Dick Pinney's Guide Lines: One big boy toy was the biggest, baddest one of all
By DICK PINNEY | February 19. 2017 12:03AM
After a few trips to hunt geese in the huge muck fields that the Erie Canal ran through in New York State, we got hooked on this kind of hunting when hiring a waterfowl guide in Connecticut who was rigged for this task. We had so much fun and success we were bound and determined to succumb to the call of hunting what was called the "Muck Fields" (rich and loamy fields that had been growing onions and other market crops and had been harvested).
We did have a local contact with whom we'd been fishing with on nearby Lake Ontario. Guide Dwayne Hoefert provided information that lead to the Dickster, renting a very nice seasonal home for two months that was only minutes away from several great and huge "muck" fields that had lots of Canada Geese using them. We had friends from back home rotating in and out on a mostly weekly basis to successfully hunt the honkers on almost every time out.
But we paid a high cost in labor and lost time and also some discouraged hunters when each day after the hunt we spent hours with an outdoors garden hose washing off all of our waterproof clothing and boots and even sometimes our grit-loaded shotgun actions!
Just getting out on these fields with several trips to set decoys would plaster our boots and everything else with the infamous muck, that when let to dry was even a bigger challenge to clean off.
Our new MAX, which we'd picked up at the factory when on a Great Lakes fishing trip on Lake Ontario, provided us with a partial answer.
By hooking the trailer that hauled the MAX behind my road vehicle, we could couple that trailer to the back end of the MAX's trailer hitch and pile all our gear (tarps to lie down on) and guns and decoys out into the fields where we'd set up to hunt. The MAX then would be covered with a camo netting, which didn't seem to bother the big honkers when they fell for our decoy setup. We would also use the MAX to run down crippled geese that were impossible to catch running after them on foot through the mud!
Another big advantage was when the lakes and ponds froze up and we turned to ice fishing, having that MAX had six-wheel drive and could float and swim, bringing us to a lot of great ice fishing places.
But it did have one weakness that could have caused a catastrophe. A couple times when it was laden with hanging-on ice fishing, we punched through the ice! And after several attempts to get back on the ice pack, we failed and just sat in the water sending a shower of cold water and ice chips back. After a few of those foiled attempts we discovered that if we put most of our weight on the back of the MAX, it lifted the front pair of its six wheels up onto the ice pack and gave us enough purchase so the next (inside set) of wheels would catch and out of the water and onto the ice pack we'd go. (With great relief!)
After the day's hunt we'd just hook up a garden hose at our rented house and wash off everything, including our raingear clad bodies and boots, as well as the MAX, the trailer and the decoys.
When hunting some of the huge harvested grain fields in other places in our quest for geese, the MAX -pulled decoy trailer was also used to ferry other hunters back and forth, as the MAX was only set up to carry a driver and one passenger and a couple others that would just sit on the back.
Eventually we got smart and gave up hunting the muck as well as any of the questionable fields that might cause our regular four-wheel drive rigs to get stuck. And it was that transition that sent what was one of our most effective toys, that MAX, to its next service with a new owner.
Since then, even though we don't have the needs that we had back then, we rue the day when we foolishly decided that we were past the point of needing it, finding new uses that the machine would have eagerly filled a void.
Drop us an email at DoDuckInn@aol.com and get out there and get you some.
Dick Pinney 's column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Email him at DoDuckInn@aol.com.