I arrived at Freezeout Tueday afternoon. I talked to two separate duck hunters at the boat ramp and the tally was one hen mallard. The lake had been frozen for a couple of days and the ducks moved out and lots of swans and snow geese arrived. Since I was on a reconnaissance mission, I headed for Eureka Reservoir only to find that it was completely drained. Next I went to Bynum Reservoir to check it out. It was real low and offered no cover. The wind was howling and huge waves were rolling onto the long stretches of muddy shoreline. I headed back to Freezeout, and Wednesday morning I hunted Priest Lake. When Freezeout first ices up, Priest Lake stays open longer and can offer some good shooting, especially for snow geese on the narrow spit of dirt at the other end. I headed for the three culverts by the railroad tracks, as YEARS ago I had success there on a couple of occasions. Nothing. I watched five high flyers and some swans. I went back to the boat ramp around noon and found that two hunters, using a John boat had taken two ducks, both of them hens. I checked my map and headed to Lake Frances.
It too was drawn down and the recent melting snow and rain made it impossible to get near the water. Canada geese and Snow geese were everywhere along the shoreline. I guy with a layout blind rubbed with mud could do well here. (Bring a spray water bottle and keep the mud on the blind wet.) What the hell, I had seen some great country so off I went to Lake Elwell (Tiber). I found the turn-off to the Devon Recreation Area, which was ten miles from the highway on a dirt road. The farm houses are really spread out from each other here. I saw mail boxes with no house in sight. When I crested a rise, I lost my breath. The water of Lake Elwell shimmered down in a rugged canyon a thousand feet below. I was so struck by the view that I missed the last turn-around. Down I went on a somewhat wet muddy trail. Holy crap! How could I have been so careless. I have a ¾ ton truck with a large camper and I was pulling a boat. The road winded around ravines with some sheer drops if the muddy road sent me on a slippery course. I was gripping the steering wheel with white knuckles. Two-thirds of the way down was a BLM outhouse and a turn-around. The road disappeared over another rise down hundreds of feet to the shoreline.
My dog and I both had to take a piss, but I never opened the truck door. It was getting dark and the clouds were looking ominous. I dropped into low 4x4 and inched my way back up the mountain. An hour later I was at the Frontier Bar eating a burger and talking to a young farmer. He said he lives close to the access site and he and his family worry about getting up the road if there is any sign of rain. I said that I was on a wild goose chase and a farmer bought be a drink. I headed back on the highway to Shelby and decided to hunt Priest Lake again the next morning.
When I got to Sims, I thought that I was having my second heart attack so I headed home to Florence. Same chest pain and feeling like I was going to throw up. Now I understand how some men talk themselves out of going to the ER thinking that they have a bad case of heart burn. My heart burn turned out to be compounded by a virus, which caused a lot of pain up under my ribs. I can’t remember having heart burn so bad, but now I know how they can be confusing to a heart attack victim. (The wife is pushing me to get a ekg.)
Well, looks like I will patch up my old, wood pram, load up the oars and head back to Freezeout sometime. I forgot what a great place it is even if it does have a lot of hunters and in my case few birds. It was a great tour of the heartland.