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Woodies on the Manitowish

Woodies on the  Manitowish Woodies on the  Manitowish

An Outdoorsman’s Journal

Mark Walters sponsored by

Hello friends, This fall Wisconsin had a northern Wisconsin duck hunting opener which started on Sept. 26 and the southern opener which began the following weekend.

This week I am writing about a canoe camping and duck hunting trip I did on the Bear and Manitowish rivers, which feed into the Turtle-Flambeau Flowage in Iron County.

Friday, Sept. 25 High 66, Low 44

As is always the case, I was fighting the sun clock when I unloaded my truck and loaded my 18-foot, extra heavy, freighter canoe. I used this rig, which about kills me when loading it on my truck, because it can handle a lot of gear.

Another noteworthy topic is that I left Ruby, my 4-year-old golden retriever, home and would just use her mother Fire, who is 10 next month. Fire is very kind and not 100% into getting wet anymore but never ignores a command and I knew she would love this warm weather/water hunt.

I have been up this river before on bow hunts and knew right where to set up camp. I had one other issue and that is a solid rain was supposed to start any minute.

First, I built camp and then I went scouting. There was a heck of a lot of wood ducks. As soon as I got back to camp a powerful storm began that would last for several hours.

Saturday, Sept. 26 High 64, Low 45

The first hunter, in a flat bottom boat that was pushed by a mud motor, went by my camp at 1 a.m. I knew I had to get moving if I wanted the spot I chose the night before. After a short canoe trip, I was standing in chest waders in the marsh and would until the season opened five hours later. I might add, there were a lot of hunters and many were hoping to get the spot that Fire and I were occupying.

So legal shooting begins, and my goal is to only shoot drake wood ducks for my three wood duck limit, no hens. There is a dense fog and so I must wait 20 minutes before I fired my first shot. I was pleasantly surprised when I dropped my quarry and Fire did an excellent retrieve. As far as I was concerned the trip was a success.

Long story short, over the course of the day I dropped the only four ducks I shot at. Fire retrieved every one of them and we had to quit hunting 90 minutes before dark due to a crazy, violent storm that made the halfmile paddle back to camp a why the heck did I wait this long to paddle back to camp adventure?

Sunday, Sept. 27 High 69, Low 50

I had a heck of a night last night as the storm was violent and my tent leaked really bad. I was laying on a foam pad and had to put all of my extra clothes around the pad as the floor of my tent became a lake. Also, my chest waders leaked but I had a 45-gallon trash bag in each leg which really helped.

Once again, I was up by 1 a.m. and loving life. Once again the birds were flying. I dropped the first three that I shot at and Fire retrieved every one. After that I did some missing and finished the morning with a drake wood duck which just about crashed into us, so Fire did not have to do a retrieve.

This trip brought new life into Fire. For years she was letting Ruby do all the fetching. It was very cool to watch her thoroughly enjoy being a solid hunting dog again.

When we made it back to the landing, an Iron County police officer met me at my canoe and had some bad news. I was told that several vehicles had windows smashed and items stolen. I have been living on the financial edge as well as the time edge for a while and thought, this sucks!

Upon inspecting my truck nothing was broke or missing and I very happy that this redneck was spared!

The wood stove felt extra special when I made it home.