“This is why you really gotta have a dog.“
Hey! I was 17 Once
I started waterfowl hunting when I was 17 and have continued to hunt for years since.
I regretted not taking my own son out to share the joys I had experienced. So I got excited when the opportunity to take one of my high school students along. I was eager to share my expertise and give him a memorable experience.
I thought of what it was like to go hunting at 17 as I planned for this outing. I didn’t think about being practical, much less comfortable when hunting ducks.
All I needed at that time was my Winchester 1100 and a box of shells. Maybe some alcohol. If I had to break some ice to retrieve a couple of Greenheads I would jump up and go after them. Next, I’d run to the truck, turn the heater on and wait 15 minutes. When I stopped dripping I’d return for the next round.
But I am no longer 17 and I should be wiser.
We had a strategy
It felt like a warm day. The sun was out and the temps were up in the high 30’s. Ice still covered a large part of the pond but we could hear it cracking among the cackling of geese.
After determining our prey’s location, we devised our strategy. We would crawl up the side of the bank on the southern slope. There, we’d listen for a minute to confirm the location of what we knew were to be big, beautiful, fat Canadians. And then we’d target our prizes like soldiers on the battlefield.
Unfortunately, that’s where our planning ended.
Did I Forget One Detail?
I can’t believe I had thought of everything about this hunt except for one detail. How we were going to retrieve birds left on the ice was not considered. How could I leave out that detail? I am supposed to be wiser.
Well, you can guess where are all our birds were that day when we jumped up and unloaded our guns. Yep, four Canadians and one Mallard all on the ice 45 to 60 yards away. Now, all we had to do was go get them. Uh, yeah.
Sure, I knew it was colder than earlier this season when I went in after some birds. But I was going to show the kid what it meant to be tough. How bad could it be? I used to jump in without even thinking about it.
I’d Show Him How Tough I Was
Besides, I didn’t want this kid to have the chance to jump right in, grab the birds, and show up the old man. That was it; my ego was at stake. Freezing water would be no match for me!
Yeah, right. I made it out about 40 yards when I felt my heart pounding, cramping in my legs and my breath getting shallow.
Crap! I’m going to die out here!
I came to my senses (whimped out), turned around, and headed for shore as fast as I could.
The kid, who never even considered going after them, was laughing like a hyena as he videoed the whole thing. He then called one of his buddies. I sat dripping and shaking, humiliated while he recounted the story to his buddy. The boys continued to laugh as they watched the video over and over again.
The other kid brought his Golden Lab. With his tail wagging, he retrieved our birds.
The kid later confessed he told his friend to stand by with his dog.
Before leaving I thought I should jot myself a reminder. A few old familiar words were all I needed: “Prepare or Die”.
I guess it goes to show that being older doesn’t make you any smarter. At least I accomplished what I set out to do that day; I gave that kid an experience he’ll never forget.