A few weeks ago I posted up a story called "The Retrieve" (link) where my dog had done really well during a hunt.
Since then, I've finally decided to post "the rest of the story". Hunting alone can be an adventure.
That day nearing sunset, my phone rang three times. I've learned answering can mean missing shots and figured it could wait a few more minutes. When the sun went down, I called back. My friend and his Dad plus a guest were hunting down river about two miles away and his boat would not start.
So the plan was I'd finish picking up and they would do the same. He'd then push his boat out into an opening in the islands where they had been hunting. I knew the area well so finding them would not be an issue.
I loaded my Predator with gun, gear bag (camera, shells, etc,), decoys, dog hide and dragged it back up the shoreline to take a right turn out into knee deep mucky water and head for my boat which was moored about fifty+ yards from shore (couldn't get it any closer).
typical "pack in" load (using a smaller sled on another hunt)
Gunny was nearby and headed out with me. Then one of those "in slow motion events" started to evolve. I saw it coming and reacted too slowly as Gunny came bounding and lunging in the water toward my floating cargo. The "Oooohhhh nnoooo!" moment seemed to last an eternity.
As he jumped on the Predator everything reverted to full speed. It immediately swamped and sank. Since the water was only knee deep it was just stuck there. I stumbled and went into the water catching myself with my arms. Of course my coat and every pair of gloves were now wet because I had been sweating and just piled them on top. I could not budge the Predator.
Throwing the bag of decoys out, I headed back to shore with my gun and gear bag both of which had been under water for a short time. Did I say it is cold and getting dark quickly?
After the first trip back to the bank, I called Brian back and gave him the good news. Two more trips had everthing back to shore (except for the decoys). I tipped out water from the Predator (it was full) and reloaded it. My hands and arms are getting COLD.
Then I cast Gunny to the boat.....which I should have done in the first place. When he was in the boat, I left the bank. After dragging the soaked load back out, it was tossed into my boat. Then I went back to retrieve the bag of decoys. I could not find my dog hide and one duck.....never did.
Then much to my "joy" (not) I discovered the river had gone down a few inches which meant I had about 100 yards of the sand bar to push my boat over to reach deeper water. It's now dark and I didn't realize why until later. My running lights are on, but I had forgotten I was wearing my sunglasses (which made it seem even darker).
Going north and coming out around the point of the island I headed south in the main channel of the Mississippi River. It wasn't long before I spotted a light in the area where Brian was supposed to be. When I got close they were telling me how good it was to see my lights come out around the point. My only reply was, "I really need some warm gloves".
We had a slow, up river tow north to the launch and with zero wind it was uneventful. Wet sleeves and no overcoat made it seem farther. The furnace in my duck camp trailer never felt so good.
It was near freezing when I got back to camp. The gun, camera and my new electric heated gloves were dunked. The gear bag was full of water. My full body mallard decoys were full of water and everything else in my boat was wet. I knew if I didn't unload the mess, the morning would greet me with a giant frozen mass.
I spent the night drying things out and stipped the gun completely down. The camera and lens went into two sealed bags full of rice. The humidity in my trailer was really high all night.
The new electric gloves were eventually salvaged, but the camera wasn't. Losing my Rebel really wasn't that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things. Yesterday, I ordered a used camera like the one I lost and a Pelican waterproof case. Days like that make for interesting story telling later on while making most other hunting and training issues seem like "small stuff". I feel that since I'm 72, the "event" was kind of like a reminder that the "geezer" has still got it.
The old saying "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger" came to mind. I would frankly prefer not to test that theory very often because the alternative is permanent.