Mar 12, 2019


As I eased by kayak away from the launch on a Lake Poygan feeder stream, I was looking forward to the solitude of hunting the marsh away from the crowds out on the main lake.  I quickly found that one other hardy soul had the same plan, as he was already tossing decoys out in the early November pre-dawn.  I paddled about 20 minutes further upstream, and found the isolation I had been seeking. I placed my half dozen floating plastic mallards out in front of a point with an adjacent small slough, and eased my kayak back into the canes to await legal shooting time.  I had hunted this spot before with my impatient dad, who always seemed to shoot just before I did, with often fruitless results.  

There were a few birds landing nearby, so I began to think that I was in for a quick limit.  As legal time came, announced by a blast down the creek, a pair of teal glided in perfectly to my spread, and I got the green wing drake to start my day.  A short time later, another flock buzzed in, and I shot my first ever triple! I was super stoked and couldn’t wait to brag to Dad. Although they had all folded cleanly, they had landed across the creek.  I paddled the 100 feet across the steam anticipating a speedy retrieve.  I plucked one from the water’s edge, but two birds had fallen on a mudflat, and I slid out of the kayak about 10 feet from the pair.  I immediately regretted that decision, as I sank thigh deep into the mud.  I slowly slogged my way to the birds, but could not get my feet up from the tar-like mud.  I tried using the kayak paddle as a lever, tried leaning on the kayak, tried a few curse words, but I was really stuck.  I pushed and pulled, tugged and yanked, grunted and screamed.  I tried pulling one foot out of the waders, and that made things even worse. 

What started as a great day was becoming unfunny real fast.  After 45 minutes of no progress, I was sweaty, tired, and starting to get a little bit scared. I decided to call for advice from Dad. He was at work and unable to come to help, and only had the suggestions I had already tried.  I phoned Mom, who was ready to call the sheriff and maybe the Coast Guard.  Being reliable Mom, she was ready to load up her kayak, and try to paddle 30 minutes to come try to find me.  I told her to give me another half hour to try and I would call back.  The resting time of making phone calls helped to restore my energy a bit.  I leaned on the kayak for what must have been the 10thtime, and slowly began to work my right leg up out of the muck. . Once I had that done, I was able to get the other leg out as well.  Although there were still ducks flying, I was spent.  I texted Mom and Dad that I was free from my predicament and began the paddle back to the launch.  My fun solo trip had taken a turn I had not expected.  Although I eventually got myself unstuck, I definitely learned a lesson about telling someone my plan before going out alone, as well as having some way to call for help.  I won’t be jumping out in the mud next time.  As my Dad says, “The Marsh is Harsh.”