The Midwest is, by far, the absolute best place to be this time of year. This morning I took my coffee and granola bar and made a tour of the creek bottom to figure out what else needs to be done in preparation for duck season. Besides having work to be done, it just felt good to “be out” under the robin’s egg blue sky, with light north breeze and low-50’s temperature.
I thought about the first time MHHF Co-founder and good friend, the late Allan Hoover, took me deer hunting. A duck-hunter all my life, Allan insisted, “Lee, you gotta try this.” As it happens with many of us, my first deer hunting experience was peppered with screw-ups on my part, the first of which was over-sleeping. Then the mistake of thinking my insulated work boots would keep me warm sitting perfectly still, up in a tree on a cold, cloudy November morning. It had been decades since I experienced being so cold my teeth chattered.
At some point a bird caught my eye that I could not identify. It was small and dull-colored, a pointed beak suited to pecking into trees in pursuit of bugs. It wasn’t as big as a woodpecker but it could “skip” up the tree trunks and (I kid you not) continue this movement along the underside of branches. Soon I noticed another and another until I counted a half dozen. It was like sitting in the middle of a three-ring circus, 20 feet up in the trees. They kept me amused for the rest of the morning providing a distraction from my discomfort.
On the one hand I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I didn’t learn what a nuthatch was until I was well past fifty. On the other hand, I think one of the many benefits of spending time in the outdoors is that you continue to learn new things, learn and appreciate.
We gave up the trees. The clouds cleared away and the afternoon was warm and beautiful. I loaned Allan my step-dad’s semi-auto and we went duck hunting in a flooded cornfield. He didn’t have waders so I had to drive him out to the floating blind in an ATV and retrieve his ducks for him. He loved to tell people that duck hunting with me was a pretty plush experience since in addition to hosting; I performed as chauffeur and retriever.
The strongest desire Allan and I had in common was that we wanted every young person, at least once in their life, to experience being in the wild as the sun rises. That was and is the driving force behind the Missouri Hunting Heritage Federation. Once again I thank you for your support of the Sportsman’s Gala and Shoot for the Future events. Whether you volunteered, sponsored or participated, your dollars help us stage our hunter education clinics and introduce youth to hunting.
Though we did not reach our financial target we exceeded last year’s donations by $1,500, movement in the right direction.
Our Henry County Waterfowl Clinic is scheduled for the second weekend of December. We have one youngster signed up and want five more. Cass County’s Trapping Clinic is November 7th. Trapping clinics are not limited to six so there is plenty of room left for that event. Let’s get these kids out from behind the screen and into the great outdoors!
MHHF Board President and Co-Founder