They are books I don’t dare pick up unless I’ve set aside time to read … for hours straight. So many times I’ve tried to go in and read just one or two old favorite stories, but ended up in the potato chip dilemma —you can not read just one, or two. Suddenly, you look up, the book is finished, and dawn is breaking outside.
Such books for me are any written by author Gordon MacQuarrie. Most well-know is his Stories of the Old Duck Hunters trilogy. And then there’s a volume published much later by Willow Creek Press called MacQuarrie Miscellany. It purports to contain “lost” Old Duck Hunters Stories, and has one of my favorites “Make Mine Bluebills.”
These books are all out of print now, and there are, sadly, no e-book editions. You can find the hardbacks, paperbacks and cassette tapes on Amazon’s used book market, but they are a pricey lot—new hard covers can go for a couple hundred bucks depending on which you’re looking for. Yet if that were the only way to read these stories by MacQuarrie it would be worth every penny!
I’ll give you a little excerpt from “Make Mine Bluebills.” Enjoy it. Then call your library, go to Amazon, do whatever it takes to get your hands on MacQuarrie’s Stories of Old Duck Hunters. In fact, I doubt there will be much that can stop you!
Four hours later I turned down the crooked, two-rut sand road. Now there was a dash of snow in the air, lisping among the dried scrub-oak leaves. The car lights picked up the lemon-yellow logs of the place. A big doe got up leisurely from her bed almost at the front steps and ambled away.
The thermometer stood at 15° above as I unlocked the door. I lit a fire and brewed a pot of strong tea. Rolls, picked up on the way, made an evening snack. I set the little alarm clock, remembering it kept time only when laid on its face.
By 8 p.m. the wind was urging the snowflakes against the window with a sound like sand hitting a wall. Over the ridgepole the wind whistled. It would be a night of tossing waves on the big lake, but up there on Libby Bay, the migrators would find calmer waters …
… The green boat with the sacked decoys beneath it had to be broken out of the frozen sand. The oars were frosty and slipped and slithered in the locks as I pushed out toward the brightening east.
It was a gamble. Hadn’t I had enough duck hunting anyway? Wouldn’t I ever weary of wet gloves and soaked boots from the day before? No. That’s one thing a man can be sure about. Once a year, at least, I ought to make Libby Bay. There are places that shouldn’t be passed up. …
And with that, we’ll let MacQuarrie continue his 2-mile row to Libby Bay to a blind prepared by his mentor “Hizzoner” to find out if the bluebills are in.
I don’t have to hope; I know you’re going to love MacQuarrie’s stories as much as I do. They represent hunting, fishing … and life … as they are meant to be lived.