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Shocked into winter reality

December 18, 2016
Kevin Williams - Grundy County Conservation Director , Reinbeck Courier

I had a very memorable fall. This fall, I got to report a couple of exciting sightings (or hearings) of barred owls and pileated woodpeckers. But no successful big buck down reports. That's because early on, I got a look at a giant by my standards. In fact, a giant but just about any bowhunter's standards.

And not just one look but four. Two times within bow range. And sadly, one arrow released that skimmed the top of his back. I know that it didn't touch because I have a lighted nock on the end of my arrow that activates on release and gave me the sinking feeling as I watched it pass over. A sick feeling for a while but oh so glad that it wasn't a poor hit. For it was the largest buck I have had opportunity to pull a bow on in lo these many hunting years.

So, consequently, I spent my season pursuing this deer. I was hunting for a big buck and got four lucks. Many bowhunters didn't get one look at a deer of their dreams this season. So you can bet that I am looking forward to next season.

But now to the subject of the column. With a surprised contact several times this fall with barred owls calling in my woods and then an even more surprised visual contact several times with a pileated woodpecker, I was not expecting any other surprises.

I was wrong. One of the very last late afternoon hunts in the stand, I experienced another audio surprise. My daydreaming was interrupted by the call of a wood duck whistling up the creek. I quickly searched the sky but never saw the bird. But it most definitely was a "woodie." To see a very late wood duck in December is column-worthy even with the November weather we experienced this year.

My educated guess is the wood duck is probably winging it south today or I sure hope so. Since temperatures quickly changed to very wintery, indeed. As I search around, there is little open water for a duck to swim in except on big, deeper lakes now. And with the forecast, likely no open water by the time you are reading this weekly paper. Waterfowl hunters will tell you that wood ducks are traditionally early season ducks. Warmth-loving woodies were even once known as "summer ducks," and I was almost as surprised to see (or actually hear) this one the other evening.

But I am afraid that a very out of the ordinary, rare and column-worthy report of a wood duck in December is my last vestige of fall. Winter is here for a while. Probably a long while. I have been shocked into winter reality after a very memorable fall, indeed.



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