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What Went Around, Came Around

Bill Adelman, author photo,

By Bill Adelman
01/09/15 -- My initial exposure to duck hunting came about in 1960. A real hunter worked with me and asked if I’d like to try a duck hunt on the Sacramento River levee near the Sacramento Wildlife area.

We had to wait for the ducks to fly across the water and shoot through the trees. My friend loaned me a 16 ga side by side and tried to tell me what “lead” was. Made sense right up until the first 5 ducks came whistling towards me, I lead the lead drake according to instruction and the second bird, a hen, came crashing to the ground. Success, sorta.

My son turned 14 in 1972 and we went on our first duck hunt together. He ingested the waterfowl bug far more seriously than I and to this day is one of the most avid and attention to detail duck hunters I’ve ever met.

Steve Adelman with his bird, photo courtesy of Bill Adelman
Author's son, Steve. Photo courtesy of Bill Adelman

After years of hunting the refuges and/or open areas where there was access, he and some friends bought into a 4 hole blind northeast of Princeton. The work they put in to make this doable has paid off handsomely. My favorite amenity, when I get to join them, is the “golden carpet”. ( A coffee can in the blind is my second.) They buy about 80 bales of hay and completely cover the levee from where you park the quad right to, about 300 yards, and beyond the holes. You’ll never slip in the sloppy mud again as the rain mats down the hay and makes it more usable. The guys are more than amenable to inviting others on a hunt, especially the young guns who show up prior to opening day to help with the real work necessary to be ready for the first shoot.

The Golden Carpet, by Bill Adelman
The golden carpet, photo by Author

Five years ago my son invested in a black flat coated retriever who they named Stella. She was purchased from Mark & Arleen who own Applegarth Marquis Farms in Spring Lake near Clear Lake. My son was thinking hunting dog and it worked out fairly well, as like all retrievers, she lives for the hunt. However at home, she kinda runs the place. Even when the truck is being loaded for any outing, she runs to the tailgate and just sits there, waiting for the command.

Sean Adelman holding duck, photo by Steve Adelman
Sean, photo by Steve Adelman

Mark has a helper at the farm, namely his son Sean, who is now 15. He recently passed his hunter safety requirements and Mark had asked my son if Sean could join them on a hunt, his first. You gotta love it when a plan comes together. Even at my advanced age I can vividly recall my first hunts, which were very special at the time.

Sean Adelman dressed for hunting, photo by Steve Adelman
Sean, photo by Steve Adelman

Mark & Sean arrived at oh-dark-thirty, the quad was loaded and down the access road they ventured. One can only imagine Sean’s inward excitement. After the decoy dress up work was done by flashlight, the guys settled in and began explaining to Sean, again, just what to look for.

ducks high in the sky formation, photo by Bill Adelman
Again too high, photo by Bill Adelman

This was the kids hunt and the older hunters were determined to work with and for him. As with so many of us beginners, when a duck was called Sean sometimes had trouble locating it quickly, and missed either the shot or the opportunity. Not all was lost however as he did down 3 – 4 ducks and got his first goose as well, a nice speck. The other two managed a few birds, one’s that didn’t present a shot for Sean or at flocks where everybody got a chance. All in all, a great day for the kid and an extremely satisfying day for the adults.

Bill Adelman is a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of California. His work has appeared in the Fish Sniffer newspaper and MarketPlace magazine. He was a full time freshwater fishing guide for 20 years. Now retired he still likes to serve as a flyfishing instructor, rod builder, outdoor photographer and hunting mentor.

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Liesl, 11 month old pudelpointer, photo by Gary Lewis
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mountain lion on rocky edge, photo courtesy of UDWR and Carrie Wilson, CA DFW
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Tyler Low with his 3x4 buck shot at 100 yards with a Weatherby Vanguard .300 Winchester Magnum. Photo by Kyler Olson
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Never say never, rifle buk, Francisco Garcia,
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