Thursday, February 20, 2014

Duck Hunting

My very first outdoor column for the Statesman-journal daily newspaper was of  a hunting experience in Pocatello, Idaho.  Prior to the hunt I was proof-reading  for the paper in the newsroom one night in 1953  when Sports Editor, Al Lightner poked his head in the room and asked if there was anyone who would like to write the outdoor news.  I quickly volunteered and a new vocation started for me.  I wrote those columns from then until 1982.
Back to that first hunt.  Our little family had travelled to Pocatello to visit relatives and when my brother-in- law suggested a duck hunt I was eager.  I didn't have my shotgun with me at that time so he borrowed one from a friend.  The gun was a 10-gauge pump and was so heavy it really needed wheels for transporting. After packing it all day from pond to pond I'm not sure I would have had the strength to lift it into firing position had a duck flared up in front of me.  But, the outing did give me the material for that first column. 
One day back in Oregon another brother-in-law and I ventured to a flood-formed pool on a Hop ranch near Independence, Oregon and  set up our decoys.  The birds were flying high that day and wouldn't drop down close enough to be in range of our guns.  Shortly after legal shooting hours we waded out to pick up our decoys when a loner flared in like he wanted to visit.  The range was a bit too long but we each tried anyhow.  He flew away unscathed. I started  to grab some more decoys and noticed a state game enforcement officer standing by the edge of the pond.  Where on earth did he come from?  We were had!
After chatting with us for awhile he asked us to help him get his patrol car out of the mud back to where our vehicle was parked.  We did and then he obliged by writing each of us a ticket and confiscating or guns and decoys.  To get them back later we each had to pay a fine of $39.50 to the court.  I later saw that same officer trudging down the highway with a gas can in hand.  Normally, I would stop for a fellow motorist in need.  But, not that day!
On one successful goose hunting trip I was fortunate enough to bag a big Canadian honker who was leading a gaggle of geese headed south.  I really looked forward to eating that boy.  After I had him all prepared Cook Extroidinaire Grace put him in a roasting pan with all the fixins and put the heat to him in the oven.  It smelled sort of strong and was so tough we couldn't bite into the meat.  Grace tried adding it to a gravy mix and cooking it some more. We still couldn't eat it.  So, we finally gave some of it to our always hungry-for-people-food dog. He turned his nose up on it, also.
The garbage can got the remainder and in the future I steered away from the leader of the flock.

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