This one time, at duck camp…a young girl became a waterfowler.
My daughter, Katelynn, started waterfowling after successfully completing her hunter’s safety course in 2012. She has spent most of her time in Eastern Kansas hunting ducks and geese in the fields close to home. After traveling down to Stuttgart, AR for the Wings Over the Prairie Festival in November 2013 and seeing the myriad of waterfowl in the area, she was extremely excited to come back and hunt. In December of 2013, she had the opportunity to travel the flooded timber and rice fields outside Stuttgart.
On day one, Katelyn and I set off on our first out-of-state hunt together. It was after Christmas, and she was extremely excited to make the nine hour trip to hunt but anxious about meeting and spending four days in a lodge with eight men. Within thirty minutes after arriving at the duck lodge in St. Charles, she felt a sense of familiarity and camaraderie with the men as they all shared the passion of waterfowling. Over the course of four days, she played along and laughed with the guys until her sides hurt from all of the duck camp shenanigans. She may have learned some life lessons that can’t be taught in school.
Day two found us hunting in the heart of Bayou Meto and for the first time, we were standing waist deep in the flooded timber. Leaving the boat ramp in the dark, bouncing off trees, having limbs attack us and stumbling through the submerged logs and holes was a somewhat intimidating experience for two hunters from Kansas. With snow, sleet and temperatures in the high 20’s, the conditions were not ideal for hunting in timber and presented a challenge for us.
The morning of day three dawned crisp and clear with ice covering the rice field we were hunting. In the pre-dawn light, the sound of specks and ducks only added to the anticipation of the morning’s hunt. I promised Katelynn on the drive down, if she shot a trophy worthy bird, I would have it mounted for the start of her own trophy room. Katelynn successfully harvested a drake mallard in full plumage. From that moment I didn’t care if I pulled the trigger again. We left the mallard with the taxidermist before heading for home on day four.
Hopefully this experience will make a long-lasting memory that Katelynn will never forget. I know I won’t…just like the memories I had hunting with my own father at her age. Already, the wheels are turning in her head for future trips including the possibility of Canada for Fall 2014. Katelynn has started her own “bucket list” and would like to hunt moose and antelope in the future. However, the 2014 Spring snow goose season is quickly looming with Turkey season soon after. Harvesting her first snow goose and turkey will be a good place to start. Hopefully, her future stories will include…”this one time, at duck camp….”.