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Dead Eye Dick

Author’s Note: This story appeared in the September 25, 2021 online edition of the Adirondack Almanack in a slightly modified version under the title “Outlaw Duck Hunters”.

“Regular Ducks”


 My first brush with the law came in ’74. I was 10.  Fresh out of 5th Grade, I still had a fairly clean record.  No outstanding warrants, no arrests, no convictions.     

It all started innocently enough.  I was outdoors playing with friends.  We didn’t  have smart phones.  Our social media network was bikes.

My family had moved to Saranac Lake from Lake Placid the previous spring. My parents bought a big stone house on the corner of Stevenson Lane. It’s still there.  Our yard bordered the river.  Our street was a dead end.  Mom was always baking cookies. It was a great place for three boys with bikes to hang out.

Kris and Billy had pedaled up over Helen Hill from town. Eventually bored with popping wheelies, racing down the Stevenson Lane hill with no hands, “burning rubber” and “skidding out”, we ditched bikes out behind the garage and headed for the river to skip and chuck rocks.

 There’s all kinds of good stationary targets by a river for three boys chucking rocks.  We didn’t spare any of them.  We hit more than a few.   Suddenly, bobbing down river- new targets appeared:


Without hesitation, we took aim and fired.

In Saranac Lake at that time, on the river there were two kinds of ducks.  Regular ducks, and town ducks.  The way to tell regular ducks from town ducks was simple. Regular ducks looked regular and could fly.  Town ducks were mostly white and had clipped wings so they never flew anywhere.

Important facts, well known by us boys.

These were town ducks, dodging direct fire from a sudden volley of rocks.

It’s still a bit unclear to me exactly what happened next.  I didn’t even have the best arm among us.  But somehow it all ended up pinned on me.

At some point one of us managed to actually hit a duck with a rock.  I suppose now,  in retrospect, that should have been no surprise.

When it did, in our defense, we immediately stopped chucking rocks.  Three boys stood and watched momentarily in stunned disbelief as what had only moments before been a town duck was now a white  bobber floating slowly down river.

“What do we do now?!” 

We had to act fast.

“Quick! Before it Gets away!”

We raced to the garage, grabbed our bikes, and peeled out across the Pine Street Bridge. 

“The Scene of the Crime”

Route 3 follows the river pretty close for quite a ways along that stretch.  We made a mad dash out of town, catching glimpses of our quarry on the water as we went.

Finally, we got ahead of the duck.  We ditched our bikes and crashed down through the bushes towards a bend in the river in an effort to retrieve it.

Old Man Quisnell owned a small bait shop and game farm at the dead end at the top of my street.  His bait ponds and game pens overlooked the river at just about that point. I am not sure what his role was in town ducks- but at that moment, he was standing above us on the far shore, taking aim.

Old Man Quisnell’s house
It was once upon a time a game farm

“Pop!” “Pop!”  “Pop!” 

Now we were the target!

  The Old Man was firing some sort of pellet or air rifle.  Or maybe a BB gun. Warning shots or at us. We didn’t stick around to find out. We scrambled back up the slope in a hasty retreat.

Back on our bikes, we escaped up Route 3, crossed the bridge, to the relative safety of my house.

At that point, it was every man for himself.  Kris and Billy kept right on going.  I was clearly on my own.  I hid my bike in the garage and went inside to lay low.

Mom was in the kitchen. 

“Where’s Kris and Billy?  I’m making chocolate chips.”

“Uh- they had to go home.  I’m going up to my room.”

I grabbed two cookies and started up the back stairs.

The doorbell rang.  I heard a man’s voice.  I peeked down the stairs.



  It was the COPS!

“Richard T. Monroe, you get down here right NOW!”

My first interrogation.  I held up pretty well, denied everything.  I did not crack.  The officer apparently bought it and left.  I breathed a guilty sigh of relief and turned back towards my room.

“Not so fast.”

 Uh- OH! I had a sense the jig was up. Mom smelled a rat. She clearly wasn’t going to be so easily convinced.

Moms are skilled interrogators. I was no match.  Mom turned up the heat. I finally cracked, broke down and confessed.  I pleaded for leniency.

 “But Mom-I’m sorry.  It was an accident.  We didn’t mean it.”

I could tell, she wasn’t buying it.

 I tried deflection.

 “But Mr. Quisnell was SHOOTING at us!  Shouldn’t HE be the one who’s in trouble?!!”   

 Judge Mom wasn’t swayed.  No mercy.


The Cop came back.  Turned in by my own Mom, to the real law! At the tender young age of 10!

 I never stood a chance.  My own MOM gave  me up.  I confessed.

 “It was me.  I did it.  I killed the town duck.”

I apologized and threw myself on the mercy of the law.

The Officer frowned, leaned down, and pointed at me sternly with one finger as he spoke.

 “I’ve got my eye on you now, young man.  Anything like this ever happens again- you’ll be coming with me.”

  I gulped and nodded. Mom apologized and thanked him. The officer once again left.


The Cops were cutting me loose. No handcuffs, no arrest. I was being released to Mom’s custody. Probation. A slap on the wrist. My first brush with the law. Let off with a warning.

I went to my room.  Stayed there awhile.  Apparently, Mom later went up the street and gave Old Man Quisnell a few verbal shots of her own.  But I didn’t  find out about that until several years later.

Billy & I remained best friends for a number of years. He died tragically in a car accident shortly after graduation.  I’m sure Mr. Quisnell has long since passed.  I don’t know what ever happened to Kris. I can’t vouch for the whereabouts of any surviving Saranac Lake town ducks.


Me?  I’m an Outlaw.

Living Life on the Lam.


Until Our trails cross again


Alibis don’t work on Moms!