Thankful Outdoors: Time with family and friends while bear and duck hunting

Thankful Outdoors: Outdoor Journal Week of September 20th through September 26th

September 20th – Quiet evening turns into tags getting filled

Sunday evening was just a simple relaxing night at home, spending time in the workshop to get the remodeling project completed. I received several text messages from Dad, Corey, and Kurt as they were all out bowhunting in different areas. They were giving updates to how their evening sit was going.

Carson Hildebrandt poses with his bear. Courtesy of Carson Hildebrandt.

Dad had the most activity sitting on the north fence line on his 60 acres of heaven. Those 60 acres have given us all so many memories in the past 44 years. Dad had just sent a message at 7 p.m., thinking that the deer he was watching in the field was not going to make it close enough to his stand.

It was 6:50 p.m., and Craig let the family know that Carson has filled his bear tag. We are all excited and happy for Carson. The Hildebrandt brothers both have now filled their tags in Zone A. Hunter had done it back on opening day, and now Carson has filled his tag.

At 7:10 p.m., my brother Craig calls me and says, “want to go, help Dad, drag a deer out of the woods.” Of course, the answer to this question is always, Yes!

Scott’s dad shows off his doe harvested during bow season. Courtesy of Scott Hopperdietzel.

What a busy night for the family; we had a photo session with Dad’s doe harvest; Carson sent us a text message with a photo of his bear. Carson decided that he wanted to do a mount; it was a trip to Colby to visit Corey at his Heads or Tails Taxidermy shop. We all waited in excitement for Carson to pull into the driveway.

He backed his truck to the skinning station, and we weighed his bear dressed out at 195 pounds. Carson shared the story of his hunt with us. He was so excited to have filled his tag. It was a bear that he probably had seen during opening day, but it outsmarted him on that sit.


September 26th – Todd’s first duck season

My brother Craig and I used to duck hunt together several years ago. Craig just got out of the sport, but he would always tell stories about our outings. Sometimes life just forces you to step away from things that you love. I always thought it was a romantic that defined the meaning “If You Love Something Let It Go.” But I have seen outdoorsman let their love for the sport go away and later in life they get back to it. So maybe it was an outdoorsman that coined this phrase?

Not only was Craig going to get back to duck hunting with me this year, but he was also going to bring along family friend, Todd. Todd was a newbie to the sport. Both Craig and Todd were excited for the opening morning of the 2020 duck season.

Craig had a beaver pond near his bear bait that he had been hearing wood ducks and mallards landing on this pond, so we figured we would give this little spot a try. As we headed to Mead, we saw the long line of vehicles on Rangeline, a typical high pressured area. As we pulled into the parking lot of the place where the little beaver pond was tucked in, there were two other trucks.


Boone was excited to get going as we put on our waders and packs full of decoys; as we snuck up through the alders in the swamp, we bumped a few ducks. We started to throw out our decoys, and Boone would swim out to check on the set of them. I guess the earlier water training sessions with Boone began to get him over his dislike of the water.

We had a few ducks fly over as we set the decoys; on the far end of the beaver pond, a single duck flew in, and a gunshot went off. There was another group of guys on the pond. As they recovered the downed duck, we guided them to where we had thought the duck had dropped.

Decoy spread courtesy of Scott Hopperdietzel.

One of the guys paddled his kayak over to us to chat, and I offered up Boone’s nose to help recover what we had thought was a downed bird. I loaded Boone up in the guys’ kayak, and off they went. Boone tried to locate that duck, but nothing was recovered.

No duck hunter worth his waders doesn’t feel bad when they think a duck is down, and it is not recovered, and these guys we met were no different; you could hear and see the disappointment as they brought Boone back to us.

As far as our success that morning, we had a couple of shot opportunities that ended in misses. During a shift in the decoy spread and relocating ourselves in the cattails, Todd was tripped up by beaver chewings in the water, and he filled his waders with water. As Todd pulled himself up from the cold water, I chuckled and said, “Welcome to duck hunting, Todd, you are officially a duck hunter now!” I don’t know of a duck hunter that hasn’t had his waders filled with water at one point or another.

Craig and Todd duck hunting. Courtesy of Scott Hopperdietzel.

On the drive home, Todd says, when do we get to go again? I smiled as a could see a new duck hunter has joined the ranks.

In closing, I hope you find a way to get into the outdoors, create your adventure and memories, but most importantly, find a way to “Celebrate the Experience.” Go check out for more content and share your “Celebrate the Experience” moment with us!

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Author: News Desk

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