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The Duck Call

Story ID:6900
Written by:Charles Dishno (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Story
Location:Dillon Montana United States
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The Duck Call
By Chuck Dishno
March, 2010

When I grew up in the small town of Bly, Oregon my passion was duck hunting and fishing. I lived for the 70 plus days of the Migratory Waterfowl season, a.k.a, duck season. It started in November and ran for about 70 days.

Bly is located in the heart of the Sprague River Valley and had lots of grain fields, which attracted many ducks and geese. It was rare that I missed even one day. I would go out before school and if the hunting was good, I would skip school or come in late. After school, I would run home where my Mom had my shotgun and shell vest standing by the front gate. I would grab them and head out to the grain fields.

I would stock up on shotgun shells during the off-season but I was a pretty good shot so I didnít waste too many. I had a 12-gauge Winchester model 97 that my Dad gave me when I was about 12 years old. The limit at that time was 8 ducks and 4 geese. On many occasions I would limit out which meant a lot of work, picking and cleaning, for Mom and me when I got home. My Pop was a logger so he only got to go out on the weekends. Needless to say we had a lot of birds to eat. We rented a frozen food locker at the Sycan Store to store our booty. This gave us plenty to eat during the rest of the year.

Even though we had lots of ducks and geese, there were many times when the ducks were flying too high and we came back empty handed. I tried to quack like a duck to call them down but I must have sounded like a demented duck as it rarely worked.

One day Pop and I were sitting by a haystack and I was trying to call some ducks down. After listning to my futile attempt, Pop said he thought it was time he invested in a real duck call.

The next time we went to Klamath Falls to do our monthly grocery shopping, Pop went into the local Woolworth store and to his delight he found a duck call that was in his price range. I think it was under $2.00 so he bought it. That was a lot of money in 1947 but he thought it was worth it. In retrospect he should have tried it out first but he just didnít want to blow it in the store.

We couldnít wait to go out to Basil Hallís field the next day and try it out. We got up early and I got permission to skip church that morning so that we could have a full day in the fields.

We got to our favorite spot, and parked ourselves beside one of Basilís haystacks. It was a beautiful morning and there were a few ducks flying way to high to shoot so Pop thought it was time he tried out his new toy. I was designated the spotter and when I saw a band of Mallards heading our way, I told Pop to start quacking away.

This duck call was a wooden tube about 8 inches long with a mouth piece on one end. When I gave him the signal he started blowing on it. We were both taken back at the sound it made. It sounded nothing like any duck we had ever heard and the ducks promptly started gaining altitude. We were both laughing like a couple of fools and after a while Pop said that maybe he should practice blowing that thing. He put it too his lips and tried various methods.

About that time I heard strange sound and when I looked around the corner of the haystack, there were about 30 of Basilís horses bearing down on us at a full gallop.

Pop had been a cattle rancher in Montana for the first 40 years of his life and he was used to horses, but it scared the heck out of me. I just sat there waiting to see what would happen. The horses were just curious and when they got up to the fence around the haystack they stopped and looked at us.

Pop was laughing and said that they sure had mis-named that duck call wished he had had one back on the ranch in Montana.

After a while the horses left and both of us tried it to call some ducks down, but they would have nothing to do with it. It turned out to be a lousy day for a hunt and that afternoon we packed up and headed home. Pop couldnít wait to tell Mom about the events of the day.

The duck call story doesnít end here.

My grandmother, Etta, lived with us and had her own bedroom in our house. Her bedroom and my folkís bedroom shared a common closet between their rooms.

One morning, Pop, got out his trusty duck call and hid in his closet. When he heard Etta go into her bedroom room where she would sit in the sun and read her bible.

Pop started quacking on that duck call. Soon Etta came running out of her room yelling at the top of her voice for Mom.

She said there was something in her closet that sounded like a mad crow or something. She was afraid it would come out and attack her. Mom went into the room but couldnít find anything.

Pop had heard them and quit quacking. As soon as Etta went back to her room he started in again.

This went on for quite some time before Mom looked in her closet and found Pop sitting on the floor laughing his head off and the prank he pulled. He had to go to Etta and apologize for playing a trick on her. He was soon forgiven and all was forgotten, except in our memories.

How I loved those times with my dear old Dad.

I am looking forward to seeing him again sometime in the hereafter, seeing a Heavenly duck and calling it down with one of Godís duck calls. It could be a reenactment of Gabriel blowing his horn.

Who knows we may even call a few of Godís horses into the fray.