I had planned to post about gar, green berries and ginseng, carp and crawdads, blue mud and backwater. Typical week's end for a Southern Illinois river rat – but then as the whole weekend was coming to a close disaster struck.
Just as we swung into a good dusk catfish hole and started to unload rods, thermacells, bait, poleholders, buckets – the flotsam and jetsam that goes with tightlining at dark – I realized with horror that my tackle bag was no longer in the back of the truck.
I wouldn't be thrilled, but I could stand it if I lost the bag. I could stand it if I lost the tackle – I travel pretty light – but what I couldn't stand was losing every important credential I have.
Zipped into a pocket of my tackle bag is my ID case – my hang around one's neck big, black, clunky get you through a crowd , ID case.
It had my press credentials, my drivers license, my disabled ID card (which doubles as my hunting and fishing licenses) my federal duck stamp, ...oh holy credential crap.
We painstakingly re drove the ground we had covered since we'd left a “back in middle of 40 acres of mud ” - to quote my non enthused, non waterfowl liking, husband -) duck hole and blind I wanted to check on. Low water crossings, unmarked field roads..just plain field...no where to be found.
Finally, I sadly said to my husband, “ It's good people that roam down here..they burn boot leather, they drag catfish out in the summer and ducks in the winter. Whichever one finds it will call. “
Suffice it to say, he is a bit more of a skeptic than I.
Dejectedly we drove back to the first tiny town you run into on your way out of 20,000 acres of public land. Perhaps a giant chocolate bar and a gallon mocha cappuccino would soothe me, so I tromped into the the combination grocery, bait shop, convenience store, hamburger joint, in the middle of town.
When I got back to the truck the voice mail indicator on my phone was hrrmphing at me.
The voice mail was from a kind and wonderful gentleman. He politely told me his name, address, and phone number, along with where he'd found the bag and to just call him back - “we'll figure out to get this back to you right quick”.
I hurriedly called him back and in ten minutes was perched on his front porch having a nice visit.
“I thought I knew who you were. Not many women wading around back in there. I've seen you coming and going. I go out most ever morning and evening to sit and watch the deer feed”
After talking about our vehicles we agreed that we'd often seen each other coming and going and always gave a little smile and wave.
I was happy to have all my credentials back safe and sound. I promised him some autumn olive berry jelly as a reward, and we agreed to look out for each other. Turns out he has a disabled ID card too.
My belief in the people of the outdoors, the back waters, the public lands, river bottoms and rock faces is strengthened and confirmed tonight.
I've been out here in forest and the fields, on the water and in the woods long enough to know and be realistic that there some rotten apples in every basket, but for the overwhelmingly majority of the time, I am reminded that the outdoor people in my world are still ethical, compassionate, and kind souls that will always do the sportsmanlike thing.