Bury me in the Meadow Valley

This week, as I have for the last 28 falls, I am going to be writing to you about my hunting camp on both past experiences as well as present adventures.

The place that I call fall camp/ deer camp is located in The Meadow Valley Wildlife Area in northern Juneau County. To be perfectly honest, though I hunt and trap it and have for 45 years, my main goal is just to be there.

I was 11 the first time I saw this massive tract of pine, oak, aspen and marshland, and all I have to do is drive down the gravel roads that take me to camp and everything is perfect in my world.

Friday, Nov. 18

High 54, Low 28

I am duck hunting. I do most of my duck hunting by paddling a canoe, setting out some decoys, wearing chest waders and hiding next to my canoe in waist deep water.

I am hunting with my “goldens,” Fire and her 6-month-old pup Ruby.

Ruby is nuts. She is the closest dog that I have ever had that is a pure animal and by that I will give some examples. When I am paddling, she has her head under water up to her shoulders as much as she can handle it. Ruby is constantly catching and pulling up vegetation from the bottom of whatever body of water we are on.

In the last three days Ruby has caught and consumed two pigeons, a rabbit and possibly other animals that I do not know of.

When we are hunting she has to sit/stand on the bow of the canoe and frequently falls in the water and does not care a bit.

Today’s hunt included me missing a few ringbill and scoring on one. I was actually talking on the phone to my daughter, Selina, when I saw a duck, set down the phone and shot it. Ruby retrieved it. Did I mention that I love this place?

Saturday, Nov. 19

High 56, Low 16

Today, Selina and I would be putting away some serious miles exploring in The Necedah National Wildlife Refuge. The location where Selina may be hunting is a two-mile trek from my truck.

I actually found this spot while hunting with my buddy, Doug Cibulka, two years ago on Tuesday of the gun deer season. Several inches of snow had fallen the night before, and Doug and I were carrying fanny packs and wearing hip boots.

On that adventure, both Doug and I fell through the ice and still kept hunting. On that adventure, we found the “new spot.”

Today there would be a different type of adversity. Because the webbing on Selina’s knee is torn, she has been relegated to being pushed on a deer cart as we scout for whitetail deer.

Due to the fact that we wanted to end our day hunting ducks I had to push Selina as fast as my 55-year-old body could handle it. As always, we laughed a lot and while surveying our hunting grounds watched a beautiful 8-12- point buck that seemed to really like the doe he was in love with.

By the time we got back to my truck I could not have been more soaked in a gooey sweat but I drove with a great sense of urgency so that we would have enough daylight to shoot two limits of ducks.

As usual, Ruby caught and ate lots of “seaweed.” As usual, Ruby fell in the water! Doug and Derek Cibulka were already hunting when we arrived and though it was a bummer but reality we did not see a single duck.

The marsh that we hunted is where I practiced back in the winter of ‘90-91 to hike the Appa- lachian Trail. I carried a 6-foot, 80-pound oak log on my shoulder and explored. I always practiced at night.

On the marsh next to camp I had an ice-skating trail that went for a good mile. I always did that (ice skating) at night as well.

Hard to believe how time can fly and that is why I always push myself hard and play as much as possible!


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