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An Outdoorsman’s Journal – 9-28-2016

by Mark Walters

High Water Duck Hunt

Hello friends, 

The same week that my 15-year-old daughter, Selina Walters, got her temporary driving license “temps”, it rained as it has for four months. That same week is when Wisconsin’s Youth Duck Hunt would be held and Selina would participate in her final YDH.

First, the Necedah boys and girls cross country team would participate at Brookwood’s annual cross country meet and Selina, who is a team manager due to a torn webbing in her left knee, would help and cheer her team on.

Saturday, September 17th
High 82, low 56

So I drive to the Brookwood School, which is in a beautiful location near LaFarge and I have to tell you it is painful when your daughter had such high hopes for her sophomore season on the cross country team and pretty much all she can do is cheer her team on. The day Selina injured her knee in June, she new it was bad and she told me she would be the team manager.

An MRI and a month of physical therapy has done nothing so far to take care of the pain and just walking 100-yards is a project for Selina, especially if she is carrying something.

So after the CC meet we get in my truck and I am hooked up to my 18-foot War Eagle, there is a canoe in the War Eagle, camping, as well as, hunting gear and two golden retrievers named Fire and Ruby in the truck.

Our destination is Ferryville on the Mississippi River and though I knew the water would be high, we were hopeful that we could find an island that would not be underwater, as well as vegetation above the water to hold lots of mallards, teal and woodies for Selina to shoot at and the pups to fetch.

The weather was perfect, comfort wise, but after about a three-mile boat ride to a maze of islands of which The Army Corps of Engineers built many of them back in 2013 and 14 I realized that we had two problems.

Our first problem was that even on some of the highest rock shoreline that we could find, the “Mighty Mississippi” was flowing over the top of the islands and our problem was that almost our entire duck habitat was underwater.

Selina, who has probably the best attitude of anyone that I ever met just kept saying, “it is what it is dad, we will have a good time no matter what”

Forty-five years ago this fall, my dad brought me here for the first time and I really wanted this hunt to work out. So we find a high spot on an island and build a quick camp. It is about 3:30 and the War Eagle, which is trailing the canoe and its crew head to the only vegetation that we can find that might hold some ducks.

Selina is left in the War Eagle while I put out decoys and then hide the canoe; Selina’s knee causes her so much pain that almost any type of physical labor causes her lots of pain.

We spent the next three hours laughing, watching the sky, playing with a crazy 19-week-old pup and on a couple of occasions Selina got a shot but missed, we did not see another hunter or hear any shooting.

At camp we were both tired as we had both been up since 4:30 a.m. I cooked a fine meal and tonight we slept on the sand in our tent, The entire night Fire was taking more and more of my pillow and Ruby had to make a point of keeping all four of her paws touching me.

We were up long before daylight and paddling our canoe to duck paradise, unfortunately, duck paradise was under 3-feet of water.

My dad always taught me to have the decoys set up long before daylight and he was right, it is so nice to relax and watch night become day.

Selina did miss a couple of birds and insisted that someone stole the pellets out of her shotgun shells. We laughed a lot, watched a crazy pup and then paddled back to camp where we had leftovers, swam in the Mississppi River in mid-September and then headed home.

I taught Selina at a very young age that it is no big deal if you do not get a duck or a deer or a fish. There are plenty of times when we do and then our quarry gets to live another day.

Hang with your kids; soon the nest will be empty! Sunset

THIS WEEK’S COLUMN IS SPONSORED BY: Hiawatha National Bank