AN OUTDOORSMAN’S BY MARK WALTERS Ducks on the Turtle Flambeau Flowage Hello friends, It was either 50 or 51 years ago that my dad took me camping to an island and fish walleye on the Turtle …
BY MARK WALTERS
Ducks on the Turtle Flambeau
It was either 50 or 51 years ago that my dad took me camping to an island and fish walleye on the Turtle Flambeau Flowage for the first time. The TFF is made up of thousands of acres of water, land, and islands with the vast majority owned by you and me and it's as close to feeling like being in Canada as I can get while still being in Wisconsin.
This past week I spent 48-hours either living in my canoe or the 18.6 War Eagle as I slept in the boat and hunted out of the canoe for ducks with my 5-year-old golden retriever Ruby.
Friday, September 24th High 62, low 42
So, I am driving up highway 13 with a canoe on top of my truck, pulling my boat behind my truck and with a very happy pup in the backseat of my truck. It is 48-degrees, and a very cold rain is falling, and my plan is to sleep in my boat. Often people tell me how much I have it made, sometimes they are somewhat incorrect.
I load my rigs as best I can, put on my chest waders and begin the two-mile journey to paradise. Last year I was here on this same weekend and both nights I slept in a tent and hunted in very leaky chest waders. There were violent storms with lots of rain and between the storms and the leaks I destroyed my phone. A very positive memory of the adventure is that I had my 10-year-old golden retriever Fire along and something told me I should leave Ruby home. I did and we had incredible hunt and two months later Fire came down with cancer and passed away.
So, it is dark, the rain is over, and I am living in my boat, cooking on a propane stove, my home is lit by a propane light and I am listening to the Brewers. Life is good.
Saturday, September 25th High 68, low 37
The sleep part of my night ended at 1:00 am, after that I looked at the stars, talked to Ruby, and paddled my canoe to where I would hunt, four hours is a long time to watch the stars.
When daybreak came my plan was to only shoot drake woodies and mallards. That plan went to heck a half-hour after shooting started and I dropped a hen woodie. The action was slow, but I honestly had no cares. Mid-morning I hit a teal that sailed about a half a mile. It was time for a break, so I pulled my decoys and went looking for the teal. I was in almost total shock when I beached my canoe, Ruby went hunting and came back with the teal.
So, I go to the War Eagle, cook up a top-notch lunch, set up my cot and took the best nap of my life.
Next, I decided to go exploring for my afternoon hunt. I paddle a mile, like what I see and set out my decoys. There are ducks and I missed a couple of times. Then a flock of mallards flew over and to my disbelief I dropped a greenhead, I picked out another drake and by God I hit that one too. Ruby retrieved the first and then it was time for a canoe journey and a hike in the wild rice to search for the other. My jawbone about fell out of my face when Ruby found that drake in like no time at all. I paddled back to my setup and here comes a flock of woodies, I picked out a drake and holy moly I got him.
There was a half hour of shooting left and I had one duck to go to have my limit. The flight slowed down, with ten minutes left of shooting a hen wood duck made a fatal mistake and came in range of my 35-year-old 11-87. Jeepers creepers I sailed that bird, Ruby and I went for a death walk in the wild rice and muck and just like that she had feathers in her mouth and we had limit.
I pulled decoys, paddled back to The War Eagle Hotel, drank a PBR, listened to the Brewers, watched the stars, cooked a meal and was up by 1:00 to go back for more. Perhaps I do have it made!