The trip that I am writing about this week is almost like a religion for the people that take part in it each year. Forty-six years ago my father, the late Robert Walters, took me camping on an island on the Mississippi River near Ferryville, where I took part in my first duck hunt.
I am as addicted to this annual trip as I am to deer camp, and our annual Canadian fly-in fishing adventure. There have been years when I was the only person on it, and then this year we hit an all-time high with 18 very hardcore duck hunters attempting to whack ducks and catch some fish.
Friday, Sept. 29
High 74, low 53
The average hunter of this year’s trip was about 25 years old and enjoys the campfire as much as the duck blind. These are young men from Poynette and Necedah, who like myself, call this trip “The Mississippi.” I love giving these guys a hard time. I am always amazed at how much better they get at this game each year.
Mud motors are the norm, and by using their phones as a GPS, these hunters can find their duck-hunting spot in the dark with ease, and move along at least at 10 mph.
Ruby’s mother Fire (my golden retrievers) would be hunting with guys that did not have a dog, and I would be alone in my canoe with Ruby for the weekend.
My daughter Selina was not along this year, as she is being hit hard by mononucleosis. I have never witnessed this illness before and it is horrible.
On Friday we built camp, which is about three miles south of Lansing, Iowa. We then head out to explore and pick out our hunting spots.
Today I had kind of bad luck when I realized that a rock incident on my last adventure did some serious damage to my boat trailer, and one of my tires was gone. There was going to have to be some money spent to fix my problem.
Saturday, Sept. 30
High 77, low 52
Thank God for old buddies! Some of our gang left camp at midnight to secure their hunting locations, the rest were gone by 4 a.m. I was so tired that I did not hear a thing until my pal Doug Cibulka sent me a text at 5:52 saying “good luck.” Doug was hunting with his son Derek near Poynette and was my wake up call.
With a 6:35 opener, I did not bring any food and was paddling my canoe by 6:05 and had my decoys set a full four minutes before shooting started.
To say the very least, the sky was full of wood duck and teal and with my first shot I dropped a hen wood duck. Ruby saw it hit the water and she was out of the canoe like a rocket and did a perfect retrieve.
We do a lot of texting, along with some phone calls, and for the most part everyone was having incredible shooting except my brother-in-law Dick Schuster and his brother Randy, who were fishing and did pretty good on perch, bluegill and walleye.
In my world of empty wallets, I had had to make a choice that either Selina or I could get new chest waders. I chose Selina. Her waders were home on the living room floor. My waders were being worn by myselft, and actually had current in them, as the water would fill them so fast.
Ruby and I watched the skies until dark and had a great day visiting with our comrades. In the last minute of legal shooting Ruby retrieved a teal to me that would give me my six-bird limit. As a group, on the first day of the trip, we harvested 76 ducks and two geese.
At camp, we had our annual duck-over-the-campfire meal. We had several mud ball fights and before you knew it, it was time to go hunting again.
This gang is made up of skilled workers that have a strong work ethic, and to the man, believes in standing up for our flag.
We had so much fun that we are coming back next year!