(Dixie---the greatest dog ever---and I hunting for Snow Geese in 2003)
The next Countdown has begun......58 days until duck season opens.
For the 5th time since 2000, 5 friends and I will make the 30 hour drive from Texas to Central Saskatchwan, Canada in October. Yes---30 hours.....no stopping. 2 diesel pickups, 6 hunters, 18 shotguns, 3,000 shotshells, 2-16 foot trailers, 500 decoys and an awful lot of beer and food will leave North Texas at 4am Oct 15 and return Oct 25. Sasketchewan, Land of the Living Skies, is the Mt. Everest of waterfowl hunting. It is common in Saskatchewan to see 10,000 snow geese feeding in a harvested rye field...their honks so deafening you literally can't hear your buddy talking next to you. Or 2,000 mallards blackening the face of a 3 acre pond as they migrate south before an arctic blast turns the prarie pothole region of North America into frozen tundra. Or setting your decoys in a frigid marsh with only the Northern Lights providing your "night light".
For me, Saskatchewan represents the way duck hunting surely used to be generations ago. The landscape is an endless rolling plateau of wheat, rye, corn, lentil and grain farms dotted with hundreds of thousands of tiny ponds we call potholes. Here, each spring, millions of mallards, gadwall, pintail, teal, and widgeon hatch the estimated 20-30 million birds that will migrate south each fall.
But what's made this trip more enjoyable, by far, are the hosts. The spirit and humor of the farmers of the prarie provinces in central Canada is unmatched. In the roughly 40 days we've spent in Saskatchewan, we have met some of the most humble, hard working people that have invited us into their homes, allowed us to hunt their expansive farms, and shared more than just a few pilsners and Crown Royals....commonly known as a "pour" in Canada, eh.
How did this addiction occur? I owe a huge debt to my father-in-law and brother-in-law for introducing me to a miserable, windy, rainy 36 degree Thanksgiving first duck hunt, knee deep in underinsulated half wet clothing in Lonoke AR in 1992....and I loved every minute. For 17 years now, I have assembled a small fortune in equipment and supplies in pursuit of ducks and geese and as I sit here writing this, I'm still trying to decide what exactly I'd like for my 37th birthday.....from Cabela's.
So with 58 days left until the big trip, you can bet I'll be strategizing on things like: how to shave an extra 15 min off of that 30 hour drive (each way), consulting with my buddy Scott on decoy counts (we always need more!), menu planning, studying weather patterns, and staring at catalog after catalog of Bass Pro and Cabela's!