.

On the last night, I woke up by the campfire at 5:38 a.m. and all my buddies had deserted me. After driving my boat and pulling a canoe 3-miles up river, I had an eye-opener when I trailered my rig. My anchor was down for the entire ride.

Someday Walters and Moll will grow up, someday Walters and Moll will die!

Thanks for reading! Sunset