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October is a 'nice' month
Random Thoughts, October 13
Random Thoughts by Wendell Smith

MUSCODA - There us something about October that is special. Perhaps it’s because it lacks the highs of a hot summer and the lows of a cold winter. It’s usually rather mild.

This year mildness may be especially nice because the peaceful changing of the seasons is vastly more reassuring than looking at the vicious political advertisements that are dominating the offerings of television.

Vi and I took a short “color ride” early this month. We started at Eagle Corners and followed a number of back roads to return home. It was late in the afternoon and the low sun in the west was doing a great job of illuminating the developing tree colors on the west facing bluffs. We were pleasantly surprised by the amount of fall color on many hillsides.

As usual, October marks the beginning of the waterfowl seasons. My days of putting on chest waders or paddling a canoe in the local river bottoms are over. But they were a lot of fun at one time and I maintain pleasant memories.

I was introduced to the local marshes by a couple of Muscoda businessmen. Bun Schwingle and Pat Muller took me on tours and taught me how to speak the “Highbank Language” used locally, including “The Camp, Puffenrod (now officially Paffenrath Lake), the Round Hole, Moore’s Lake, Big and Little Rice Lakes, Big and Little Cats, Running Slough, Coon Tree Puddle, Bloyer Bottoms, Postel Lake, Jones Lake, Dixon Lake and more, all west of the village of Muscoda.

Prior to duck season openings, the kids and I spent many September sunsets west of Muscoda, sitting on the high bank watching for wood duck flocks “coming off the Blue” to roost overnight in the Wisconsin River bottoms. There was always the hope that an early frost would not start them on their trip south prior to opening day.

The big green-headed mallards and diver-ducks would come later as the days became colder and shorter.

Opening day was special for the late John Krause, local teacher and avid duck hunter who spoke often about the excitement he felt on “Duck Eve.”

I recall a discussion during a Muscoda Advancement Corporation meeting. We were trying to plan for a weekend shopping promotion. The preferred date was nixed because it would be opening day of the duck season and workers would be scarce. Some non-hunters were not happy.

Opening day 2022 was still exciting for some folks. My informants told me that Saturday morning there were 17 pickups and cars parked between The Camp and Paffenrath Lake. Also, many gunshots were coming from the bottoms across the Wisconsin River from Almar Acres in Richland County.

The river bottoms are an ever-changing place. I have been told there is a lot of wild rice this year but there is not a lot of water. Places where some years the water would float a canoe there is just a mud flat.

A hunter told about leaving his canoe in the marsh Saturday night and when he returned Sunday morning he found fresh beaver tracks leading across the aluminum. Perhaps the critter was in a hurry to get to a partially chewed tree it needed for a dam.

The campground at Riverside Park often hosts hunters who come from a distance and it was busy opening weekend of this duck season. Last year a young member in a group from Milwaukee told me his dad had been coming to Muscoda to hunt and camp at the park for 30 years.

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