Weeks after the end of the 2019 duck hunting season I was talking about the entire fiasco with a (much younger) hunting friend and he asked why I didn’t go online to purchase my waterfowl stamp?? I’m guessing that by the dumbfounded look on my face he could immediately see that I was noticeably confused, so he elaborated. Pulling out his fancy phone, he “Googled”, “migratory waterfowl stamp” and several links immediately appeared where stamps can be purchased online. Hunters can simply print off proof of payment or save it to their phone and voila, instant waterfowl stamp! In my sheer state of absolute disbelief, I wove a web of obscenities that likely still hangs like a dark cloud over the north end of Messalonskee Lake. What gets me most about this entire ordeal, is that in contacting 6 different postal offices, not ONE postal worker knew enough to help direct me to this online service. In a day and age where nationally we are trying to attract youth into our outdoor traditions and retain the hunters we currently have, it seems to me these individuals need to be better educated in their own internal processes.
Bella’s First Year Hunting
This October will be the first season of duck hunting for my new Labrador retriever, Bella. Bella is my second dog, my first being Onyx who survived 15 great hunting seasons, before finally succumbing to an aggressive form of nasal cancer. After Onyx passed, I swore that I would never get another dog, the heartache had been too great, watching her sicken and finally needing to be euthanized. Time, however, heals all wounds and after a few months, I was on the phone with our breeder asking when the next litter would be available. I’m a dog person, my wife’s a dog person and my kids are dog people, being without a dog feels like some critical component of life is missing.
Training Bella has been fun, frustrating, easy and difficult. There has been good, there has been bad. I’ve had days where I felt like a complete failure as a dog trainer and other days when I felt we could compete at Westminster. This month will be the litmus test to all the time and effort we have spent together training and I can’t wait for the day she brings that first duck to hand.
Dogs teach sportsmen patience and unconditional love . . . even when they chew a hole through your brand new waders, it is still no wonder why through the ages, the dog has been and always will be, man’s best friend.
Awakening the next morning, I felt an odd sensation in my right foot, it felt as though it was badly swollen. Swinging my foot out from beneath the covers, I was a little shocked at the amount and size of the blisters that had formed overnight. Showing my friends and family, I was instructed to go immediately to the hospital. At first I refused, but after a few hours of hobbling around, I decided that maybe they were right. At Urgent Care, I was told I had suffered second and potentially third degree burns on my right foot. My foot was swabbed in sanitizing ointment, bandaged and I was instructed to keep it extremely clean. Despite doctor’s orders, I still woke up early the next morning, crammed my badly swollen foot into a boot and helped my friend Dave haul his deer out . . . I’m a horrible patient.
So what does all this have to do with hunting, everything! After the accident, I began thinking of how inadequate my first aid kit was at camp, how I needed to make sure to use my safety harness each and every time I climb into a deer stand and I even ordered a wound sealing powder called Celox, a product designed to stop bleeding almost immediately if a person suffers a traumatic injury. The life lesson here, is the same as it was when I was in the scouts, always be prepared!