Pennsylvania Game News - January 2011 - 33
in over his head. He said it was hard to be dignified and to look official with swamp grass hanging from your head, especially when those you intended to check are doubled over in laughter. My brother-in-law, John, and I were hunting ducks on the Susquehanna River early one morning. It was so foggy we couldn’t see ducks that we could hear passing within range. I made a few squawks on my duck call and, sure enough, a small flock of mallards descended through the fog and John shot one. Before I could raise my gun, they had disappeared again. I heard a heavy thump in back of me and there was a drake mallard about a foot from my boots. He seemed as surprised to see me as I him. One time I was hunting waterfowl at an abandoned mining operation near Tremont. Ducks frequently used the old ponds that were part of the mining project. When I sneaked up to one of the ponds and looked over the edge of the bank, there was a Canada goose looking up at me. Four geese lifted from the pond and I was able to drop three of them. That was the first (and only) time I scored a triple, and I couldn’t believe my good luck. My joy was short-lived, however, because the geese were on the water and had to be retrieved. The first two were easy enough, but the third was beyond reach from shore. The bottom of the pond was silt, which was like quicksand. I put on my hip boots and found an old wooden plank that I used as a life preserver. I
Now, the danger associated with waterfowl (with the exception of loons) comes, not from the critter, but from its habitat, namely water. Water is not man’s natural habitat. All kinds of bad things can happen when the two get together.
made my way out to where I could almost reach the goose. Just one more step would do it. I made that step and that’s when the icy water poured over the top of my boots. I’m sure no human ears could hear the sounds I made, but all of the dogs within two miles started to howl. I did retrieve that goose. Near this same mining operation was a series of small potholes that had been dug in search of coal, and they attracted ducks. One day my friend, Bud, and I were hunting there and we jumped a drake wood duck, which Bud dropped with a nice shot. The duck fell in the middle of the pond, the pond, however, was too deep to wade and we were unable to find a stick long enough to reach the woody. One of us got the smart idea to throw rocks out over the duck so the wave action would bring it within reach. This was working okay, although it was slow. Bud got the bright idea to throw a larger rock to hasten the process. Unfortunately, the rock was too large and landed between shore and the duck, driving it back to its original spot. One of Bud’s few shortcomings was his lack of appropriate words to use in such a situation. I offered to lend him a few but he declined. Eventually we did retrieve the duck and all ended well. Another seemingly harmless bird is the mourning dove. The dove itself is not a rough character, but it hangs out in habitat that is. The