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North Dakota Outdoors - Out on the Marsh
Jim Thompson is out on the marsh again. He's been out here every fall since -- well let him tell you.
I started when I was about 9 years old. I got a shot gun when I was about 11. Way too big for me. It would give me a black and blue mark on my cheek and the same thing with my shoulder. But I insisted on shooting it. My dad kept telling me it was too big for me. But, no, I was a grown man now - I was 11 years old.
Jim is more than just a hunter. He is a student of the outdoors. He's always learning.
I hunt by myself a lot of the time because I try weird thing. A lot of times I will go out by myself and just sit there and look at weeds. I'll look at grass. Song birds.
It is not exaggeration to say that Jim is in love with these marshes, these ponds, this Dakota outdoors. And he has all of a lover's mixed sense of wonder, joy and sadness.
I don't think that I ever shot a canvasback that I didn't kind of lay it in my lap and smooth its feathers. The Indians used to sing a spiritual song to the buffalo when they killed it. Maybe this is the white man's way of paying homage to the maker.
To be honest this wasn't Jim's best day. The ducks were just too wise. Well, there was that one opportunity (Jim missed), but it wasn't to be. Jim with his usual self-depreciating sense of humor knew just what to say.
A good hunter could have got at least two of those ducks if he had a couple of throwing knifes. I missed them.
The rest were just high flyers - too far off. At the end of the day the bag was empty. Sometimes you come home empty handed and maybe that's the point.
Maybe sometimes I don't even shoot. You get a little bit more enjoyment out of it. When I was younger I think I hunted at a more frenzied way than I do now. I take it a little easier. I enjoy what I am looking at more so than I did years ago.
Don't worry about Jim. There will be another day. More ducks. He is part of the marsh.
This is Lex Hames out in the great North Dakota outdoors.