A Jolly Rancher

In early January, Fred Walters, my neighbor and friend, asked me to accompany him on a quail hunt to his lease near Lockhart, Texas. This would be my second trip to the lease and remembering the luck that I had on ducks this past December, besides the 8’s for quail, slipped 5, number 6 shot into my hunting coat pocket

Still being without a dog, we had busted into an average sized covey and had reduced their number by 3. Luckily we found all of them, and as we looked for the last quail, in the brush ahead, was the damn of the “duck slaying” stock tank where on the last trip I had bagged 19 ducks, without shooting them on the water, with 5 shots. Fred looked for the last bird and told me to go on up and check for ducks and if they were any, take care of them.

Exchanging the shells in my pump and clipping the other 2 between the fingers of my left hand, I quickly, but quietly, walked up behind the damn and eased my eyes over the edge for a look, and to my surprise there was many, many different varieties of ducks swimming and feeding in the small tank. Quickly ducking back down, I tried to wave for Fred to come up, but he couldn’t see me through the thick stuff, so I decided as he had said, “Take care of them by myself.”

Easing over the tank dam, the surface of the water exploded as the ducks took to air! Up they came and boom, boom, boom, my 12, gauge barked! I had picked out a duck for each shot and as they caught the wind and swung back over me, I quickly slipped the 2 shells that I had jammed between my fingers into the pump and let fly, boom, boom and 2 more fell.

Glancing back into the tank, I counted 13 ducks down. I was careful in picking out just one duck, but the spread and pattern of the shot had knocked down 8 more. Dreading retrieving them, because I knew we’d be over the limit, I started picking up the ones close to shore and then started “chunking” the ones left out in the middle.

Fred heard the shooting and ran up as I was “chunking” the ducks. My tally included 2 greenheads and 2 pintail drakes along with 9 other of ducks. We each had a lot of ducks in our freezers back in Houston, so we were over our daily bag limit by 3. I was crushed, but Fred assured me there would be no problem. He said, “We’ll just clean ‘em all and leave 3 big ducks with the rancher. Hopefully, we’ll be OK!”

The rancher happily took the ducks we gave him and said, “Don’t forget that I like quail too!”

We got him some quail the next trip!