Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Stuck In The Muck

I hope you enjoyed the recent interview I did with The Downeast Duckhunter. I had fun doing it and hope you have visited his blog and read a bit more about his adventures of hunting the Atlantic Flyway. He (Tony) is a wealth of knowledge and never stops thinking about new ways to approach the hunt.

As I have read the recent blogs from the past week there have been several summaries of this past season. Well let me add mine to the mix. It is not a story of massive amounts of ducks being shot, or of frothing feverish retrieves. Nope, this one is more about the misfortunes of a last hunt and one ill fated step.

It all began innocently enough and very routinely. Jet and I loaded up all our goose decoys, ground blinds ( yes, she has a blind of her own too) and plenty of food to get us through the last 4 days of this season. The one pending concern was when I last left the cabin, the pipes were froze solid, leaving me unable to drain them after my day of hunting. So I didn't quite know what to expect when I arrived. Got to the cabin with a few hours of daylight left for a couple reasons. 1, to check on the plumbing and 2, to see what fields the geese were using if any. I was so happy and relieved to find that the Pex pipes had made it through our early December arctic blast and not a single one was broken. Phew, off to a good start I thought. Next I began to unload my gear and keep an eye on the fields for any geese that may be hanging around. There was a small bunch in the #1 field nibbling on some sparse alfalfa shoots. With the majority of snow being gone and the last several weeks of warmer than usual weather, yes the grasses were beginning to sprout. Lowlands was looking more like farmland and less like Fargo in January.

Jet and I got settled in and had a nice dinner. I decided we would venture down to the Klamath River first thing in the morning, as much of the ice was gone and there were sizable groups of divers using the river. We left the cabin before daybreak and started walking just before shooting time. There was a small group of Canada Geese in the North end of the # 1 field and some on the opposite side of the river from me. I decided our best chance was to walk in the ditch between the river and #1 field so we stay out of sight, since it's about 4 to 5 foot deep. Their was a mix of ice and some open water in the ditch and as most irrigation ditches go, it had steep sides and lots of very nasty muddy muck in it. Certainly not something you'd want to fall down in. With the recent snows back in December all the vegetation was laying down making it difficult to get a good foot hold. I kept Jet to my left just below the top of the dike and crept along the bottom edge where the bank met the water and ice. The weather was mild with temperatures in the mid 30's and a fairly low dark cloud cover. I could hear Goleneyes whistling overhead yet I was holding out for the chance to maybe shoot a goose. (In my Waterfowler Gunning Log, Goldeneyes are actually listed as Whistlers). So carefully and slowly we continued to move along in hopes of placing ourselves between the 2 bunches of geese.

Then it happened, without warning. I stepped in a beaver or muskrat hole that was hidden beneath the vegetation and the ill fated plunge proceeded. As my right foot sank in the muck without finding a bottom I quickly switched gun hands as I was going down. I rolled to my right trying to keep my ass end from going head over tea kettle and to some degree pulled it off. I reached with my left hand and threw it in front of me out in the water placing the stock of my gun up to the trigger fully submersed, yet holding my head and upper body from doing the proverbial "face plant". It had worked although my left knee was in distress and after extrapolating myself from the wet, nasty muddy muck I knew I was in a bit of a pickle. I hauled my soaking wet fleece drenched self up the bank and to the top of the dike. Took off my hunting vest and coat and wrung them out as well as everything that I had in the pockets. I poured the water out of my hat (it was in the back of my vest), vest and was thoroughly disgusted with myself. I had my fleece pants tucked inside my 18" Alphaburley boots which helped keep the water out and just wicked the water elsewhere as only a quality fleece garment can do.(LOL) Meanwhile Jet is thinking this is pretty fun and she is doing her "happy dog" escapades as if she'd just won the doggie lottery. What's up with that I wonder, then I try to tell her that mom isn't very happy right now, so if you'd moderate your enthusiasm a bit I'd appreciate it!

After taking inventory and realizing that my entire right side is drenched to the skin, I might as well continue on and go try to shoot a duck or two. My left knee was tweaked for sure and not knowing just how bad I didn't want to give up just yet. We headed for Porto's point on the Klamath River and I let go of the idea of shooting a goose. Limping along we made it and actually had a nice little diver hunt. I shot 3 Goldeneyes, 2 drakes and a hen. One of the drakes was a Common the other a Barrows. Jet wasn't thrilled with swimming in the still icy cold water so we called it quits at 3 ducks. I wish I had my boat there because there were so many flocks of Goldeneyes I couldn't believe it. I was certain we could of had limits.

We made it back to the truck and got ourselves to the cabin. Then I began taking off all my wet clothes and actually rinsed the mud off them in the sink before hanging them up to dry over the wood stove. Still thoroughly disgusted with myself and with whom ever it was that decided to excavate that damn hole in the ditch. Eventually I got all my wet stuff hung up and then processed the ducks. After that I sat down and had a nice brunch as my knee began to stiffen and swell. As I sat there eating I knew that my goose hunt was over before it even began. Later that afternoon I ventured out for a short walk in the #1 and 2 fields looking for goose sign to see if it was worth the effort. It didn't take me long to glean the results. No goose sign and very nasty sticky gooey mud that I had no business even being out there in. So I succumbed to the reality of the situation that my 2008/09 season was over and I needed to see an Orthopedist upon my return home.

Jet and I returned home the next day and I had an appointment for the following Monday. Seems that I partially tore a ligament and possibly my meniscus too. Further tests will be done later this week and I hope to avoid surgery. I am still planning on hunting the Klamath County depredation Spec hunt which opens Feb. 21 and closes Mar.10, 2009. Just taking it a day at a time right now and with any luck can avoid going under the knife. Certainly an untimely ending to an otherwise wonderful waterfowl season. Had many fun hunts with friends and got to watch Jet do some incredible retrieves as well as rooting out of some very wiley Pheasants.

Women's Hunting Journal Integrity For The Hunt


Deer Passion said...

Hope surgery isn't involved but wishing you the a quick recovery! Good post!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you had quite the adventure and showed the trueness of an outdoors person by shaking it off and pressing on.

I sincerely hope you won't have to endure surgery, take care and i will keep my fingers crossed.

Holly Heyser said...

Wow, rough season all the way around, huh? I'm glad you at least walked out with some ducks - I'd be pretty irked if I went through all that and nothing to show for it but hospital bills.

I'm with DP on the surgery, too. Having just been through one that would have to be considered successful and easy, I'm still surprised every day at how much it's taken out of me.

Terry Scoville said...

DP, Rick and NorCal, thanks very much for the positive thoughts and well wishes. Yea, NorCal I too am glad I at least got a few ducks for my efforts. Would have really sucked otherwise!

Anonymous said...

Yeah surgery is not fun. I had heart surgery six years ago, and I recommend avoiding that, or any other surgery, if you can.

Here's hoping things work out and you're able to make your hunt at the end of the month.

Terry Scoville said...

Thanks Kristine, I am doing all I can to avoid surgery that's for sure. Wow, I am glad your heart surgery went well!

Anonymous said...

Great story Terry -- You've built a lot of fitness in your legs and knees with your cycling workouts. Hope time reveals that you can side-step surgery.

Terry Scoville said...

Thanks Cristina, I sure hope so too!

mdmnm said...

Rough hunt! Beaver holes have been my downfall a couple three-five times, never with such severe consequences though. I managed to dunk myself the first day of the last weekend, too, while setting decoys. On the bright side, at least you didn't tweak that knee on the first weekend of the season! Good luck with the specs!

Terry Scoville said...

MDMNM, thanks for stopping by. Yea those dang Beavers. Guess maybe I ought to start a trapline whilst I'm duck hunting.

gary said...

Hey Terry, good story - just a lousy ending. Its funny though, a few years down the pike what'll you remember about the hunt of early 2009? Three ducks, a sadistic beaver, one happy pouch and a dunking! oh yeah, you may remember a bum knee too, but its all part of the experience, just hope that part doesn't become the lasting bit. Good Luck with it.

Terry Scoville said...

Gary thank you for making me laugh, I needed that. You are so right about that sadistic Beaver, makes me want to get my furbearer's license for next year.

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