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Lee Wahlgren

Puffballs anyone?

I really enjoy it when former students stop by and chat about the outdoors or show me a fish they caught or a buck they harvested. Last week, I had a visit from a former student, Jeremy Sissel, who stopped by to show me something of interest.

He asked me if I knew anything about puffballs. I told him that I had read about them and had picked some in the fall before. I had even tried them on the dinner table one time and had enjoyed them. After we had chatted for a few  minutes, he said, “Let’s go out to my car, and I’ll show you a couple.”

He opened up the trunk, and I was shocked. I had never seen puffballs that large. I had picked puffballs the size of a 12- or 16-inch softball before, but nothing as large as these. I was amazed. They looked like two white pumpkins. He said he left a bigger one in the woods.

Thanks, Jeremy, for taking the time to show those prize puffballs. Now we’re looking for a couple of good recipes.

• The Illinois duck season has been going on now for a few weeks, and there has been moderate success. This week has seen a decline in locals, but we are ready for some flight ducks.

• I usually tell stories about other hunters and friends who have had an unusual hunting experience, but this time, it happened to me, and I’m going to pass it on.

Several days ago, there was no school on Friday, so I decided to go to the club and try my luck. I was accompanied by my friend, Rory Fundell, who went along to help me with the boat on the pullover and also with the decoys. When  we got the decoys out, we sat in the blind, watching and calling a few feathered visitors. I only got one chance to shoot and managed to bring down one duck. For the next 45 minutes, there was no action. Rory and I were sitting on the bench, bored and not paying much attention.

All of the sudden, a mallard drake swooped over my left shoulder and lit in the decoys, not more than 15 yards from the blind. I reached over and picked up my shotgun and got ready to stand up.

When I stood up, the drake saw me and took off vertically. When I shot, I hit the left side of the bird, and it turned him 180 degrees in the air. He immediately started flying directly at us in the blind. I couldn’t shoot again because he was too close. The drake rose 3 feet, 4 feet, 5 feet, attempting to clear the blind. He continued to climb until he was right over the blind. Rory reached up and grabbed the duck by the neck and pulled him into the blind.

I immediately sat down and started laughing. Never in my years of duck hunting had I seen a man reach up and catch a flying duck. Friends have told me that a duck they had shot actually lit in the blind, but never have I heard of reaching up and catching one. Great job, Rory! What do you do for an encore?

• Last week, the PHS Sportsman’s Club went to Time on the Water for some indoor archery. The upperclassmen boys seemed to have the range down pretty good because many bullseyes were scored. The boys were led by Corddell Kunkel, Ryan Grieff, Turner Jamison and Chris Brockman. Following right behind them was Austin Jamison and our two ladies, McKenzie Cain and Meaghan Noll. These students shot from 20 yards up to the balcony, which must be 35 or 40 yards.

During the evening, a couple of our kids had problems with their bows, and they were quickly helped by Darrell Steinnen and Edward Burash, two employees of Time. All in all, our kids had a great time and have asked to go back.

• Deer firearm season is coming up in two weeks. Make sure you have the proper paperwork, permission for the land on which you hunt, plus blaze orange. Have a great season and be safe.

Lee Wahlgren is the BCR Outdoor Columnist. Contact him at pdub52@gmail.com.