Welcome to 'just old flies,' a section of methods and flies that
used-to-be. These flies were tied with the only materials
available. Long before the advent of 'modern' tying
materials, they were created and improved upon at a
far slower pace than todays modern counterparts;
limited by materials available and the
Once long gone, there existed a 'fraternity' of anglers
who felt an obligation to use only the 'standard' patterns
of the day. We hope to bring a bit of nostalgia to these pages and to
you. And sometimes what you find here will not always be
about fishing. Perhaps you will enjoy them. Perhaps you
will fish the flies. Perhaps . .
By Old Rupe
Archive of Old Flies
This is a story that happened when I was ten or so when life
was simpler. A duck was a duck. A person was allowed 4 or
5 or 6 ducks and didn't have to be a math genius to arrive at a
limit. Now it seems that a hunter must take his grandfathers age
and divide it by the number of cousins he has and multiply it by
the particular ducks factor.
My dad would have never understood the necessity of that.
Duck hunters liked to shoot ducks and sometimes in that era
limits were sort-of ignored. A hunter carried a snap open
woman's purse that would hold a couple of boxes of shells
and waded wet. Wimps just didn't hunt. Ducks were hunted
late enough that I could see the barrel glow a nice orange
shade on a good night. I have had to pack a case of shells
out to two hunters, six boxes at a time. I guess there was an
advantage to having a son big enough to wade old Willie's
Old Willie Burris lived by himself in an old unpainted two-story
frame house on a small hill overlooking his swamp, locally known
as the 'duck factory.' I remember him driving an old Ford that
belonged in a museum. Willie himself was older than dirt and
was just sort of a part of the land scape. My dad would bring old
Willie a bushel or two of apples, we owned an orchard, and
then proceed to slaughter ducks.
I was at the Grand American Trap Shoot recently and it caused
me to remember Willie and the swamp. It wasn't hunting. It was
One particular evening stands out in my memory. The ducks were
thicker than flies on a dead horse. I would haul out boxes of shells
and drag back gunny sacks of ducks. The shells were in little
wooden cases and I would carry out six boxes at a time and
return with one or two big sacks of ducks. I had to drag the
sacks as they were heavy. A serious job for a ten year old.
That night we quit early as we ran out of shells. This was a rare
event since we carried several cases in the car. The trunk of the
car was full of gunny sacks of dead ducks. A serious breach of
the liberal limits of the time.
That evening Dad and Walter were the gunners and when we
arrived home we did the cleaning thing. The ducks would be
hidden in the chicken house and a limit would be brought out
and cleaned and the remains would be brought to the house and
burned in the furnace. We never had evidence of more than a limit
readily available. It was a long evening. I burned many a limits
evidence in the furnace.
Around dark Dan the Game Warden arrived. He said the
neighbors had complained about the war in old Willies swamp.
I remember Dad saying, "It's a shame that Walter can't shoot better."
Walter was a patrolman and I used to watch him shoot clay birds
with a 38. Deadly.
Old Dan counted the birds on the cleaning table and came across
a duck he didn't recognize. He asked, "what is this duck called?"
Dad said,"around here they are called squealers," referring to
the neighbors that had reported the gun war. At this point Dan
got into his car and left.
Now my dads dead, Walter is old and can't hunt, Willie and the
house and car are long gone and the swamp has been drained.
The ducks are gone only to be remembered by an old man when
he visited the Grand American.
A grand time. I'm glad I was there to see it. I thought about it
all day and that evening I cried.
Ducks are gone not due to over hunting but due to a loss of
primary habitat. It saddened me like few things have over
the years. I don't think I'll ever return to the Grand American.
Duck hunting may never be gunning again.
Willie we sure miss you. If I could find your grave I would
plant an apple tree. ~ Old Rupe
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