Many years ago when I was still a toddler, I followed my dad for many miles. That fall he took me duck hunting in the wide waters west of Ottawa. That area contained many different species of waterfowl, and back then one didn’t have to draw for a blind.
We arrived and put Dad’s old steel boat in the river. We then poled and rowed out to a nice blind dad had constructed weeks ago. Dad had an old canvas to protect me from the cold as we traveled out into the river. Waves hit the boat and sprayed icy water over the bow, glistening on our Labrador retriever's slick fur. She was ever watchful in hoped of seeing a bird before we reached our destination. She was my everyday playmate at home but had no interest in me during hunting excursions.
Finally, the steel hull scraped on a rock bar and we were at the blind. The area had a sheltered cove, and this was where we set out the decoys. I pulled each decoy out of the bags with icy fingers and Dad arranged them. Our decoys back then all were wooden and very heavy. I was glad I didn’t have to carry them by hand that day.
The sun was coming up and dad loaded his shotgun. We waited while a few mallards flew by out of range. The dog whined and looked at us probably wondering why we didn’t shoot.
Finally, several green-winged teal landed in the decoys and Dad shot two of them. Now it was time for the dog to go to work, and she made the retrieves in great style. I was amazed at the beautiful colors on the ducks. Dad explained it all to me as we continued to hunt.
Soon after, a group of mallards hit the decoys and Dad got two of them. The drake mallards were even more colorful than the teal and I again marveled at their beauty.
Through the eyes of a child the trips to the wide waters were all about ducks for the table. After becoming a father I totally understood how my boys learned and loved to hunt. All of those trips created memories and bonds that we cling to throughout life. I am still very grateful for the memories I have kept for the time spent in that boat.
A word of thanks
I personally want to thank the nice email I received from Joe Spizam. He is a faithful reader of my column and told me how much he enjoyed them. Thanks very much, Joe.
La Salle County Pheasants Forever will its annual 2018 banquet, Saturday, March 10, at Pitstick Pavilion, Route 23 north of Ottawa. Cocktails will begin at 5 p.m. and dinner will be at 6:30. An auction will follow. Join us at Pitstick, the camaraderie is usually very good and the food is fantastic.
Don’t forget the 2017-18 hunting, fishing and combination licenses will expire at the end of the month. Right now, rivers are still very high and stained right. I hope this improves soon as the walleye and sauger should be hitting during March.