Old waterfowl blind in need of some TLC
The blind’s interior was a mess, infused with an entanglement of wild rose, blackberry canes and assorted other vines.
Out in front, toward the face of my friend’s Northeast Ohio farm pond, the ground cover stretched out from the bank and over the water. The vegetation was thicker that I’d ever seen it. And I’ve seen it for the better part of a decade – and more, if truth be told.
Oops, I discovered that I had forgotten to tighten the lid on a five-gallon “pickle” bucket when I left the blind the last time and before the winter closed up shop to the pond. As a result, a cardboard box of steel shot ammunition was drowned by an accumulation of rainwater and snow melt.
At least a binocular optics and a full deck of steel shot shells I had the smarts to pack in a waterproof plastic box were still dry, both riding higher than the level of water inside the bucket.
The blind, though, was a piece of work, and work was necessary to get the structure ready in time for Ohio’s early goose-hunting season. That season starts Sept. 4.
It would take a little more than just some spring housekeeping to put the blind in order, too.
So, the first chore was to ensure my full spray can of wasp killer was at the ready. In the past, wasps had used the blind as their premises, and I was prepared to evict them with a long squirt of deadly insecticide. I didn’t need the wasp killer, a first, actually, for the blind since I began using it.
I did need – and rightfully so – a spray can of poison ivy killer. The blind sits very tightly inside a nest of brush, ground cover, and a pine tree on one side. Meanwhile to the right is a tangle of blackberry canes, wild grape vines, and more brush.
Plus the poison ivy left, right, and immediately behind the eight-foot-long by four-foot-wide blind.
After spraying the specialized herbicide all around the blind came the real work of trimming the overgrowth around, in, and above the blind. Had the cover been left as is the mass of vegetation would make shooting at any passing or incoming goose impossible.
But before I set about the task of prepping the blind I opened the blind’s tractor seat-style and plopped myself down. I listened and watched my Labrador retriever, Molly, find a tunnel in the brush I was going to trim and make her way to the lake for a lengthy swim.
Molly is the fourth retriever that has joined me at the blind, so I guess my use of it really is more like 15 years-plus than a decade-plus. Mercy, how time flies when you watch scores of sunsets rise above a farm pond, and listen for the honking of Canada geese.
And friends, too. And family, come to think of it. Sadly some of those friends are gone now along with one family member. Moved away, passed on, found a better hunting spot. Lots of reasons, and all of them understandable.
Yet their memories hang tighter to the blind than does the overgrowth of grape and rose vines, and blackberry canes.
Not lost either is how out back of the blind and across the tractor path is the grave for one of my best-ever hunting buddies. Millie was as fine a Labrador retriever as a grown boy could home for. I buried her there so I’d always know that even if I am hunting solo I wouldn’t be hunting alone.
I suppose I spent that better part of 90 minutes trimming, hacking, and repelling all vegetation borders. Which is things progressed pretty much the way they do at the start of every August when I prep the blind for another goose-hunting season.
There’s no telling how many years the blind has left, and I know that I still have more homework to do on the blind. But I know I’ll be ready come the early goose-hunting season.
There are too many spirits that haunt this blind, this magical place of memories, for me to quit now.