Twenty-two very tough critters made their way to an island on the Mississippi River just west of Ferryville, where we camped and took part in the opening of Wisconsin’s waterfowl season.
Saturday, Sept. 29
High 54, low 30
Forty-eight years ago, I camped here with my brothers Tom and Mike, along with my Dad, the late Robert Walters. We used a 14-foot boat that was powered by a 10-hp Johnson, and we pulled a 10-foot jon boat behind it.
Seventeen of the hunters in this group are between the ages 22 and 29. Most of them are using mud motors. I got to camp with my 18.6 War Eagle and would be the only person in our group hunting out of a canoe.
Last night, all 22 of us sat by a campfire in our tent city and had a blast. My brother Mike is here with Dick Schuster, and they are here to fish. Mike has not been on this trip since 1976. But because of high water and a serious cold spell, the fish were not hungry.
Late yesterday, I went exploring by canoe and when I jumped out of my canoe into the river, my chest waders were leaking bad, as were the knee boots and hip waders that I had on this adventure. I found one very large gash and repaired it with Gorilla Glue. Unfortunately, I did not find the other leaks til the end end of the trip and was wet all weekend.
If you are on a trip like this and your waders leak, wear your rain pants. It will buy you some time before your legs get wet.
The season opened at about 6:40 a.m., when a pair of shovelers flew overhead. I got lucky and dropped one, and Ruby made an excellent retrieval. That was a good start, but long story short, I would not harvest another duck for 11 hours.
My shooting was very poor, and at one point in the day, I went two hours without seeing a duck. At dark, some people had six ducks, and I would say the group average was two. It seemed everyone was talking that they could not hit a thing.
Tonight was another very fun night as well as a bit sad. Eleven of us were going to stay until Monday, but predictions of monsoon rains that were going to cause flooding pushed the decision to pull the pin the following day.
This year, two of our gang had young Labradoodles in camp, and let me tell you, everyone was impressed. These dogs were tough, and my stepson Joey Dushek’s dog made at least eight retrievals today. For September, it was cold.
We had another very interesting experience when three conservation wardens came to our camp on Sunday morning. To put it mildly, we learned a lot. One thing we learned, every hunter is supposed to have their ducks separate and labeled. Two, no glass of any type is allowed on this part of the river. Three, you have to see the main channel from your campsite.
We were respectful, and on the main channel, it was obvious no one was violating and no citations were written, but here is a word of advice. Do not mix your ducks with other hunters. Put them in a two-gallon ziplock bag and label it.
Like so many other trips, I kept thinking about the experiences of the last 48 years camped on this stretch of river, and then I would think about how addicted these young bucks are to this trip. I have to thank my dad for having the guts to bring his boys out here back in the early 1970s.