I am to be inducted into the Missouri Waterfowlers Hall of Fame, located in Mound City, on Nov. 9.
This is my second induction into an outdoors hall of fame as a writer, the first in The National Fresh Water Fishing HOF. These generous inductions always make me reflect on the journey. My conclusion is, I don't deserve these honors, but there are many who do.
For example, my grandfather and dad lost sleep on Nov. 14, 1965, to take their son and grandson on his first goose hunt. I was 12 years old and loved to read outdoors magazines. I was especially drawn to the waterfowl hunting stories and wanted to try it. Dad and Grandpa were both hard workers who deserved their sleep. I shot my first geese on that hunt, and both men lost sleep several more mornings while making me happy.
My mother and grandmother both woke up extremely early in the morning and cooked us breakfast. They knew how excited I was for these hunts and wanted to make it special. Grandma knew I was plucking geese after the first hunt and came downstairs to help me. Today we just skin out the breasts, but back then we left the skin on, and believe me, plucking a goose is real work.
Jay Robinson was not related to me, but a neighbor. The older man had been a B-17 mechanic in World War II, stationed in England. That made him extremely interesting, especially when I noticed him unloading two Canada geese he had shot.
I ran down for a closer look and told him how much I loved hunting geese. After that he taught me how to blow the brand new Faulk's goose call that was under my Christmas tree, and we enjoyed several hunts together.
Morgan Burleson was another neighbor and not a waterfowl hunter, but he gave me all of his outdoor magazines. I had Outdoor Life, Field & Stream, Sports Afield, Argosy and True magazines to read cover to cover each month. I even read the advertisements.
By 1971 I left my parents’ house and met a butcher named Fred Simmerman at my local grocery store who lived by Sugar Lake, just south of St. Joseph. He was a top waterfowl hunter with a water blind and at least 60 duck and goose floating decoys. I gratefully accepted his invitation for a hunt, and that day discovered bluebills and other diving ducks that decoyed well. We shot a couple of mallards too.
About this time I got the bright idea that if I loved to hunt and fish, why not get paid for it. So I started my outdoors writing career with a story for the Missouri Conservationist. I received a polite letter stating they could not use my story, but to keep on writing. “You can write,” the editor generously stated – the same words a high school teacher, Verna Quirin, had told me when I graduated from Park Hill High School by Kansas City.
I enrolled in classes at Maple Woods Community College that fall and soon had published my first newspaper article in the Kansas City Star and my first magazine article in Fur-Fish-Game Magazine.
Shortly after that I met Dr. Andrew Cline and his wife, Lola, at the Kansas City Sports Show. They had a small publication, The Sportsman's Gazette, and I walked up and boldly told them, “Think I could write for you.” That was where my career really started. The Clines taught me how to write for publications, and that was about 36 years ago.
Various outdoors companies have shared their resources with me on waterfowl hunts. The Avery Company has especially been generous with their resources in giving me everything required to write about different type of waterfowl hunting around the United States.
I have been blessed to hunt or fish with the nation's biggest-named hunters and fishermen throughout my career. But my friends, Joe Laukemper, Paul Knick, Danny Guyer, Bud Burrows and many others who are top hunters gave me numerous hunts and lots of laughs in the duck or goose blinds.
So, how are you affecting that girl or boy that you take hunting or fishing? I just hope those who are gone will somehow be standing beside me the night I accept my plaque for the Missouri Waterfowlers Hall of Fame. They are being inducted too – at least in my heart.
Kenneth Kieser, a veteran outdoors writer, writes a weekly outdoors column for The Examiner. Reach him at email@example.com