FOULDS: Duck! Dr. Don’tlittle is coming!
Call me Dr. Don’tlittle.
As in, don’t even think about wildlife, much less try to approach an animal.
A 24-hour visit to Loon Lake near Clinton last week confirmed yet again I succeed only on grating on the Great Outdoors and all its inhabitants.
From my arrival on Thursday morning at cabin No. 9 at Loon Lake’s Marigold Resort to my departure on Friday morning, I succeeded in killing a fish I was trying to save, maiming and likely murdering a plump, pheasant-type bird that was minding its own business and possibly suffocating a duck or two that were resting peacefully next to me and the campfire.
And, this carnage resulted in not a speck of meat to eat, save for the hamburger patties I brought along from Save-On-Foods.
The plan was to take my two kids — as unfamiliar to the Great Outdoors as their dad — to the lake to visit my oldest brother, who had rented a cabin for a few nights and who is very good at catching trout.
The kids would swim in the lake, we’d roast marshmallows at night, we’d marvel at the thousands of stars and, maybe, finally, I’d learn how to fish.
That learning curve got steep right away when one of three rods my brother has set up for trolling in the rented pontoon boat began bending.
“Fish on!” he cried, rushing to start reeling it in.
He made sure there was indeed a bite and handed me the rod.
Here would be my first chance to actually reel in a catch.
It was easy. Just turn the handle fast and watch dinner get closer to the boat.
Just then, the spinning reel thing came off the pole and I was left holding the rod in my left hand and the reel thing in my right hand.
My left hand jerked, confirming the fish was still attached to the hook.
At that point, I ceded control to my brother, who, while re-attaching the spinning reel thing to the rod, noted in his 51 years on earth, he had never seen such a thing happen.
“If I sat here for a month and tried, I couldn’t possibly do what you did,” he said of my fishing prowess.
So, it was left to him to bring into the boat a fish that would surely inspire future stories around the campfire.
Up it came to the surface.
I managed to grab it and hold it to the floor of the boat, at which time the fish was declared too small to keep.
So, back into the water it would go — once I removed the hook. Which was stuck in its mouth. Which was gaping desperately for air. Which caused the whole fish body to convulse. Which made my hand skip and further twist the hook into the poor thing’s jaw/mouth/lip.
By the point, the fish was barely moving and I had a scene that made Saw look like a Disney film.
Between the blood and the slime, my brother finally managed to remove the hook and I tossed the little guy back into the lake, whereupon he promptly floated on the surface, having succumbed to my hooking penalty.
As the little fish floated, a shadow crossed the boat. That shadow was an eagle, who scooped up the fish with his talons and flew away, without even a thank you.
That night, while roasting marshmallows in a campfire at the lake’s edge, I asked my brother if the ducks around us can eat the fluffy white balls of sugar. He thought I was kidding and answered in the affirmative, only to ask what the heck I was doing after I tossed a marshmallow to the ducks.
Apparently (and I found some information on this subject later on the Internet), sticky foods like marshmallows and peanut putter can create all sorts of problems with the duck’s bills and throats.
So, as a duck grabbed the marshmallow and swam away, attempting to consume the sticky square puffy white thing, I could only imagine my toss leading to duck suffocation.
My rampage didn’t end that night, unfortunately.
The next day, having packed up and still feeling horrible about the fish and duck, the kids and I set off down Loon Lake Road, heading home.
A few hundred feet ahead, there were three birds sitting in the middle of the road. Having always seen birds fly up and out of the way as soon as my vehicle approached, I thought nothing of the feathered trio.
Two black bodies with wings did indeed swoop up, across my field of vision and to a tree at the side of the road.
The KA-CHUNK! sound and hardy bump under my front tire that followed told me the third bird didn’t take flight.
I looked in the rearview mirror to see a horribly wounded pheasant-type bird hobbling madly to get to the side of the road.
I didn’t stop. I couldn’t.
Images of too much blood and guts and slime and constricting duck throats raced through my mind.
I just had to get back to the city.
My brother was following about 10 minutes behind and, knowing nothing of my third attack on wildlife, called me when he arrived home in the Lower Mainland.
He was leaving Loon Lake, he said, when he came across a wounded bird by the side of the road being pecked at by a crow and being watched by a hawk in a tree.
He stopped to scare away the crow, but didn’t know what he could do about the pheasant-type bird. He didn’t have a box in which to place the bird. And, if he did, where would he take it?
So, he had to leave my victim to the laws of nature, laws that should have as the eternal first commandment: Thou shalt not allow Foulds to leave the city limits, anywhere, at any time.
My apologies to my victims.
I promise to limit my fishing to the card game, my ducks to the rubber ones in the tub and my foul to watching baseball.