Keith’s Corner

Duck Hunting-1940s 

By Keith Gibson

The thrill and excitement of hunting ducks for us 12-15 year old, McGill youngsters could be placed just under the passion for deer hunting.  We were busy chasing deer and ducks and were not aware that soon we would be chasing girls instead.

It started with a trip to the Goodman-Tidball store, which is now Bradley’s. There were two front doors back then. We went in the left one, which was the grocery store half.  The other door entered into the dry goods section.  The area that is now the fruit and veggie area in the back of the store was the hunting/fishing part.  We bought a state hunting license and deer tag and a Federal duck stamp.  It was around 3-5 dollars, total. What a feeling that  was the first time.Most duck hunting back then was done near Bassett Lake.  We had a small blind on the outlet stream along with other McGill hunters.  Several had blinds on the edge of the lake and some had blinds in boats.  The blinds were usually built several days before the opening as the season usually started at daybreak.

One year, however, the powers that be, set the opening  day start time for, 12 noon on a Saturday.   Mike Robb had to work that particular day.  He instructed his son, David,  to have everything read to go at 11:00, so they could make the opening time.  David got all the guns, ammo, coats, boots, lunches and of course the decoys, ready to go and was patiently waiting for Mike.  The time drew nigh,  but no Mike.  Finally at 11:40 a very hot and angry Mike came walking down the alley.  Someone had stolen his car from the parking lot by the mill.  Opening day was a bust for them.

The car was a 1938 and had a faulty ignition switch that could be turned on without a key.  Mike had to walk down to the McGill Sheriff’s office to report the theft. There were no telephones in the houses during those days.  I believe Ed hand was the Sheriff  at that time.  Ed told Mike that they knew about the theft and that the Eureka Deputy was heading to Ely to intercept the thief.  The full story was, that the thief left McGill, went thru Ely and decided to gas up in Ruth for the long trip to Reno.  He had found Mike’s gas credit card in the “jockey box”, (glove compartment to you younger folks). He handed the card to Jack and told him to fill it up and check the oil.  Jack asked him about the card and the car.  The thief said that he was a longtime friend of Harold’s.  Jack was a personal friend of Mike and knew that no one ever called him Harold.  When the car pulled out and headed for Reno, Jack called the police.  Mike got his car back in time for he and David to get in on the evening hunt.  Mike got a new ignition switch as soon as possible.

Each year’s hunting seasons provided an abundance of stories to go along with the fishing tales of the summer.  Such stories last a lifetime and bring many hours of enjoyment later in one’s life.  The events and game in the stories, however, seem to have an unusual ability to grow with time.  A few drinks at the local bar also help.

The friendships and adherence to sportsmen rules helps to shape a good moral compass for those involved.  There is of course, one exception and that is the car thief.  He learned the hard way, that in a rural area, like White Pine, everyone knows everyone else and even what vehicle they drive.  Also, it is a long way to the next city or town and no place to hide.

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