For one reason or another, I have missed many hunts this season. From holiday obligations to the wrath of Mother Nature, you name it and I have missed a hunt because of it. But my latest missed opportunity can only be attributed to one thing — my own stupidity.

I remember many funny happenings in the marsh from the years hunting with my dad in Little Prairie. I remember one trip where my dad hunted with an eccentric friend who was rather proud of the fact that he intended to hunt with a black-powder shotgun. Yes sir, packing the powder, then the loose shot after each passing duck. After the hunt, I asked my dad, "How did yall do?" My dad replied quite sarcastically "I really don't know. I wish I could tell you!! (Pointing to his friend) Everytime this jack--- pulled the trigger, the smoke cloud coming out of his barrel was so thick we couldn't see if we hit anything!!"

Then there was Fred, from Houston. He had the longest drive to get to the camp, so he was always the last one to arrive. He came in with an angry look, promptly threw his bag of clothes on the bed, then went back out without saying a word. He came back in with his snacks and choice beverage, threw that on the table, then went out again. Lastly he returned with a trash bag and threw that on the table. It made a loud metal clanging sound. He finally spoke when he yelled, "Can any one of you geniuses figure out how to put this damn thing back together???" Wanting to start the hunt with a clean shotgun, Fred dismantled it, but could not figure out how to put it back together. He gathered all the pieces and brought it to the camp in a trash bag.

In my later years, I was not simply the observer of the humorous events, but often played a vital role.

Last New Year's day, my son, my brother and I decided to make a holiday hunt. It was a real slow morning, so I decided to take the boat and my lab to look for a wounded duck in the marsh. We paddled over to the little island where the duck went down, and I sent the lab in. I also stepped out the boat to keep an eye on the dog and to look for myself. As is often the case, I was more dedicated to the search than my lab that day. After a few minutes, I looked back to see my lab sitting in the boat all comfy while I was doing all the searching. Well, that won't cut it with me, so I immediately called him back to continue the search.

He obeyed and jumped back into the marsh eagerly. We continued to search when in the background I hear my brother yelling, "The boat is sailing awaaaayyyyyy!" Seems as though my lab jumped off the bow of the boat with enough enthusiasm to set it sailing across the marsh pond with no occupants. Of course, as my luck would have it, the wind was blowing in a direction that was NOT TOWARD ME!

I feverishly stripped my clothes off as I momentarily believed that I may be able to walk on water. My lab was looking quite puzzled when he saw me in nothing by long Johns in the marsh mud. I was now going through the Rolodex of commands in my head wondering what the hell I could say to convince my lab to retrieve the boat. By this time, the boat was too far for me to reach with a leap, and my thoughts centered on how my rotund body would fair in the ever-so-soft marsh mud. I had flashbacks to physics class, and determined that I was not likely to float and would most certainly sink like an anvil.

My lab and I were on one island, and my brother and son on another – with neither of us having the ability to go anywhere. Luckily, the third partner in my lease lives not too far away, and in about two hours he arrived in his boat to recover our free-sailing vessel and return us to solid ground.

This brings me to my latest adventure. After hearing the forecast of torrential downpours and severe storms from the weathermen Friday night (Jan. 15), I decided it would be unsafe to hunt the next morning. Only to wake up to overcast, breezy conditions that seemed perfect for duck hunting. The rain came, but not until 1 pm and in a modest amount.

So that Sunday, I was determined to hunt with a vengeance to make up for lost time. My son and I got to the landing; it is cool, nice breeze, cloudy skies and I was pumped to kill some ducks. I launched the boat, cranked it up, put on the life jackets and settled in to set sail for the lease.

When I got behind the steering wheel, the engine that had been purring like a kitten abruptly died. I cranked and cranked without success. Fuel line primed? Check. In-line fuse good? Check. Pulled the spark plug to check for fire. None. Having been there before in older boats, I told my son that the power pack or a wire inside has likely corroded and we are not hunting today.

I pulled the boat back onto the trailer, and we headed back to the house without even leaving the landing. I got home and went back over the events in my mind – when it hit me. The motor went out right as I sat behind the steering wheel: IT CAN'T BE!  I checked the kill switch, and it was on the floor of the boat. Apparently, the cord was lying across the seat, and I sat on it in the dark and it popped off. I never saw it and we never left the dock, so I never got to the point where I would need to clip it on me.

I wasted a great hunting opportunity because of my stupidity. So my big butt is the cause of my latest Marsh Madness. Who knows what the next hunt will bring?