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Shelton Mason County Journal
Shelton, Washington
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Mason County Journal
January 2, 2014     Shelton Mason County Journal
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January 2, 2014

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The herd was content to lie around in the field and take in the little bit of winter sunshine. I quickly noticed that one of the elk was having some trouble. The female was away from the herd limped while walking. I could see no visible wounds on her, and she appeared to be in good shape other than the limp. With the truck in drive again, we didn't make it another mile when Taylor barked from the back seat, "Stop!" Both Garry and I questioned my daugh- ter on what she had seen. Taylor rolled down her window and pointed to the west. Still, the rest of us had no idea what she was seeing when she said, "Look at the mountains, they are awesome!" I shook my head and agreed while she grabbed my camera and took several photos of the snow capped peaks. We were looking for small ponds because the hooded merganser likes to stop in to them occasion- ally. We parked the truck at the first two acre pond and began our sneak toward the shoreline. I could see ripples in the water so I knew some species of duck was on the water. Peeking around a corner I could see three mallards swimming right at us. Garry and I were not concerned about hunting a mallard, but Ashley was not going to let the op- portunity pass. We all hunkered down and waited to see whether the two hens and one drake mallard would make it the 30 yards into shotgun range. With only a few feet to go, their sixth sense kicked in and they flew away. The four of us looked at each other in bewil- dement. Our next stop was a beaver pond a few miles away. The pond is a place where I spent many days as a youth fishing and duck hunting. I love taking my kids there and telling them fishin' stories, all true stories, of course. The pond had three hooded mergansers on it and we had to stalk to the waters edge to get into range. Many hunters call this style of duck hunting "jump shooting" because there are no decoys involved and hunters must rely on stealth and stalking ability to get close enough to the fowl for a shot. Crouching behind a large, old growth stump we found ourselves in range. Garry took the lead and Ashley followed. Like before, the birds knew some- thing was up and flew off. This time, I told the shooters to get ready because they would get a sec- ond chance. In this location, the ducks would have to pass back over us to gain the proper altitude to climb out of the valley. One minute later, I could see the mergansers headed back our way. Garry and Ashley took a shot as Taylor and I watched. Shots rang out and the ducks continued on their path. In the hunting world, we call that "givin' em' warning shots." It was time to head home for the day. On our way out of the Olympic Mountains, a few more critters were spotted and a bunch more laughs were had. This is a great time of year to experience the out- doors in Washington and if you go, take along a friend or some family. TOP: Lake West reflects the Olympic Mountains. BELOW: Retriever, Ryder, does his job bringing back a common goldeneye. PUT A SUBSCRIPTION TO THE JOURNAL IN HIS SUITCASE! Mason County Journal - Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014 - Page C-5