Hunting destinations attract certain hunter mind-sets. During a recent Mazatlán Mexico duck hunting adventure, guests came from all walks of life, a real US coast-to-coast representation of hunters. Most were solo hunter bookings. They describe how duck hunting in Mazatlán compares to hunting back home, what they enjoyed most, favorite species, meals, lodging, and, of course, the people they met. Their vacation experiences are absolute proof that birds of a feather flock together. Whether curious about what all the fuss is about or considering a south of the border hunt, these episodes are always popular. Listen to find out why!

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Hunting the Pacific Flyway

You’re back to the resort by noon every day, you get to do what you want, wife gets to do what she wants, it’s a great compromise for a hunting trip.

Ramsey Russell: Welcome back to Duck Season Somewhere, today, I am in Mazatlán, Mexico. Beautiful Mazatlán, Mexico. We’re out by the pool, there’s a breeze going, mariachi music, drinks flowing. Want you all to hear how this week has gone through the words of clients like today’s. First up, Mr. John, California.

John: How’s it going, Ramsey?

Ramsey Russell: John, how’d you enjoy this week? This is your second trip down here?

John: Yes, it is.

Ramsey Russell: Why’d you come back?

John: This is one of the best hunting trips I’ve ever been on. This year is even better than last year, we had to book an extra day.

Ramsey Russell: Talk about where you’re from in California and what the duck hunting is like out there.

John: I’m from North California, so hunting’s pretty good and we had a good year this year. But as far as numbers go, there ain’t nothing like what you’re going to get down here and pure volume.

Ramsey Russell: It is volume. But I’ve noticed just about everybody in this whole group is not just numbers driven.

John: No.

Ramsey Russell: What do you do up in Northern California? What do you do for real work?

John: I’m a service manager of a diesel repair shop.

Ramsey Russell: Okay.

John: I’ve been a diesel mechanic 20 years my whole life and finally got myself in the office now. And I help run the shop and the road service and we keep trucks, equipment, tractors, lawn mowers. Anything you got broke, we fix it.

Ramsey Russell: You said something funny the other day coming down here to Mexico and you wonder where all the Mexicans were.

John: Yeah, I did. Back home in my part of the world. Yeah, we got quite a few Hispanics around and down here, I figure I’d know where they all went now.

Ramsey Russell: Well, here at our resort, there’s a lot of both of the gringos, isn’t it?

John: A lot of gringos, a lot of Canadians gringos, I don’t know, is Canadian gringo?

Ramsey Russell: I guess, it’s a gringo, eh? That’s what they are. Why did you choose Mazatlán the first time?

John: Hearing you talk about it, hearing how you can bring your wife, it’s more than just a duck hunt. You’re back to the resort by noon every day, you get to do what you want, wife gets to do what she wants, it’s a great compromise for a hunting trip.

Ramsey Russell: I think it is. The wives really seem to enjoy it down here, miss Anita loves it down here, we all do. How does the hunting compare to California? Besides just the sheer numbers, there’s a lot going on that we can talk about why the hunting quality is better. But overall, how we hunt, what we hunt, where we hunt, when we hunt, how does it compare to how you hunt back home?

John: It’s quite a bit different than how we duck hunt back home. It’s very similar to how we might dove hunt other than you sitting on water, but this is a lot like a dove shoot in a lot of ways to me.

Ramsey Russell: It is. I mean, it’s not technical, it’s not hard, we don’t need waders.

John: No waders. Crocs and shorts.

Ramsey Russell: Hunt those little potholes.

John: Yeah. The size of the water that we hunt here for the amount of guns you can put on it and be successful is amazing.

Ramsey Russell: You bring up a good point because you got these real big tidal estuaries and their brackets are saltwater to high salinity, the ducks like to live out there and feed out there. And then they come in and hit these little stock tanks, these little ponds and to drink fresh water and the hotter it gets, the more they come in. Like the first day. Talk about the first day, because there was 7 of us hunting kind of all together, not exactly together, like one big blind, but kind of hunting this, what would you say that, a quarter acre stock tank?

John: Yeah, about that.

Ramsey Russell: And it was black with ducks, when we pulled up, as they were throwing out decoys, they kept coming in.

John: Yeah. Christian, he was ducking getting out there because he could see everybody’s getting ready to shoot.

Ramsey Russell: Oh, yeah. But what got me is we shot 7 generous Mexico limits and we do stop at a limit and as they’re laying out the ducks, right there at the top of the bank, flock, big flocks, bigger flocks of blue wings and green wings are just piling in just right there feet away. I mean, you don’t see that in California.

John: You don’t see that. No, you do not. We literally John here, he got a picture in front of our birds and looked like he photo shopped birds landing in the background right behind him, neither in hell.

Ramsey Russell: And what’s so crazy is the limits. I mean, California, the Pacific Flyway has a very generous 7 duck, 107 days season compared to the Mississippi Flyway, 6 ducks with 60 days. But you come down here, it’s a longer season, even more ducks, but the ducks aren’t wary, they’re not pressured.

John: Not at all.

Ramsey Russell: We go in there and shoot a lot of ducks out of this one pond, but as it gets hotter in the day, more ducks are coming and it’s likely that most ducks using that place never even saw or heard us.

John: Never even seen.

Ramsey Russell: Never even knew we were there.

John: We’re eating tacos and drinking beer. Usually by 09:30, no later than ever, we walk back to the truck. It’s nothing I’ve ever done is been like it. Set up on basically a mud puddle and seeds of the ducks just appear out of everywhere.

Ramsey Russell: I like to say, birds of a feather flock together and here’s what I mean. We were eating little burritos at lunch one day, Christian likes to cook those tacos out there over the fire and roast the hot peppers and we drink a few cold beers and watch the ducks come in before we ride back to town and you and your blind mate, my buddy Ricky, we’re talking about a Hank Williams Jr. song.

John: Me and Ricky, we’re good buddies. And we didn’t know each other a week ago, but we’re good buddies now. And we were riding out the blind the first day and I think John hopped in and asked where we’re from and I said, North California and he went south Alabama and right there we got country boy can’t survive, it’s pretty funny.

Ramsey Russell: But you all ended up hunting together the whole time you all hit it off.

John: Yeah, we were right next to each other the whole time, we had 4 great all. Everybody I rode with, we’ve exchanged numbers.

Ramsey Russell: A lot of people book these trips, they’re worried about coming by themselves and every now and again there’s an asshole, let’s face it, people are people.

John: That’s life.

Ramsey Russell: But most of the time, people are just people. Whether North Carolina, South Alabama, Mississippi, New Jersey, it’s just duck hunters and we all get along out there. That’s what never ceases to amaze me about these hunts. We just all get along because we’re duck hunters.

John: It’s amazing. This time, even the folks we didn’t ride out with, a lot of the bond, I think, is made on the ride out to the duck hunting spot. And even the folks I just talked to a little bit while we’re eating tacos, they’re cooler than hell, too. We’re talking, I got a couple of their numbers, I might go to Michigan one day.

Ramsey Russell: That’s right. I have seen that so many times, John, how people break out. They show up by themselves, they meet some other individual hunters, well, now you’re meeting folks that can and will do the kind of stuff you’re into, swap numbers and next thing you know, you got some hunting buddies to go places with.

John: And I got proof now to my wife, I’m not the only one ate up with this the way I am.

Mazatlán Duck Hunting: All It’s Cracked Up to Be?

And just the sheer size of the bodies of water we’re hunting with such a number of guns and we’re still successful, just amazes me. And then the birds are unpressured.

Ramsey Russell: Exactly. The first time you came or this time either one, what were you expecting in Mazatlán and how did it reconcile with reality? Expectations versus reality with Mazatlán duck hunting. What was that about?

John: The hunting, I knew it would be good, but I didn’t really know what to expect. I thought it would be, you’d have to be there before daylight, no that ain’t the case. You get out there after daylight and it gets better as the day goes on, that really was a big surprise for me. And just the sheer size of the bodies of water we’re hunting with such a number of guns and we’re still successful, just amazes me. And then the birds are unpressured.

Ramsey Russell: 0 pressure and back here by noon, get up with your wife and go have some fun. Besides the hunting here, what are some of the other things? Food or people or any tours you did? What are some of the most memorable things down here, just besides the high quality duck hunting?

John: Well, everyone I’ve met down here, the locals, tourists alike, have been friendly. It’s been great. We got in an open air taxi and we ride downtown and it don’t matter who we run into, we’re friendly, you feel safe and I wandered off the beaten path, I just wandered out in the back and everybody’s nicer than me and I was really surprised to see that because sometimes people get sick of tourists and they don’t hear, they love us.

Ramsey Russell: A lot of people worry about safety in Mexico and here in Mazatlán, how would you compare your perception of safety? When you and your wife go out in one of them open air taxis or you’re walking down the street at night or in day, you all went to Walmart to get some stuff. How safe did you feel compared to closer to home?

John: To be completely honest, I feel safer here than I probably would in Fresno, California or Modesto, California.

Ramsey Russell: I do too.

John: And never once in the 2 trips we’ve been here have I ever felt nervous, unsafe, uneasy and neither is my wife. I mean, just yesterday, John and my wife, they went downtown by themselves while we were hunting and I would have never dreamed she’d have been comfortable doing that and they were perfectly fine. They were never nervous.

Ramsey Russell: They had a great time.

John: Had a great time.

Ramsey Russell: They talked about it last night at dinner, they had a wonderful time. Speaking of dinner, we did do some dinner together. We went to 2 or 3 places for dinner, we went to lunch. What are some of the memorable meals or dishes or things you ate while you were here on vacation?

John: I’ve ate a lot of shrimp while I’ve been here. I liked every bit of it, shrimp is good. And shrimp some of them big as your hand and some of them I had at lunch place and stuff. And seafood here is excellent, little place we went to lunch today, that was some good tacos today.

Ramsey Russell: Off the beaten path, not a English word on the menu, I don’t even think the staff speaks much English other than Diet Coke or whatever. Coke light. But it’s all good, isn’t it?

John: Oh, it is. There has not been one negative experience I’ve had in the week I’ve been here and I just can’t imagine that it’s been great, every aspect.

Ramsey Russell: You’ve been here twice, if you just think back from your deathbed, Mazatlán, what’s the one thing, one moment you think you might remember most?

John: I probably remember sitting next to Ricky after him and I got done seeing him smiling at me, saying, we sure have one heck of a shoot, John.

Ramsey Russell: Thank you very much, John. I appreciate it.

John: Thank you.

Waterfowl Hunting Adventures: From New Jersey to Mexico

So it’s been 40 years in the making and I finally tripped the trigger and here we are. And I’m not sorry that I’m here at all.

Ramsey Russell: Mr. Bruce. Where are you from, Bruce?

Bruce: The great state of New Jersey.

Ramsey Russell: The great state of New Jersey. What brings you to Mazatlán?

Bruce: Ducks. No, I’ve heard about the duck shooting in Mexico for a long time from the guys I used to hang out with have been down here and they said if you want to hunt some ducks, you got to go down there and try it. So it’s been 40 years in the making and I finally tripped the trigger and here we are. And I’m not sorry that I’m here at all.

Ramsey Russell: It took 40 years in the making, why Mazatlán? What was it about this specific destination that made you set the hook finally?

Bruce: Well, it’s a little bit more of a vacation for my wife and I. We haven’t gotten away in a long time. My wife does hunt, they call me back east or at least at home, they call me the hunting fool. And that’s okay because that’s the way it’s always been and she knows that. And I wanted this to be a duck hunt and a time for the two of us to spend together away from home and enjoy a small vacation together, which we don’t do very much anymore.

Ramsey Russell: Talk about how you duck hunt in New Jersey. I know it’s much different than here, but for comparison, tell me you’ve duck hunt a long time, it shows. Talk about how you hunt, where you hunt, what the setups are like and stuff like that.

Bruce: Yeah, okay. We hunt basically at the Atlantic coast salt marshes and everything’s basically salt marsh. There’s also ponds back in the pine barrens and there’s a lot of different ways. But the mainstay for us is hunting the salt marsh and that entails as a pond boxes, which we drag into the ponds in the back and set up and you basically lay down in them and the marsh is wet, so the little boat keeps you dry, it’s only about 7ft long –

Ramsey Russell: Like the Barnegat bay sneak box?

Bruce: No, it’s smaller than that. It’s like a little pram, a little tiny pram. And we bring along a little one along the same line for the dog nd the dog goes in there and we’re all well hidden, you’re laying flat down on your back. And we also did layout boat shoots for many years and we had the Long Island style layout boats which we’d load on top of our garbies and we’d haul out to the big water areas where we are going to hunt. At one time we had over 250,000 scaup, blue bills in the Raton Bay area, which is between, believe it or not, New York City and Sandy Hook. And we used to go out there and shoot quite a bit. And then the other way we hunt is with the Barnegat Bay sneak boxes, which probably many of you are familiar with and that’s a lay down style boat too, which you pull up against the bank, grass over and get inside and lay down on. And of course you put the decoys out in front of you on the rivers or ponds or bay fronts.

Ramsey Russell: A lot of the hunting you’re doing involves tides.

Bruce: Yes. The tide drop. Well, in northern New Jersey, the tide drop is not that great, but southern New Jersey, the tide drop can be up to 6ft. So when you come into the meadow in the morning, you’re at ground level and then you hunt for a couple hours and you come back and you’re looking down at your boat and to get to your boat, you got to go through this god awful mud like you wouldn’t believe and the mud is up to your waist sometimes. So you got to be really careful with what you’re doing.

Ramsey Russell: It sounds like hard work. Is it hard work?

Bruce: Well, it’s not hard work, it’s something you love, it’s something you want to do. And I never equated duck hunting with hard work, I always equated it with something that I love to do.

Ramsey Russell: The risk is worth the reward.

John: Absolutely.

Ramsey Russell: But the effort, we all get that. But here’s what I’m saying is back home, anybody listening can relate to what I’m about to say. It’s muddy, break a sweat, get up early, I know guys get up at midnight, 01:00, 02:00 to go hunt public land, crawling through law, crawling through the mud, laying out, getting wet, getting muddy, getting cold, lots of warm clothes. Did somebody bring whatever? Versus Mazatlán. How you hunt back home compare to how you hunt the last 3 days?

Bruce: Well, we had talked about it before. We’re laughing because the podcast went south on us. But I’m going to say it again. Back home in the east, the best hunting, at least where I am, is when we get ice, snow, cold and wind and probably the northwest wind and the ice is the best. And of course, we shoot a lot of black ducks, most of the other waterfowl moved out of the area at that time and I guess you know why, but you’re involved with down parkers, waders, you can’t put on enough clothes sometimes when you go out there. And now here in Mazatlán, some of the guys next to me were shooting in shorts and crocs and I had long pants on, of course and was comfortable.

Ramsey Russell: But we parked the truck we walked. The other day, the first morning you hunted, we walked maybe 200 yards.

Bruce: Yeah.

Ramsey Russell: That’s a long walk from Mazatlán.

Bruce: Yeah.

Ramsey Russell: Most days like today, we walk, what, 50 yards?

Bruce: Not even. Well, throughout the whole hunt, my feet didn’t even get muddy, although they did because I decided to go down and try to pick up a few birds that were on the edge of the water and I did get a little muddy. But hey, that’s a small price to pay for the shooting that we had.

Ramsey Russell: And can you believe that, it’s colder in Mazatlán, breezy and cooler in Mazatlán than I’ve ever experienced it here. Normally it’s 10° warmer.

Bruce: Yeah. Right now we’re in the shade and I got a t-shirt on and it’s pretty cool. And the wind’s coming out of the Northeast, I think, coming off the Northwest, because we’re on the Pacific Coast and it’s pretty chilly over here.

Ramsey Russell: Not compared to New Jersey.

Bruce: Yeah.

Ramsey Russell: What’s it like in New Jersey right now?

Bruce: Well, actually, it’s been pretty warm, but in the Northeast, we’re still in for snow, we’re still in for cold weather. So this has been a real respite from that and we’re happy to be able to be here. And I said, I have to give my kudos to Ramsey and his wife Anita. Anita runs a tight ship, she keeps you informed, she lets you know what’s going on and because of her, everything was taken care of, top notch, she advises you where to go, how to do it and what to bring, their information packet really helps you out. And anything that they gave us was right there, right on the money and I can’t thank them enough.

Ramsey Russell: Oh, you’re welcome. We’re glad to have you. And I tell everybody she’s the brain to the operation, I’m a good look. You can see now that we’ve met.

Bruce: Yeah. Truth be known, I’d rather look at her than you.

Ramsey Russell: How did expectations coming down here? You’ve been waiting 40 years to do this, you pull the trigger, bam, you’re here. How did your expectations meet reality?

Bruce: Well, one of the things that snaps me back to reality is being in Mexico itself. Now, for instance, today on the way back from the hunt, we had a wonderful hunt, I can’t even really describe how wonderful it was. But also one of the good parts is the fact that as you come through some of the Mexican villages and see the lifestyle of the folks that live here and how things go down.

Ramsey Russell: All by American standards.

Connecting with Hunters Around the World

Duck hunting or hunting in general is one thing, but one of the wonderful things about it is the ability to connect with other hunters, not only American hunters, but hunters from Mexico, hunters from Brazil, hunters from Alaska, the Inuit. 

Bruce: How they work, it brings you back to reality and it makes you glad to be an American citizen and happy to have the things that you have. Not only that, you see the people here and most of these hunts are really good from the cultural aspect. The people here in Mexico, they might not have much in material things, but they’re happy, they’re glad and they enjoy their life. And that’s the really neat thing about this whole deal.

Ramsey Russell: There was a 15 year old boy among the guide staff out there and if I live to be 100 years old, Bruce, I’ll never forget this. I learned yesterday at lunch, he’s an orphan and one of the guide is taking up with him and the other young man, he’s kind of like their dad. But we were out there that first day, we hunted, we were shooting those teal coming in, we’re going to talk about that in a minute and he was picking up, it’s work. Because we’re not really working, but he’s picking up the decoy, he’s picking up everything, he’s waiting out in that mud. For example, somebody shot down a trophy, a really nice shoveler and man, he just pulled off his shoes and waited out there and got it. After the hunt, I heard singing, like somebody singing in their shower at the top of their lungs with pure joy and it was that young man.

Bruce: Yes, sir.

Ramsey Russell: So happy to have work and to have a new family, have a tribe and have fun working like that. I’ll never forget how happy he was.

Bruce: Yeah, no, you’re absolutely correct on that. The first morning I met my, I guess you would call him guide and that young little fella, I found out my Spanish isn’t that great, but I found out from him that he was like an adopted son, he had no family and they took him in and he was living with them. And as Ramsey said, I not only heard him singing today during the hunt, but in the past 2 days, I heard the very same thing.

Ramsey Russell: Pure happiness.

Bruce: Yes. And like I said before, it’s a cultural thing. Duck hunting or hunting in general is one thing, but one of the wonderful things about it is the ability to connect with other hunters, not only American hunters, but hunters from Mexico, hunters from Brazil, hunters from Alaska, the Inuit. That’s what’s wonderful about the whole experience, to be able to connect with other hunters and other people that enjoy the same passions that you do.

Ramsey Russell: And you and your wife showed up, single hunter, well, there’s a couple of guys showed up, but most people were by themselves. We had a whole group and everybody gets along. Got a guy from New Jersey, got a guy from California, got a guy from Alabama, Mississippi, Florida and we all just one big happy tribe out there duck hunting, stories to share.

Bruce: The first day when you meet everybody, I was going to say it’s a little dicey, but it’s not that at all, not even uncomfortable, you don’t know everybody’s name, but after a day or two, you look around at everybody, they’re the same as I am. They have a passion, they enjoy the opportunity to do what they’re doing. And I think overall, we made some good friends on this trip, we might not ever see them again, but I’ll tell you what, they’re etched in my memory forever.

Ramsey Russell: You’re going to see me again because I’m going to come see you in New Jersey.

Bruce: Well, I hope so.

Favorite Hunts: A Waterfowl Spectacle

And I’ll tell you what, that was a waterfowl spectacle and I mean spectacle if there ever was one.

Ramsey Russell: What was your favorite hunt?

Bruce: Well, I have to say day 2.

Ramsey Russell: Talk about it.

Bruce: It was pretty spectacular. Again, I think we touched on it before, but by and large, it was incredible. The shooting was phenomenal. I mean, as I said before, you try to shoot these teal twisting and turning and dive bombing, I mean, they’re faster and quicker than an F-15 could ever be.

Ramsey Russell: Like Top Gun pilot coming over, because they’re coming off the low water, over the trees and back down to the pothole

Bruce: Sometimes when I pulled the trigger, I was like, what did I just do that for? It was an air ball and then the second one was an air ball and I’m like, man, I got to stop doing this, I’m not going to have any shells left. I started to slow it down and pick out birds, but one of the highlights again, I don’t know whether we touched base on it or not, but we spent about after we were done, we limited out, the fellows were waiting for a cinnamon teal, which is really what I would have liked to have shot, I had never seen one, but I did on this trip, some of the fellows did get them and we sat there for probably maybe half an hour. And I’ll tell you what, that was a waterfowl spectacle and I mean spectacle if there ever was one.

Ramsey Russell: It was a show.

Bruce: Oh, no, it was better than show.

Ramsey Russell: I don’t know, we were 2 or 3, 4 or 5 birds away from an aggregate limit and we decided what we would do because we had shot some cinnamons. And earlier we said, okay, this is the perfect habitat, they’re the right species association, so let’s sit back and let’s just watch. Let’s just watch and wait 30 minutes and see if we can get a cinnamon and one of the boys did get one.

Bruce: He did.

Ramsey Russell: But, oh, my gosh, the shovelers and the green wings and the blue wings put on an absolute show. I would look down the line and everybody was spellbound holding their cameras up, watching and just smiling. You don’t get to do that back home.

Bruce: No, it was dazzling. I mean, I tried that video thing with a cell phone, that was sort of a waste of time, because if you try to watch that after you’ve taken the pictures back in your room or wherever you are, you get a headache because you can’t even follow everything that’s going on. But again, that particular time was precious. And it’s one of those things that it’s etched in your mind and you’re never going to forget it.

Ramsey Russell: Bruce, I appreciate you I’ve enjoyed getting to hunt with you, getting to know you. I appreciate you sharing your stories around the burrito campfires at dinner, and also here around this pool.

Bruce: Yes. And I’m very grateful for everything that you’ve done for us and especially my thanks goes out to Anita for keeping us really abreast of the situation. Recommend you guys to anybody.

Ramsey Russell: This is Bonnie from New Jersey. Bruce’s better half, much better, I should say.

Bonnie: I am the much better half.

Ramsey Russell: Much better half. How did he talk you into coming to Mazatlán on a duck hunt? Because you’re not a duck hunter, you just came along.

Bonnie: Well, he taught me how to duck hunt. He bought me the waders and I have gone. But his passion is duck hunting and when you love someone, you want to make them happy.

Ramsey Russell: Amen. When you’ve gone duck hunting, he was telling us earlier about duck hunting in New Jersey mud and tides. What was your experience like? Describe your experience when you’ve been duck hunting with him, was it cold?

Bonnie: No, it wasn’t cold, but it’s very limited. Like, there aren’t as many ducks as there were here.

Ramsey Russell: No way.

Bonnie: This is incredible.

Ramsey Russell: Did he come back happy?

Bonnie: Oh, so happy. Remarkably happy.

Ramsey Russell: How did you entertain yourself while he was off duck hunting doing guy things.

Bonnie: I was resting and reading and going to the pool and beautiful sunshine at a beautiful resort and I completely enjoyed myself while he was gone.

Ramsey Russell: And you all have done some Mexican vacations before. Where do you go to?

Bonnie: Puerto de Vallarta, several times.

Ramsey Russell: That’s not far from here.

Bonnie: Nope. But this is beautiful.

Ramsey Russell: Is it very similar?

Bonnie: Yes, very similar.

Ramsey Russell: The beach and the weather and the resort.

Bonnie: Yes.

Ramsey Russell: What did you enjoy most about Mazatlán as compared to Puerto de Vallarta? I’m just trying to portray for the non-hunters that might be listening.

Bonnie: They are similar. The food is really good, seafood is much better, I think.

Ramsey Russell: Oh, yeah. Largest shrimp fleet in Mexico is right here.

Bonnie: Yeah, really good seafood.

Ramsey Russell: Did you eat much seafood?

Bonnie: That’s all I’ve eaten.

Ramsey Russell: Wait a minute. I think you had the braised ribs.

Bonnie: Well, yeah, I did have that.

Ramsey Russell: How could you pass that up?

Bonnie: Had to veer off. Yeah, the short ribs were amazing.

Ramsey Russell: You didn’t ever feel not safe or anything, did you? You felt comfortable here?

Bonnie: Yes, very confident.

Ramsey Russell: What did you think about those little red pickup trucks we’d go riding in the morning, in the evening to go dinner.

Bonnie: So fun.

Ramsey Russell: That was kind of cool.

Bonnie: Yeah, very cool with the lights and the music, really fun.

Ramsey Russell: One thing I’ve noticed talking to the other hunters and having done this for a long time with other hunters like Bruce came along, a lot of the hunters showed up with just their spouse, but they were a single hunter and then they jump in a truck 10 of us are going out duck hunting and birds of a feather kind of flock together. Did you find your barons with the other wives, too? I just broke you away from a conversation.

Bonnie: Yeah, we’re all on the same page, definitely.

Ramsey Russell: What was your favorite cocktail of the bar serves? What’s your flavor around the swimming pool? Margarita?

Bonnie: Yeah.

Ramsey Russell: Did you try the mango margarita?

Bonnie: No, I did not.

Ramsey Russell: You got to try the mango margarita. And last night I can’t believe I drank a strawberry margarita and I got to admit it, it’s pretty dang good, it’d almost be a good dessert.

Bonnie: It’s a little bit of a girly drink.

Ramsey Russell: Not if you put enough tequila in it.

Bonnie: That’s true.

Ramsey Russell: And what I like to do is on these little hotel cups, whatever these are, I like to fill it up about 2/3rd with tequila.

Bonnie: You’re on the same page.

Ramsey Russell: Just a little enough red strawberry to give it flavor and give it color. You say it’s a girly drink, are you challenging me to tequila shots or something?

Bonnie: I am.

Ramsey Russell: All right, thank you very much for listening, we got to go do something. No, really and truly Bonnie, thank you all for coming, I’ve had a great time and I hope you have, too.

Bonnie: You’re welcome. I appreciate meeting you and it’s been wonderful.

Ramsey Russell: Is this a destination as a non-hunter, you think you’d ever come back to? Was it close enough to Puerto de Vallarta? Like, just a strict vacation like that? Was it close enough to that?

Bonnie: Yeah, you could do that.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah. It’s cooler than normal here.

Bonnie: Very cool. But it doesn’t matter if you sit in the sun, it’s beautiful. And it’s just getting away from the city and work, it’s a pleasure.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah. Thank you, Bonnie.

Bonnie: You’re welcome.

A Passion for the Sport

So in my opinion is if you support them and what their passion is, they’re going to support you and what your passion is. So I’m all for the ride.

Ramsey Russell: Mariana Heaton, John’s better half. And we went down to one of my favorite restaurants, no English, not a word of English in the whole place, I don’t think they speak English there at the place themselves and I invited John to come along. Like I told him, I said, I ain’t worried about you, I need your wife, she’s a translator, that’s pretty handy, you speak great Spanish.

Mariana Heaton: Oh, thank you.

Ramsey Russell: Where did you learn to speak Spanish?

Mariana Heaton: Well, both my parents are Hispanic and we’re born in Chihuahua, Mexico, came to the United States at an early age and of course, Spanish has always been a language that was spoken in my house, so you just have to know it.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah, no, I can speak one or two or three words and they don’t understand them because of my accent. But still, man, it’s handy. What did you think about this trip from a non-hunter’s perspective? I know John had a great time.

Mariana Heaton: Well, I hunt a little bit. Being that I can see my husband’s passion and to me, I think it only makes a relationship stronger when you can see the passion that somebody has in hunting or whatever it could be or whatever it is. So in my opinion is if you support them and what their passion is, they’re going to support you and what your passion is. So I’m all for the ride.

Ramsey Russell: What is your passion?

Mariana Heaton: Well, my passion is my kids, my family and to take trips like this to just enjoy life. I mean, good food, good entertainment and family, friends, that’s what life is about.

Ramsey Russell: We had some good food this week. Talk about some of your most memorable meals we had because they were all pretty good.

Mariana Heaton: Okay, so I had grilled octopus at the first restaurant that we went to which is El Presidio.

Ramsey Russell: El Presidio.

Mariana Heaton: Not only was just the environment absolutely gorgeous, the food was fantastic.

Ramsey Russell: What does presidio mean?

Mariana Heaton: Oh, gosh, presidio, I have no idea. You’re going to have to Google that one.

Ramsey Russell: I learned today that Mazatlán was founded in the 1500s and you can tell when you get downtown that old Spanish colonial rule era and you walk in that door and you go down that hallway and you walk into this courtyard and that was the old prison yard back in the 1500s, 1600s and it’s now open air with big trees growing and candlelight and it’s just very intimate, what a fun place. But the food, every year I’m here, Mariana, they change the menu. It’s one of the restaurants that the cook keeps himself fresh and changes the menu. So next year there might be some kind of octopus, but it might be different. I like that kind of stuff.

Mariana Heaton: I mean, you have the original stuff like tacos and street tacos. Unfortunately, this trip I hadn’t been able to get down into the street tacos, which are probably the most authentic food that you can probably get here. But the food is absolutely gorgeous and full of flavor. Just if you look at the surroundings, I mean, just the color that you see, just your surroundings is just absolutely gorgeous. So I think that that has a lot of influence in the food.

Ramsey Russell: The second night we went to Casa 46, which is a very elegant restaurant and overlooking Machado Plaza. Everybody I noticed, everybody got something different and they don’t have a huge menu, it’s all entree. And I was telling Anita on a walk back up the hotel room, I said, no wonder they don’t have appetizers, the food is so rich, there’s no way you could eat an appetizer and an entree.

Mariana Heaton: Right.

Ramsey Russell: What did you get that night?

Mariana Heaton: So I got a tomato cream soup as a starter, me and John’s wife Sherry shared and it was absolutely gorgeous and so delicious. And as an entree, I got pork belly. Normally I don’t get pork belly or I wouldn’t normally get that, but I was like, okay, if it’s anything like what the surroundings, it’s going to be phenomenal and it. Colorful and just full of flavor, had creamed carrots and you just dip that pork belly into some of that cream sauce, it was just absolutely gorgeous.

Ramsey Russell: And last night we went to my kind of restaurant. Ivan told me about this place and when we pulled up, it’s just in a plain little family neighborhood and I knew when it was full of locals walking out, I said, oh, boy, this is my kind of joint. And thank the Lord you were there to speak Spanish with everybody. I just started pointing and was that good? What all did we eat last night?

Mariana Heaton: Oh, my goodness. So we had a sample of tostadas, gorditas, shrimp tacos and they brought a broth, which is some type of Caldo.

Ramsey Russell: That was amazing.

Mariana Heaton: That was amazing.

Ramsey Russell: Between every course they would bring that little cup of soup broth. It’s like they maybe boiled down the bones and all the meat they had cut, they really did something with it, it was amazing. I would go back just to drink that. I was thinking on a cold morning back home to have a thermos full of that.

Mariana Heaton: If you close your eyes and you think about that, that place originally was a home that was transferred into a restaurant. We got to talk to the waiter who was part of the family, who said they lived upstairs and next door, his uncle owned the little I don’t know if it’s fresh, it was aguas frescas, which translates into fresh waters, which is like cucumber water, papaya water, all kinds of stuff like that. So you felt the family history just –

Ramsey Russell: I thought he said maybe those were his grandmother’s recipes they made.

Mariana Heaton: Yeah, absolutely.

Ramsey Russell: Isn’t that crazy? And it’s like, I can do the math and it’s like nothing on the menu was more than $2.5, $3.

Mariana Heaton: Well, if you think about it our whole bill was $68.

Ramsey Russell: To include gratuity.

Mariana Heaton: And there was a total of 6 of us. Yeah, absolutely.

Ramsey Russell: All we could absolutely eat.

Mariana Heaton: And that’s what to me, places like, Mazatlán, you go to Cancun or you go places anywhere like that and those are the most authentic and you can go and enjoy good food for not very and it’s just not expensive.

Ramsey Russell: What was the drink we all had? I don’t know. Rice water, is that what it was?

Mariana Heaton: Yeah, so it’s horchata. And yeah, it’s ground up rice and you soak it in water and you add milk and cinnamon and vanilla to it and it just becomes this absolutely flavorful drink that it’s actually meant to cut down some of the spice that you eat.

Ramsey Russell: It did. Like that taco salsa they had, that salsa, that was a little spicy, it wasn’t too hot, but it was plenty hot.

Mariana Heaton: It was spicy.

Ramsey Russell: You went with somebody one day, one of the other wives, you all went off shopping. What all you all do that day, just walking around?

Mariana Heaton: Yeah, every little town here, I believe has some type of mercado, which it would be like a supermarket or a mall type or a flea market is what some people would perceive it as, but it’s an open market. They have fresh meats, fresh fish, they have all kinds of novelty items, purses, tshirts, things, something for everybody. And yeah, it’s just an open market and you can spend 30 minutes at and you can spend half a day there and just have breakfast, lunch and enjoy shopping and just sitting around and just enjoying and people watch is what I like to do.

Ramsey Russell: Was there any activity or anything you wish you had done that you didn’t get to do this time?

Mariana Heaton: So I would have loved to visit the lighthouse, it’s a hike.

Ramsey Russell: It sure is.

Mariana Heaton: Yeah. So that’s probably the one thing that I would have liked to do that I didn’t really have a chance to do. I signed up for whale watching, but because of the weather, they canceled, so I didn’t do that. So that’s definitely on my to do list next time.

Ramsey Russell: It’s unseasonably cool here. It’s not uncomfortable cold, but it’s unseasonably cool. It’s usually about 10° warmer. The winds have been blowing pretty good the last few days, I wouldn’t want to get out on boat to watch anything right now. I’d rather be sitting right here drinking margaritas.

Mariana Heaton: Completely agree. But I overpacked, so I was prepared for a little bit of everything.

Ramsey Russell: Was the resort fun? Was it enjoyable as a non-hunter? I’m just asking. Was it really a vacation for you, too?

Mariana Heaton: You know what, it was. I enjoy the solitude of knowing that my husband’s out doing what he wants to do and I have time to do what I want to do. So I don’t mind having breakfast alone, I don’t mind having breakfast with the group. So I enjoyed all that, it’s a combination you had a little bit of everything this trip and I enjoyed it, I really did.

Ramsey Russell: 7 or 8 of the 10 couples here are single hunters. John, myself, everybody and we all hit it off, we’re all sitting out shooting ducks together, drinking beer afterwards, eating burritos, but we come back, one thing I noticed is all the wives, I mean, a lot of gringos around here, but a lot of the wives got together and you all hit it off, too, didn’t you?

Mariana Heaton: We were just talking about that and I said, Anita, the only way that we can really know that we have so much in common is by talking and having these conversations. And if you don’t, how do you know that you have a friend that could be a long life friend if you don’t have these conversations? And it was crazy to know that we had a lot of the same taxidermy in our house and the crazy stories behind the taxidermy and things like that, it’s so much fun.

Ramsey Russell: I can’t wait to hear that story.

Mariana Heaton: Be ready.

Ramsey Russell: Mariana, thank you very much. I’ve enjoyed getting to know you and John and we had a great time and hope we get to do this again one day.

Mariana Heaton: Absolutely. I look forward.

Beyond Trigger Pulling

And there’s 10 of us this week and 7 of us are individual hunters and by the time we get in the truck, by time we go duck hunting and by the time we eat burritos and by time we go out, maybe eat dinner at night, by the time we sit around here and have a few beers and tell stories, it’s like we’ve known each other our whole lives.

Ramsey Russell: Mr. Rusty Gurley in Mazatlán, Mexico. You have a good time?

Rusty Gurley: I did.

Ramsey Russell: Why’d you have such a good time? And look, I can tell you had a good time, I can tell you wife Susan did too. How’d you have a good time? Tell me about it. 

Rusty Gurley: Probably not for the reason most people would think. There’s definitely plenty of trigger pulling going on. But unexpected to me, we came here by yourself, didn’t come with a group of friends and just making the time or having the time to talk to other folks from all over the country and just having conversations about duck hunting and how they do it back home and some of the culture and history along with it. So I don’t know that had I come here with a group of friends that I’d found that out. So that was a pleasant surprise.

Ramsey Russell: We talked about that this afternoon on the walk out and birds of a feather flock together. This hunt lends itself to individual hunters. Some places don’t, this one does and if you don’t mind hunting with strangers, but I shouldn’t say never, but rarely, Rusty is it a conflict. Because everybody’s attracted to the reason and the place and the experience for the same reasons. And there’s 10 of us this week and 7 of us are individual hunters and by the time we get in the truck, by time we go duck hunting and by the time we eat burritos and by time we go out, maybe eat dinner at night, by the time we sit around here and have a few beers and tell stories, it’s like we’ve known each other our whole lives.

Rusty Gurley: Yeah, that’s right. I’m walking away from this hunt with 4 new phone numbers and 4 new friends.

Ramsey Russell: Who book by themselves. And next time you going to somewhere to hunt, you got 4 guys you can call and say, hey, I’m going down here, do you want to go? Chances are they will. For 20 years, I’ve seen that happen. You’re originally from Texas, you live in a beautiful part of Montana and I’m not going to say the name. I know, I happened to stop and read a road sign and knew exactly when you’re there, I’m not going to say the name because there’s too many brosmen kicking around Montana as it is for such a big sky, big country, there’s a lot of duck hunting pressure in the places there’s ducks. I don’t want to put you on a map, but how do you hunt back home? I want to know how you hunt back home and how it compared to hunting down here. Like, what are some of the techniques and type areas you hunt back home in Montana?

Rusty Gurley: We hunt the river a little bit, but we probably hunt more dry field hunting than anything.

Ramsey Russell: For geese or ducks?

Rusty Gurley: Both, really. We’re really, most of the time trying to target ducks, but our spread is silhouette decoys and a couple of dozen full body mallard decoys is typically what we put out there and it’s unbelievably effective.

Ramsey Russell: Versus coming here, what was the most obvious contrast of hunting back home in Montana versus hunting here?

Rusty Gurley: We put a lot of time in where the hide is going to be, what the wind is doing, what the sun’s doing and I guess the big difference here is it doesn’t really seem to matter much on the hide with the volume of birds here, that’s the one thing that stood out each morning, especially the first morning when we got out the hunt. I don’t think we quite have a good enough hide here that’s going to work, but you could have been standing up without anything in front of you and those birds were coming in.

Ramsey Russell: First morning was that little stock tank.

Rusty Gurley: It was.

Ramsey Russell: I asked somebody this earlier, I’m like, what would you have done had you booked a trip in Arkansas and a guy parked and walked 50 yards to a stock tank with knee high, “blinds”, you’d have probably said right then, I want my money back. But it turned out, didn’t it?

Rusty Gurley: It did, quite well. No problem, as a matter of fact. Just the sheer volume of birds that we saw every hunt as a matter of fact was impressive.

Ramsey Russell: Yesterday we were hunting, we were hunting that all the birds were feeding off in that great big saltwater estuary, flying not even a quarter mile, popping up over the trees into this pothole and there was a little real scant kind of COVID around and my stove would just set out 5ft from the nearest anything to break my outline and I got to move it and one of the boy says, it doesn’t matter, I go, I want to at least pretend I’m duck hunting. And I think what it is, I really think what it is. Number 1, they’re thirsty, number 2, as crazy as it sounds 6 of us go to a pothole or all of us went today to the blue bill hole and shot a lot of times and shot a lot of ducks and as hard as it is to say it, there’s really not hunting pressure, because we shot for an hour and for 2 hours that we were picking up, waiting on cinnamon teal and going a little ways off to eat burritos for 2 hours there’s birds coming in that never knew we were even there, thousands of birds. And this morning, especially, a lot of those birds as we were eating those serrano peppers and burrito, I just hear the bird, just thousands of them that didn’t even have a clue anybody had ever been there.

Rusty Gurley: That’s right.

Ramsey Russell: So there’s like almost 0 hunting pressure. The only birds that notice hunting pressure are in a tote bag, the rest of them are pretty oblivious to it. Why did you all choose Mazatlán? I mean, could have gone anywhere. What was it about this program or this package that most appealed to you and Susan?

Rusty Gurley: I think that it was just the variety, something that I could enjoy and then when we get back from the field, it was our time to kick back and relax or go into town or whatever.

Ramsey Russell: She’s had a good time.

Rusty Gurley: She has.

Ramsey Russell: We went to El Bigotes, I guess 4 of us did and I thought it was going to be 4 couples and 2 of the wives stayed back and Anita said, where are they at? And you’re like, they’re getting pretty comfortable on the vacation mode, they’re happy right where they’re at, by the pool.

Rusty Gurley: Yeah. I tell you, the resort we’re at with the marina is kind of unique as well, watching the guys come in on the offshore boats and catching marlin and dorado

Ramsey Russell: There’s bass fishing nearby. Did you have any expectations when you came here? You’ve never been to Mexico duck hunting, you’ve never been to Mazatlán duck hunting, but did you have any preconceived notions or expectations before you got here?

Rusty Gurley: I think really the only one was just the volume of birds that I’d heard about and you all didn’t disappoint on that aspect at all. There’s plenty of birds here.

Ramsey Russell: I think it’s one of the most foolproof duck hunts we have. It really is. It’s always consistent. First, I’ll say this, but let’s talk about this hunt this morning, pure pass shooting. Do you ever do that in your normal hunting career? Have you ever been just on a pure pass duck hunt? Pass shooting duck hunt?

Rusty Gurley: Not intentionally, no. When we hunt the river, there’s some golden eye on the river and if we want to shoot those, those tend to be more pass shooting.

Ramsey Russell: But it’s kind of fun, isn’t it?

Rusty Gurley: It is.

Ramsey Russell: It kind of gets me out of my comfort zone and my little preconceived idea of what duck hunting is, but it’s fun and it’s productive and I like it. Would I want to do it every day? No, but I like to do it some.

Rusty Gurley: Yeah.

Ramsey Russell: And that was a hoot. I would look down the line and everybody was just laughing and cutting up and having a good time shooting ducks. And now I forgot what I was leading up to, ask that right there. But what was your favorite hunt? When you get home and you think it’s just like a one hunt, what would your favorite hunt?

Rusty Gurley: I think that second hunt where we were there in the mangroves, we were shooting a pretty tight hole and it was a pretty narrow window coming in pretty fast and it got pretty sporty in there.

Ramsey Russell: It did. Actually, where you all hunted, we were south of you all, I believe that direction would be and you all were shooting a lot more than we did. And what I later realized is they put two guys on that point as they limited out, they put two more guys.

Rusty Gurley: That’s right.

Ramsey Russell: And I’m sitting over here thinking that we’re shooting plenty of ducks, we’re just not shooting that steady. And I’m sitting there thinking, I even said, sooner or later they’re going to run out of ammo, that never happened because they shot 3 groups of 2 people 6 limits off that one point.

Rusty Gurley: Yeah.

Ramsey Russell: And that’s just amazing.

Rusty Gurley: That’s one of the nice things, is some of the guys that started out in a different spot as it, heated up over on the side, they were able to come in and get their birds and wasn’t a problem at all. So I don’t think anybody leaves here without a sore shoulder and maybe even a bruise or two.

Ramsey Russell: And that’s okay. Did you have any favorite meals?

Rusty Gurley: The restaurant we ate at, I think the first night.

Ramsey Russell: Presidio.

Rusty Gurley: Presidios, yes. Man, they had some shrimp that was outstanding.

Ramsey Russell: That’s what I got. The ambiance was amazing. Something about it’s old prison or whatever, back whatever, 400 years ago, but it’s just amazing, the ambiance, the trees and the lights, I just love it. And I like that they changed that. Next year, if you ever go back, it’ll be a different menu, subtly different, be just some new menu items. I like when they do that because it’s like going to the same place for the first time all over again. And I’ve had a great time, too. Rusty, I appreciate you coming. Did you ever feel not safe here? Because a lot of people have safety issues with Mexico. There’s parts of billings I’m probably a little more nervous in than anywhere down.

Rusty Gurley: No. I think initially there was some concern before we even got here and I know we reached out and talked to yourself and Miss Anita about it and I think you all were spot on with it. Once we got here and saw what was going on, everybody’s relaxed and no problem walking downtown or whatever.

Ramsey Russell: It’s a little cool here this week for me. It’s 10° cooler than normal. What’s the weather like in Montana right now? Because I noticed you guys seem to be warm. I’m watching some of these Yankees out here swimming in these pools right now, I’m like, man.

Rusty Gurley: What was nice is, I think the week before we came down here, it was as low as -21°. So, it’s a little bit warmer down there right now or over there right now, I think it’s in the highs are in the mid-30s and the lows were in the high 10s. So a little more snow coming yet this week.

Ramsey Russell: It’s warm by comparison here, isn’t it? It’s 75° right now, breezy. Did you have any species objectives before you got here? Are you bringing any birds home for taxidermy? More of an experienced collector.

Rusty Gurley: I’m not. I would have loved to shoot a cinnamon teal hadn’t got one of those, hadn’t checked that one off the list yet. But maybe we’ll just have to come back.

Ramsey Russell: It’s the right part of the world to do it. But it’s not a guarantee, they’re a real different little bird, man.

Rusty Gurley: I know we shot a handful of them this week.

Ramsey Russell: And there was a day last week they shot 14 in one duck hole.

Rusty Gurley: Oh, is that right?

Ramsey Russell: And Christian said, we didn’t even hunt that this week. He said, no, we shot last week, we’re going to leave it alone, but they’re just not – blue wings, very abundant, green wings, very abundant, cinnamons are never abundant. The only place I’ve ever seen them in flocks like what we see, the blue wings and green wings is coastal Peru for some reason, but anywhere else in the world, that cinnamon teal from Utah to here, I just don’t see many of them, you see them, but not tons of them.

Rusty Gurley: Yeah, we shot some beautiful green wing teal and some blue wing, they’re outstanding, really nice.

Ramsey Russell: Thank you very much, Rusty, I’ve enjoyed it.

Rusty Gurley: You bet. Appreciate it, Ramsey.

Ramsey Russell: Brian, back from Mazatlán? Man, how are you, Brian?

Brian: I’m doing wonderful, Ramsey, I truly am. Made it home safe.

Hunting Outside the US

Yeah, I got to choose between the Mazatlán hunt and the Obregon hunt and I wanted to celebrate with my wife, so we chose the Mazatlán hunt.

Ramsey Russell: And that was the trip of a lifetime, wasn’t it? I mean, we were talking about that when you were there. Mazatlán was like this big epic. Was that the first time you’ve hunted out of the United States?

Brian: Absolutely. It’s the first time I hunted. Well, I take that back, way back when I was single, I went to Texas once and it was the time of my life until I went hunting with you.

Ramsey Russell: Tell everybody where you’re from and what you do for a living.

Brian: So I’m from Grand Rapids, Michigan and I’ve been a bird taxidermist for 30 years.

Ramsey Russell: 30 years, that’s amazing. And you finally got, like, a 30 year celebration, you got sent down to go on this trip with your wife and you all did a 4 day inclusive trip down in Mazatlán.

Brian: That is correct. Yeah, I got to choose between the Mazatlán hunt and the Obregon hunt and I wanted to celebrate with my wife, so we chose the Mazatlán hunt.

Ramsey Russell: It really was that simple, too. That was the deciding factor you was the fact that Mazatlán would let you bring Stephanie down there with us?

Brian: Absolutely. 100% that was why we went to Mazatlán.

Ramsey Russell: Tell me if that was the right call. If you had to do again, would you leave her at home or no?

Brian: Absolutely not. I would choose Mazatlán 100%, I would recommend that to anybody whose wife wants to get away as well. My wife had the time of her life, she got to sleep in in the morning, drink coffee and read books out on the beach until about noon when we got back and then we got to do whatever we wanted to do. And she had back rubs planned and one day we just walked around the edge and outside of the resort and just checked out the shop.

Ramsey Russell: The crazy thing about, people that have listened to these Mazatlán couples podcast recaps in the past have heard, husband wife, we had a couple of wives that were down at the bar with us by the pool the other day, I hemmed up to come do this, but nobody else was around, they had plans, they were going to the spa, they were going whale watching, somebody took a mud bath, I mean, they were all over the place. And I’d say, well, we can make, nope, we got plans. And then they had dinner, then they had stuff. Now, Brian, you all bought the inclusive trip and you all went to dinner with us one night, we went to El Presidio, one of my favorite, it’s not too over the top, but it’s a nice restaurant.

Brian: It’s gorgeous.

Ramsey Russell: And then you all ate at the resort. Tell me about some of the meals you all had. And I know Stephanie told me yesterday her favorite was the Japanese something or another, but tell me about what you all did.

Brian: So that is correct. Actually, the Japanese one was both of our favorites. So I never get the opportunity to eat Japanese where I live, I mean, I do, but we never have. And the food was exquisite. The proportions weren’t big, but the meal itself and the flavor was out of this world, it was awesome. And that was both of our favorites. And then, of course, eating breakfast, the brunch buffet was out of the world, I mean, it was awesome. We never had a bad meal. The Mexican dinner that we had was on the other – I mean, it was still in the same resort, but that was just amazing. The fajitas were – and fajitas is one of my favorite meals and I just thought it was awesome.

Ramsey Russell: I hear a lot about that. I spend enough time in Mexico that I don’t eat Mexican at home in Mississippi or really, I don’t eat it east of the Mississippi River and I don’t eat it north of about Oklahoma or something like that, I got to be out west, I got to be in that part of the world to get real, genuine Mexican food. And I do not do the inclusive program, we always do the standard program and like, to me, my breakfast is always going to be those burritos Christian serves right there after lunch, those little frame broiled tacos he serves, which I love. I ate my weight in them.

Brian: That is correct. Yeah. Them burritos that we have after the hunt, I could eat them every day.

Ramsey Russell: Indeed. Now, look, I’ll set this up for you, but he rolls up these little 10, 4 packs, his wife makes them and they’re 2 beef burritos or tacos and one bean in the middle. And then he tastes a couple of 10, 4 packets of peppers and I’d say jalapeno or something like that and they’re grilled and they’re warm and they’re a little spicy, but they’re not out of control. But on the last day we went to that freshwater blue bill pond, they were just outgoing, I mean, there must have been a section of pepper plants out there beside us. And he said, oh, come here, let me show you these serranos, he said, very hot. He picked a handful of them and he skewered them like a hot dog on a coat hanger and put them right into flames and got them blackened up and he went and scratched them out dead on top of those peppers we’d been eating and somebody bit into one and lit up, son, they lit up and last time I bit into one, I lit up too. And so up comes Brian, you got your birds, you got your trophy sorted, you already got a cold beer in the hand and the first thing you do is walk up and grab one of them peppers and there was nine of us sitting there and nobody said a word, but we all stopped talking and we watched you bite into it. Then what happened, Brian?

Brian: I’m glad you guys set me up for that, because I played along good.

Ramsey Russell: Except for your eyes rolling around. Your eyes were kind of rattling around in your head, you turned beat red, I’d say you played around good. Your hair kind of stood up, smoke come out of your ears.

A Hunt to Remember

Man, it was, it was just the trip of a lifetime, but I would recommend it to anybody, Ramsey.

Brian: Yes. I kind of had to act like a man and I kind of sucked it up while you guys were all laughing at me. It was a lot of fun and that’s all part of it. We all had a great time. Another thing, too, that it surprised me is all of us hunters just got along so good.

Ramsey Russell: Birds of a feather flock together, that’s why.

Brian: Man, it was, it was just the trip of a lifetime, but I would recommend it to anybody, Ramsey.

Ramsey Russell: Brian, think about this. It’s like you and I were riding in the same truck and then one day Hank was with us, next day, the two other guys, Bill and Todd, were with us. And nobody knows unless you ask them, our truck never talked about it, what do you do? It could be rich, it could be poor, it could be doctors and taxidermists and booking agents, who knows? But at the end of the day, it really don’t matter, we’re all just duck hunters that have been attracted to this one particular hunt for the same reason and it’s really pretty darn rare, I think, rare that an asshole shows up. It happens, but it’s rare, it’s very uncommon. 10 people from 10 walks of life. We had Florida, Montana, now Michigan, New Jersey, Mississippi, California and nobody knew or cared, we were all just shooting ducks together and going out and eating dinner together, spending time with our wife, bumping each other around pool, eating tacos, it was all just like a fraternity and it was one of the coolest things.

Brian: Oh, absolutely. And then you meet somebody in the elevator, you fist bump, hey, man, that was a great hunt today, I can’t wait for tomorrow. And it was just so much fun. And the wives are chatting it up together, it was just a lot of fun. More fun than I’ve ever had on a duck hunt.

Ramsey Russell: Brian, a couple of standard questions is how did the hunting in Mazatlán compare to how you hunt or grow up hunting or commonly hunt in Michigan?

Brian: You can’t even. I’ve been talking to all my friends and I’m like, you can’t even explain it. When you’re shooting a 100 rounds in the first hour and a half and you’re done already and there’s birds laying everywhere, the best hunt I’ve ever had in my entire life, this beats it 10 times.

Ramsey Russell: Somebody said something in social media the other day, there’s always a Debbie Downer expert on the Internet. And he goes, well, now the words out and everybody knows there’s lots of ducks on a little bit of fresh water, wonder how long it’ll last? To which I replied, well, this is our 15th year taking lots of people there and in 15 years, it’s never abated, it’s never checked up, because here’s why. And you can agree, you can support this, but it’s a day 1, 2, 3, 4, day 100 of a season, we’re usually in and out. Let’s say we start shooting, let’s say it was cool and the birds started to come in around 07:30 instead of daylight or they started coming in at 08:00 and we’re usually done in about an hour to an hour and a half and then we retire back to the shade and eat those tacos we’re talking about and the ducks are just pouring in. And so I would say that really and truly, 10% of the ducks using that little bitty pond are even aware that a gunshot was fired because they were late to the party. Is that a fair assessment, would you say?

Brian: Maybe even a little bit less than 10%. Actually, all of us had mentioned the same thing, Ramsay is, when we were done hunting, we set the guns down and we would sit back, we’re eating, we’re having a beer and a pop or whatever you want to drink and just to watch them ducks come in was something that’s out of this world. I mean, we just all sat there in silence for about 5 minutes watching hundreds of thousands of ducks just pouring into there. And that was almost as much fun as shooting them. I mean, it was just amazing.

Ramsey Russell: I told this the other day at dinner, somebody said, well, there are 200 ducks, I said, yeah, but they ain’t telling nobody. They’re in the taco pile now, son.

Brian: That’s right.

Ramsey Russell: That’s probably one of the most amazing things, you wear crocs or tennis shoes or light boots, no waders, no cold weather, we talked about this, it was actually cold, unseasonably cool for Mazatlán, which is to say it was 65°, 70°. And the last day as we were leaving, that’s what Mazatlán usually feels like there’s no wind, it’s 80° and this is a little bit cooler one nothing to a Michigan boy.

Brian: No. Shoot, no. I was walking around with a t-shirt out there. It was just awesome weather.

Ramsey Russell: What was your favorite hunt, Brian? Do you have a most favorite and most memorable morning?

Brian: Well, the second morning probably because I shot the best, but that’s about it. I mean, I really don’t have a favorite. And that was part of the fun of the trip, too, is that we went to different places every day and it was just awesome. I couldn’t ask or even hardly dream up of a better hunt.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah, you’re a taxidermist, a waterfowl taxidermist, and you got a thing for ducks, man. I saw you put your hands on a lot when you knew that was a clean bird, you got them quick, got them over here, put them in a shade, kept them dry, you petted them and fondled him and everything else.

Brian: Now you’re making me sound weird.

Ramsey Russell: How many ducks did you bring home? What species did you bring home? What was their plumage like? Did you get everything you really wanted?

Brian: Well, absolutely. So that’s the reason I went down to Mazatlán is because of the late season, you’re shooting these birds in the best plumage that you can possibly do without shooting them in the spring breeding season. But I mean, it’s as close as you get. I’d never shoot any of them teal back home in Michigan that are even close to plumed out that well. So that was one of the reasons why I chose that hunt for the late season. I got a green wing teal, a blue wing teal, a cinnamon teal and all 3 of them were just cherry. I mean, 100 out of 100, besides that, you had to shoot them. As a bird taxidermist nervous, that’s the joke. We would rather try and get them to die of a heart attack than shoot them, but that’s always the case. I mean, you ain’t going to go anywhere else to get that quality of birds. The other two birds that I did get was a shoveler, I got a 100% shoveler and I got a 100% blue bill or a lesser scaup for other people. Out of all them 5 ducks, I took 15 of them home of them 5 species.

Ramsey Russell: Talk about a 100%. Because it’s funny how shovelers are laughed about and everything else, nobody shoots them, but they do. But when we get down to Mazatlán, I see everywhere we go in the world that we can shoot them later in the year, a lot of guys, especially from up north, get their hands on these shovelers and they want them because they’re very beautiful when they come in. But you and I know the difference, what are you really looking for? For an absolute stud shoveler.

Brian: Okay, so, well, for me, it’s easy because coming from Michigan, you won’t even get one with a green head. It’ll be just flocked out, the rust and the brown are all flecked together on the top of his back, it wouldn’t even look white, it would look like mottled with brown and blacks, hardly any white. And these ones, if you just go on the Internet and look at a picture of a shoveler, and Michigan boys, they didn’t even know that a shoveler’s got a green head like a mallard, it’s just night and day difference between I mean, a really good shoveler in Michigan is maybe 50%.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah.

Brian: Anybody that’s hunted up north here and then just sees them in the air, you’re like, oh, my goodness, are they gorgeous.

Ramsey Russell: All things equal, wing brakes and primaries and things like that being broken because we are shooting them, not smothering them. But the first thing I look for is on the top, on the mantle, I want white. I don’t want that big splotch of brown or even much black, that’s the first thing I look at. And a lot of times, all of the white, even in the flight, if you got an eye for it, you can see that I’m going to shoot him because he’s coming in as part of my bag limit. But I know when he hits the water, it’s probably not a clean bird.

Brian: Yes. Another thing, too, is when they’re coming in, that I was looking for is on the front of it where the green meets the white is just solid, straight line and that green and that white match up like that and it’s awesome.

Ramsey Russell: And then on the green wings, even, they’re beautiful in January, but this time of year, they’ve got a crest on the back of their head, the yellow line looks good. And I think the tell-tale sign is on their scapulars, they start getting a lot of black. When those scapulars fill in good, you can see a lot of beautiful black. That’s a couple of things I look for on those birds when I pick one up, besides the obvious wing breaks and things like that.

Brian: That is correct. Yes. So a real mature green wing will have a black line on the top of his scapular.

Ramsey Russell: What’s a good cinnamon teal?

Brian: Oh, good cinnamon teal, them are a little bit harder. Well, harder down there because cinnamon teals are the darker red you can get on a cinnamon teal is usually a better bird. Now, we only shot 5 of them, but all 5 of them were – and they’re a trophy, that’s what most people are going down to Mazatlán for is for that cinnamon teal.

Ramsey Russell: They are. And I think that the real, true, absolute adult drakes have a tar belly, their belly and undertale is black, the blacker the better.

Brian: Agreed. And if you’re really looking, you can kind of see that when they’re flying that they’ll have the darker them red feathers. I mean, they’re almost, like you said, black. They’re not really black, but they’re really dark. And then that is definitely a more mature bird.

Ramsey Russell: A couple more questions jumping off the ducks back into the other part of it.

Brian: Sure.

Hitting the Easy Button

The first time I went, I hit the easy button, what I would call it with the all-inclusive and it worked out perfect.

Ramsey Russell: Two things you said to me yesterday when we were waiting to go back to airport. One, you said that if you do it again, you might not do the all-inclusive.

Brian: Okay. Now, the only reason why I said that, Ramsey, is because I already did the all-inclusive. Now, if a person wants to hit the easy button, I would go with the all-inclusive.

Ramsey Russell: Absolutely, it’s easy button. But also, you talked about the food off the resort.

Brian: That’s why I wouldn’t do it again. I mean, just because I ate at all the restaurants at the resort, now I would want to go downtown and eat at the little places, the unknown places. But sometimes that’s the best meal you’re going to get. I was talking to some of them other hunters and they were like, oh, we went down just about, we walked there, it was less than a half mile away and it was the best Chinese restaurant that we ever ate at. So that would be the only reason why I would go off the resort, is because I already had the resort and I would want more different flavors, if that makes sense.

Ramsey Russell: When I’m in Mazatlán, I don’t look for Chinese, but I do eat seafood, largest shrimp fleet in Mexico. And they got the lobsters and they got the squid and the octopus and everything else, but I look for the seafood and I look for Mexican. Those are the two things I want. And I’ll hit a hole in the wall, a couple, few hole in the walls we know about and we’ll go to a couple of two of the nicest restaurants my wife and ate at all year and all places in between. And what never ceased to make me like this trip, got invited to dinner a couple of times and hit a couple of new restaurants I’d never been to, all the clients always tell me about new restaurants they find along the way. And it’s like I told somebody the other day, I said, it’s full of good restaurants, unbelievable world class hospitality and service. Some restaurants are better than others, but none of them are bad.

Brian: That’s what I was going to just say. You use the term hole in the wall. Well, there’s really no hole in the walls there. Every single solitary restaurant we at, they treated you like you were a king, it’s just amazing. I think I could go there for 10 years straight and never hit the same restaurant, they’re everywhere.

Ramsey Russell: It’s already a big trip, it’s an expensive trip and I think that it’s half dozen, 1/6th of the other total cost wise, if you choose to go to town and do the standard package or you choose to do the all-inclusive. It’s really kind of a wash, it’s not much difference. But really and truly, in the best world, what some people will do is they’ll get the inclusive for the convenience. Like, I can walk up to any bar, I can walk into the little private club room, I can go anywhere, anytime and walk in with that bracelet and my wife can too. So if she decides she won’t eat at whatever time, she can go get something to eat, I can too, go to the bar, whatever, but then we still eat out. I still tell people, do the inclusive package if you want, because there is some great restaurants and tremendous convenience being a part of that. But at the same time, at least catch a taxi and go to Machado Plaza. And if nothing else, just sit on the plaza and drink a beer, drink a cup of coffee and watch the people because it’s an amazing place to go. Just really get involved with that kind of stuff.

Brian: I’d agree with you 100%, Ramsay. The first time I went, I hit the easy button, what I would call it with the all-inclusive and it worked out perfect. But now that I did that, when I go back, I would want to go more into town. So like you said, it’s 601, half a dozen over the other, it’s kind of what the person would like to do, but you’re not going to go wrong either way.

Ramsey Russell: It was a really fun crowd. And the reason we’re recording on the phone after you’ve been home is because, man, every afternoon we get back about noon and every afternoon with this group especially, everybody had plans. No, I’m going to the spa, no, I’m going whale watching, no, I’m going fishing, no, I’m going boat riding, no, I’m going on a sunset cruise, no, I’m going to a mud bath. I mean, they had plans, they were hopping and jumping and going, you all went to the spa, you all went and got a massage. How’d that go? Are you like a spa guy? Do you go all the time and get massages to you, Brian?

Brian: This is hilarious, I’m 52 years old, I’ve never had a massage in my entire life. So it was a little bit weird, I will say that because I’ve never had any other woman touching me that way. But within the first minute, the wife was there with me, we’re both kind of talking a little bit, but I would do it again, if that makes sense. But to be 100% honest with you, it was for the wife and she just ate that up. If she ever goes back, that’s one of the first place, she might even get a massage once a day.

Ramsey Russell: You’re on vacation, live one.

Brian: Exactly.

Ramsey Russell: Brian, I really enjoyed hunt with you, I really enjoyed getting to know you and Stephanie and I appreciate you all, I really do and I appreciate you coming on and sharing you all’s experience down there.

Brian: Absolutely, Ramsey. And it goes right back at you. I mean, you’re throwing on a great hunt, Ramsey. And I mean you’re just personable easy to get along with and everybody was I’m just going to be thinking of this trip for forever, thinking, my goodness, what a fun time.

Ramsey Russell: Did you swap any phone numbers with anybody?

Brian: I did. I swapped it with Hank and me and Hank was making sure that, hey, you’re shooting birds today and I caught him on the first day, it was his last day and it sounds to me like Hank hunts with you all the time. I mean, the camaraderie was out of this world, the hunt was out of this world. I just can’t thank you enough, Ramsey, for going down there and finding these outfitters.

Ramsey Russell: And you’re welcome. You’re welcome, my pleasure. But getting back to that people and that swapping phone numbers, here’s what I’m saying. Everybody swapped phone numbers and there were a lot of us single hunters there, I knew everybody from being on the phone like this before the hunt, you didn’t know anybody else, he didn’t know anybody else, none of them knew anybody else. But this birds of a feather flocked together, all flocked up and I see numbers swapping and what I’ve seen after the past 20 years is I go on hunts like this with a lot of single hunters and I’m talking to any of these single hunters listening that said, man, I don’t really want to go on these trips, I’ll be by myself, don’t worry about it. You’re going to meet your tribe on these trips, you’re going to swap phone numbers and the next time you do a trip like this, you’ll probably call some of them boys you met last time and say, hey, I’m going to do this, you want to go? Yes. And I’ve seen it countless times how you do this. That works out good. That’s like a caveat, like a hidden perk, isn’t it?

Brian: Agreed. And yeah, like you said when I went in there, I’m thinking, all right, who am I going to meet and are they going to be jerk or I’m sure I’m going to meet some good guys, everybody was great, I mean, beyond great. And we’re all there to do the same thing, we’re all there to have a blast, have a lot of fun. As soon as you get done shooting, watching the ducks come in and then eating the tacos and the burritos afterwards, sharing a beer with each other, I mean, it was just so much fun.

Ramsey Russell: Fantastic. Thank you, Brian.

Brian: Thank you, Ramsey. I do appreciate it.

A Foolproof Duck Hunting Vacation

Ramsey Russell: Mr. Ivan Paplovich. My partner down here. We’ve had another great time. The whole season from start to finish, everybody coming back has had a wonderful time. Thank you, thank your staff. What an amazing event this is. It is easily the most foolproof duck hunting vacation that we offer at But I know a lot of the conversations that me and you and Anita and your daughter Aveth and the other staff members have behind the scenes, it doesn’t just happen by accident, it takes a lot to do this.

Ivan Paplovich: Yes. It’s like doing a movie. You got the backstage that support everything there.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah.

Ivan Paplovich: For you guys coming here. For openers, thank you very much for coming down to Mazatlán again. We got a group, a great group, you guys getducks and my team down in Mexico, Mexico City, the people who helped me to get all the federal zones, license and gun permit and also the strongest team on the field with Christian and the bird boys.

Ramsey Russell: Hands down. How long has Christian been doing this to include working with Steve back in the day? How long? 20 years at least.

Ivan Paplovich: Yeah, he was a kid those days, probably wasn’t his 20. Right now he’s 39.

Ramsey Russell: I think he lost count. He got a lot of grape 39 years old and a lot of maturity and a lot of irons in the fire to make this hunt happen like he does for that age.

Ivan Paplovich: And besides, he really like it and he’s responsible guy, he love it, what he does. I couldn’t get a better guy than him to help him with this. And as I told you before, a year ago I was working for the National Wild Council for a long time and our team used to work over there, too, in order to get the paperwork. And when we started duck business right here in the State of Sinaloa with 3 different camp lodge, this is the best, as you name it, like a honeymoon or vacation, for me, this is the easiest, the nicest and the best.

Ramsey Russell: I think it is, too. The hunters are happy and the wives are happy, everybody’s happy, everybody has a good time. Ivan, you all did not have any ammo shortage this year. And Mexico kind of lagged because you all were closed for that year because of COVID America came out of the pandemic with a ammo shortage and you all had plenty because you had some stockpiled. But this year it kind of hit the skid. I had 3 people call me, 3 people call me and say wanting last minute reservations because they had booked a trip elsewhere in Mexico that canceled on them because whoever they booked with had zero ammunition. How did you all dodge a bullet on something like that?

Ivan Paplovich: Well, the thing is, as everything else, we have to be one step ahead. And even with getting the federal zones, we have to work it out with biologists and get everything in order by June, July, before the next season. The season runs from November to March, but in this area, it’s good January, February and March. And besides doing the paperwork, we’ve been talking, in Mexico, it’s only two factories that make shells, so we got a deal with them. In fact, I already ordered the shells for the next season and they’re going to come by a month from now. But if you wait too long, then you cannot solve that problem. You have to solve the problem before they show up.

Ramsey Russell: Right. Well, I’m glad you all got it solved and it was great. It’s really good ammo you all use. And we shoot a lot of teal, we shoot a lot of shovelers here, we shoot some pintails, some gadwalls, some other ducks, some blue bills. But I think the 2 and 3 quarter inch ounce and a quarter, 7.5 is just the absolute perfect. And those Benelli shotguns I was telling somebody the other day, I’ve been coming here for 15 years and I have shot probably that same, because Christian starts doling out shotguns and he hands me the same one. I’ve probably been shooting the same exact shotgun every time I’ve been here, it’s a Benelli Super Sport, it does not miss a beat. It is absolutely brand new. And I don’t know, it’s a huge testament to Benelli. I’m figuring 100 rounds a day for two months, 20 years, that’s a lot of rounds. How do you all keep those guns in such great shape?

Ivan Paplovich: It’s the same thing, Ramsey, as I say, those shotgun, we got a bunch of them down here, but every season after the season, we bought new pieces for all of them. We brought it down, we got a gunsmith made it down here. And before the season start, all of them here must be in perfect conditions and they’ve been doing a good job.

Ramsey Russell: They sure keep them clean. I’ve never seen a fleck of dust in the morning.

Ivan Paplovich: No, it’s like the cars. When we finish the season, all the cars put it in our warehouse. We block, nobody use them, just give the service and before the season, check again, everything. So we’re using the same car, same shotguns.

Unit of Management of the Wild Animal

Ramsey Russell: I’ll share this with you because I know a lot of what goes on behind the scenes in terms of how, I know kind of how it goes on and I’ll ask you about that, but you’re not just going out knocking on doors and hunting on a farmer’s land. You all are working with the government under contract with the UMA. What does UMA stand for?

Ivan Paplovich: UMA started about 7 years ago from one biologist in Mexico City. If you own a property and want to use as a hunting lodge or as a hunting reserve, you have to register that property of yours into the Game & Fish Department in Mexico City and get UMA. UMA means Unit of Management of the Wild Animal.

Ramsey Russell: Okay, that’s what it means.

Ivan Paplovich: That’s what it means. In order, you got a survey and census and even mule deer –

Ramsey Russell: The outfitters pays the biologists to census it.

Ivan Paplovich: Yes. But in my case, we got 36,000 hectares for federal zones. So we pay the government every year for using that. It’s really hard to get, but also it’s really hard to lose it, unless you do something wrong, they will cancel to you. But nobody else will apply as long you pay for that for them and do everything right. But beside that, inside the federal zone in 1976, the agrarian reform in Mexico seized some private property and gave it to colonies, to the poor people. But because that was made on a desk, they don’t know if it’s water surface over those lands. Because another law says all the water surface, rivers, ponds, ocean belong to the federal government. And some of our federal areas are some colonies inside. But because we want to give a good service, our clients, we pay the colonies, we pay the parcel owner and we pay the federal zone. So everybody’s happy and all my clients and your clients are happy.

Ramsey Russell: There’s a misperception by some people that keep up with us in social media, Ivan, that there are no waterfowl limits in Mexico. Are there waterfowl limits in Mexico?

Ivan Paplovich: It is, of course it is. And it all depends on the species too. But usually in this area it’s about 20 to 35 ducks per day. But probably we are the only ones doing this, 100 shells or 20 ducks, because we don’t want overhunt our areas in order to keep client happy and the population of ducks healthy, that’s the way we’re doing.

Ramsey Russell: It ensures quality. And we post a few pictures on the Internet and people go, you all should obey limits, I’m like those are the limits. In fact, they may not be quite the limit, but we stick to the limits. Ivan, I’ve gotten to be to where Mexico, United States, Canada, we share this migratory bird resource and I’ve just gotten to where if an outfitter is not obeying those limits, I just don’t want to work with them. The truth matter is for anybody listening, if somebody wants to come down somewhere and shoot 100 ducks in Mexico, go somewhere else, I’m not interested in that either. I just don’t think it’s a time and a place for it anymore.

Ivan Paplovich: What I think I don’t want to just talk about Mexico, but some outsiders, even South America, they want to do business on the shells.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah, that’s right. Cordoba is a fine example of that.

Ivan Paplovich: They want to sell shells so they forget about the limits. But coming out with us as a repeating business, we need to take care of our population.

Ramsey Russell: That’s right.

Ivan Paplovich: Because we hunt every day, one pound and we shot 100 shells or 1000 shells, they’re going to go away.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah.

Ivan Paplovich: And I will have nothing to offer to the next client, you’re coming in.

Ramsey Russell: You were talking about those UMAs and you were talking about, you work with the colonies of the villages, you work with the farmers, you work with biologists, you do all this stuff to operate by a certain protocol and you operate within prescribed bag limits. I got a message the other day and I’ve been asked this before by people that may know somebody or met somebody in social media or something and wanted to come down here and freelance in Mexico. And I got a question the other day like, well, can you tell me how to get my guns in? I’m like, it’s a pretty effing big deal bringing guns and ammunition to a foreign country, let alone Mexico and whoever you’re working with should be able to help you. He said, well, I’m going on kind of a do it yourself hunt. Now, that just throws a red flag to me, if I’m going with a legit outfitter, maybe it’s “unguided”, but he should still be able to help me with firearms. But number 2, I’ve been coming down here for a long time and when somebody is telling me they’re doing a “do it yourself hunt” in Mexico with somebody that can’t quite work them through the firearm process of bringing their guns, that’s a big red flag too.

Ivan Paplovich: Ramsey, it’s very simple. Mexico, let’s say there is no ranches anymore, it’s UMAs who are the private ranches and federal zone, that’s the only two things. So if you want to come to hunt yourself in a private land as a foreign or a federal zone, you have to hire an outfitter. And in my case, our biggest area is federal, but we got some UMAs from private. So you need to contact an outfitter to have to import your guns on the right way and it takes time and it takes money.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah.

Ivan Paplovich: The way I’ve been doing this, I solve that for my client, I get the guns down here and I don’t rent it, I just let my people use it.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah, well, it’s included in the packaging, firearms included at no additional cost, which makes it very easy to even have – you can pack for this trip with a carry on bag just about when it’s normal weather, it’s about 10° to cool this year, but in a normal year, you can pack with a carry on bag if you’d like to and that makes it super simple. But is when I talked to that guy about a do it yourself hunt in Mexico, I don’t know, it just made me think, you don’t know who this guy is? You’re liable to be trespassed and have no idea. But if you get caught, you’ll know what a big deal it is. That’s a big deal, isn’t it?

Ivan Paplovich: It is a big deal. Guns in Mexico are prohibited anyways.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah.

Ivan Paplovich: So you ended up in a big deal and trespassing with some roadkill, if you want to blame it that way, you ended up in jail.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah. Somebody told me that a lot of the wildlife laws, especially when the deer, sheep, things like that are involved are kind of handled as cattle rustling. And it wasn’t too long ago that cattle rustling in Mexico was punishable by death. How long ago has that been? Wait a minute, that’s a big deal. That would cut down a lot of trespass back home, I can tell you.

Ivan Paplovich: It’s worse than stealing a woman from somewhere, you ended up in jail for years.

Ramsey Russell: Hey, I’ve been coming to Mexico for a long time, Ivan and a couple of things, leave it to my buddy Ivan to always throw new things up on my radar. Number 1, I ate barbecued ribs for the first time ever in Mexico and they were good. That was a buddy of yours restaurant?

Ivan Paplovich: Yeah, it was. A friend of mine called the Fat Fish. Excellent. Secret recipe, hope you enjoy it.

Ramsey Russell: Oh, I enjoyed it. I know the secret ingredient, it’s like orange marmalade in a barbecue sauce and it was absolutely delicious. But the other big thing was the other night we went to Casa 46, beautiful, elegant restaurant overlooking Machado Plaza. And we all ordered dessert and I ordered coffee with Bailey’s, but you and Raquel ordered something that looked fancy, I’m like, what the heck is that?

Ivan Paplovich: Carajillo is the name.

Ramsey Russell: Carajillo?

Ivan Paplovich: Carajillo. It’s a Liquor 43 and espresso coffee.

Ramsey Russell: I’d never even heard of Liquor 43. And that’s all it is, is iced coffee and Liquor 43.

Ivan Paplovich: And they put it on and shake it and Liquor 43, I’m not sure, but I think it’s made out of citric juices, like grapefruit.

Ramsey Russell: It’s delicious. I had to look it up on the Internet, it was invented in 1946 by a family in Mexico or Spain and supposedly it’s an ancient recipe for a liqueur. And it’s delicious. I’m proud. Thank you for the bottle, I’m going to drink some at home, when I get home.

Ivan Paplovich: Just take a drink of my saludo, that’s the way we say in Mexico.

Ramsey Russell: And thanks also to my buddy Ivan, 3 of my favorite restaurants in town now are El Presidio, I never come here without going to El Presidio. Ate today at El Bigotes, I love El Bigotes. But then the other night, eating that elegant, that gourmet food Anita and I asked, we just want some real Mexican food. And when I pulled up, somebody said, is this right place? I’m like, hell, yeah, it’s the right place, we’re exactly the right place. How did you find somewhere like that in Mexico?

Ivan Paplovich: We’ll call those restaurants? Like Antojitos Mexicanos. It’s tacos, sopes, huaraches, all kind of Mexican for downtown in Mexico, for the central Mexico. And those restaurants used to call Fondas. There was a cheap restaurant.

Ramsey Russell: That’s my kind of place, especially when the food is good.

Ivan Paplovich: Me, too.

Ramsey Russell: There was not a menu item up there that was more than $2.50. Taco Bell costs 5 times as much and ain’t half as good.

Ivan Paplovich: I tried to hide that away from my client, but it’s my favorite restaurant, too. They’re delicious.

Flagship Honeymoon Duck Hunt

It’s fun for the hunters, it’s fun for the non-hunters, it’s fun for everybody and now you know why.

Ramsey Russell: It’s my favorite now, I’ve had a good time. Ivan, I appreciate all the work that you all do to keep this place safe and fun and productive. We could talk for hours about all that goes into behind the scenes to make this thing what it is, but it truly is. What never ceases to amaze me is, I’ve been coming here for 15 years and I went to 2 spots this year I’ve never seen, I’ve never even seen them. And we went to some other spots some of my favorites, the blue bill hole and the blue bills finally showed up. But it’s amazing, we’re sitting here in March, early March, we’ve been running hunts since mid-January every single day. We’ve had suburbans full of hunters, every single day since mid-January. And every hunt for the past 4 days was like opening day. It was just lots of birds, dumb birds, let’s say. Just they weren’t pressured, they came in, they decoyed and they did right. I know a lot has got to do with the way you all are managing it, but at the same time, the behavior of these birds coming off of salt water into fresh water. This morning, we were done at 08:00 and as we sat there in the shade eating burritos, you could hear just flocks after flocks coming in that never even knew we were there, never even had any idea that there was any noise or shotguns, nothing. And that just keeps it productive and keeps it fun.

Ivan Paplovich: The thing probably the place that you haven’t been before is because if you came in a big group, we’re taking to a big area. But then we had a lot of group or small groups, we take into small ponds and beside those 36,000 hectares –

Ramsey Russell: 36,000 hectares, 75,000 acres.

Ivan Paplovich: Yeah, that federal zone. We got like, 40 small ponds around that area. And we got the 3 UMAs, private property. It probably will take you 5 years to go in every one of them.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah. Thank you very much for everything you do. It’s an amazing hunt. And folks, thank you all for listening to this episode of Duck Season Somewhere from Mazatlán, our flagship honeymoon duck hunt of epic proportion. It’s fun for the hunters, it’s fun for the non-hunters, it’s fun for everybody and now you know why. Go to for more details, hit me up if you need more information. See you next time.

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Benelli USA Shotguns. Trust is earned. By the numbers, I’ve bagged 121 waterfowl subspecies bagged on 6 continents, 20 countries, 36 US states and growing. I spend up to 225 days per year chasing ducks, geese and swans worldwide, and I don’t use shotgun for the brand name or the cool factor. Y’all know me way better than that. I’ve shot, Benelli Shotguns for over two decades. I continue shooting Benelli shotguns for their simplicity, utter reliability and superior performance. Whether hunting near home or halfway across the world, that’s the stuff that matters.

HuntProof, the premier mobile waterfowl app, is an absolute game changer. Quickly and easily attribute each hunt or scouting report to include automatic weather and pinpoint mapping; summarize waterfowl harvest by season, goose and duck species; share with friends within your network; type a hunt narrative and add photos. Migrational predictor algorithms estimate bird activity and, based on past hunt data will use weather conditions and hunt history to even suggest which blind will likely be most productive!

Inukshuk Professional Dog Food Our beloved retrievers are high-performing athletes that live to recover downed birds regardless of conditions. That’s why Char Dawg is powered by Inukshuk. With up to 720 kcals/ cup, Inukshuk Professional Dog Food is the highest-energy, highest-quality dog food available. Highly digestible, calorie-dense formulas reduce meal size and waste. Loaded with essential omega fatty acids, Inuk-nuk keeps coats shining, joints moving, noses on point. Produced in New Brunswick, Canada, using only best-of-best ingredients, Inukshuk is sold directly to consumers. I’ll feed nothing but Inukshuk. It’s like rocket fuel. The proof is in Char Dawg’s performance.

Tetra Hearing Delivers premium technology that’s specifically calibrated for the users own hearing and is comfortable, giving hunters a natural hearing experience, while still protecting their hearing. Using patent-pending Specialized Target Optimization™ (STO), the world’s first hearing technology designed optimize hearing for hunters in their specific hunting environments. TETRA gives hunters an edge and gives them their edge back. Can you hear me now?! Dang straight I can. Thanks to Tetra Hearing!

Voormi Wool-based technology is engineered to perform. Wool is nature’s miracle fiber. It’s light, wicks moisture, is inherently warm even when wet. It’s comfortable over a wide temperature gradient, naturally anti-microbial, remaining odor free. But Voormi is not your ordinary wool. It’s new breed of proprietary thermal wool takes it next level–it doesn’t itch, is surface-hardened to bead water from shaking duck dogs, and is available in your favorite earth tones and a couple unique concealment patterns. With wool-based solutions at the yarn level, Voormi eliminates the unwordly glow that’s common during low light while wearing synthetics. The high-e hoodie and base layers are personal favorites that I wear worldwide. Voormi’s growing line of innovative of performance products is authenticity with humility. It’s the practical hunting gear that we real duck hunters deserve.

Mojo Outdoors, most recognized name brand decoy number one maker of motion and spinning wing decoys in the world. More than just the best spinning wing decoys on the market, their ever growing product line includes all kinds of cool stuff. Magnetic Pick Stick, Scoot and Shoot Turkey Decoys much, much more. And don’t forget my personal favorite, yes sir, they also make the one – the only – world-famous Spoonzilla. When I pranked Terry Denman in Mexico with a “smiling mallard” nobody ever dreamed it would become the most talked about decoy of the century. I’ve used Mojo decoys worldwide, everywhere I’ve ever duck hunted from Azerbaijan to Argentina. I absolutely never leave home without one. Mojo Outdoors, forever changing the way you hunt ducks.

BOSS Shotshells copper-plated bismuth-tin alloy is the good ol’ days again. Steel shot’s come a long way in the past 30 years, but we’ll never, ever perform like good old fashioned lead. Say goodbye to all that gimmicky high recoil compensation science hype, and hello to superior performance. Know your pattern, take ethical shots, make clean kills. That is the BOSS Way. The good old days are now.

Tom Beckbe The Tom Beckbe lifestyle is timeless, harkening an American era that hunting gear lasted generations. Classic design and rugged materials withstand the elements. The Tensas Jacket is like the one my grandfather wore. Like the one I still wear. Because high-quality Tom Beckbe gear lasts. Forever. For the hunt.

Flashback Decoy by Duck Creek Decoy Works. It almost pains me to tell y’all about Duck Creek Decoy Work’s new Flashback Decoy because in  the words of Flashback Decoy inventor Tyler Baskfield, duck hunting gear really is “an arms race.” At my Mississippi camp, his flashback decoy has been a top-secret weapon among my personal bag of tricks. It behaves exactly like a feeding mallard, making slick-as-glass water roil to life. And now that my secret’s out I’ll tell y’all something else: I’ve got 3 of them.

Ducks Unlimited takes a continental, landscape approach to wetland conservation. Since 1937, DU has conserved almost 15 million acres of waterfowl habitat across North America. While DU works in all 50 states, the organization focuses its efforts and resources on the habitats most beneficial to waterfowl.

It really is Duck Season Somewhere for 365 days. Ramsey Russell’s Duck Season Somewhere podcast is available anywhere you listen to podcasts. Please subscribe, rate and review Duck Season Somewhere podcast. Share your favorite episodes with friends. Business inquiries or comments contact Ramsey Russell at And be sure to check out our new GetDucks Shop.  Connect with Ramsey Russell as he chases waterfowl hunting experiences worldwide year-round: Insta @ramseyrussellgetducks, YouTube @DuckSeasonSomewherePodcast,  Facebook @GetDucks