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Gone are the Days

Gone are the Days

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We are well into the season and it is now right after Thanksgiving.  When I was a mere boy and hunted with my Dad, when Thanksgiving came, it was over.  Everything was frozen and the birds had mostly left the area.


I can remember the two of us going down to a state hunting preserve southeast of Council Bluffs called Riverton.  It was along the Nishnabotna river near the small town of Riverton. We put sacks of decoys on sleds and walked in on the ice.  We found a spot where we could put up a blind and placed the decoys right out on the ice.



I tell this to some of my friends today and they can hardly believe it, but it happened.  There seemed to be a few ducks that hung out at the reserve and probably got their water from the river.  They came into the decoys and we had excellent shooting.  We would be the only people hunting on the preserve.  Those days are long gone.  Also we shot with lead and it was so much better than the shot today.  We also shot with two and three quarter inch shells.  Now today, I shoot a gun that fires three and half inch shells with a mixture of hevi-shot and steel.  Gone are the days.


It was nothing to have a limit of mallards by noon.  Compare it to today when a group of people will sit in the blinds waiting for a shot almost all day.  There was not the competition from other hunters like there is today.  Where I hunt there are six blinds within a mile and that brings competition.  The birds will go where they are less likely to be bothered.  We have an advantage of 40 acres of water with a bubbler that is right in the middle.  We always have open water.  Still, gone are the days.



There was only a handful of hunters when I arrived at the big chicken in Tekamah before heading to the blinds.  Everyone was optimistic as there was an excellent weather shift all the way to the Dakotas.  Freezing temperatures with heavy snows was covering the ground north of us.  This should be it, and everyone was in agreement.  Good northerly flow the past few days should drive the birds out and send them our way.

Beautiful sunrise over the lake in the morning.


Two days ago there was a north wind and the hunters that went witnessed huge flocks of migrating snow geese.  What we had seen in the past was when the snows came the mallards came too, so everyone was hopeful.  My wife and I have not had the pleasure of mallard duck breast for over six months.  It was now or never.


As I approached the blind, there was just a light breeze and a small ripple on the water.  It was out of the north so that was fine, as long as it was out of the north.  There were no birds on the lake when we came in.  Not a good sign.  We settled in and waited for shooting time.  None of the other blinds in the area were shooting when the time to start came.  We waited.



Some pairs and small groups came to the decoys as the morning wore on.  Each time they locked and came into the decoys there was opportunity.  I was in the northern most blind and the better shots were at the blind to the south.  Finally, we had an opportunity and I got off a shot.  Three other guys shot too so I have no idea if I scored, but at least for this season, I fired off one shot.


The rest of the morning it went dead calm and finished off the day for me.  It was time to hang it up.  I grabbed a couple of birds as I left as I had not taken any all season.


My good friend and I leave with our birds for the season.


There is always another year.  Gone are the days.


It really was not that bad.  It was bad for me because I did not go early and the club basically harvested a good quantity of small ducks.  There was good shooting early on Teal, Gadwall, and Widgeon,

Good hunting, good fishing and good luck. Hank












More Stories By Hank Huntington

Hank Huntington, Esq., is a native of southwest Iowa, healthcare professional, entrepreneur, accomplished pilot, hunting and fishing enthusiast, connoisseur, father and husband. He developed this web site for people to share their fun and excitement about the great outdoors. The best part of this hobby is, after a successful hunting or fishing trip, you are able to dine on fresh game or fish, after all, “ How do you eat a golf ball?” asks Hank. Hanks father and grandfather were both avid outdoorsmen so Hank learned his hunting and fishing skills from them and has passed the tradition down to the fourth generation. Plus the love of the outdoors, and a craving for exquisite dinning, would round out the package.

As a small boy, he fished a local oxbow lake formed by the Missouri River. The lake is primarily old river bottom mud, is not real clear, and has a lot of vegetation. The southeast corner holds a huge lily pad bed, and it was there Hank learned to drag through the water and across the tops of the pads, a Johnson Silver Minnow, with a pork rind attached. This was the place for big mouth bass, and there were lots of them, and young Hank loved to catch them.

At age of 12 Hank started going with his Dad hunting, and by age 14 he was an accomplished shooter with a 12-gauge pump. Shortly after that he was given his first shotgun a Winchester Model 12 pump; he still has it today. It looks like almost new, but the gun is never to be hunted again. Duck hunting in the late 50’s had little pressure after the first two weeks of the season, and when the north wind blew and it got really damp and cold, the big Canada Mallards came.

After graduation from high school, Hank attended Midland College in Fremont, Nebraska. There he met a fellow outdoorsman, and their friendship developed in the fields and streams of central Nebraska.

Hank had little time for hunting and fishing while attending professional school at Creighton University. After graduation he married his college sweetheart and they settled down to career, family, and as often as possible, hunting and fishing.

Hank and his family frequently flew their plane north to Canada to the legendary Canadian fly in lodges to fish for Northern and Walleye. Here he taught his son all the things his father had taught him about fishing. Most of the time the two went alone to the north woods, but when camping was not involved, his wife Pam went along. She always enjoys the fact that she has caught a bigger Northern Pike than Hank, and he has been fishing for 60 years. Today along the Missouri River valley, the deer population increased to the point that in many areas they are a nuisance. The duck, goose, and turkey has also population have also soared.

Area lakes have been well stocked. Many even have a walleye stocking program that makes outstanding fishing. Several are within easy driving distance of Hank’s lodge-like lakeside home. All packaged together is great dining. By the way, Hank harvests only what he will share at a table with family or friends.

Hank says, “Whenever I am on a lake, in the woods, or in the blind, I am always reminded of God’s great bounty and His constant presence. And whether in the great outdoors or at home with my wife, I strive to be a good steward of nature and all that God has given us.”

Good hunting! Good fishing! Good day!

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