Welcoming 2014 with a good joke

Story: A man took his new hunting dog on a trial hunt. Presently, he shot a duck that fell into the lake. The dog walked out over the water, picked up the duck and walked back to his master, laying the duck at his feet. The man was flabbergasted. He shot another duck. Once again, the dog walked out over the water and retrieved the duck. Hardly able to believe what he had seen, the man returned home and called friend, inviting him to go out for a shoot the following day.

Once again, each time he or his companion hit the bird, the dog would walk over the water and bring the bird in. The man said nothing. Neither did his companion.

Finally, unable to contain himself any longer, the hunter blurted out “Do you notice anything strange about that dog?” The neighbor rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “Yeah,” he finally said. “Come to think of it, I do. The son of a gun can’t swim.”

Just thought I’d start the New Year with a hunting joke. Those kinds of hunting jokes always percolate deep in my soul. I’m an old duck hunter. I like that old joke. I’ve used it often, and about every four or five years, I start this column out on New Year’s with the same joke.

I’ve been busy these last few weeks. It was the end of one year and the start of another. So, I told myself, “Self, we’re going to stop the world and get off. We’re going to take a week or two off, leave town and just take some time to smell the roses. On the other hand, now that I’ve had time to think about it I’ve been smelling the roses for some time. You see, I’ve been staying inside where it’s nice and warm. I hate cold weather. And I hate it with a passion.

Sixty-four years ago, I ended up in a bad “neighborhood.” It wasn’t my idea, it was Uncle Sam’s. I was on the west shore of the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea, just south of the Yalu River. Actually, I was north of Koto-Ri and Hagaru-Ri at a place called Yudam-ni. The night of Dec. 9, 1950 was a bad one. And a cold one. In fact, it was the coldest night of the year in more than 100 years. That night, the temperature plummeted to it’s lowest levels. According to the meteorologist assigned to the First Marine Division, the mercury dropped to minus 60 degrees with a 65-knot wind. The combination created a wind chill factor of minus 125. On top of all that, the Siberian wind howled all night as a blinding blizzard blew sideways. I have never been so cold in all my life. I still am. I’m always cold.

I walked 77 miles from Yudam-ni to the harbor at Hungnam. My feet still haven’t thawed out. So, when the weather gets real cold, I don’t hunt, I don’t fish, I don’t go outside I just stay inside where it’s warm and cozy.

Mobile device use

So farm, nobody has been arrested. As the use of mobile electronic devices escalates annually, hunters need to be aware it is illegal in Iowa to use an electronic device to “coordinate” a hunt. It is legal to use a cell phone to call your buddies to help you drag a trophy back from the woods. It is, however, illegal to use a cell phone to tell your buddies a big buck is moving along the ridge and that you are going to push him toward them. If you’re unsure of the legality of the way you use your mobile phone during hunts, contact your conservation enforcement officer. He or she ill definitely know what’s legal and what isn’t.

Feeder watch

Keep a sharp eye on your bird feeders this time of year. All those “sparrows” might not be sparrows. Now is the time of the year when pine siskens start to show up along with tree sparrows, field sparrows, Harris’ sparrows and even a red poll or two. They’ve had a lot of cold and snow up north and many birds are moving south into warmer areas where food is more plentiful.

And don’t forget the pheasant season closes Jan. 10. The Bobwhite Quail, Gray Partridge and Ruffed Grouse seasons close on Jan. 31. Trapping season closes on Jan. 31.

And now … have a good weekend.