When my stepson Travis Dushek was 6 years old when I took him on several duck hunts, both in a canoe and in the field. Travis never had a problem getting up long before the sun, and no matter what the weather conditions were, he loved waterfowl hunting.
On every hunt my golden retrievers at the time, Star and Pearl, were with us, and that instilled a love for hunting dogs in Travis that brings us to this week’s story.
Friday, Sept. 1
High 70, low 52
Travis, Pat Lindemann, Hannah Lindemann, myself and Devon Wood were camping at Call of the Wild Campground on Buffalo Lake near Packwaukee. Call of the Wild is owned and operated by my good friend Meta Peacock, and I have to tell you, I love the lodge, its laid-back environment and the incredible view of the marshy Buffalo lake, which is fed by the Fox River.
I canoed the entire Fox River in April 1992 and a month later I participated in a carp shoot that Meta was hosting her first spring here at Call of The Wild. I used a canoe and filled my canoe with carp.
Back to the teal hunt. Travis and Devon have been scouting this piece of water and were confident we would have some good shooting for the first two days of the seven-day teal season.
I watched day become night from my canoe last night, out on the marsh, and saw lots of wood ducks and mallards, but no teal. Later in the night we had a very good time around the campfire.
This morning, Devon would be hunting out of a canoe, as would I. Travis would be hunting in his latest watercraft purchase, which is a 1754 Excel, that is pushed by 36-horsepower Prodrive. In simple terms, it is a very nice flat-bottom boat pushed by an awesome mud motor.
The real story on this two-day hunt was that Travis and I would be taking our golden retrievers Ash and Ruby on their first solo hunts. Ruby and Ash are sisters. Their mother is my golden Fire, and Ash is Travis’s first dog.
Ruby and Ash are high-strung and very smart. You can’t hurt them, they love the water and having feathers in their mouths.
The season opened at 9 a.m., but we were on the water at 5 a.m. because the early goose season opened at about daylight.
Nothing was happening, so I took a snooze. Before falling asleep, I kind of noticed that I was not seeing any teal.
At 8 a.m., I started watching the skies again, and was aware of the fact that there were zero shots in the area for geese, but lots of woodies and mallards in the air.
At 9 a.m. I was ready for action. At noon, I had yet to see a teal, and Devin and Travis had not fired their guns either.
Travis and Hannah trailored Trav’s boat and headed over to another marsh to see if they might have some better luck. I did some exploring by canoe and was using a very large and heavy rig that did not want to maneuver through the cattails or lily pads at all. I ended up doing a lot of wading in water that was belly button to chest deep. At day’s end, after probably 40 combined man hours of hunting, not a bird had been harvested.
Let me tell you about these two pups. They are both going to be incredible hunters. Their dad is a field trial champion multiple times over,and they have Kryptonite flowing in their veins. They notice everything, swim through anything, and last night and late tonight, were wrestling as they always do on land and in water.
On Saturday morning Travis dropped three bluewing teal. The first bird was a simple retrieve. The second was a blind double and Ash was flawless.
Sleep was minimal on this adventure. Very few shots were fired, but it sure was fun, and once again proves my theory that if you take your kids on outdoor adventures when they are kids, they will hang out with you when they are adults.