Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Pond Ducks, New Memories


Last year's photo of Bolt, who is blind, with pond ducks he helped to retrieve

       What happened to the ducks this fall? Well we had far too little water here in the lower Midwest, but the big problem was the lack of water in northern breeding grounds of Canada and the Dakotas. Way less than normal in the spring and summer.

       And that meant far too few waterfowl nests, and far too few ducks coming our way in the fall and even in December. Decoys don’t work well with a combination of really low water and bluebird days, with high skies, no wind and daytime temperatures warm enough to create sprouting acorns before 2022 got here. 

       I didn’t see many ducks at favorite places on lakes and rivers around me. But there were a few on farm ponds, so that is where ol’ Bolt and I went. Bolt is nearly 12, and his vision is gone.  On the way to our favorite ponds, he just walks along beside me and waits while I sneak up over the pond banks.

       The first one had a good flock of mallards and I missed a nice drake as they took to flight.  Mallards nowadays seem faster than they once were, when Bolt and I were both younger.  But I followed that retreating greenhead and hit him hard as he flew away to the right.  I turned my attention back to the rest of the flock as he dropped a little but then just kept flying.  Some trees to that side made it so that I couldn’t see him anyway.

        But Bolt and I headed down to the right of the pond and walked through the field below it.  I would never find that duck where he eventually fell, but my big chocolate Labrador didn’t need to see him, his nose would find him if he was there.  And halfway through the field, he quit walking behind me and came out before me, obviously tuned into a scent he knew well. The mallard was about 20 yards away, lying dead in heavy grass. Bolt was like a young dog again. He brought me the dead duck and I made a big deal of it, bragging on him, setting down there in the high grass, just as happy as he was and making a big deal of his retrieve, hugging my old companion and telling him what a wonderful dog he was. Bolt was so proud and happy, but there was a tear in my eye, remembering the first time he brought me a duck, years ago. I knew it might be his last retrieve ever. Few hunting Labs live to be much older than he is.

    But there was another pond about a mile away so we took our greenhead and walked toward it, and old dog and old hunter.  I stopped and rested on a log and thanked God for giving me that duck and my dog and the health that allows me to walk where I want to and still find a few ducks, even if it is nothing like it was in duck blinds 50 years ago.

    At the other pond, there was another good flock of mallards too far out in the pond to be in good range.  But when they flushed, one hen came over within range and I dumped her stone dead, out in a tree-top that had fallen in the pond.  I seldom ever shoot hens, but with Bolt along I wanted him to have another opportunity.  But then I wondered if he might somehow get confused trying to get out of the mess that tree-top represented to a blind retriever.  He would find the duck, I knew, but what if he couldn’t find his way out.  We walked away and left the mallard hen there.  But there is more to the story.  At home, Bolt’s grandson, Lad is a year and a half old.  In human terms, that makes him still a pup in training, equal to a ten or eleven year old boy.  He is full of energy, comical and promising half the time and aggravating half the time as well, but one of the most beautiful Labs, and one of the most intelligent ones, that I have ever raised, since I started raising them 50 years ago.


      As bolt curled up in his bed in my office, I looked at Lad and wondered.  But I wasn’t about to leave that mallard out there in the top of that downed tree to be eaten by some otter or turtle.  So that day, we set out to see how good Lad might become.  If everything went well, it might be the day of his time for his first retrieve.  But that story will have to wait for next week’s column.  All columns and photos (those of Bolt and Lad) can be seen each week on larrydablemontoutdoors.blogspot.com

Young Lad ready for his first duck retrieve.

       If you like to read about the outdoors, signed and numbered copies of my new book, “The Way I Remember It” are available now. There are 11 other books I have written and about 75 back issues of my outdoor magazines you can order by just calling my office, 417 777 5227. The email address is lightninridge47@gmail.com  You can write to me at P.O. Box 22, Bolivar, Mo. 65613


Wednesday, January 5, 2022

January Flowers and Publication News


       I wonder sometimes if common sense in our nation is a thing of the past.  At a meeting of outdoor writers some greatly admired turkey hunter who worked for the Forest Products Institute told them all that today there are more trees growing in America today than ever before. 

       I guess he gets paid for ridiculous deception. You wonder what kind of nonsense you can get people to believe nowadays.  Were those admirers of this great turkey hunter that gullible, to believe nonsense like that?  Let me tell you something about the steady warming of the earth.  It is real, and as forests fall, and millions of acres of pastureland and open earth are created, and millions of acres of pavement and cement are created, the earth will get warmer.  


      Why do the idiots in Washington who fear that it will get hotter each year and carbon dioxide will increase in the major cities, never mention ANY of those factors.  On January 1  photographed five species of flowers blooming here on my ridgetop.  And doggone, I hate to admit it, but earth warming in the dead of winter doesn’t seem so bad.  
But I sure hate it in August.                                                

       Can you believe we started our publishing company 22 years ago?  Since then we have published 88 magazines.  I wish we could have got to 100 but such is not to be. The one coming out this spring is the last one… for several reasons.

       First of all, the disease that was created in China has caused paper companies to shut down and those who remain open have doubled and tripled the price of paper.  To continue and try to remain in the black, we would have to double our advertising prices and subscription costs to a higher price than I want to charge.  The magazines we put out in the spring will cost us more than 5 dollars each, and we sell them for 6 dollars. Therefore we have decided discontinue our publications for a while, and maybe for good. I think it is likely that we will just cut back to one or two issues a year if things in our country should ever return to normal. 

       But if I am up in Canada someday, back in the wilderness fleeing the mess our country is becoming, trying to get away from the diversity this nation seems to think is a good thing, I may want to stay there. And if, while I am there I am attacked by a hungry bear, there won’t be any more magazines to come.  And I have had a nightmare that someone may someday find my watch in a pile of bear dung!!!

       Knowing this, I want to give everyone the opportunity to get their subscription money back.  If you are a subscriber all this will be explained in the spring issue, which you should receive in March.


       There are other things complicating the decision to change the way we are doing things.  For one, we do not have enough employees now to do what we have done in the past.  For a couple of years we have not had an advertising manager and with today’s climate and ‘leadership’ in the U.S. we have just given up. I see no chance for an improving future. I figure if half our nation voted for the people now in power, how can we survive much longer as a nation.  

       It is also a fact that subscribers we had 20 years ago have dwindled, as so many of them have passed away.  And it is a fact that today, people who are under 40 do not read magazines.  

       Our new plans allow us to keep the option of having non-seasonal, occasional special issues once or twice a year. AND--my weekly newspaper column will continue. I have many more books to publish as well. BUT… I promised many times that we would return subscription money any time we were unable too keep doing magazines which satisfy our readers, and I intend to keep that promise.  Since we have more than 80 magazines from past years, those who don’t have them all can find great reading in our back issues, which we can send out.

       It is going to take awhile get every one paid, so be patient with me. I will continue to write articles regularly and post them with my photographs on the internet at larrydablemontoutdoors.blogspot.com Thanks for all of you who have let me know how much you have enjoyed our books and magazines and outdoor columns over the past few years.

       You can call me at my office number, 417-777-5227, write to me at Box 22, Bolivar, Mo. 65613 or email me at lightninridge47@gmail.com.  All the back issues of the magazines and all 12 of my books can be seen on website www.larrydablemont.com