by Mark Walters
Anything for a Teal
One of my favorite outdoor sports is waterfowl hunting. I remember, long before I was in kindergarten, when my dad would get the decoys and other gear ready for the upcoming season and then when he would bring ducks home from the hunt.
This summer I have been eagerly anticipating the 2nd year of Wisconsin’s early 7-day teal season. Last year my hunt did not go real well as I started hunting near Withee and there were not very many teal there, than I moved to the Mississippi River at Trempealeau and did not get a shot and then I relocated to Columbia County where my stepson, Travis Dushek, was having very good luck.
This year my hunt would take place in Columbia County where I was “guaranteed success”.
Monday, August 31st
High 91, low 66
I had a brilliant plan for my hunting dog “Fire” and myself. Our hunt would take place north of Portage on a large marsh that is owned by the state of Wisconsin. To insure that I was able to hunt exactly where I wanted to, I was going to paddle to paradise the afternoon before, catch some humongous bluegill and then sleep in my canoe.
The next morning, The Early Canada Goose season would open a half hour before sunrise and the teal season would open at 9:00 a.m. I would be well rested and life would be “supreme”!
So I am paddling in extremely intense heat and humidity. My canoe (bedroom, kitchen) is full of decoys, bedding, fishing gear, a dog and myself.
As I paddle my way to “duck heaven” I am flushing lots of mallards and wood duck but not a single teal. No cares here as I am about to lodge my “home on the water’ on some floating bog and start slaying some bluegill.
In all honesty, I caught bluegill as fast as I could reel them in but they were too small to keep, so I literally quit fishing and watched the skies for ducks and made my bed in the bottom of my canoe; which was a sleeping pad, a sleeping bag and a seat cushion for a pillow.
Close to dark I kind of wondered if not bringing any mosquito repellant was a mistake but I was sure that they would not be a problem. At dark, I had only spotted two teal and just like that there was a solid hatch of skeeters.
I got in my sleeping bag but soon found out it was too hot to be in my sleeping bag. I got out of my sleeping bag and was totally devoured by mosquitoes.
I swear this happened until the sun came up I was either sweating profusely or being eaten alive. I did not sleep and I was covered with so much blood, sweat and mud that I was a literally a slimeball that really wreaked.
I watch night become day. I do not see a single teal or goose. At 8:30 I make an executive decision. Paddle to truck, load gear, drive to Whalens Grade, 30-miles away, unload gear paddle through lots of wild rice and muck and try again.
On the drive to Whalens Grade I was totally brain dead tired. After much work, I am set up in teal paradise. One new problem, all ducks in area are flying and landing in different area that is about 300-yards away. I pull decoys and after pushing canoe through a lot of mud, reset decoys and the hunt is on. It is now 3:00 p.m. I am only wearing my boxers, Fire is laying in the mud/water, I have covered myself with mud from head to toe and I really want to shoot something. Because I am near a lot of wild rice, visibility is not good. A teal lands in my decoys. I will not shoot a duck on the set. It flies, I miss three times. Betwteen 3 and 6:55 several teal that are flying overhead are missed by an over thinking/brain-dead hunter.
The season closes at 7:00. At 6:56 I quit thinking, and shoot at a beautiful bluewing teal. It drops in the wild rice, Fire retrieves it. At 6:59 another teal blows by! I point my Remington 11:87, which is more worn out then me and drop my second teal. At exactly 7:00 p.m. Fire drops my second teal in my hand.
The paddle to shore, loading the canoe and the drive to Necedah were also a challenge.
Never give up! Sunset
THIS WEEK’S COLUMN IS SPONSORED BY: Hiawatha National Bank