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The duck hunt that was not!

The duck hunt  that was not! The duck hunt  that was not!

An Outdoorsman’s Journal

Hello friends, For about two months I have been fantasizing about living out of a canoe on Green Bay, paddle trolling for muskies and walleyes, and duck hunting while living in hideout camps wherever my day ended.

Twenty-four hours before I left for “fantasy land,” I received a phone call from my lifelong buddy Doug Cibulka, who I have traveled with in the outdoors chasing everything from salmon out of a canoe to black bears and, of course, deer. Doug was going to be on Green Bay the same days as me and staying at a motel.

I passed on the motel, but we made a plan to hunt together as well as fish each day.

Friday, Oct. 23 High 52, Low 31

Four inches of cold, wind-driven rain fell over the last 24 hours and that put a one-day delay on this trip and very much muddied up the waters. Another interesting development is that at least one mouse is dead somewhere in my truck and the smell was powerful for the two-hour drive. Doug and I met at a public landing near Cat Island and the adventure would not end until we said goodbye 52 hours later. I have to be vague as a ton happened and I only have so much space.

First, we had an idea where I would build my camp and I wanted it private. We towed my canoe and gear behind Doug’s 17.5 deep v, Aluma Craft which is pushed by a 70-horsepower Yamaha. I would soon learn that this is a much “deeper boat” boat than I thought.

Camp is built so Doug and I take his rig and my rig and go looking for a spot to hunt ducks. It is very windy, and we are in an excellent mood. We find a point that is holding some mallards and bufflehead and set out decoys and the hunt was on. Long story short, we got some shots and missed but had very high hopes for the morning hunt. I paddled to camp. Doug headed to the launch.

Saturday, Oct. 24 High 50, Low 28

About as crazy a day as you will get! I am up at 3 a.m., paddle to my spot and have neighbors. They seem cool. I hang out in my canoe in 6 inches of water until 5 a.m. Doug arrives, and the bay has dropped a full 8 inches. Where my canoe was is now a sandbar.

Daybreak comes and we are aware that we are going to get some incredible waterfowl shooting. Daybreak passed and we do not come close to getting a shot. Meanwhile from my view, Doug’s boat, which is about 300 yards away looks like it is on dry land.

At 8:30 a.m., we take a walk and our worst night- mares are reality. A ton of boat, motor and batteries are on dry land. The gale-force northeast winds that flooded the bay have switched to the west and drained it.

It was a horrible hour of our lives. We dig under the boat with feet and paddles, push the boat two inches and repeat the process. It was almost too much for the mind and body. Long story short we got her to float.

We decide to go exploring. I find a drake red head that someone had lost. We find “duck paradise” and are well aware that we are “the best duck hunters on earth.”

Dark comes, I have not had a shot and have been on the water for 15 hours. We hear a cry for help about 400 yards away. Doug cannot get to the guy with his 500-ton ship. I paddle my canoe to him, well aware that I am losing my daylight, and finding camp, which is not where we are, is gonna be an issue.

Our new friend is Chris Kennedy, formally of the Green Bay area and now Milwaukee. Chris has a Lund “Alaskan,” which is an awesome rig. Chris has a problem. The Alaskan is 12 inches above water and not going anywhere.

I make a call to Coast Guard “General” Doug Cibulka for help. Chris and I wade with the canoe to deep water and my pals take off in the night.

I begin the paddle to “Camp Where the Heck Are Ya?” I cannot find it for 1.5 hours and have serious concerns about running the energy out of my flood light. I find camp, I am a hero. Yay me!

The following day we trolled for muskies and walleyes. We had zero action. There were ducks everywhere and, when I got to my truck, five billion red-wing black birds had been using it for bombing practice while roosting in the tree above it for the last two nights.

Long story short, every fantasy does not become reality!