Welcome to Just Old Flies

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 tiers imagination.

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 . .

Part Fourty-four


By Old Rupe

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.

Evening Flight

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 swamp.

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 gunning.

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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