oldfatslow

Tu tene eum procul; Ego curram ob auxilium!

Monday, November 04, 2019

Rev. David Love's Recollection of the Wreck

David Love was a 15 year old boy passenger
on the Brig Sutledge when it went upon the
rocks off Newport, RI.  For his seventieth
birthday, Rev. Love gave his account of the
wreck to a local newspaper and then included
the article as Chapter 2 in his 1907 book,
Family Souvenir.  His account is very similar
to the accounts my family recounted from
my great-grandfather who was also a boy
on that ship (those stories are previously
entered on this blog).

I tracked down this book in the Hanover
University library.  From that point, I
was able to get a scanned copy of the
chapter that I now include below:

Here is a photo of Rev. Love's tombstone
found by one of my Bowie kin:















-----------------Cut Here----------------------------
Chapter II.

THE STORY OF AN EARLY 
SHIPWRECK

Of which Rev. D. R. Love was a witness, and in which his mother, sister and brother perished. The particulars were related to The Banner Wednesday, Rev. Love's seventieth birthday.

(From the Frankfort Banner, May 18, 1901.) 

Tuesday eve, in honor of her husband's seventieth birthday, Mrs. D. R. Love gave a six-o'clock dinner to a few of her husband's friends of forty years' standing. Those present were Dr. Alex. M. Wilson and wife, Alexander B. Given, wife and sister; Mrs. Abram Given,  John H. Coulter and wife; R. P. Shanklin and wife, and Joseph Southard and wife. The gathering was made on Tuesday, rather than Wednesday, that it might not interfere with the regular Wednesday evening prayer-meeting. The evening was spent in recalling incidents of forty years ago, and was a most enjoyable one. It was closed with a reading of the Scriptures and prayer . . . . 
(Here was given a biographical sketch of Rev. Love. See Chapter I.)

In one of the old cemeteries at Newport, R., there stands a marble shaft which bears this inscription. "To the memory of eighteen persons who perished in the brig Rutledge [sic, Sutledge, Sutldj, or Sutley], from Pictou - here buried June, 1846." Among those who perished in the ill-fated brig were Rev. Love's mother, sister and brother; he and a younger sister being the only ones saved of the happy family on their way to join the husband and father, who had preceded them form Nova Scotia to "The States." . . . .  

The Banner has frequently importuned Rev. Love for permission to relate the story of the shipwreck which robbed him of his mother, sister and brother, but being, as is well known, of a retiring disposition, his answer, politely given, has always been, "Not now, some other time perhaps." Wednesday we renewed our request, desiring to use the sadder story in connection with the announcement of our good friends seventieth birthday, and were rewarded by being given permission to print the story as it was related to us by Rev. Love that morning.  It is as follows:

"Our voyage from Pictou, Nova Scotia, in the brig Rutledge, bound for Fall River, Mass., was, up to June 26, a pleasant one. We had on board, besides the crew, fifty-seven passengers, all Scotch Presbyterians except two. their destinations were Pottsville, PA. and Cumberland, MD. Of Friday evening, when surrounded by a number of passengers, I heard Captain Graham give the order to his first mate, Roderick McKay, to cast anchor. In explanation of the same, he said we were only about forty miles from our place of landing; that, if we continued sailing as we were then doing, we would enter the harbor at midnight, whereas he preferred to land in day light.  The anchor was cast, and we spent a pleasant evening socially.

Between two and three o'clock Saturday morning, June 27 [ofs,1846], we weighed anchor. At that time the weather was calm and somewhat foggy. It so continued until four o'clock, when it cleared, with a bright sunrise and gentle breeze. After sailing for some time our vessel missed the channel, and in Martha's Vineyard struck a ledge of rocks called "The Sow and Pigs." On that we lodged probably thirty minutes. the passengers hurriedly came on deck, and all was confusion. The Captain calmed the excitement, made light of the damage done, and assured us that there was no immediate danger, that the vessel would right itself and would reach the harbor safely. Many returned to their sleeping apartments, dressed comfortably, and secured their money and other small valuables. the pumps were kept constantly at work. All hands many times ran the deck of the vessel from stem to stern, in the hope that it would slide off the rock. With the rising tide we floated into deeper water. In the meantime signals of distress were made, and a fishing schooner, "The Dusky Sally." responded and made for our relief. The water in the hod of our vessel steadily increased,  and the ship was gradually sinking. Seeing this, the Captain ordered the lifeboat lowered. It was capable of carrying sixty persons; but when pushed off, it had in it, all told, eleven souls, viz.: The Captain, four sailors, one adult passenger, and five children. 

I saw George Oliver place four of his children, one of whom was blind, in the boat before it was hoisted from its place on the deck [ofs, legend has it that George Oliver was armed], and as it was being lowered he himself jumped in. I helped my sister Jean, two years younger than myself, to climb the bulwarks, so that she jumped into the boat as it reached the water. I, too, could have jumped in, but I had mother, Alexander and Baby Jessie to care for, and would not leave them. My father had gone a few weeks ahead of us to prepare us homes, and the fifteen-year-old boy was mother's helper.

As soon as the Captain entered the boat he ordered it pushed off, and, when at a safe distance from the sinking vessel, he called out repeatedly that if any one would jump overboard and swim to him he would pick him up. Two passengers and several sailors took him at his word. I saw a sailor kindly carry a young woman out on the bowsprit. They dropped together and sank out of sight. He was saved, she was drowned. I saw a dear friend take his much-loved three-year-old boy in his arms, and hear him say, "I will try." Before jumping into the sea he turned to his wife, who was holding their baby in her arms and had their seven-year-old son by her side; he kissed her and said, "Good-bye, Marget [sic]." Her words to him were, "Tam, meet me in heaven." He was picked up almost lifeless; the little boy, mother and baby were drowned, and Johnnie, the seven-year-old boy, was saved.

The fishing vessel came slowly toward us, and, when within thirty feet of our stern, cast anchor and lowered her boat; but before it touched the water our ship gave a sudden lurch, bow downward, and sank into water fifty feet deep. Eight feet of the tallest mast stood out of the water when the vessel settled, and on it the mate, the steward and one sailor found safety. The passengers had crowded together on the cabin deck. My mother, holding dear little Jessie in here arms, with two other women, were drawn by the suction of the water into the cabin door and were never seen again. Alexander, my six-year-old brother, was on my back. We all went down into the water together, perhaps twenty or thirty feet, and came up very much as dogs paw water. I could feel the hands of others touch me as we came upward. On reaching the surface, my first impulse was to find something to float on. I saw a half barrel, and swam for it. One of my boy friends was of the same mind, and we both laid hod of it at the same moment. It filled with water and sank, for it had in it a coil of heavy rope. Michael immediately swam toward the Captain's boat, and was picked up. I thought I could not make it, for I was heavily freighted. I had my brother on my back, and around my body was a belt containing forty silver dollars. I sank a second time, and went down, I know not how far. Suddenly a voice seemed to say to me: "Your are sinning, you are sinning; save yourself, save yourself." I made an effort, rose to the surface, and saw but a short distance from me a small boat-oar. I swam for it, drew it under my arms, then lifted "Sandy." that I might raise his head out of the water, for in coming up the second time he had caught me under the arms. But alas! the dear boy was dead; he had drowned while clinging to my back. After a time were were picked up by the schooner's boat, and, with the other, brought to Newport, R. I.

Of the passengers twenty-seven were saved and thirty drowned. Of the latter, eighteen bodies were laid to rest in the Newport cemetery. When our vessel struck on the rock we were about half a mile from shore. When it sank we were fully two miles out at sea.

The citizens of Newport were exceedingly kind to us. They had heard of our shipwreck before we reached the wharf. A committee of citizens met us, conducted us to one of the large hotels, cared for us, and paid all expenses. The ladies of the churches caused great quantities of wearing apparel to be provided for us, and as most of the men passengers were either Odd Fellows or Masons, both of these fraternities sent cash donations, giving $30 to each male and $35 to every female. On Sabbath afternoon the funeral service were conducted int he First Presbyterian Church. A very large congregation was present, with lodges of Odd Fellows and masons in regalia. And here a singular incident occurred - at least, so it seemed to me. One man, who had lost his wife and six children, had five dead bodies there. He had saved the baby, a few months old. It was found floating on the surface of the sea. A lady of the city wished to adopt it and call it by her own name. The father was very grateful, but would not part with his baby, but willingly gave it the lady's name, and the child, in that presence, that Sabbath afternoon, was baptized and named "Margaret Hoyt Penelope Knights McMillen." 

Of Captain Graham I need not speak, save to say that on Friday morning he declined to signal a pilot, though there were several within hailing distance, saying that he himself thoroughly knew the channel and had often sailed it. At Newport he failed to pay off in full his officers and crew, yet got some of them to testify in the presence of the British Consul that he had done his duty as Captain and owner of the brig, and with these papers he went to Halifax, where he drew his insurance money. From Halifax he went seventy miles by stage to his home. In doing so he passed Grandfather David Love's store and the former residence of most of his passengers, yet he made no mention of the shipwreck until he reached New Glasgow, and then only when questioned. There were no telegraphs in those days, and in that new country but few steamboats or railroads.

To the Christian people of Newport our hearts have often gone out in loving gratitude, and in later years we have sought somewhat to repay to others their kindness to us, and to Him who said: "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

-------------
From the Newport (R.I.) Mercury of July 4, 1846, the following list of names, which I have grouped in families and given their approximate ages, is taken:

WHO WERE SAVED.

The Captain, mate, and crew, with the following passengers were saved: Wm. Archibald, aged 29 years; Margaret Bowie, mother; Robert Bowie 14 years; Hugh Denoon, 30 years; Thomas Fatkin, 35 years; John Fatkin, 7 years; Margret Frasier, mother; John Hoyt, father; James Hoyt, 18 years; Michael Hoyt, 15 years; David Love, 15 years; Jean Love, 13 years; Wm. Loraine, 26 years; Robert McMillen, father; Margret McMillen, baby; James Monroe, 30 years; George Oliver, father; Mary Oliver, mother; Robert Oliver, 21 years; Janet Oliver, 19 years; George Oliver 17 years; Isabella Oliver, 12 years; Hugh Oliver, 10 years; John Oliver, 8 years; Archibald Smith, 24 years; Ellen Smith, 20 years (brother and sister); William Wier, 26 years, recently married - 27 [ofs, passengers]. 

THE DEATH ROLL

Margaret Bowie, 22 years; Christie Bowie, 20 years; Mary Bowie, 16 years, Alexander Bowie, 12 years; James Bowie, 10 years; Jeanie Bowie, 7 years (all the children of the lady who was saved; the father, Charles Bowie, had preceded them [to America]); Margret Denoon, mother; Marion Denoon, 8 years; Mary Denoon, 5 years; Margret Fatkin, mother; Peter Fatkin, 3 years; Margret Fatkin, 1 year; William Frasier, father; Sarah Frasier, 10 years; Ann Frasier, 6 years; Elizabeth Hoyt, mother; Agnes Hoyt, 20 years; Jean Love, mother; Alexander Love, 6 years; Jessie Love, 2 years; Margret McMillen, mother; Elizabeth McMillen, 5 years; Ann McMillen, 12 years; Hugh McMillen; 10 years; William McMillen, 7 years; Janet McMillen, 5 years; Robert McMillen, 3 years; Daniel McLean, 28 years; Effie Wier, the young wife of Wm. Wier, and Joanna Gream her sister, 18 years - 30.


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Tuesday, October 29, 2019

North to Alaska

Well, not exactly North to Alaska,
but north to North Dakota.  My Navy
son joined my Army Medic son in
North Dakota for some hunting.
Wow, that's the place to hunt.
Late Arrival, Time for an Armed Recce


First Wigeon Ever

And First Mallard

 Scouting over.  Time to hunt in the AM.















Two Limits and Lots of Variety
There were so many ducks that they passed
gadwalls hoping for mallards.  First gadwall
for Navy boy too.



Now for some fine dining.

Pan fried ducks with blueberry chutney.



 The next day the weather turned super cold
super fast.  First time for breaking ice too.


The ducks were all rafted up on the
big water and couldn't be tempted
to the small pond.

But, it's North Dakota and it's
pheasant season too.


Going on the wall, for sure.

So my Army Medic son hosted and guided his
Navy brother onto a great hunt. I've got a pass
to hunt ND next year.  I think I'll take the
opportunity.

ofs

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Saturday, September 28, 2019

Pay it Forward

My kids are getting in the game.
Two of my boys have been having
their own adventures.

Navy boy is docked in the seaport
of Augusta, GA.  He has taken up
kayak bass fishing and spent this
year on the Georgia Bass Slam.
He just completed the require-
ments by catching five of the
ten species of bass in Georgia:
Altamaha, Bartram's, Large-
mouth, Smallmouth, and
Spotted. I'll let you match the
names with the fish.











































 






Meanwhile, my former Army medic is
basking on the beautiful North Dakota
beaches bagging a few waterfowl.  He
had an amazing day yesterday.
Gadwall



Mallard
Bluebill and a Blue Wing Teal



Canada Goose and ducks

Total Take: Goose, Gadwall, 2 BWT, Mallard, Bluebill, and a Ringer
 
All in all, it was probably the
best single day, solo hunt take
for all of Clan OFS.  And he
did all that with a 20 ga.  Not
bad shooting.
 


 Still training the pups to 
be retrievers as well as 
pointers. Start by teaching
them what they get for
bringing home the ducks.



I'm proud of my boys and 
Navy boy is heading up to
ND to hunt with his brother
next month.  Should be 
awesome.  Way to go
to them and all of my kids.

ofs

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Thursday, September 26, 2019

Early Teal 2019

Early teal was its usual self: hot and buggy.
I went out opening day in the Fowl Trouble.
I had driven out a few evenings before and
tried to see what I could gather about the area.
The water was over a foot taller than last
year.  I couldn't see any dry land.  The
day before opening day, I did a quick kayak
scout. The wind was gusts of 30mph.  When
I turned one corner of the river and went
head on into the wind and current, I gave
up.  Instead I went and scouted Ghost
Teal.  Where I lost a bird last year.  That
looked really nice.

View from Ghost Teal




















I timed it perfectly and got to my spot and set up
with only a few minutes before shooting time.
I hid the boat back in the broom grass and found
a clump of dog fennel to hide behind.  I only
saw one wood duck in the far distance.  Black-
bellies(out of season) were all around me.  One
circled close enough that I thought it winked at
me.

The one good thing was talking to the air boat
tour boat operators.  One, Mike, and I have
talked many time over the years.  He said he
wanted to go hunting later in the year.  If anyone
knows the river, he does. He's been hunting it
since a boy.

Tuesday I went out again scouting at a different
spot.  I thought I was sun-tough, but I should
have used sunscreen:  legs and arms got a bit
crispy. I saw two groups (more likely the same
group twice) of 12 bwt.  The first spot I saw
them, I code named Oliphant Ears.


Yesterday, I gave it a shot.  I was the only
hunter on the marsh.  I pulled out the regs
and checked them 3 times to make sure it
was a hunt day.  Paddling out was easy - even
though the hydrilla was so thick it was like
paddling through a Christmas tree.  I
struggled with the GPS and had a
tricky time finding my spot, but find it
I did.

I put the decoys out in a tiny patch of
open water so they would move in the
breeze.  I broke my device for holding
the Mojo teal at the launch ramp and
had to try and wedge it in a piece of
PVC pipe I had.  Then I broke the
Mojo too.  It still functioned and I
set it aspinning.

Then I settled back in the kayak with
all the mosquitoes and other bugs
to wait out the morning.  

Beautiful Sunrise
















Decoy placement
















I had one group of 20 teal fly south of me heading
elsewhere in a hurry.  I decided to post some
pictures on FB to relieve the boredom.  Right as
I was typing a comment, a teal landed in the
pond. I had to look hard to make sure it wasn't a
grebe, but tweren't.  I shot once, and it took off.

I rang off two more shots and it kept flying
away.  How could I miss!  Out of the corner of
my eye I saw a splash in the distance.  I paddled
over and found it.  If it had gone another foot, the
bird would have ended up in some really thick
stuff that would never have give up its secrets.

Lonely Teal

 













At 0900, I gave up and headed home.

OFS hissself




















Back at the ramp.

An exhausted boat















After the hunt I stopped by the ice cream shop
for a celebratory mint chocolate chip milk shake.
But, they were closed



















Instead I hit Race Track's frozen yogurt
bar.  Not as good.


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Tuesday, June 04, 2019

Remembering

This work was originally picked up by the Center for Reformed Theology and Apologetics (CRTA.org) and housed there for years.  It was picked up by a Christian women's magazine in Michigan and republished there.  Over the years, I received many positive comments until I switched emails and the one at CRTA no longer worked.  CRTA has revamped their website and was kind enough to send me a copy of my article to publish (with a few minor edits) here.

--------------------------cut here---------------------------------------------- 

The Psalmist writes, 

"Shall thy wonders be known in the dark? and thy righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?" 88:12 

And, 

"Lover and friend hast thou put far from me, and mine acquaintance into darkness." 88:18

My mother lives in that land of forgetfulness. On Memorial Day, 1993, my mom stopped remembering. She developed Alzheimer's. On that most ironic of days, she no longer knew my father. She liked him; she thought he was a nice old man; she called him Grandpa; she was impressed that an older gentleman could fall in love with her; but she did not know who he was. He died less than two months later of a heart that was broken as much as of a heart that just broke. After almost 53 years of love, he could not understand what had happened.

When Dad died, my mom went into a nursing home. A week later she fell and broke her hip. After that, she had two severe cases of cystitis and one of phlebitis all of which hospitalized her. She developed a bed sore on her back that kept her laid up in a special bed for months. At one point, she was completely out of it. She could not respond to anything. She sat slumped over - her head pillowed only by the tray on her wheelchair. I tried to feed her one day. She could not swallow much less chew what I gave her.

When things were the bleakest, she rallied back. Her health improved. Her appetite came back. The physical therapists even got her to walk some. She is still cracked up, but she has become a real crack up. The things she does, the things she says, and the things she says she does keep me laughing when I've been there and fill her caregiver and the nursing home staff with stories that they rush to tell me when I haven't.

One day when she was in her bed sore special bed, she looked up at me and said, "You're going to think this is so funny, but I was talking to someone today, and I couldn't remember your name."

I said, "It's Bill [my boyhood name], Mom."

She said, "Well, I KNOW that, but what's your last name? I went looking in that book where all the names are ...."

"The Phone Book, Mom?"

"Yes, that's it."

"Well, my name's Bill L***."

"Well, that explains it," she said - "I was looking under Mud."

I had to go walk out in the hall for a few minutes.

Another day, I was talking to her out in the sitting area. One of the other female inmates came up to her and growled, "Nuh nuh nuh nuh nuh." Mom looked at her and said with complete ease, "I'm sorry, I don't speak French. But, I believe my son does." [I don't parlez a single word in fran├žais.]

Mom fell in love and got engaged (in her head) to a 60 year old detainee named Dave. Their conversations were surreal. Like normal conversations Mom would say her part and wait while Dave said his part, and he did the same back. Only, Mom was discussing wedding plans and Dave was counting to one hundred. She broke up with him several times because "he didn't communicate very well." The staff told me of one time when she was still engaged: Mom was holding Dave's hand and she announced in a loud voice to the group, "May I have everyone's attention! I have an announcement! David and I are going to be married." A woman vistor was there. She said to Mom, "Excuse me. Who did you say you were marrying?" Mom said, "David *****." This woman was the REAL Mrs. David *****. She looked at Mom and said, "Oh well, the more the merrier. If you can get him down the aisle, more power to you."

Mom doesn't live in the past like the television portrayal of Alzheimer's. She lives in her own present world and has a great time. She's been to Russia, to Paris, to California, and lecturing down in the islands. The Lutherans are going to publish some of her poetry. She just went back to school and got her degree in Spanish (because she couldn't remember well enough to conjugate all the German verbs). She graduated with honors. She married a man who was 21 1/2. [If it's going to be imaginary, it might as well be fun.]

I love to quiz her on what she's been up to. The one rule I have is never to ask her, "Do you remember ....?" I don't want to stress her out, and I don't want to know if the answer is "No." For instance, I never ask her if she knows who I am. Sometimes, she introduces me as her brother Jerry, but that's all right - Jerry is a nice guy.

There is one question above all others that I have been reluctant to ask her: "Do you remember God?" I've been afraid to hear a negative answer. You see, there is *NOTHING* I can do to make her remember. If she has forgotten God, no amount of pleading or prompting can bring it back. I know. I tried it when she didn't know my dad.

Now, you can tell from my stories, that God hasn't forgotten her. And, you know what I found out the other day? She hasn't forgotten Him either. Our caregiver told my wife that Mom often goes out to the group and witnesses to them, prays with them, and tells them that they need to be saved. And, you know what else? Her former night nurse has had to quit because he is dying of AIDS. I don't know this, but maybe the only Gospel he has ever heard came from the lips of that sweet, crazy old mother of mine.

Praise God from Whom ALL blessings flow. 

Update from "Bill":

My mother died peacefully in Sept. 1999
Over the years, I received numerous emails of encouragement and shared grief from folks. I have always been thankful to you for posting it on CRTA.
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Sunday, January 27, 2019

Stiff Wind, Stiff Tail

The last hunt of  the season was
yesterday.  I had to solo hunt since
my buddy was hunting in Texas.

I got up at 0200 and checked the
weather.  It was 50 degrees instead
of the forecast 44.  At 50, I haven't
needed a jacket, but I took one any-
way.  Better to be safe than sorry and
the wind was forecast 10-12 mph
with 20 mph gusts.  I thought there
might be some wind chill on the
marsh.

I got to the ramp at 0400 and it
was noticeably cooler than at the
house.  I was glad for the jacket.

Getting the kayak to the water
was an ordeal.  I couldn't get
the boat on the cart correctly,
but it worked well enough to
get down the hill and across
the levee.  Unfortunately,
when I unstrapped the boat,
I found that one of the
supporting arms had cracked.
Hauling it back up at the end
of the hunt would be by brute
force, but that was for later:  I
needed to get out to paddling.

With no GPS and no stars in
the sky, I had to navigate by
picking a cell tower in the east
and paddling towards that.

I tried several of the small
floating islands that I came
across, but none of them would
work:  no cover, no hydrilla, too
close to other hunters.  I paddled
east quite aways before I turned
back west and finally found a spot.

By now, the wind had really picked
up.  Since my dousing a few weeks
back, I was nervous trying to paddle
around, tow the sled and toss out
the dekes.  Nonetheless, I managed it.
One thing that made it easier was that
I only brought 5 ringer decoys and 12
coot decoys.  Still, I could only toss
one or two out at a time before I had
to paddle back into the NW wind
and start over. 

I decided to camo up on the west side
of the island in some low dollar weed
type stuff.  It took 4 or 5 tries to get the
boat angled right.  Much to my surprise
I found that all of my palmetto fans
had blown out of the sled and were
nowhere to be found.  I'd even managed
to lose the coot decoy bag.  I was fairly
exposed, but that's the way it had to
be.

I had an hour and a half to sit and wait
for 06:42 and shooting time.  Without
Mike to talk to, I was pretty bored. On
top of that small waves would slap
the back of the boat and jar my
memories of tipping over.  Also, I
was fairly cold in the wind that
had to be well over the forecast.

I had one distressing moment after
I was set up.  I looked in front and
saw the black mass of another island
right in front of me.  It would cut
me off from any birds flying in.
I looked and looked at it and it seemed
to be moving toward the wind.
I eventually figured out that it was
several hundred coots wadded
together.  And they did cut me
off all day.

When shooting time did come,
there wasn't much action from the
north side of the 4000 acre marsh.
That's where most folks hunt closer
to the bank and under more cover.
I feel like they spend a lot of time
"skybusting" and unable to get
the vistas that hunting farther out
gives me. 

By 0800, I hadn't fired a shot
because there were no ducks
near me.  There were no ducks
anywhere.  I looked to my left and
saw a duck swimming into my spread.
I wasn't going to waste the oppor-
tunity and shot it on the water.
I quickly pulled in my camo netting
and paddled over to it before the
wind blew it too far away.  Small
duck of a kind I didn't recognize
right away.  Turns out it was a
hen ruddy duck.  It is in the
family of stiff tailed ducks
because it will swim with its
tail feathers pointing up like
a sail.

Sometime later, I saw two ducks
flying low towards the island from
the east.  Instead of flying over
the decoys, they flew behind the
island.  I turned my body as hard
as I could and nailed a drake blue
wing teal with a tough over the
shoulder shot. Normal targeting
is from 10-12 o'clock out the
front of the boat. 

A new species!
















Finally, the ringers started flying,
but they wanted nothing to do
with my small spread of decoys.
All day long, I'd watch birds look
at my dekes and then turn to
join their buddies swimming with
hundreds of coots.   Way to the south
I could see hundreds of ducks
milling around and not even
flying up our way.  There's no
cover down there and paddling
that far is out of the question.

I didn't even wait for the 10 o'clock
duck.  At 0945, I unloaded the gun
and went to get my decoys.  I'd found
my decoy bag during one of the
retrieves, so that wasn't a loss.

Paddling back was an ordeal
because it was straight into
the wind.  But I ended the day
on the plus side - in fact - I
did better than anyone else I
talked to at the ramp.  One young
man was good enough to help
me tote the kayak up the hill to
my truck.  He kept a pretty fast
pace up and I was huffing and
puffing when we got done.

Here endeth the season. 

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Sunday, January 06, 2019

You've Got to Really Hate Ducks to Do This

Ugh, rough day yesterday.  Went out
to the area we limited in last week.  The
report was that the ducks weren't flying
like they had been and it proved true.
 I thought the December lull was over
and January might be the turn around -
it sure wasn't yesterday.

We headed out from the ramp at 0400
and paddled with a pretty good west
wind at our backs for a long ways
until we found a floating mud island
of beach daisies  and sticks.  Putting
the decoys out was exhausting because
the wind was pushing us out into the
impoundment so strongly.  But we
did get them all out and got ourselves
hidden in the island.

I faced due east and my buddy due
south.  We could see them coming
from all directions, but they were
mostly several hundred yards south
of us in big, open water.  A few
came in early, I dropped one that
landed four feet behind me.  Anchoring
it at that distance didn't leave much
duck.  My buddy had to water whack
his in the decoys after waiting five
minutes for it to jump up and fly.

While a few other chances presented
themselves, and I missed spectacularly,
most birds stayed outside the dekes.
We set 0900 as our give up time and
sure enough one flnal ringer came through
the decoys.  I hit it and it landed crippled
to my north.

I headed out to retrieve it hurriedly,  so
hurriedly in fact that I didn't think to
pull in the camo netting I had over the
bow and trailing in the water.  The
wind was really starting to blow by
then too.

I paddled out to the duck and took
three more shots to put its head
down.  Those hulls in the water proved
to be both disastrous and beneficial
for what happened next.  I got the bird
and then went to pick up the hulls..
I was broadside to the wind and
sliding up next to a hull.  I barely
reached over to grab the hull when
I giant force tipped the kayak over
and all my gear and I went into the
water. I think the trailing edge of the
camo netting grabbed the hydrilla and
pulled the kayak under.

Thankfully, the water wasn't as deep
as it had been last year, but it was still
chest deep.  I grabbed the netting,
my blind bag, a few things that could
float and tossed those back in the boat.
My gun, new GPS, and a box of shells
were gone.

I hollered for my buddy to come help
because I thought I could still find the
gun.  He paddled his layout boat over
and tried to hold my kayak and his in
place.  He started to drift off unable
to paddle and hold on to my boat.
Eventually, he secured a rope to
my boat's bow.  I had started to wade
after him, and had lost the place
where the gun sank.  Again,
thankfully, I had marked the spot
by two of my hulls stuck in the
hydrilla.

I waded back and forth for what
seemed like 20 minutes before I had
my Excalibur moment and kicked
the gun up with my feet.

I gave the gun and blind bag to
my buddy to hold in his boat
while I tried to get back in mine.
I had watched a video many months
back on how to get back in a kayak
from deep water.  It worked perfently
until I tried to swing my legs in.  The
waders were full of gallons of water
and I couldn't lift my legs from the
weight.  How I finally did, I don't
know.

We paddled back to the blind and
picked up our decoy sleds.  I got
my remaining gear back and headed
out to pick up dekes.  I didn't pay
too much attention and just tossed
my Texas rigged decoys in the sled.
(that was a mistake).

We had to paddle home into the
teeth of the wind.  I thought it was
just the additional weight of the
water in my waders and the strength
of the wind, but the Fowl Trouble
was paddling like it was named
the Fowl Scow.  My buddy was
back to the ramp 30 minutes
before I was.

When I got there, I had to get
out of the kayak and slosh up on
the levee to dump the water out
of my waders.  My buddy said
he wished he had a camera for
that moment.

He pulled my decoy sled up on
the bank.  Some of the decoy
weights had trailed in the water
and grabbed about thirty pounds
of hydrilla.  That was what was
making the paddling extra hard.

My first duck hunt started with my
flipping a canoe twenty years ago.
But it worked out when I got back
to the ramp and ran into that same
buddy coming in from his own
duck hunt.  He eventually hired
me back at my present company.

A couple of years ago, I got
ejected from my duck boat on
a solo hunt, but had no damage
to me, boat, or hunt.  My buddy
says I've never met a boat I
couldn't fall out of.

I completely stripped, cleaned,
and super oiled by gun.  My
IPhone is another matter.  It's
in a bowl of rice now, but I don't
expect it to live.  The waterproof
case and the zip lock bag it was
in kept out a lot of water, but not
enough.

I am very glad to be alive today.
Things could have been very
different.

"You've got to really hate ducks
to do this." says Joe Richter.


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