An Outdoorsman‛s Journal
The Duck Hunt that Was Not!
Hello friends: For about two months, I have been fantasizing about living out of a canoe on Green Bay and paddle-trolling for musky and walleye, 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 life-long buddy Doug Cibulka, who I have traveled in the outdoors with chasing everything from salmon out of a canoe to black bear and, of course, deer camp. 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 so 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 deepV Alumacraft, which is pushed by a 70hsp 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 is 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 3:00, 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 eight inches. Where my canoe was is now a sandbar.
Daybreak comes and we are expecting 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 we take a walk, and our worst nightmares 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 dug under the boat with feet and paddles, pushed the boat two inches, and repeated 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 redhead 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 been on the water for 15 hours. We hear a cry for help about four hundred 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, now Milwaukee. Chris has a Lund Alaskan, which is an awesome rig. But 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 musky and walleye. We had zero action, there were ducks everywhere, and when I got to my truck, five billion red-wing blackbirds had been using it for bombing practice while roosting in the tree above for the last two nights.
Long story short, every fantasy does not become reality. Sunset