Boating Accident Serves as a Tragic Reminder

Tony Larsen was a passionate duck hunter with a soft spot in his heart for divers. His passing serves as a reminder that no one is invincible.

Boating Accident Serves as a Tragic Reminder

I didn’t know outdoorsman Tony Larsen, but thanks to social media, I learned about him this morning. I know we would’ve shared a lot in common. The text below is from the BOSS Shotshells Facebook page. The title of the post is “The Weight of Loss,” and it’s a tribute to Tony. But it’s also a call to action.

Please take a few minutes to read about Tony and the boating accident that took his life. Canvasbacks and other divers are currently moving across the Midwest, and if you’re like me, and my 16-year-old son, you’re jumping in an old jon boat, loading it down to the max with dozens of decoys and then heading out on big water with big dreams. Before you shove off, remember Tony. Take precautions. It’s not worth dying for a duck.

The Weight of Loss

Heavy times these last few days, BOSSmen. We lost one of our own.

When a waterfowler goes in the field, we all feel it. You try and tell yourself they went doing what they loved, but there’s little comfort there. It’s a soul-crushing loss and in piecing together all the moves leading up to a tragedy like this, reality tends to point a finger back at the guy in the mirror.

Over the course of our waterfowling careers, an error in judgment like this coulda happened to any one of us, so an honest hunter shouldn’t place blame or ever make internet keyboard jockey comments on it. We’ve all pushed it too hard many times. What’s done is done. But there is a lesson to find alongside the lingering ache of missing a man in the prime of his life. Tony was one hell of a hunter who lived it as much as anyone. The only thing he loved more in life than divers were his two girls. 

Bitter Lake, South Dakota. Big water. Pre-dawn, with the throttle cracked wide open and three best friends navigating by headlamp. You’ve been in similar situations. It’s blowing chop outta the West and cold, and you’re pushing it in a small boat heavy with men, a Lab, six dozen dekes, guns and gear. Stoke level: Mega, ‘cause this is day three and these boys smashed ‘em on the two previous mornings.

On the most-wanted list: Cans, Bluebill, Redheads and Goldeneye, in that order. The boat’s less than a mile offshore in 14 feet of water and it’s dark. Black dark, so they’re disoriented. Happens to all of us, so they’re spinning to port, then starboard and back again, looking for some sort of landmark in shadow. The boat’s wakes catch up to them and in seconds, there’s sub-40° water piling in over the transom.

Two men jump forward to level the hull, but the floor drops out from under their feet in less than five seconds. You know the rest, no need for more detail. Two men make it out carrying a horrifying memory they’ll never shake. One doesn’t.

Over judgment on this one would be purely hypocritical. On how many pre-dawn runouts did you soldier forward through impenetrable fog, deadheads and poor decisions when you should have turned around and went to breakfast? How many days have you ignored a building weather system and seen a calm, flat marsh stand up with angry rollers in seconds? How often have you not worn a lifejacket or a wading belt, or found yourself alone in spots too remote for any hope of help should something go wrong? The list is endless, and it proves no waterfowler with any history has a perfect past.

Fact: The better you are, the more danger you’re in because you think you’ve seen it all. This story serves as a reminder there’s one thing you haven’t seen and you don’t want to. Last Saturday morning, two of the BOSSmen had to stand by his daughter, and sister as she told two 12-year old twins Dad wasn’t coming home. Ever.

BOSSmen, we say this not as some scared straight scenario, but as a damned crucial lesson: We all push too hard sometimes, forgetting that at the end of any hunt someone’s at home waiting for you. No bird is worth that gamble.

For your family, friends and future’s sake, let’s all try to be safer out there. All we ask.

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