Papa Duck’s Father’s Day Memories
By John Criner Times Outdoors
Columnist Note: Several readers have asked that the Father's Day story be repeated. I am glad to do it again because these memories mean so much to me. I hope you have or will have these same kinds of thoughts gone past. I only wish they could be repeated.
May you have your own good memories on this day.
Papa Duck Father’s Day is this Sunday and I think back many years ago to going huntin’ and fishin’ with Papa. I think back to that first fish, a bream from Green Lake near Holly Grove, and later Papa teaching me how to throw a popping bug on a fly rod. I still have that 70 year old fly rod. We were fishing on Green Lake with Mama along when I caught that first bass, a two pounder, on a red and white Lucky 13.
There was a lot of celebrating going on! Throughout the years there were many fishing trips and happy memories. It’s surprising how fresh and clear these memories are.
I was seven years old when we went on the first squirrel hunt in the woods near Green Lake following an old logging road surrounded by big pecan and oak trees. At daylight we had motored down the lake in a homemade cypress boat with a three hp Johnson motor.
I had my 410. shotgun and plenty of Winchester #6 shells along with my hunting coat that had a great big game bag. It was not long before Papa pointed out a gray squirrel cutting pecans not very high up a tree. I made a good one shot kill and the squirrel fell dead in the road.
Papa and I hugged and loved on each other as only a father and son that had just shared a happening can understand. We continued down that road and because the squirrels were plentiful I managed to bag three more. We went back to camp to clean game and later that evening, Papa fried up those pecan fat squirrels.
Squirrels have never tasted as good as the first ones.
Papa and I hunted and fished until his health prevented it. I look back at the times I did not go with him because I wanted to be with my hunting and fishing buddies. I know that had to hurt him not to have his favorite fishing partner with him. If only those missed trips could be recalled. Mama and Papa both passed away in 1967.
In April of 1977, my wife.
Colleen, presented me with my own fishing partner, Owen Keith Criner. We live out in the Proctor area on Old Lake Rest and the boy grew up fishing and hunting with me. He caught his first fish when he was still in diapers, got a BB gun at around five years old, and my old 20 gage shotgun Papa had given me when I had outgrown the 410. Keith and his friends spent many happy hours hunting and fishing and riding his four-wheeler close to home. Any kind of wild game was fair game from frogs to black birds to snakes. The boys did not cull much.
We have had a camp, The 101 Club, near Snow Lake, Arkansas, since the late 1960s and Keith and other camp member kids learned to enjoy the best that Mother Nature can offer.
Keith got his first squirrel and first duck, a mallard drake, on and around Simpson Lake. We hunted almost every weekend and would fish at Simpson Lake for several days at a time. We have shared many hours together in a boat catching fish and duck hunting. This does not count the hours spent in the truck going to the hunting and fishing holes.
Keith is now a doctor at NEA/Baptist Hospital in Jonesboro and we do not get to hunt and fish near as much as I would like, but he has his family and profession. He has taken me to Alaska for a week of fishing on the Kenai River and on to Kodiak Island.
Fabulous fishing! We went with friends to Saskatchewan, Canada, for five days of great duck and goose hunting. For the past 27 years we have gone together to Illinois duck hunting the first weekend in November. We are looking forward to this November being together with old friends.
As a daddy and granddaddy, I hope for many more trips to the woods and waters with my boy and grandson. I have seen Owen’s (who gave me the Papa Duck name) first fish and look forward to the first squirrel and especially that first duck. There is a special bonding that only Mother Nature can make happen.
Make sure your kids and you can make these memories. Take plenty of pictures, they will become valuable. Hunt around and find some gift for Father’s Day. It does not have to be fancy. It’s the thought that lasts. Let him know you love him.
I am sure Papa is looking down from that Big Duck Blind In The Sky enjoying the legacy he left to us.
I have been invited by my good friend John Stokes, to fish at the Secret Honey Hole on the Friday before Father’s Day. I would gladly give up every father’s gift in Bass Pro Shop if I am fortunate enough to fish with my boy and grandson.
I value each precious trip.
Papa Duck Lakeside Taxidermy 870-732-0455 or ' 901-4823430 jhc?’iner@hotmail. com