AT ABOUT 5 A.M., my Lab, Junior, and I set up on an island in the Mississippi. After sunrise, I shot a mallard that fell way out, so we started across a wing dam to get it, and 30 yards out, I tripped. I slid off the wall, and the river poured into my waders. The current was so strong it shoved me under. I looked up and saw Junior swimming in circles.

Kicking to the surface was like walking into a tornado. I went under four times and I kept thinking I gotta get my waders off. I freed my arms, but one strap went over my head and then I couldn’t get to the surface again. So I ducked, freed my neck, and the waders dropped off. By now I’d been in the water for 20 minutes. It was cold–45 degrees. My body was near shut down. I saw that light that people see, then I saw my dog. I took his collar, and he towed me 35 yards to shore. When my uncle found me, I was white as paper, and Junior was sitting on my lap to keep me warm.