50 years in the Marsh (LONG - you have been warned)

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50 years in the Marsh (LONG - you have been warned)

Postby DuckFan » Mon Jan 27, 2014 11:07 am

50 years in the Marsh……

As I complete my 50th season hunting ducks, it is a good time to take a breath, and stop for a moment. Stop and Thank God, my Dad, family and friends for memories that are seared into my mind and heart. One of God's greatest gifts to us is the gift of memories.......

Most hunters know what I am talking about. Things like the excitement as a kid to be hunting with my dad and brothers, first ducks, first goose, warm weather blue-bird days to freezing and rain soaked days.

Shooting ‘lights out’ and shooting that ‘bent barrel’.

Trying to sleep in a station wagon with my dad and 2 brothers…waiting for the Kern check station to open. Whispering to my brothers, while we all listened to dad snoring. The check station back then was up next to the highway, with a bright light at night. It lit up our car more than once which also made it hard to sleep. A Lutheran church in Delano came out to sell chili to hunters as a fundraiser. Then to be able to walk all over Kern back in the 60’s. Free roaming as far as the eye could see to this kid. Listening to a hunter scream at his dog, named “Budweiser”…over and over again in the distance.

Years later, getting a phone call that my dad had a fatal heart attack while hunting Kern, unit 1 in our family’s ‘spot’. The rush to the hospital, arriving before he passed and having that moment with him and the family….and remembering he had always said: “When I die, I want to either go while hunting, or in the arms of my wife”. He was hunting when he had the heart attack, and my mom did hold him before he passed, and he assured her that if this was his time, he was ready. While he was too young to leave us, I can’t imagine a more fitting way for him to go. Faith in God has always served our family well and never more than at that moment.

Hunting Wister as well as the edge of the Salton Sea. Being too young yet to shoot, but my brother and me building a ‘raft’ out of old branches tied together with long grass and weed stems we found around the sea, only to find it would not float. All the while as my dad tried to hunt a short distance away. My first Honker on my 14th birthday at Wister. :grooving: The look on my dad’s face …. You could tell he was so happy and proud. He knew I was hooked long before this day….probably after I shot 7 teal in 20 minutes at age 12 with my single shot 20 gauge….., but I believe this ‘sealed the deal’ in his mind.

The time we all hunted Wister in a dry field for snow geese, using white paper plates as the main decoy in our spread of a dozen shells. Laying on our backs on the ground, and wondering why my older brother had not shot at a goose 10 yards over his head – only to find he was sound asleep in his layout position.

Trips to Tule Lake, and hunting with Shell Bloch (guide). Shell was rough around the edges but he put us on the ducks and geese. Shot my first ever greenhead up there. Staying at the Ellis Motel and thinking it could not get any better. God, it was so much better than sleeping in a car. Being yelled at by Shell because I identified a bird I shot as a gadwall hen, when it was really a mallard hen. Standing in front of the Mallard processing center to take pictures of our birds, lots of Honkers, and a trip my younger brother and I took back to Tule, dedicated to my dad after he had passed. We even caught a high school football game going on during that trip. 9 on 9 football since the schools had smaller enrollment. I think Tule high only had a total of 11 players suited up.

Showing up at 6am on many shoot days at Sac refuge, kicking rocks waiting to get a refill spot. Hot coffee and a breakfast bar, talking to others also waiting for guys to come in. Meeting Rudy Burriani, even Sac Bob in line. You can make some good friends waiting at a check station. Attending a cleanup day and meeting Dan Mallia for the first time. This has become a very special life-long friendship to my family. Hunting with Dan and his dad has been as enjoyable as any. :thumbsup:

Putting decoys away in the truck at Merced refuge parking lot, and noticing a face nearby that looked so familiar. Who is that guy? Then, realizing it was Lame-duck. Introducing myself to him and another amazing friendship began. From that moment on, he and I have shared great moments in the marsh, at dinners and breakfasts, and on the phone. He has my respect and I am grateful for duck hunting to have introduced us to each other.

Watching my son get his first duck, hen pintail – at Mendota. It was even more special because my dad was along and he had Mike use his shotgun for that first bird. It was 3 weeks later that my dad passed. That moment when my son shot that bird, and my dad’s excitement as well as mine…..it’s ‘burned’ into my soul.
:clapping:

Deciding to join a club and having my son and then my brother as partners in the membership. Finally, knowing I always had a ‘reservation’ waiting for me each opening day. Decoys already set. Not having to haul decoys on my back for each hunt. A Trailer to sleep in, a place for a BBQ, new friends to share the BS that comes along with hunting stories.

My grandson’s first visit to the marsh. The questions they had, the energy they brought. S’mores around the fire and just listening to them laugh. Giving them a ride to the blind for pictures and to answer many more questions about the marsh, blinds and ducks. Hearing them say the word “Shoveler” for the first time at age 3. :yes:

And then this year…my 50th as a duck hunter. Memories of a triple on mallards, an all drake GW Teal day (twice), seeing more canvasbacks than I have ever seen before, with many actually landing in the decoys after our limits were taken. Hunting with family and good friends. My annual father-son-nephew trip that can’t be beat. Sunrises and sunsets. Long days in the blind staring at blue sky, and times when birds were everywhere. Days when I never shouldered my gun to a day when I was done by 8am. Lots of good meals shared around a fire. Lots of stories told…..some even true :wink:

There is nothing like sitting in a blind, talking with your son over the years. So many stories shared, life experiences discussed. Advice given out – wanted or not. Special moments that only we experienced…together, in the marsh. My Life has certainly been enriched through these moments. :bow:

Years and years of stories, of memories. Family time, new friends made and old friendships enriched. New places to hunt and old familiar ponds.

The past 50 years have flown by – just like the thousands of birds I have seen overhead. I don’t know what the future has in store for me as a waterfowler, but I pray I will be able to continue making memories. Memories for myself, and all those that hunt with me.

Don’t take for granted the time you have in this life. Live with passion, hunt with passion, and be sure those you come in contact with go away with good and lasting memories.


So, here is to all of us celebrating this sport as we end 2013-14. Here is a picture of my brother and I at the blind after we each got our 7 Teal Saturday.... (after 3 drakes to start my day, I had to try for my 2nd all drake GW's of the season..and I got it):

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Re: 50 years in the Marsh (LONG - you have been warned)

Postby wanapasaki » Mon Jan 27, 2014 11:50 am

Aweosme stuff duckfan. Ben wanting to put my trips to pen and paper and this is my motivator. I hunted kern alot this year.. and mendota a few times. First year I haven't stuck with public land but it was a great time. Shot my first speck wednesday and 2 more Saturday at kern! Think my grandpa was with me those days! More great seasons to come.
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Re: 50 years in the Marsh (LONG - you have been warned)

Postby Csook » Mon Jan 27, 2014 11:51 am

:clapping: :beer: I am only 20 years old and I am on my 11th duck season. I have two other brothers one younger and one older. It's amazing the kind of connection you build with your family out hunting. It's never the same out in the field when I don't have my dad and brothers there.
I love your post and enjoyed reading it.
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Re: 50 years in the Marsh (LONG - you have been warned)

Postby DuckFan » Mon Jan 27, 2014 12:37 pm

wanapasaki : That is awesome!!!! Kern is a great place, and you surely got a bonanza with those Specks! :beer:

BTW - I have logs of every hunt - starting with my dad's entries in 1959. It is great to keep a log.


Csook: Thanks for the kind words :thumbsup:
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Re: 50 years in the Marsh (LONG - you have been warned)

Postby Tag stew » Mon Jan 27, 2014 9:17 pm

Good read DuckFan! It brought back some good memories of many year hunting Tule Lake and lower Klamath with my dad and uncle as a kid, then later friends as I got older, back when #9 was filled with water and tules. The many great hunts in the state blinds on the tule side when the snow goose hunting was lights out!
Dropping ducks n geese off at the mallard also flirting back with the little old lady with the hearing aids( I can't remember her name). Then walking across the street and putting down some burgers and fries! We stayed in Dorris mainly at the Elm Motel , man that place is rough but serves its purpose for a cold, wet , tired duck hunter!
And now looking forward to spending time with my own sons up there in a few short years. I had a club a few years back when my oldest was 2 1/2 and man did him and I have some great honker shoots. I have not been able to get him or his brother out hunting since, but God willing maybe I can get in another quiet, small club next year and get me out.
Always fun to hear your stories and input, thank you. Also I took your advice and booked a hunt with Greg for the late season, so I got at least one more memory to come!
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Re: 50 years in the Marsh (LONG - you have been warned)

Postby hntndux » Mon Jan 27, 2014 9:35 pm

Duckfan your words spell out a Grand Story about your life..filled with many blessings..Mine is similar, while my Father is still here, he is unable to hunt now So the stories go on. I received a Son in-law a couple years back who never hunted, and is now a waterfowler, and loving it.. Our time here does seem to go quickly, I still remember my first trip to Tule like it was yesterday, 1973 ,carrying plywood silhouette decoys out to hunt geese, and getting limits each day.
So I guess we keep plugging away and sharing the way of the Waterfowlers we have become..

Wow, your Logs are a real treasure

Great Story..Thank you for Sharing
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Re: 50 years in the Marsh (LONG - you have been warned)

Postby DuckFan » Mon Jan 27, 2014 10:09 pm

Tag stew wrote:Good read DuckFan! It brought back some good memories of many year hunting Tule Lake and lower Klamath with my dad and uncleDropping ducks n geese off at the mallard also flirting back with the little old lady with the hearing aids( I can't remember her name). Jaime




Trudy. :thumbsup:


PS: Good Luck with Greg. Let us know how it goes. It is nice you will extend the season. I pray the geese are plentiful!
Last edited by DuckFan on Mon Jan 27, 2014 10:13 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: 50 years in the Marsh (LONG - you have been warned)

Postby DuckFan » Mon Jan 27, 2014 10:11 pm

hntndux wrote:Duckfan your words spell out a Grand Story about your life..filled with many blessings..Mine is similar, while my Father is still here, he is unable to hunt now So the stories go on. I received a Son in-law a couple years back who never hunted, and is now a waterfowler, and loving it.. Our time here does seem to go quickly, I still remember my first trip to Tule like it was yesterday, 1973 ,carrying plywood silhouette decoys out to hunt geese, and getting limits each day.
So I guess we keep plugging away and sharing the way of the Waterfowlers we have become..

Wow, your Logs are a real treasure

Great Story..Thank you for Sharing




thanks for your comments...and WAY TO GO...getting the son in law out into waterfowling! NICE!!!! :beer: :clapping:
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Re: 50 years in the Marsh (LONG - you have been warned)

Postby FowlChase » Mon Jan 27, 2014 10:58 pm

Duck Fan your stories are always a pleasure to read. Your words of wisdom seem to open minds and bring the important things like life and family back to reality. You are a true mentor to us all sir.
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Re: 50 years in the Marsh (LONG - you have been warned)

Postby derbyacresbob » Mon Jan 27, 2014 10:59 pm

That is a GREAT STORY DuckFan!

I really like the parts about the Kern Refuge, Shell Bloch and Tule Lake.

The first time I hunted the Kern Refuge was 1967 and we hunted there quite often up until about 1980.

We hunted geese at Tule Lake from 1973 through around 1988 and we stayed at the Ellis Motel for almost every one of those trips.

I will never forget Shell Bloch at about 1:00 pm at the hotel talking about some guys in the League of Nations that had a bunch of decoys and they were getting all the shooting that morning. When he said at least they were letting the geese decoy and they were killing birds when they shot, I went ahead and told him it was us in the league of Nations that morning. He probably new it was us in the League of Nations that morning.

Shell was upset that they didn't do very good that morning but when he said that those guys let the geese decoy and that they were killing birds when they did shoot, I took that as a compliment. LOL

I really enjoyed going into the Hardware Store in downtown Tule Lake and buying goose decoys and copper or nickel platted lead goose loads.

Those were the good old days for me!
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Re: 50 years in the Marsh (LONG - you have been warned)

Postby goosehappy » Tue Jan 28, 2014 12:50 pm

"Memories Sustain Me"
The sky, the water, the mud
Wingbeats-my heartbeats,
My blood- their blood
Northward they fly
To melting ice floes
White V's, black clouds.
Tears in my eyes flow.
I say goodbye.
I sing this prayer
Both they and I
Will return next year.
And forever after my blood
Becomes the mud
On the bottom
Of Hunting Lake
trapped in the polar vortex
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Re: 50 years in the Marsh (LONG - you have been warned)

Postby Caudawg » Tue Jan 28, 2014 1:53 pm

Duckfan, that was absolutely a fantastic recount of your life in the marsh with family and friends. I am turning 50 next week and just finished my 40th year in the marsh. Reading your post certainly brought back similar memories to many of mine. I actually teared up when you spoke about your father since I lost mine last year to Alzheimers and still have memories of his warm smile and happiness when I shot my 1st duck at the Triangle Duck Club in Los Banos. He was the proudest papa ever that day back in 1974!

Thank you for sharing your life and times in the marsh! I don't know you personally but can tell by your posts that you are a great guy who I'd be glad to share a blind with any time.
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Re: 50 years in the Marsh (LONG - you have been warned)

Postby Jkhunts » Tue Jan 28, 2014 9:46 pm

Thanks for sharing your experiences in the marsh for 50 years Duckfan. I have also been in the marsh for 50 years, turning 60 last week. I also have many wonderful memories hunting with my dad at Mendota, Sac NWR, Lower Klamath over the years. My dad has been gone now 7 years, but I have so many memories hunting Modoc Refuge with him for honkers.

My fondest memory is when I shot my first 3 honkers with dad at Lower Klamath unit 9 when I was 25 years young with Winchester Model 12, 20 ga. The day before our hunt these guys were slamming honkers with these huge decoys we had never seen before and found out they were 747 Magnum decoys.

We jumped in the station wagon and drove into Tule Lake and bought some at the Hardware store, dad breaking out the plastic. We shot our limits of geese that morning and dad said you'll remember this day when I'm gone. I was upset that he said that because I knew we'd have many more days like that one. But he was right, that day will always be with me and so is my dad.

We are blessed any day we can get in the field whether it be with family or friends just being able to hunt. I just hope we can continue to pass on this great heritage to our children and grandchildren.
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Re: 50 years in the Marsh (LONG - you have been warned)

Postby hntndux » Wed Jan 29, 2014 9:19 am

Many more wonderful stories of Life as a Waterfowler..and I thought this chat was full of youngsters!!! Keep it up Fellas :beer:
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Re: 50 years in the Marsh (LONG - you have been warned)

Postby DuckFan » Wed Jan 29, 2014 10:38 am

Guys,

Your stories have made me smile. I love my old logs and re reading them before a new season. Just to think of all that the marsh has produced - birds, yes - but friendships and family conversations etc......I just love it.

Thanks for sharing your experiences.
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Re: 50 years in the Marsh (LONG - you have been warned)

Postby slowshooter » Wed Jan 29, 2014 3:53 pm

Stories like this are the reason to come to sites like this.
Thanks! :thumbsup:
All this for a bowl of borscht.
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