What else can go wrong on a float fishing trip?
I've had a lot of good fortune float fishing and float hunting. After doing it so long, I eventually learn to not do some things that lead to trouble. But, circumstances have a way of catching up over time. A few weeks back a good friend and I were going to make a duck hunting float on a local stream. We got started later then we planned; but, knew we still had plenty of time for the trip. It just wasn't a good sign for getting started. Later, we pulled off on a county road headed to leave a vehicle at the take out point of our float trip. I noticed that we were right behind a county road grader pulling rock and dirt to the center of the road. I've learned, that if there is a "best time" to pick up a nail or to run over a rock that will cut a tire it's when you are behind a road grader! Sure enough, thirty minutes later I'm in under the truck with a jack. Not to be deterred, we continued our shuttle, got the canoe unloaded and were on way for the day's float hunt. Ten minutes later and in the first shoal, I hear a "plunk" in the water, under my elbow at the side of my canoe. In the hustle, I had forgotten to secure my truck keys and they had dropped into 2 feet of water. Fortunately, the water was clear and after wading for twenty minutes with a boat paddle in hand for balance, I found them. Unfortunately in the process, I also learned that my hip-waders leaked. Fortunately again, I had a dry set of waders back at the truck, so we turned around, went back and I got them on to stay dry and warm. Unfortunately, in the trip back up stream, my cell phone came off my belt and dropped into deep water. I hadn't had that much poor luck on one trip in decades. Poor luck can be expected though, so stand ready for it if you are doing anything outdoors. A few months back, one of my brothers came up for a float hunt on a local stream. In the process of making the float we ran across a local land owner convinced my brother was trespassing his property for desecrating purpose, I suppose. My brother told me later that the guy was so mad he couldn't talk without cussing a blue streak. The guy even threatened to shoot him if ever he was back on his property. I ran into the same guy later when getting my vehicle and he was still so mad he couldn't talk without cussing. The fact that I had never been on his property, had no interest what-so-ever in anything that he considered his, had no bearing. He was mad, wanted me to know it and that was all that mattered. He tried to tell me that he had called a conservation agent and had been told "everything" I was doing on the river was illegal. A court case in the 50's, Elder vs. Delcour, rendered the effective decision about how Missouri streams can be used. Similar definition was also rendered for the recreational use of streams in Arkansas in a different case there years ago. I suspect I'm about as familiar with what I can do on streams as anyone, and what a land owner's rights are, too, because I grew up on a big farm next to a river. Not least, I've also been floating streams in three different states for years. Facts are though, just because you have every right to use a stream to fish and hunt doesn't mean that you aren't going to get a good cussing now and again. I actually know considerable detail about a couple of situations in Arkansas where the situation got way out of hand and folks were shot and killed. Stupidity and hard luck come to mind. On our big farm as a youngster we often had "trespassers" on our property. City folks from town hunting quail, and near everyone just drove down through the pastures to fish the river and so on. I never saw dad get upset about any of it unless they left a gate open for livestock to get out on the road. We even had a cow or two shot dead by poachers driving the road over the years; but, I never saw my dad have the first inclination to put up a posted sign. I suspect he considered it closer to just having a little stretch of poor luck and went on about his job farming and raising kids. Today, the old farm is a Missouri Conservation Area that is available to all. The Missouri Conservation Department has more rules posted about what you "can't" do then dad and grandpa would have ever considered. Times have certainly changed. Most of it not for the better. I visited with a conservation agent recently and asked him about any changes regarding "official" use of streams. Naturally, he pointed out Elder and Delcour and handed me a sheet of paper titled: "where can I float". What they can print and provide is intentionally brief, and therefore vague. I'm quite familiar with the case and others, already. I asked the young agent if he had ever done any stream floating as I seldom see a wildlife officer out there floating, though I know several around the Ozarks. "Once about ten years back with a big group" was his response. I asked him if he had floated all day and was it through private lands. "As a matter of fact, yes!" I asked if he had "used the restroom" on his day long trip. "Well sure, why?" I just want to know if you defecated in the water? "Certainly not, up on the bank, and out of sight of course." So, technically, you both trespassed and littered, right? "Well, most land owners would understand a situation like that......" Nothing went wrong for him that day, I suppose. While my brother and I loaded the canoe at our take-out, a neighboring land owner stopped for a nice visit and wanted to know if we'd had any luck. My brother unloaded his tale. "Oh, sounds like you ran into the plumber with 95 acres". He came in here a few years back and everybody up and down the river has had a run-in with him. We've all learned to just not have anything to do with him if it can be avoided. That sounds like the best approach for my luck, and his, as well.