Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Tragic End for Minnesota Duck Hunt

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Tragic End for Minnesota Duck Hunt

Article excerpt

Stephen Geerdes and Bud Stone intended to go duck hunting last week, and they launched into Minnesota's Freeborn Lake with the kind of enthusiasm that wind stirs in waterfowlers when bluebills and other divers wing by Hanson's Point. They were experienced waterfowlers who cherished those times.

Some of us have been there.

We've piled into duck boats, loaded with bags of decoys, shotguns, ammo and an excited Lab who won't sit still. We've looked at the icy water licking at the top of the gunwales and pushed on, yelling at the dog to sit.

If you hunt ducks, you've been there, done that. When the weather is right, when the ducks might be flying, the risk of being a waterfowler fades like the paint on old decoys. That's the way it is, the way it has to be. Waterfowling is not a tradition stayed by bluebird skies and short-sleeved hunting coats.

The best waterfowling is the most miserable, enhanced by unleashed elements and stirring birds that combine to leave the kind of memories that enrich a duck hunter's life.

You never think of not coming back.

On Thursday (Oct. 26), Geerdes and Stone never reached Hanson's Point on Freeborn Lake. Amid the growing waves, their johnboat took water over the bow. It filled on the second wave and dumped the two men into the icy water.

Geerdes quickly placed a borrowed gun on top of the overturned johnboat for safekeeping.

"We hung on to the boat for an hour until we realized it wasn't drifting into shore," Stone recalled. The boat's anchor had fallen to the bottom.

"We knew we had to make a decision," Stone said. They decided to drift and swim toward shore, hanging on to decoy bags to keep them afloat. Both men were wearing chest waders.

Geerdes' yellow Lab, Buddy, swam for Hanson's Point.

Stone, 34, of Lino Lakes, Minn., and Geerdes, 24, of Roseville, Minn., held on to the decoy bags and waited for the wind to push them to shore. …

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