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Vintage Waterfowler

don webster author's badge for myoutdoorbuddy.com

aving been pursuing waterfowl for over 60 years, I was exposed to its history as a mere child by my grandfather, Wilbur S. Pechin. He hunted ducks and geese along the Platte River in Nebraska in the late 19th century when the limits were exceedingly generous. He used live decoys in those days. "We'd stake out a susie (hen mallard) away from the rest of the ducks, and she would get lonesome and quack her head off," my grandpa told me. "Pretty soon the sky would start rainin' ducks."

I wrote the following piece some years ago as a tribute to my grandfather and other, vintage waterfowlers who hunted ducks and geese in the good, old days.
I usually haul it out and read it before the start of waterfowl season, to remind myself of the rich heritage we enjoy, and to remember to do what I can to pass that heritage along to younger hunters.
old black and white photo of a skiff loaded with ducks and a man with his shotgun, courtesy of Don Webster
Vintage Waterfowler -- A poem by Don E. Webster -- Photo of scullboat unknown
When the clock clanged in the black of the night, he arose and fumbled in the lack of the light, shivering and trembling as he lit a wood fire, cooking hot grub the cold day would require.

Looking out the window at the raging gale, he smiled at the snow and laughed at the hail. Let the cold sleet fall and the fierce wind howl, that nor’easter’s bringing me the waterfowl!

He grabbed rubber boots, shells, and his gun, put on his slicker and hit the door on the run. The road was slick and the weather was harsh, but he cranked up the Lizzy, heading for the marsh.

In his boat were the decoys he called his ‘stool’, hand-carved birds that turned ducks into fools. Poling and pushing as he broke through the gloom, he knew that the dawn would spell duck doom.

Chipping through the ice, he set out his dekes, hid in the rushes and rubbed frost from his cheeks. He heard a soft quack and the sound of their wings, it was music to his ears, and it made his heart sing.

Forgetting the cold and the wet and the wind, he shouldered his gun and fired and he grinned. This was what he lived for, the thing that he loved. Long live the ducks! And thank the Lord above!

Don E. Webster has been engaged in a wide variety of outdoor pursuits for over 60 years. His recently published book, Bury Me In My Waders -- An Old Duck Hunter Recalls His Fowl Past, currently ranks among the most popular, best-selling duck hunting books on Amazon Books and Amazon Kindle. His next book, “Double-Ought Buck” a novel, will be available in December. Webster was the recipient of the 2013 Phil Ford Humor Award from the Outdoor Writer’s Association of California for his hilarious description of hunting dogs in his MyOutdoorBuddy column entitled “Canine Comics.” Don's website is donewebster.com.

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