The Last Duck Hunt

When I was about 11 or 12 I knew I was a mighty hunter. I had shot deer, rabbits, sage hens, Hungarian pheasants and rattlesnakes. I had hunted geese from a pit and now decided I was going to conquer duck hunting. I got on my trusty Honda 50 and headed from our farm to a reservoir about 10 miles to the north. I had my double barrel Stevens 410 shot gun straddled in my lap and enough shells to kill a truck load of ducks.

Image compliments of @barjack/Flickr

I parked the motorcycle about a quarter of a mile away from the reservoir and snuck up on the cold water of the reservoir this October morning. Sure enough there were some Green-Headed Mallards on the pond. I crept closer on my belly thru the cattails to where I could get a good shot. I yelled so they would fly and did hit one of the ducks as it attempted to fly and get away. He fell into the cold water about 20 to 25 feet from the shore.

Image compliments of @texaseagle/Flickr

Image compliments of @texaseagle/Flickr

At first I didn’t know what to do, as I hadn’t brought a long pole or a fishing line to reach him and get him to shore. I thought for a bit, but I had been taught never ever to leave an animal or bird in the field so I was determined to get him. I found a stick about a yard long and started out into the cold water to retrieve him like a bird dog. What I didn’t realize was that the bottom of the reservoir was full of weeds and the bottom suddenly dropped off steeply from near the shore. All of a sudden I couldn’t touch bottom and my feet with my lace up boots still on were tangled in the weeds.

I was drowning, the heavy boots and my wet clothes were dragging me down. My short life of 10 to 12 years did flash in front of my eyes. I don’t know how I got out or how I got my duck out, but the ride of 10 miles to home on a little Honda was very cold. I shook like the dickens with cold. I didn’t ever tell my folks about the drowning part, and no I never, ever went duck hunting again. The Great Duck Hunter was grateful to be alive, grateful I wasn’t a drowning victim at that early age. The Good Lord had pity on me that day and many days since.. Funny when you are drowning how bad you want to live..

Russ Crites, the mighty duck hunter, at 10 or 11

The mighty duck hunter

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