The Decoy Plan
The magnitude of this adventure called for a commemorative plan that would be more than journals and pictures. The struggle to find the appropriate plan resulted in sleepless nights and a few showers being taken without soap due to mind wanderings. But at last an idea and plan worthy of the challenge was "Hatched" and put into flight.
Engage a decoy carver to make two sets of working decoys to accompany Daryl and Stan on the trip. At each stop, use the decoys and have the hosts and other hunters sign one of the decoys for a commemorative souvenir of the particular hunt. At the end of the journey Daryl and Stan will have a set of hand carved decoys to hunt over for years to come. Someday these seasoned decoys will be passed on to children, grandchildren and perhaps friends as a remembrance of the Great Waterfowl Adventure of 2009-10.
- The full body cork decoys have been carved.
- Each decoy has been tagged with a brass plate.
- Decoys have been rigged for removable weights.
- Weights have been hand crafted for each decoy.
- Padded decoy bags have been secured for each six decoys.
- Wooden boxes have been hand crafted for each six decoys to facilitate shipping and storage when necessary.
Getting There is No Easy Task
The adventure kicked off for Stan at 6:30 a.m. Sept. 30, 2009 when he got a send off kiss and hug from Jane and loaded Katie his 8 year old black lab in the back seat of the pick up. There was no room in the truck bed even though a newly painted used camper shell had been added for the trip. The big Red Truck would start the trip from Sterrett Alabama to Audubon Iowa for the initial rendezvous with Daryl scheduled for Oct. 1st. The plan was to drive to St. Joseph Missouri and spend the night leave early the next morning and meet at Daryl's office in Audubon the next day around 11:30am.
The next step was to off load Katie and the contents of Stan's truck into Daryl's truck for the trip to Alberta. There was a short detour on the schedule as Stan had convinced Daryl's wife Nancy to drive him to the airport in Des Moines to catch a flight to Saskatoon for a D.U. finance committee meeting that was scheduled for Friday October 2nd not much convincing was required as Daryl's and Nancy's daughter Erica and their two granddaughters Lucy three and Ruby two months live in Des Moines.
Daryl would leave on Friday morning to drive to North Dakota to drop off items at his farm (pheasant –duck refuge) spend the night and drive to Regina Saskatchewan on Saturday morning to pick Stan up at the Regina airport. Stan picked a rental car in Saskatoon after the DU meetings on Friday and headed to Regina early Saturday morning. Part of Stan's plan was to have Daryl negotiate the Canadian border with a truck load of hunting gear, decoys, and two dogs while Stan was just dealing with his shotgun and an a carryon bag. Daryl had his German Shorthair Molly with him and she proved to be the ticket thru customs. Molly is a real people dog and sat in Daryl's lap licking the customs lady's hand while Daryl explained the Great Waterfowl adventure. Thank goodness they did not ask to unload the truck. Nothing at all in the truck to worry about other than the fact that it took two hours to load it and it would take four hours to unload and reload it. The Clampets could have taken a packing lesson from Daryl.
With the border in the rear view mirror Regina was only three hours away. Stan had left Saskatoon and rendezvous was close to happening. Stan and Daryl found the Regina airport about the same time around 12:00 noon. The rental car was dropped and Stan joined Daryl, Molly and Katie for the real kick off to leg one of the road trip. Molly was perched on top of the luggage in the back seat and Katie was nestled in her kennel under the decoys in the back of the truck. Next stop would be six hours later in Enchant Alberta hopefully in time to jump in a blind for a few minutes before dark.
The Alberta hunt would be special for a lot of reasons not the least of which was the fact that Stan's oldest son Scott and youngest son Stan, Jr. would be part of the group. This would be Scott's first trip to Canada and that made it all the more special for Stan. The Alberta hosts have been long time friends of Stan and some other Alabama folks. Back in the early '90s a close friend of Stan's was transferred to Calgary Alberta for business reasons. Jim and Stan had served as DU Sponsor committee chairman for a number of years in the Birmingham area. When Jim arrived in Calgary he was without a friend. In true DU spirit Stan called some friends on the DU Canada board and asked them to let the Calgary committee know they could find a diamond in the rough if they would give Jim a call. The call was made and Jim joined the committee.
For the next five years the Calgary committee and the Over the Mountain Birmingham committee would set up swap trips to benefit the ducks. The Calgary committee would host four folks from Alabama for some duck and goose hunting and trout fishing on the Bow River in the fall while the Alabama committee would host four Canadians to some turkey hunting, golf and bass fishing in the early spring. The first year the trip was sold at the Calgary event with an unlikely buyer joining the group of four bidders for the trip. Bob did not realize the trap he was falling into when he joined the first group to come south. As he says today he found more fun and friendship than he could ever have imagined. His first trip to Alabama was somewhat unintentional. You know it's the DU auction frenzy that takes hold some nights and you wake up the next morning saying, "I bought what? For what?"
Two years later Bob's second trip to Alabama was intentional. Bob bought the swap trip again. He invited his best friend Rodney and a couple of other Calgary Stampede friends to join him on a repeat visit to Alabama. It was Stan's good fortune to be the host and coordinator for the Canadians. Some four years later Rodney asked Stan's Alabama group to join him and his partner David along with Bob at their duck camp in Alberta for a couple of days hunting.
The initial visit to the Alberta camp has now become a tradition of 14 years. Some of the faces have changed over the years but the friendships and the excitement of the gathering have not. One of the greatest traditions has been the annual clay target shoot fondly referred to as the Can-am. This simple clay target event has spawned more stores than time will allow but at some later date they need to be told. The event is held each year on Sunday afternoon and consists of two teams a Canadian team and a U.S. team. Team members shoot twelve targets, six singles and three doubles. The throwers are usually from the other team and it leads to some heated complaints but it is all in good fun. The event has become such a draw that most years there are more Canadians that want to shoot than there are americans to compete with.
2009 was just such a year. There were only five americans but nine Canadians who had to shoot. In an effort to make things fair two Canadians were assigned (by the Canadians) to the american team. At the end of the day the americans lost by 4 targets with one of the assigned Canadians going zero for twelve on his targets. Suffice it to say this was only the fourth time the Canadians took the trophy in the last twelve years.
Enough of the history of the Alberta connection let's get to the Alberta hunts. This is one of the few stops that lasted for several days. Daryl and Stan arrived peddle to the metal at 6:30 PM from the Regina airport having dodged one cow Moose and several antelope on the back roads form Medicine Hat to Vauxhaul. Rodney, Bob, Stan Jr., Scott and Henry were in the blinds on the side of a flooded wheat field with decoys in place. The ducks had been using the field during the week but mostly a little earlier in the afternoon. Darkness was falling fast and the birds had apparently found new ground for their late afternoon feed. However a couple of mallards and a pintail missed the message and became the first ducks harvested on the Great Waterfowl Adventure.