Memories of a Squaw Creek Hunt Help Keep Out February’s Cold

Saturday, January 31 2009 22:15   Kieser Outdoors
For many of us, living with February's snow, ice and bitter cold means spending your evenings and weekends inside. Oh sure, there's odd jobs to do, and if you're lucky enough to be a hunter you have the pleasure of sorting through your gear, reboxing shotgun shells, maybe touching up your decoys with a dab of paint, or organizing your hunting photos.

For me, these cold February days also give me a chance to remember some of last year's hunts, and since I'm an outdoors writer, I start putting these adventures down on paper.

There's one hunt I really enjoyed last season, and I want to share it with you.

It was November, and an armed invasion of Squaw Creek's Northwest Missouri wetlands was underway. Clouds of waterfowl returned by the route of their ancient passage, so followed by the hunters. Most of the hunters and dogs who annually visit this place are like kids at Christmas. They live for waterfowl season on the Squaw Creek Marshland.

Hunters and dogs wait in well-constructed blinds for their moment. Some blinds are made of wood and brush, while others are made of steel with the same reinforcement of a World War II German machine gun bunker.

Hunters watch the sky with the same anticipation as those who pursued migrating waterfowl hundreds of years ago when the original Americans walked this land. They never claimed to own it, just borrowed it. More importantly, their hunts were not for sport but for survival. Man discovered early that this was the place for a good hunt, a fact not lost on trappers and explorers as they passed by on their way to rewrite history.

I started hunting this area in the middle 1960s when my nagging persuaded my father and grandfather to bring me here. That changed when I became old enough to drive myself to this hunting paradise. I hunted the Squaw Creek area whenever possible and I always will.

I joined two close friends to celebrate the opening of 2008 Missouri duck season, and I remember it as if it were yesterday.

The day promised to be too nice, with temperatures in the 70s and very little wind. But we waited and soon our heart's desire was fulfilled; clouds of mallards returned to this land of row crops with pools or strips of water.

There was no secret that ducks were in the air. The peace and quiet was suddenly shattered by duck calls. Waterfowl arrival is signaled by exceptional calling throughout the area. Squaw Creek hunters, in marshes close to Mound City, Missouri, are experts. Less talented callers would be the best in other camps. Ducks are treated to serenades from callers with 30 to 50 years of experience and sometimes more. I was lucky to be sitting next to two of the best.

Paul Knick, legendary caller and a heavy hitter in Ducks Unlimited, started with a series of highballs. He was quickly answered by Danny Guyer, owner of Iron Duck Guide Service and a highly competitive contest caller. Both pulled the ducks away from fine callers in other blinds. My duck call is securely tucked away in my jacket pocket to avoid scaring the ducks or embarrassing myself in the presence of greatness.

Soon about 20 mallards circled the blind. They looked astonishingly large on their last pass that swung between our blind and the decoys. Someone yelled, "TAKE ‘EM" and we rose at once to shoot. Ducks everywhere start pumping their wings for the safety of height. A big splash, then another and I manage to connect.

Guyer gave a command to Mam-J and Big Water Willie and they were off. Both well-trained Labrador retrievers raced to the ducks. Soon three greenhead mallards were lying in the blind. Hens are seldom shot in this group or in the best duck hunting groups. They are breeding stock for next year's brood. Mallard drakes would live longer if they'd learn to dye their heads brown.

Minutes later the sleekest of ducks slipped past our blind in a tight formation that would make a Blue Angel fighter pilot jealous. They slipped back and forth as Guyer quacked, and Knick whistled on his pintail call. The lead bird had a long sprig, rare for early season in Missouri. They made one more pass before sailing into the western horizon proving their wary nature.

Morning progressed and I watched in great admiration and awe as the two veteran callers managed to bring in several more flocks.  Soon we limited out.

Those are the memories that keep February's cold out of a hunter's life.

MORE ABOUT THE AREA: Lewis and Clark passed through the Squaw Creek area a couple of hundred years ago via the Missouri River and noted in their journal dining on the abundant wildlife, including waterfowl. For centuries geese and ducks have traveled to this area on their annual southward pilgrimage and then back again in the spring.

Waterfowl hunting in Northwest Missouri is legendary. Celebrities from the 1930s through the 1960s traveled to this area for the remarkable goose and duck hunting. Hunters in the area are legendary, including celebrities like baseball great Ted Williams and many locals who were darned good hunters.

Many world champion callers came from the area and are now inducted in the Northwest Missouri Waterfowlers Hall of Fame. I first hunted geese in the area in 1965 and was amazed at the number of waterfowl that flew over our blind. Waterfowl numbers in the area have improved.

The Waterfowlers Hall of Fame is a legally incorporated, not-for-profit institution chartered in the state of Missouri. Its mission and goal as stated in its charter is to honor those individuals who have contributed to the waterfowl hunting scene in Northwest Missouri, whether as a sportsman, writer, artist, sculptor, canine companion, or conservationist.

For more information about hunting Northwest Missouri waterfowl in 2009, contact Danny Guyer at: (816) 210-3969 or check his website at