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OUTDOORS: A whole lot more than just ducks

Years back when dad was still alive, we used to duck hunt together. Loading the big old steel boat with decoys was more of a chore than enjoyable, but we did it anyway. Dad had an old 9.9 Johnson outboard, and it was notorious for breaking the starting cord.

Well, that morning was no different as we just got past Ballard’s Island and the motor quit. After a few pulls on the starter rope, it came out of the powerhead and into my hand. Now changing or repairing a power cord on an outboard back then was not an easy task. An amateur working on this job might take at least an hour, as one had to wind the spring-loaded cord backwards while holding another plate in place.

Finally, just as it was beginning to get light, we finished the job and the motor came to life. Dad and I shared a bench seat in the old boat as we rounded the point of the island and set out the decoys. Since we got there late, we heard many waterfowl take to the air as they were disturbed from their roosts.

Well, we put the decoys out anyway and sat there in a cold wind and waited.

Around 10 a.m., we heard geese in the distance, and despite trying not to move from shivering, we waited. In another minute, four geese dropped into our decoys, and we dropped all of them.

"This should warm you up, son," when we get home and worked on cleaning the birds. He was right about that, as back then all birds were picked and then scorched to remove any additional feathers.

After the job was done, dad nudged me in the ribs and said, "Well done, son. I made a hunter and a mechanic out of you in one day. You didn’t do too bad on cleaning the geese either."

Another lesson learned, and another small step toward responsibility and adulthood.

This was further proof that hunting was more than just ducks and geese.

Upcoming event

The Ottawa Chapter of Ducks Unlimited will be celebrating their 36th annual fundraising dinner on Saturday, April 6at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Ottawa. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. with a buffet dinner at 7 p.m. For more information, contact Bill Franklin at 815-252-1792 Hope to see many of you there.

Hunting report

The only place I have seen any wild turkeys is along Route 80 just east of Ottawa. Most of the areas that I can hunt have been void of the birds. I don’t know if it’s a food problem or habitat. The season will be coming in soon.

Fishing report

The river finally cleared up over last weekend, and then the rains came. Even though the water came up a little, the wind kept anglers off of the water both days. Mud was also a problem, as the area near Water Street south of Peru had so much soft mud that I almost got stuck. Thank the Lord for four-wheel drive.

Hopefully, we will get some moderate weather and less rain in weeks to come. Hope to see some of you on the water.

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