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Through the rear view mirror

Frank Galusha, author photo

By Frank Galusha
11/19/14 -- To paraphrase Lewis Carroll, "The time has come," the Walrus said, "To talk of many things: Of draughts -- and books -- and artifacts -- Of bandages -- and flings -- And why the flag is upside down -- And whether men like kings."

Whether you take life in huge swigs or tiny doses, one should always find space and time to relate tales, old and new, or to settle back to listen or read.

In my prior column I referred to the fickleness of weather and how it affects my duck hunting plans. This month, two out three times I had a strong wind, mostly at my back, but other little things went wrong. On Day One, the wind did not blow as forecast; instead, it arrived a day late. I’m glad I stayed Day Two even though the ducks weren’t there. My third attempt, on November 13 in Stearn’s Unit #4 at Lower Klamath, was foiled “Not for the want of a nail…” but for the want of a Band-Aid®.

Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge, 2014 Stearns Unit #4, Frank Galusha
My decoy spread included this on the left and more not visible here on the right leaving a nice open place for birds to drop in as the sun came up. None did, however, but I saw enough flights to convince me a migration had occurred. Photo by author

As predicted the wind blew 10-20 mph and surprisingly the ducks were in the air by the hundreds but most stayed high, flying fast and far away. It wouldn’t have mattered.

A small gash on my trigger finger, obtained while I was pulling the canoe into the tules, was sore and bleeding. The amount of blood being lost was minimal but I couldn’t find the bandages in my pocket. I wrapped my handkerchief around my finger but when a duck came my way I couldn’t get the darn thing unwrapped and when I did, pulling the trigger hurt and opened the wound.

I did find a bottle of New Skin® Liquid Bandage in my pocket, but it was hard to hold and open the bottle with my injured finger while I tried to apply the stuff to the cut with my left hand. I did it numerous times without success but did manage to get both hands and the shotgun covered with the goo. I’m still pulling the stuff off my digits. All my gear, including my calls, was soon either blotched with blood or sticky to the touch.

Necessity being the Mother of Invention, I eventually took the Saran Wrap® off a sandwich and discovered it makes a reasonably good substitute for tape. Unfortunately, by then the wind had died and the ducks had disappeared.

Compare that to this! Circa 1990 I abandoned the Colorado River in S. California to hunt ducks on Arizona’s Gila River. It was a ten hour drive to the town of Safford. My son and I camped in a dry wash, slid the canoe into the Gila, which was flowing strong and made a quick crossing. After paddling upstream on the opposite bank for several hundred yards, we came to a secluded oxbow. Once inside the quiet waters we tossed out our dekes, hid the canoe and stood in shoulder-high brush. Within minutes, widgeon descended upon us. Shots rang out, ducks fell and my American Water Spaniel, aptly named “Galusha’s Tippecanoe and Tyler, too” made numerous fine retrieves. Later came pintails and mallards and we left with limits.

On another trip to the same area, we had thunderstorms overnight. The river came up to flood stage so we had to change plans. That afternoon, in a nearby flooded grain field, we put out dekes and left with ten drake mallards. On other trips to Safford we took limits of dove and some quail.

I relay these contrasting stories only to prove Tracy Byrd correct in his ballad, “The Truth about Men,” which is especially applicable to duck hunters! “No matter what line we give you, when we come crawlin’ in…You know it’s gonna happen again.”

Until next time I hope you have the wind in your face if you have a rifle in your hands and at your back if you’re trying to cast a fly.

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Website Design Photo Credits: MyOutdoorBuddy.com thanks the following individuals for contributing photographs for use on our Home and Section pages: Anders Tomlinson of Tule-Lake.com, Casey Allen of Bayside, CA; Jason Haley of Medford, OR; Steve Breth of Burney, CA; Tracy McCormack of Eureka, CA; Grant Thompson of Grand Junction, CO; Richard Bott of Shingletown, CA; Ron Loftus of Yreka, CA; Scott Caldwell of Montague, CA; Lorissa Soriano of Alturas, CA and the late Dave Menke, formerly with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

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