An Outdoorsman’s Journal
By: Mark Walters
Hello friends: Forty-nine autumns ago, my Dad, the late Robert Walters, took me duck hunting and camping on an island on the Mississippi River near Ferryville for the first time. I was with my brothers Tom and Mike, we used a 6-hsp Mercury outboard that was mounted on a 14-foot fishing boat, and we pulled a 10-foot jon boat that we used to haul gear and hunt out of. I have been addicted to a trip that we call “The Mississippi” ever since.
Friday, Oct. 2 High 73, low 48
Fast forward 49 falls and this trip has gone from four, to as few as just me, to as many as this year when there were 17 of us. For the gang this trip is a must-do, can’t-miss that we talk about at every wedding, graduation, and deer camp and it is extremely family and long-term buddy oriented.
My brother Mike and brother-in-law Dick come up and fish. Jeff Moll, who has been coming here for at least 43 years, brings his son Nate. My stepson Joey Dushek’s best friends growing up in Necedah, Joey Snooty, and Grant and Conrad Wandler and their brother Vlad. Troy Rinlgelsteter, who went to high school at Poynettte with Dick’s sons Riley and Trent, and last but not least, my daughter Selina’s boyfriend, Isaac LaBudda, who would be making his first major trip with the gang and is a junior at UW-Eau Claire.
A few words to describe day one would be electric, adventure, and a whole lot of fun. We all put in at Lansing, Iowa, as we have less wind issues for the journey and everyone’s rig is loaded to the hilt with dogs, people and gear.
After building camp on “the island,” everyone takes off in their watercraft — which vary from $25,000 duck boats to $200 canoes — and explore the backwaters to pick out our spots for the next morning’s hunt.
The campfire on Friday night had 17 avid outdoorsmen cooking great meals, enjoying adult beverages, and laughing a lot. Grant and Conrad Wandler and Riley Schuster stayed up quite late.
Saturday, Oct. 3 High 71, low 46 Selina and I would be using my 18.6 War Eagle to hunt out of and, let me tell you, low water is the story on the Mississippi this fall. Selina and I would be hunting with Fire and Ruby. Jeff and Nate Moll would be hunting with Luna, who is Ruby’s daughter.
There was a heck of a lot of shooting at daylight and today was a great day for the gang as it was comfortable weather. Around noon most of us headed to camp for lunch, a snooze, and some laughs. The rest of this trip Selina and I would hunt out of the canoe and an interesting side note is that had we left the War Eagle where we had, she would have been stuck until heavy rains raised her off the muck. Some people might not understand this, but for Selina and I this adventure is about being with the dogs, and talking about our lives as she is in her sophomore year at UW-Stevens Point. A really cool new addition is that with her education in natural resources she is now the teacher when we are on our adventures. Shooting ducks happens but it is not number one.
Just the difference between the canoe and the War Eagle. We are the only people that I saw all weekend in a canoe, but we both would rather power our watercraft.
For everyone in the gang the last day of this journey, which is Sunday, is a sad day.
The Mississippi is over. For me, I had not spent any real time with Selina since Ross Moll’s wedding in early August, but as we all know, time waits for no one.
We have a duck contest that is built around points per duck and this year Isaac LaBudda won it. I simply cannot wait until next year when the gang comes back for laughs and adventure. Sunset
This is a watercraft type of adventure.
Isaac LaBudda enjoying his first adventure with the gang on the Mississippi River.
Most of this years gang for our Mississippi River duck hunt.