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Thread: The Dark Side

  1. #1
    Senior Member KwickLabs's Avatar
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    Default The Dark Side

    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.
    Last edited by KwickLabs; 12-11-2012 at 03:23 AM.
    Jim Boyer www.kwicklabs.com
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  2. #2
    Senior Member Colonel Blimp's Avatar
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    Default

    Jim, welcome to dry land!

    Bit of reflection needed on the stability and loading front perhaps? Also your PPE ... do you have a self inflating shirt front life vest? If the accident had happened in deeper water we might all be wandering where Mr Boyers posts went!

    Glad your'e safe, but think on Bonnie Lad. Good men are scarce.

    Eug
    Last edited by Colonel Blimp; 12-11-2012 at 05:36 AM.
    Thank you, very kind, Mine's a pint.

  3. #3
    Senior Member shawninthesticks's Avatar
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    The old mighty Mississippi can be very unforgiving,myself personally wont even consider going at it alone,especially in dark /cold conditions,glad your safe!

    I'm curious as to your hunting methods on the river as we have never been able to get under the ducks on the river in our pool.
    Shawn White

    HR Big Creek Retrievers Independence Day JH QAA "Indy "

  4. #4
    Senior Member MooseGooser's Avatar
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    Kwick

    Glad you are OK,

    Hunting by yourself, creats a responsibily of extra care.

    Be careful out there..

    Gooser
    It is far easier to spit on the work of others than it is to produce something better yourself.
    Brynmoors Prairie Sage JH ​(Sage) Just a dang fool huntin Dawg
    HRCH Calypso Seven Bales High SH (Bailey)
    HR Calypso Zoomin Loosies Mad Hader (Maddi) We loved you baby. R.I.P.
    FlatLanders Broken Pistol Ricochet SH (Flinch)


    My Christian Name is Michael Baker..
    I have gone by "Gooser" since I was a "gossling"

  5. #5
    Senior Member MooseGooser's Avatar
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    Once, I decided to take a Pheasant hunt by myself.

    The weather was sposed to be wet, rain turning to snow. I coulnt get anyone to go with me.
    I loaded up my truck, dog, and headed to Ogallalla Nebraska to hunt a LARGE state land impoundment.

    I drove in in a light misting freesing rain most of the way there. When i arrived at the parking area, it was still misting very lightly, but very foggy..
    I saw ducks moving, and knew of a slew i might be able to get a couple off of. I grabbed a handful of dekes I carried in my truck,,and took off in a hurry, not paying attention to where I was parked.

    I hunted the morning for ducks, and managed a couple. I pulled the dekes, tookoff my wadres, and left them under a piece of cover, and set off to Pheasant hunt the rest of the day..

    I walked and Walked and Walked in foggy, misting conditions with very limited visiblity.

    It got late in the day, and I decided to get back to the truck. I started in the direction.
    I walked waht seemed like forever, not being able to disceren landmarks cause of the fog.. I finally realised I was Not LOST,, but I definity didnt know where I was at!

    It started to get dark. I was wet from the waist down, from trudging through heavy cover. It satrted to snow heavily.

    I didnt panic,, But I knew I was in trouble... I came across a Goose Pit that someone had dug in the ground. It had a cover.. I thought, I have the dog, I could just get down in there with him,and wait till morning to get my bearings to walk out... After thinking about it for awhile,, It started to piss me off that I had done something so stupid, in an area I was kinda familir with..

    Then I heard a train engine, and a horn!
    It was in the far distance. I remembered crossing the tracks before getting to where I parked the truck. I decided to WALK..

    It took me forever to make my way. I couldnt see. It was snowing hard. All of a sudden I came to WATER!! A HUGE piece of WATER. I stood there on the shore trying to decide what to do. The train was on the OTHER side . I started down the bank, I was beggining to shiver.

    I made it around the water, and Finally came to the train tracks!! I stood there in the middel.... Which Way????

    I flipped a coin,, and started walking the tracks... FINALLY,,I came to a county road....I was standing on the crossing, as the first car i had seen all day approached .. Headlights on,, the driver slowed, but he understandably seemed like he didnt want to stop. Here I was, wet,, shivering, gun and a dog... He did,, asked me If I was having car trouble...
    I told him YES,,, MY Car is Lost!!! I parked it somwhere so I could go hunt early this morning,,, but it decided to move,, and now I cant find it...

    He asked me wher I had originally parked. I told him,, and he was amazed at how far awayI had wandered from where the parking area was.
    He gave me a ride to where the truck was parked. I was approximatly 6 miles away,, and wandering directly away from it..
    The weather conditions that day covered landmarks. I was in a hurry as I started out,, and didnt pay attention to where and What I was doing. I had hunted the area before,, but everything looked different that day in the fog..

    It taught me a very good lesson.

    The next morning I walked back in to pick up my dekes.. I could see then what I had done..

    I have always felt that I have a very good sense of direction. I have heard stories before of guys getting to the point of not actually being LOST,, but definatly not knowing where they are! I never thought it would happen to me..

    ya gotta be careful out there..
    It is far easier to spit on the work of others than it is to produce something better yourself.
    Brynmoors Prairie Sage JH ​(Sage) Just a dang fool huntin Dawg
    HRCH Calypso Seven Bales High SH (Bailey)
    HR Calypso Zoomin Loosies Mad Hader (Maddi) We loved you baby. R.I.P.
    FlatLanders Broken Pistol Ricochet SH (Flinch)


    My Christian Name is Michael Baker..
    I have gone by "Gooser" since I was a "gossling"

  6. #6
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    Glad to see your "OK"......I hunt by myself a lot and can relate to your story. I hunt out of a very small boat which gets me into a lot of places. The shallow and large marshes, where you think everything should be fine, can become very dangerous. Last year while hunting the marsh, the winds picked a lot more than they predicted. When I decided to leave the marsh late morning, the wind was howling. Trying to pick up the decoys became a challange with the wind blowing the little boat around. I had forgotten my anchor so I could not anchor myself still and could only grab one deke at a time before blowing away. Well, first, I was using my push pole when the wind caught the boat and forced me right over the top of the pole with the boat. I had to let go of the pole and lost it in the water. I blew about 50 yards before I could get the boat stopped with the oars. I tried rowing back against the wind and was making no headway. For a second I though about getting out and pushing the boat back in the shallow water. Well, knowing there are a lot of holes in the marsh, I decided against that, too dangerous. I went back to rowing and just as I got to the decoys, one of the oar brackets broke off the boat and started blowing me away. By this time I figured it wasn't worth picking up the decoys and would let them sit until the next day when the wind went down. The one thing that made my feel a little bit safe was knowing that I had my self-inflatable on. The only problem would have been is if I did tip over, there was no one else in the marsh to help. I did get the oar bracket repaired, I found my push pole the next morning with my lite in the dark, got my decoys and had a good morning duck hunting.
    Now, a lot of times the only way we get out to hunt is by ourselves, as no one else can make it. We have to remember to plan ahead and think our way through the hunt to be safe.

  7. #7
    Senior Member pupaloo's Avatar
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    I have a simple, inexpensive little gps on a lanyard (backtrack is mine, there are others) that lets you mark three things (car, blind, road, for example). It tells you your compass heading and points an arrow in the direction of your mark. Not fancy, but keeps you going in the right direction....

    Glad everyone is here to tell those stories! Scary stuff.
    Marlana Smith
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  8. #8
    Senior Member Sharon Potter's Avatar
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    My sense of direction is so good (NOT) that back when I was running competition coonhounds, the guys always threatened to put a tracking collar on me. What I did always do was pull the magnet from an extra collar and leave it in the truck...got me back there more times than I care to remember.
    Sharon Potter

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    Chesapeake Bay Retrievers...too many to list.

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  9. #9
    Senior Member KwickLabs's Avatar
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    Eug said:
    if the accident had happened in deeper water
    Every place I hunt has been thoroughly scouted and often hunted before. Which means the "lay of the land" (and water) is well known. I never get out of my boat in areas that have never been scouted before. In addition, the "out of boat experience" is best done while using a ski pole. This allows for a continuous check of underwater obstructions (logs), any change in depth, how solid the footing is and provides an extra balancing point.

    Usually, the sled is pulled over ankle deep or less water (just enough to float it along the shoreline and aid in progress to the "spot"). This spot required that the boat not be beached (too shallow fairly far out) in knee deep water/muck (a new approach). In fact, Gunny and I had hunted the same exact spot the day before with no issues.

    For example, on opening day my boat was beached about 20 yards from a sandy shore (easy walking). note: Daisy stayed in the boat until I was finished with the setup.


    As you can see the top of an anchor is sticking up out of the water which means this sandy/firm bottom area is less than six inches deep. Taking equipment into the shore setup is much easier when just loading it out of the boat into the sled or Predator. Floating it to areas where decoys can be placed or to a temporary blind/layout on the shore is much easier. The lesson learned on the latest hunt was to keep the dog on shore or in the boat (away from any transfers).

    As far as hunting alone, that is not going to change anytime soon. It's mostly how I have hunted all my life and back at camp the owner is usually informed of where I'm going that day. When the water gets cold, going to and from usually has me wearing one of these.

    bomber "Mustang" float coat


    Shawn wondered:
    I'm curious as to your hunting methods on the river as we have never been able to get under the ducks on the river in our pool.
    Shawn, I have a duck camp trailer on pool 13. I spend the spring, summer and early fall out on the river fishing and studying how the backwaters change each year. When hunting season arrives, a great deal of scouting goes into deciding where to hunt each day. A friend of mine has hunted the same pool longer than I have. We share everything we find out which doubles the coverage.

    There are general trends of when ducks will be where they want to be. With combined, regular scouting reports this provides an edge. A critical component of our hunts is that the majority of successful days are spent NOT hunting from a boat. After opening day, most boat blinds are visible places ducks avoid. We often setup on the shore in layouts, behind logs out in the water sitting on marsh seats which means using natural terrain to hide.

    Not every day is a winner, but being at camp for 3-4 days every week lends itself to being on top of the daily trends. You have to be on the water often and adjust frequently. It's more of a "war of attrition".....you only have to fool them once in awhile. Sometimes the ducks win......sometimes not. I know some hunters that continue to go to their same spots everytime and complain about not having much luck. You have to find them.

    When I had a very small boat, I could hunt from it and it was often deadly. However, small boats limit the days you can hunt in pool 13......too dangerous. I now have a large, much safer boat that actually gets me into places my small boat could never come close to. However, hunting out and away from this boat is now the best method for success.

    The old expression "Accidents are the result of a failure to recognize the obvious." is ever on my mind. The other day nothing seemed out of the ordinary, I just never contemplated Gunny's focus to jump up on the load. I'd done this transport "thing" many, many times.....just not in knee deep water. The obvious (sending the dog to the boat first) was never given a second thought even though it is a simple thing to do.
    Last edited by KwickLabs; 12-11-2012 at 12:23 PM.
    Jim Boyer www.kwicklabs.com
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    HR Kwick Daisy's Spirit Keeper SH
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    HR Kwick Draw McGraw SH (June, 2007 - May, 2014)

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