We had deployed on a freelance, northern mission to knock the edge off several months of waterfowling inactivity and North Dakota provides that opportunity long before the migrating masses make their annual trek toward our familiar southern haunts.
This particular excursion included my best friend and fellow Arkansan, Jerry Cunningham, along with two ornery cusses and ex-Marines of Missouri heritage, Scott Bailey and John "Foots" Schuh. Not a complainer in the crowd, and all with more than an adequate supply of what my Grandpa commonly referred to as "stick."
I had duck hunted with these men long enough to know: If there was to be trouble with the webbed-foot tribe, they were more than competent to help quell the disturbance.
We were fortunate to have Foots make the trip. It wouldn't have been the same without him. He was the only member of our party who had never hunted North Dakota, and this was a trip he had wanted to make for several of his 60 years.
He had overcome a near disaster that threatened to leave him behind in Missouri: On the eve of our departure, Foots was staging his gear when he experienced extreme chest pain from a heart he claimed had literally stopped beating.
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