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An Outdoorsman’s Journal – 10-14-2015

by Mark Walters

Mississippi River Duck Hunt 2015

Hello friends,

You know that you have been walking this earth for a while when you can say that you have been duck hunting at the same place for 44-years.

This week I am writing to you about my annual camping on an island and hunting ducks with family and friends near Lansing, Iowa/Ferryville, WI experience.

This trip is one of my most intense when it comes to gear required and energy used by the body and brain.

Friday, Oct. 2nd
High 73, low 51

I saw it driving south on Highway 35 and throughout the day while on the backwaters of this stretch of river. Wild rice is becoming common as it is in a lot of other bodies of water in Wisconsin.

This year’s gang was made up of my 14-year old daughter, Selina. My nephews, Trent and Riley Schuster and their dad Dick Schuster. Cole Koepp who grew up with Trent and Riley. Conrad Wandler who is 18 and has been absolutely chomping at the bit to take part on this trip.

Last but not least, my new wrestling partner Troy Ringelstetter, who arrived on Saturday.

Selina and I would be traveling by canoe and my 18-foot War Eagle would be our duck blind and let me tell you folks it was comfortable.

So today, Selina and I are building a blind with willow branches and watching gazillions of woodies, teal and Canadian geese and all we can think about is Saturday morning’s half hour before sunrise opener.

I actually went to bed at 10:30, which is very early for me and all I could do until I got up at 3:30 was think about ducks and 44-years worth of opening days.

Saturday, Oct. 3rd
High 68, low 46

Selina and I are at duck central at 4:30 and have nothing to do but wait. Actually, Selina slept for a half hour and I stood in the water and realized that my chest waders have a leak and would thus have wet feet until I took them off 15-hours later.

We had neighbors and they had Sherman Tanks with mud motors that seem to be able to go in an inch of water. Our closet neighbors had set up no more then 50-yards away and there were five guys together.

I cannot say a bad thing about them or some other folks that hunted close, everyone was very polite.

So the war began as daylight took over and after Selina’s first shot her 12-gauge went down hard. I pulled out an extra gun and the firing pin broke and we had problems.

Seventy minutes later I had our guns fixed and then for the next two hours, Selina and I did very poorly as far as hitting ducks in the air.

Meanwhile about 200-yards away Cole Koepp and Conrad Wandler had shot their limit of woodies and teal and were back in camp by 8:00 a.m.

Riley and Trent were not shooting much and Dick Schuster who was using a fishing pole instead of a gun was on his way to a 25-fish limit of jumbo perch.

Later in the day, as I told Selina, would happen we both found our shot and our trusty pup Fire insured that we did not lose one duck today.

Sunday, Oct. 4th 
High 61, low 41

Today is the best day of this trip for those that get to stay until Monday. We hunt ducks, eat good meals cooked over the campfire and stay up really late.

At about 9ish I announced to the gang that everyone had to stay up until 4:38 in the morning. I have no idea where that came from but it became my theme for the night.

We cooked just meat and grazed all night. Troy Ringelstetter fell a sleep around the campfire and his buddies took some “unfavorable” pictures of him and sent them out for the whole world to see.

Troy who is quite possibly bigger then anyone on the Green Bay Packers team tried going to bed at 2:34 and that was against my 4:38 rule. I proceeded to beat the bajeezas out of him and when he had enough he kicked the u no what out of me.

For all my efforts, I made it until 4:32 which was six-minutes ahead of schedule.

Riley and Cole fell a sleep next to the fire and woke up to another fire. Cole’s knee boots which were still on his feet were a little to close to the flame and one of them was burning big time.

Not much has changed in 44-years!  Sunset