Pretend you are a Pied-billed Grebe with a gourmet meal of Leopard Frog. Your buddies are sitting by watching with envy as you claim your prize and start to swallow a very rare meal in winter with mostly frozen water in the Bottoms. There is one small problem-- it is a BIG frog. I watched the Grebe make multiple attempts to swallow the frog which was too large for his throat. He was acrobatic and agile in using gravity and every possible angle to ingest the frog-- all to no avail. When he got the frog exactly over his head, the legs would flop forward and tilt the Grebe right over on his back. You could sense the glee of his associates sitting in the open water watching his struggles. After about 20 minutes of futile effort and a huge amount of wasted calories-- he left the frog on the ice and joined his group to move about 20 yards down the bank and initiate a new search for food.
That outcome led me to contemplate some of the situations I have encountered that had “less than perfect” results. My friend Duane is here from Canada (annual pilgrimage for many years) to celebrate his retreat from the sub-zero (it was minus 28 in Saskatchewan today) weather. He brings Smooch and Blitz (black labs-- brother and sister) to hunt pheasant and waterfowl. He is ready for the hunt in Kansas-- they start shooting geese in September. He has perennially missed lots of birds and has a plethora of excuses. “My gun doesn’t come up properly”, “the birds are faster here in Kansas”, “I need different shells”, “YOU don’t walk fast enough”, “the dogs are too far out”, etc. We have bought multiple guns and shells and put collars on the dogs and walked faster. It is my opinion that eye surgery is in his future. We laugh a LOT!!
I encountered a much more potentially serious situation in the Bottoms today. I went out to see the eagles (I counted 53 Bald Eagles on the ice at the Bottoms) this morning after yoga. Waterfowl hunters have to be the most dedicated hunters with the most unbelievable ideas of grandeur and success of all the hunters of any critter. It is a expensive sport. Acquiring a boat, trailer, go-devil motor, camouflage for the boat, guns, decoys (by the hundreds), waders, ammo, etc is NOT inexpensive. The outdoor gear outlets LOVE waterfowl hunters. There were two unbelievably cheerful guys manhandling their boat onto the trailer. Water was dripping out the bottom of the boat.... There are about 2 inches of ice over most of the canals leading out to the open water, and they launched the boat onto that ice which readily broke under their weight. All went well until they lunged the boat up on the ice for another break through, and tore the protective metal strip off the bottom of the boat and had a immediate fountain coming up in the boat. It was in the low 20s, and they were 40-50 yards from shore. They were wise enough to be wearing waders, and the water is only 2-3 ft deep, so they were able to wade the boat back to safety. If they had not been wearing waders-- it could have been very serious. They were completely non-plussed and cheerful with quick plans for repair and getting back to the hunt. I rest my case.... Those strong young men who choose to wade out a mile or so carrying or pulling a gob of decoys (in my younger days....) while breaking ice to get to a pocket of open water surely must have girlfriends or wives that love to eat ducks. Girls can make boys do almost anything-- but that is another story!
Watch the hunters when you go see the eagles. It is like going to a double feature at the drive-in movie.