year’s hunting trip, which featured 14 inches of snow and spring floods of 11 feet.
A short trip along a levee brought us to our blind, and we unloaded our gear and went to work. Our roles were reversed from 20 years ago. Now it was my job to arrange guns, lunches and gear bags in the blind and to grass everything over with our portable grass sections.
David put out our decoy set with pulsators, roto-wingers and wing-set landers. Deke took his position in the dog box at the end of the blind. After a final inspection we climbed in the blind, ready to hunt.
An overnight rain had stopped, but low clouds and 25-mph winds still persisted. Schell Lake was loaded with geese and ducks, both on the water and in the air above. In fact, they were trading back and forth over our heads as we were setting up in the semidarkness.
Shots from blind C-5 started the morning in grand style, and the excitement continued throughout the day. I had left my calls in the truck so calling was entirely David’s responsibility. I think he was glad not to have to contend with my loud hail calls and ill-timed feeding chuckles.
B-2 had not been hunted for two days, and the ducks were regularly visiting the area. They decoyed readily to Dave’s calling and reassurance chatter. By midmorning we had collected three plump mallard drakes. We couldn’t even finish our lunch and coffee until the action slowed.
One more mallard drake fell to our guns in the early afternoon when a group of six slid right into the decoys with wings bowed, heads down and feet lowered.
As the afternoon waned, snow geese became more active. Family groups traded back and forth from Schell Lake to the Osage River. One returning group of six got careless.
“They’re going to be in range, Dave,” I whispered. Safeties clicked as we both rose as one. Two shots rang out and the second goose in line folded and dropped out of the formation. Deke hit the water with a tremendous surge, galloping out in the shallows for the retrieve. He took a little longer to secure a good hold on the larger snow goose than he did on the mallards.
As sunset grew near, I began cleaning up the inside of the blind, carrying blind bags, the cooler and the food bags out the back ramp to the access road. David was still on the lookout for some last action.
Just as I reached the road he fired once, dropping another mallard drake. “He just popped over the levee and sailed right in,” he said. “What could I do?”
It was dark by the time we reached the office and turned in our daily blind cards. Bagging five mallards and one snow goose was not bad for a last-pick blind.
After goodbyes to the staff, we headed for the motel. During the drive, we reminisced about the many years we had hunted at Schell. My two sons grew up waterfowl hunting with me at Schell and, although they both now live in Indiana, one or both of them usually return each year for a three-day hunt.
I participate in the waterfowl blind reservation drawings each year, hoping for a reservation at Schell. Whether I get one or not, we know we will be back the following year. Schell is just too good a place to hunt waterfowl.