Back in the fall of ’68, I was a graduate student at Utah State University in Logan, Utah. To the southwest of Logan lies a swamp of several thousand acres, dominated by open water and islets of very tall bulrushes. During the fall, as ducks migrate, it is heavily populated with ducks of various species. One day, one of my roommates borrowed my Remington Model 1100 semi-automatic 12-gauge, and he and two friends went duck hunting in a canoe. The plan was to set the decoys, hide the canoe among the rushes, get out of it and stand behind it in waders – using the rushes as a blind and the canoe as a gunrest while they waited and called ducks.
I went off to class.
Upon my return, I was met by my (very soggy) roommate exiting his car – sans shotgun. It seems that, as the three of them were paddling from the launch to their chosen islet, from behind another islet appeared a mixed flock of Gadwall, Teal and Mallard ducks, flying at high speed and low elevation. Our three intrepid woodsmen, forgetting entirely the stability issues inherent in canoeing (not to mention Newton’s First Law of Motion), all dropped paddles and upped shotguns. Firing in unison perpendicular to the long axis of the canoe, all were immediately reminded of some of the basic tenets of flotation and the mechanics of motion; to wit, canoes are tippy little suckers. They all went swimming in their hunting gear – chest waders, hip boots, shotguns and all.
All abandoned their guns… and waders and hip boots were quickly, if arduously, discarded. Unfortunately for their Darwin Award eligibility, they were able to save each other and hand-paddle back to shore.
The shotguns were all salvaged the next day by diligent use of a magnet from the school of engineering, operated by rope suspension… from a flat-bottom Johnboat. Waders were snagged with a grappling hook made from stiff wire. Once they arrived back at the apartment, I made a startling, an,d saddening, discovery... not ONE of them had ever disassembled and reassembled a weapon in their lives, so-o-o-o... I spent much of that evening training three much-chastened young men how to disassemble, clean and reassemble various models of shotguns.