Right about the time you think you’ve seen and done it all in worldwide waterfowling, you jump into a California goose hunting spread with Jonathon and Dillon White, the White Brothers, who show you “the White Way.” Gnarly, acre-sized flocks of snow geese and Aleutian cackler geese overhead, the seething eye of a hurricane growing in ferocity and intensity with each spin, then oftentimes landing 15 yards away because there’s no sense educating the entire flock you’ll hunt all season. Instead we swiped a few crumbs from our laps, cherry-picking from small, loose goose flocks that strayed from the masses until piles of dead birds numbered plenty. What was it like for them growing up the sons of a cowboy in rural California, the part that remains “Real America” even today? What are there earliest and fondest memories waterfowl hunting? What’s the local eats like? How and why did they transition to goose hunting, and how’d they progress to their goose hunting game to the highest level I’ve ever experienced?
A Hunt to Remember in a California Backyard
Then we were born and he’d pack us out – we were four and five years old – and that’s where we cut our teeth, killing birds, killing ducks.
Ramsey Russell: I’m your host Ramsey Russell, join me here to listen to those conversations. I hear you over there. Welcome back to Duck Season Somewhere, I am in smack dab in the middle of California. The grasslands is what they call it out here. And I’m actually looking out a camp house window at a lot of native grass pastures, well, they call it the grasslands. I’m hunting with the famous White brothers. Those you may see them on Instagram though they shoot a few geese at times, and their last name is White and they’re brothers, that’s where their account name came from. We’ve had a great time, I’ll tell you what, we put a beat down on the little Aleutians and the white birds the other day, could have shot a lot more, but did not. And today the geese served up what we served up with them a few days ago, we thought we were on the X, that’s where they had been the last several days, but instead we were somewhere between F and U, at least judging from the way the geese acted but we regrouped. We just finished up some pretty darn good California BFE gumbo courtesy of Jonathan out here on the tailgate of the truck and fixing to regroup and go do it again. But hey, welcome back to Duck Season Somewhere. You all introduce yourself, Jonathan and Dylan.
Jonathan White: Yeah, I mean my name is Jonathan, grew up here in Central California. Grew up on the ranch that we’re hunting right now and pretty much been history ever since.
Dillon White: I’m Dillion White, I’m obviously Jonathan’s brother. Yeah, we’ve been hunting out here and trying to figure these geese out for the last 10-15 years and got okay at it, I guess.
Ramsey Russell: We set up this morning to hunt and I don’t know in between we didn’t really have volleys, but after the first volley, we can talk about later. But you all told me, you all pointed to some houses over there, that’s where you all actually grew up. That’s where you’re born and raised. We’re right here in your backyard.
Jonathan White: This is where we were born.
Ramsey Russell: What was it like? I remember looking at your Instagram before I came out here and one of my favorite pictures among all the dead geese was two little boys about belt high hanging on the big old dear. That was you all’s first dear? Was that you all’s first introductions into hunting or what?
Jonathan White: So back in the day, that was actually both of my deer that Dillon helped with. Back in the day, we got two deer tags apiece, and we were about seven years old, and one evening we went up hunting, and I got a buck and the next day we went up to find that deer. And we found another buck that we thought was that deer and so it turns out Dillon got a buck and I got a buck. And my grandpa came up there, we used their deer tags and we got him.
Ramsey Russell: What was it like growing up in this part of country back then? You all are in your 30s, low 30s, 30 years old there about?
Dillon White: 29 and 30 is how old we are.
Ramsey Russell: 29 and 30. And you’re obviously the little brother, Dillon.
Dillon White: I am the little bigger brother.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah. My little brother is bigger too. I get it. But what was it like growing up back then? How did you get, what did you all grow up duck hunting? Did your daddy duck hunt? Did your granddaddy duck hunt? What’s the story on all this?
Dillon White: My dad duck hunted, my grandpa did not. My dad started duck hunting out here on this ranch and he liked the decoy birds back in the day. Then we were born and he’d pack us out – we were four and five years old – and that’s where we cut our teeth, killing birds, killing ducks.
Ramsey Russell: And what he do for a living?
Dillon White: He was cowboy.
Ramsey Russell: A real cowboy? Real California cowboy.
Jonathan White: Rode a horse and everything.
Ramsey Russell: On this ranch? On this property right here?
Dillon White: On this ranch.
Jonathan White: Before the quads came about we rode horses, and then as the quads came in, there were certain places that you couldn’t get a horse but you could use the quad, and in certain places you had to use a horse. But he was a real cowboy, roped off a horse, did everything off a horse. Rode cows all day.
Ramsey Russell: Did he do that his whole career?
Jonathan White: Yeah. Still doing it.
Dillon White: Well. Yeah, we still do it now I guess.
Ramsey Russell: Well, you all do.
Jonathan White: Yeah, he got a full time job and then we still punch cows in the meantime.
California Goose Hunting Then & Now
I see a whole lot of agriculture that would be good for goose hunting. I see that. Is that how you all kind of, sort of got into goose hunting?
Ramsey Russell: What was the duck hunting like then as compared to now? We’re talking 20 years ago, let’s say.
Dillon White: 20-30 years. A lot more birds back then.
Ramsey Russell: What’s changed since then?
Jonathan White: Water. The drought really seemed to stop a lot of birds from coming to the state when we were little, so let’s call it between when we were 4 and 5 and 10. So which will be 1990 to 2000, there was plenty of, well we shot a lot of mallards, there was geese everywhere. We shot a lot of ducks and you can just take your pick.
Ramsey Russell: It doesn’t look like, I did my second day to hunt with you, it doesn’t look like duck country around here. I don’t see rice fields, I don’t see marshes, I don’t see standing water. I see a whole lot of agriculture that would be good for goose hunting. I see that. Is that how you all kind of, sort of got into goose hunting?
Jonathan White: Pretty much the ducks stopped coming so we started chasing geese.
Dillon White: Yeah, we started chasing specks and then the specks started to make our time, they screwed us a lot of times.
Ramsey Russell: How did you all, put me on the timeline in terms of you all getting into goose hunting. What were you in high school?
Dillon White: It was about 2010. That’d be right when we graduated high school, right at the end of high school, graduated high school.
Ramsey Russell: That’s when you all said, let’s go chase some of these geese.
Dillon White: Well he goose numbers started, we started having a lot of geese around here and there’s no ducks, so I was like, let’s start chasing geese.
Ramsey Russell: Specks, snow, Aleutians. All of the above?
Dillon White: Mostly specks and snows.
Ramsey Russell: Mostly specks and snow.
Jonathan White: My last two years of high school when I was in wrestling, which is in the winter, Dillon was out here shooting ducks and that was about the end of our duck hunting.
Dillon White: That would have been 2007, 2008.
Jonathan White: I’d be at wrestling tournaments and he would send me pictures and I would just say some choice words and keep going on my tournament and they keep shooting ducks and that was about the end of the duck hunting. Then we switched gears to geese because they were still here and we figured out, we just started figuring out how to hunt them efficiently.
Ramsey Russell: Talk about your first season. You’re getting pictures, your wrestling and you’re doing this, you’re doing that, you’ll go out and buy a few decoys. What kind of decoy did you have at that time? What your spread looked like back in the day?
Dillon White: 18 green headgear specks, the original green headgear specks and 50 of the, well, they were TNT snows, right?
Jonathan White: TNT snows, a couple carry lights, couple old fashioned homemade snow shells. But in the fog it didn’t matter. You just you threw out 50-60 white decoys and you decoy decent.
Dillon White: You kill roskies in the fog. That was for sure back then.
Jonathan White: But that was a long time ago.
Ramsey Russell: A little over 10-15 years ago I guess.
Jonathan White: They’re not that susceptible anymore.
Ramsey Russell: And you started getting good at it so you started playing a higher level of game.
Dillon White: Yeah.
Jonathan White: We had to.
Ramsey Russell: How does the hunting, tell me, kind of just explain to people listening, what is goose hunting in California?
Dillon White: Challenging.
Ramsey Russell: What the game? What are you looking for? How are you setting up? Because we’re not throwing out, we’ve shot snow’s last two days and it’s been relatively small spreads. It’s a totally different game than what I would expect. If you said we’re going snow goose hunting and I’d be thinking we’re fixing to throw out hundreds upon hundreds of decoys.
Jonathan White: We go realism. Realism and small spreads try to be as efficient as we can.
Ramsey Russell: Why? Just because I can see some bigger flocks in which y’all spreads are.
Dillon White: Just well, we used to hunt over socks over quarantine and the geese put it to us more than we put it to them at that point. So we said, let’s go to realism. Now we started going, Dave Smith decoys then, and we’ve just accumulated more over the years, and learned how to hunt. Some days we hunt all of our decoys, some days we hunt half quarter an 8th of our decoys, whenever we can hunt wherever the geese are doing, we try to switch it up and change it up on them. Because they used to seeing so many decoys at a time.
Ramsey Russell: When you all were growing up, I’m going to back up on this because I’ve noticed something about you all. If I didn’t know you all and just met, you don’t look a lot alike and but I just said, you all were friends, not brothers. I mean, I just, you know what I’m saying? Because you all really get along good. I mean, you all are business partners, you grew up hunting together, I guess you all are each other’s best hunting buddy.
Dillon White: Yeah, that’s true.
Jonathan White: Back in the day we played football and we’d fight, my mom would split us up. We get bored, we get back together and when you grew up on a ranch 10 miles from town, you had to get along because you had no one else to play with.
Dillon White: We only had each other.
Jonathan White: It was, we either fought or we played, but that’s what we had to do.
Dillon White: Yeah, we beat up on each other and made us pretty competitive to at the day and in the day.
Ramsey Russell: Growing up on the far outside of town, two little boys on a ranch that is completely opposite of what I would have envisioned growing up in California to be. You know what I’m saying? I mean that’s I think of surfboards, and skateboards, and all the big inner city type stuff, but that ain’t, you all at all, man, you all are out here in BFE the real California out in the middle of nowhere.
Hunting Memories in the “Good California”
That is a true trophy, the first bird you shoot.
Dillon White: The good California.
Ramsey Russell: The good California and most of California is like that. That’s been my observation is that a very, very small part of California is what we all think of as California. What are your favorite memories growing up as little boys, growing up with your daddy, growing up with your granddaddy going duck hunting with your daddy? What are some of your favorite memories of your daddy as a duck hunter that took two little boys?
Dillon White: One of my favorites is our first junior hunt. I want to say Jonathan I were 4 and 5, Jonathan was five, and the guy that taught my dad had a call, he told my brother that if you don’t shoot a spoonie, a bull spoonie, you’re not a duck hunter. That is a true trophy, the first bird you shoot.
Jonathan White: You better believe I wanted a bull spoonie.
Dillon White: And so we went out and my dad packed us out, and he had to build – we were four pallets high because our rubber boots weren’t tall enough in the flood water. And he put bulrushes on the pallets and he packed us out on his back, each of us out of time. And sure as hell, we’re sitting there, the first duck that comes in landing my brother shoots a freaking bull spoonie.
Ramsey Russell: A spooning crochet?
Jonathan White: Not even plumed out. I mean pink feathers and everything and I was as proud as could be of that bird.
Dillon White: He was tickled to death that he shot that bird.
Ramsey Russell: What your dad say?
Jonathan White: Oh he was happy. I mean he knew the jump but he was proud of us.
Dillon White: And Jonathan shot single shot 20 gauge, and I had a single shot 410, and he shot that bird. We only have one shot so he killed him first shot and then I don’t know.
Jonathan White: At some point in the morning, my most memorable moment was so we have these pellets stacked up, my dad’s in between, he’d crouch down and bull sprig just comes in and back in the day we just had ducks everywhere. And this Dillon has the 410 single shot and this bull sprig couldn’t have been more than four or five yards above the bulrushes that we were sitting in, and he shoots it and so of course most people would look at that bull sprig as being the premier duck. But he got his first duck was, I’d have to say it was a bull sprig and then mine was a bull spoonie. But that bull spoonie was way more important than that bull sprig.
Ramsey Russell: You all don’t shoot shovelers now? If you went duck hunting?
Dillon White: I’ll shoot feet down, shovelers all day.
Ramsey Russell: I’ll shoot shelters all day. There we go.
Dillon White: Feet down shovelers.
Jonathan White: You got to decoy, you got to get them in. But most people can’t taste the difference what you want.
Ramsey Russell: Especially if you’re out here on these rice fields.
Jonathan White: They don’t, yeah, you can’t taste it.
California Waterfowl Hunting Season & Bag Limits
That’s part of the reason why we’ve gone to smaller spreads because with the smaller spread, you can get away with lack of sound.
Ramsey Russell: This California rice field hunting is serious stuff. When we hold plucked pintails and wigeons the other day, I just couldn’t get over the fat on the birds. It was unbelievable.
Jonathan White: Even the specks. Even the snow geese when they come down and they’re yellow bellied, you let your friends take the white ones and you keep the yellow bellied ones.
Ramsey Russell: What was the speck limits when you all got into it years ago?
Dillon White: Two birds, there’s 2 specks, there’s 3 birds total. Kill 3 whites and 2 snows. All right, sorry, 2 darks, 2 specks, and then 3 total, and you can kill three snows back in the day. When we first started hunting.
Ramsey Russell: You all still were serious about that. I mean, that’s sounds decent to me. I mean 7 ducks apiece or 7 geese apiece if you do it right. But a lot of people, I mean there’s generations of people, people listening, they’ve never seen or hunted snow geese or these birds until it was just 20 bird limits or more.
Dillon White: We used to hunt them. My dad would get together hunts a couple times a year. And we get together, I don’t know, 6-8 guys all those buddies and we can kill three birds. So I mean if we, six guys, you can go 18 snows. It was back in the early, late 90s there was a lot of snow geese back then.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah, I know my first snow goose hunt down in coastal Texas the limit was 5. And that’ve been back in the mid-nineties just a few years before the Fish and Wildlife, and that’s always done blown up, now we can shoot 20 and have a conservation order for everything. But the limit was 5 and they weren’t always, you weren’t always guaranteed you’re going to kill 5, now I mean because they’re still tough to hunt. Not as tough but.
Jonathan White: When the Midwest went to the conservation order, our season held out for a long time, we could only shoot 3 for – it was a long time into high school we could shoot 3. And I don’t know if it was because of the roskies or not, but finally it went to six, then it went to a 10 bird limit. You could shoot six whites or six darks but a 10 bird limit total. Then it went to six and six and now you can shoot 20 whites and 10 darks and it’s not a conglomerate limit. Its 20 and 10. I mean you can shoot,
Dillon White: 30 birds a person.
Jonathan White: That pressure on the birds now has just made it incredible.
Ramsey Russell: I was just thinking to say one thing about the white birds, we talked to Brian Hooper, he was on last week’s episode, and I became aware that you don’t really have a conservation order season like the Midwest and in Atlantic Flyway. You all are, what you got a few extra days like a little, a couple of days extension, but it still 20 birds, no unplug guns, no electronic calls, just goose hunting. And he was explaining that had something to do with, there’s been a lot of wrangling or different breeding populations of bird over here and it would take a whole new act of Congress to give you all that conservation order season. But we have talked about this too while we were hunting the other morning, the transition between when you all were younger getting into the sport 2 specks, 2 dark geese, 3 snows I think you said, versus now the birds have become harder to hunt, but because of hunting pressure. What do you all see? How do you all see that hunting pressure being manifested out there? I mean, just everybody are they shooting further trying to get the bag limit? What’s going on there?
Dillon White: I think the main thing is you can shoot 20 snows and 10 darks you set out all day. I mean, we’re guilty of it too. We’ll set out all day and I mean, because you can, because the limits there. And I think that’s the biggest thing is guys hunt all day instead of picking up, in the morning or in the afternoon and stuff like that and then, I mean, just pressure alone. A lot of guys out here watched the videos in the Midwest on YouTube and all the other stuff with social media being a big presence that is now, and everybody wants to shoot snow geese, and they see those big spins, and the big grinds, I mean Habitat Flats is great for it. I mean, they kill birds the way you should and everybody out here wants to do it like them.
Ramsey Russell: But you all don’t have near the snow geese out here that they’ve got to play with. Well, I tell you those Habitat don’t Toni Van Mawarire, Ira Macaulay, that bunch right there. They made back in the late 90s, they put snow goose hunting into the mainstream.
Jonathan White: They did.
Ramsey Russell: They really did. They were the first A-gamers I call them, that really brought it, went hard, full body decoys and just grinded it out. I mean, they showed everybody, hey, this is doable.
Jonathan White: Yeah. And I agree with you 100. They started it and they did it, they do it right.
Ramsey Russell: They do it right.
Dillon White: That’s part of the reason why we’ve gone to smaller spreads because with the smaller spread, you can get away with lack of sound. If you have 1000 decoys out, it better sound like 1000 snow geese, but if you have a few 100, you can get away with less sound, and there’s a few guys around here that’ll bootleg E-colors and people talk about it. But for the most part, most guys follow the rules and whether we call it a five day late season or regular season, it’s tough to kill snows over decoys around here.
Ramsey Russell: It’s like the other day I’m thinking we hunted last week and it was one of the most memorable hunts maybe of all time. I mean just because, now we’re going to get into how you all play the game the White way. But it was just that many geese, they were working their spending, they were landing, they were walking, they were doing their thing. But then through the fog over there we hear some other shots, or other people hunting, and these are the same exact birds just bouncing like a ping pong ball across the table. I mean these aren’t, it’s not just this whole landscape full of white birds. It’s a pretty finite population like in this geography, if there’s five groups hunt tomorrow morning, they’re all hunting those same birds, am I right?
Jonathan White: Yeah, we have migrations, we don’t have 100,000 geese, we have a flock and that flock goes out to a field and you hunt that flock. I mean if you’re on their field, or you’re next to it, I mean there’s only 20,000 birds that you’re hunting, and when they find an X, they all follow, and when they get shot at they go to another X, and it’s really hard to compete with live birds when you’re a couple 100 yards away. But it really is. We’re in a wintering ground, we don’t have a migration, we don’t have a lot of geese, we’re hunting really small wintering flock of birds and we hunt the same flock every day. So we got to switch it up.
Ramsey Russell: Was there a point at you all’s goose hunting career? That, here’s what I’m trying to get out like how you all started. Young and dumb and just trying to kill birds. I mean, it’s a learning curve.
Dillon White: That’s where we started it. Exactly.
Ramsey Russell: Duck hunting, deer hunting, anything we do, there’s a learning curve to what I experienced last week. That’s the progression I’m trying to build a story into is, was there a point? Do you remember “ah ha” moment when you said, “Aha” here’s what we got to do. Here’s how we got to play this game. Here’s the White way.
What’s the White Way for Hunting Waterfowl?
We could actually take this a step further and really get birds to commit.
Dillon White: The collar?
Jonathan White: That probably the first snow goose collar we ever shot. We’re sitting there and we always wanted to get birds close because that’s how we hunted ducks with my dad. When we hunted ducks it was, unless their feet came out and they were landing, you didn’t shoot. There were just no reason to because they’d come back, if you didn’t see him now, they come back. So when we started goose hunting it was kind of that same deal, it was let him finish and if they don’t finish, you’re going to educate them. So let them go back, let them go back to the refuge, let them roost and when they come back, they’ll come back better. And shoot them when they’re closer, you’re not educating birds. And the first collar we ever shot, we were sitting there and we made a couple adjustments, and had a bunch of snow geese working, and actually spotted a white collar on Roskie’s.
Ramsey Russell: This is when you’re goose hunting after high school, not with your dad?
Jonathan White: Right after high school.
Dillon White: We’re about 20-19.
Jonathan White: Spotted one white collar coming around, and we told everyone, hey, there’s a collar. We all sat, it came around and we got it.
Dillon White: And I actually videoed that.
Jonathan White: Dillon videoed it.
Dillon White: I was videoing that when he shot that, when Jonathan shot that white collar.
Jonathan White: From that point on, it was like, wow, there’s more to this than just shooting numbers. We could actually, we can kill, we can get geese, but we could actually do something with this. We could actually finish birds. We could actually take this a step further and really get birds to commit.
Ramsey Russell: But that’s the whole thing about hunting in general. I mean, you’ve seen these hunter stages and phases, depicted some people say four some people say seven, I say countless, I mean it’s a flight of stairs to till the grave, right? But at some point time, you start off young, you want to shoot some birds, you shoot a bird, shoot a boot lip. Then you want to shoot a limit. Then you want to shoot more limits every time you go out and play a higher game but at some point in time, it’s a point in case there was four of us laying in there. I feel like we could have shot the majority of our 20 white birds and 10 Aleutian the other day, 30 apiece. What are we going to do with hunting 20 geese?
Dillon White: Exactly. I don’t want to eat that many.
Ramsey Russell: I mean that’s a lot of geese.
Jonathan White: We just made a pot of gumbo with three geese. You got to eat 30 pots of gumbo to eat those birds. I mean at some point you’re going to get tired of gumbo.
Ramsey Russell: I remember one time the year my wife and I got married, we were living out in Red Clay Hill, Mississippi, Webster County, and one of the local, me and one of the friends of the family, he must have been in his eighties there. Mr. Bob McLean just kind of adopted me. I mean just, and I like moving to the set of Green Acres or something and like for example I came home one day and I’ve been working, I come home and the man’s on his old tractor, the same tractor had been driving 40 years and he’s plowing up my backyard. I say Bob, how you doing? What’s going on? He said, well I didn’t get your wedding gift. I’m plowing you up a garden and every acre of garden. Well that was all good and fine until somebody had to hoe it and it fell on me. Last big garden ever had, I can tell you right now. But some family was coming in, my wife’s family was coming into town and they won’t have a fish fry. He said let’s have fish fry. Said yes sir, we’ll do, he said he got permission to go this little pond over here, that nobody got to fish in. I didn’t get the fishing stuff for that one day, and for catfish you can throw a bear hook in, and they were biting. It was unbelievable. We filled up a five gallon bucket with fish, tails just sticking out, could hardly get in. What do you think I’m trying to do? I’m trying to catch every fish, he said come on that’s enough for fish. I said, well, Bob they bite, let’s just keep on catching them. He said, son, we got enough to eat, we ain’t got to catch every fish in the pond just because they’re dumb enough to bite today. And I remember that all these years later, we had plenty, we have plenty for a fish fry, we have plenty to have a good time. What are we going to do tomorrow? That was his point. What are we going to do the rest of them? They’re always better fresh than frozen anyway. And so when I think about the last week’s hunt, that’s kind of it, what are we going to do with all them geese just because we can kill them? But it was such a higher level of goose hunting than we’re just out there slaying them and shooting them. But I mean to shoot those birds by the time they set up and they did set up, boy, it’s been like shooting a flat screen TV hanging on the wall. They were just right there. What? So you all shot that collar that time you realized, we can get out here and cherry pick, and play this higher level of game. It takes some because you all can see me, I’m sure you guys, you all knew I ready to shoot the other morning when birds were set up.
Dillon White: Yeah, there’s a couple of times Ramsey you were a little antsy on the trigger there.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah, I’m like, what are we doing here? And my last name ain’t Audubon.
Jonathan White: When they start landing, I mean you just kick back and enjoy the show because what else are you going to do?
Ramsey Russell: We did.
Dillon White: And it was enjoyable. That’s for sure.
Jonathan White: Not everyone gets to see it like that.
Ramsey Russell: Because we did that. It’s really, I think that’s what makes it so memorable because most folks I hunt with, most folks listening that flock set up their killable they’re right there on the deck, never mind the 500 behind them. Those hundred sitting right there on the deck, 15, 20 yards from here, let’s kill them and we’ll call some more later. That’s how that would have gone. But it’s like we were out there, and man, talk about a blue goose, a needle in a haystack.
Dillon White: That was a good one for sure.
Bagging a Trophy Bird
But it was fun to see the look on John’s face when he shot that bird.
Ramsey Russell: There really aren’t many blue geese out here and I did not know that. And John Wheels had never shot a blue goose and you all spotted it. And it took a while for a bunch of white geese milling around, you couldn’t shoot them with your cap, hit him with your cap and us waiting on that blue goose to get into position and it was incredible that he was able to just plug that blue goose from the flock.
Dillon White: Yeah. So I watched it land and I told him it’s to off my left foot. So there’s a blue right here. And so he jumped, we’re had set, we’re going to shoot at these when he, that blue came in, and then he jumped up and every white bird around that blue jumped up, and that blue stayed down, and he was able to get that blue in the first shot. And then obviously after he shot that blue, then we all shot, we killed a bunch. But it was fun to see the look on John’s face when he shot that bird. I mean its fun to get guys their first birds and do that stuff.
Jonathan White: It’s really cool to see guys get a trophy bird in their mind. What they want, they have it in their head, I want this or that. Everyone can go shoot geese, everyone can shoot geese flying by over a sock spread at 50-60 yards, but to get birds committed, and get them in, and then not someone pick out what they want to shoot. It’s just awesome to watch people do that.
Dillon White: And John was, I mean the picture on my phone to John he’d just, his smile is here to here. He is just so excited he shot that bird.
Ramsey Russell: John’s a big old boy.
Dillon White: He’s a big guy.
Ramsey Russell: He’d come out of that blind harder like a, how quickly the house cat. He was excited.
Dillon White: He was real excited.
Ramsey Russell: Heck yeah. And then later he showed me the shot cam footage and it was like a surgical strike. He just picked that blue goose. Well, he shot a little 28 gauge.
Dillon White: We got him close enough to shoot with a 28.
Jonathan White: So when we shoot, you can shoot with a 410, 28, 16, 20 or 12. When we shoot, you can shoot any gauge. But in between, I mean we just, it’s just awesome to get birds to commit and let guys shoot what they want because a lot of guys don’t hunt enough geese to get a blue. So yeah, we might see a lot of blues when we’re hunting and we’re looking for a blue Ross, but to see someone get a trophy bird, we’ve shot enough geese, it’s just awesome to see someone get something that they want.
The Hardships of Hunting the Same Flock of Birds
Goose hunting is a grind. It’s not every day.
Ramsey Russell: We were talking on the phone the other night leading up to this hunt, you give me a scouting report. And I said, well, and you were saying how we were going to work and do them. And I didn’t understand. But what you explained, and it made perfect sense because we were just talking about the hunting pressure and how difficult it is to hunt this finite population of birds right here in this little geography. If 500 Aleutian come in and we shoot 12 out of a volley, we’ve just educated 480 something. It’s better to let those just kind of discombobulate, like the flock we shot into were – except for when John picked – those blues were small, they were small little a dozen birds, 15 birds, 20 birds. And when there wasn’t a whole lot of other stuff buzzing starting to grind around us. And I guess if you’re patient like those birds of land that kind of feed out, to go do their thing, before I knew it we had birds in front, behind, just different directions, feeding. As they started kind of trading, we were able to catch some of those small flocks of birds. Is that the strategy, is that the game?
Dillon White: Yeah. I mean we hunt a small amount of birds like you said, if you shoot, we learned this real quick around 10 years ago, 11 years ago we started, when we started shooting snows. The more you shoot at them, the smarter they get. And so we started going back to let them decoy and then looking for bands and collars and other cool stuff like that and blue Ross and we don’t have two million birds to shoot at. We have maybe 100,000 between on a real good year in a couple different areas we hunt.
Jonathan White: It’s a resident flock. You got to, when you’re hunting the same flock every time you hunt, you got to really manage your birds.
Dillon White: And we’re not the only guys that hunt them, there’s a couple other groups of guys that hunt them. So we’re hunting them, putting pressure on them along with the other couple guys who hunt them. So you got to be smart about how you hunt those birds because they get smart and then it’s not fun to hunt when you get, when they don’t decoy when you hunt. It’s not even, it’s not fun to go because they’d never come in.
Ramsey Russell: It’s a lot like this morning.
Dillon White: Yeah, exactly.
Ramsey Russell: What do you think happened this morning? Why? I mean because the birds had been there, they were damn knee deep in scat. I mean they’ve been there, they’ve been on that hay row eating at seed – that you were talking about? Why? What do you think happened this morning? We had wind.
Jonathan White: This is why we call it hunting, I guess, because I can’t explain it.
Dillon White: Yeah, I can’t explain it either. And that’s not the first time the geese have done that to us.
Jonathan White: Everything leading up to it said we’re going to get at least a few.
Dillon White: We’ll get a couple bunches spinning.
Jonathan White: Even if we don’t get the big spin, at least we’re going to get a couple and then we didn’t even get a couple.
Dillon White: We didn’t get a spin. We got a juvie, Ramsay, shot a juvie snow that came in.
Jonathan White: That’s the misconception that people get through Instagram and social media is you see the best but you don’t see the worst, and we hunt geese, and we get them close, and when we get them close we shoot them really close. But in the meantime there’s plenty of days that we go out and don’t shoot and it’s a hard concept for people to get that you don’t pull the trigger sometimes.
Ramsey Russell: Social media is a distorted version of reality. It really is. It’s like, I just always imagine some guy or some housewife sitting at home bored to tears, can’t travel whatever, and looking at their neighbor, that smiling Bob, sitting there taking his family to Disneyland, they’re happy and how can you not be a little jealous.
Jonathan White: The grass is always greener.
Ramsey Russell: But then you know what? I know having taken some kids that didn’t at one time, it is about 2.2 seconds before that picture was taken, Mama threatened to whoop little Johnny’s ass at the end of his life if he didn’t quit whining, start smiling for the camera. It’s not reality. It’s just a snapshot of what really is. And goose hunting anywhere at any time can be tough because we’re hunting a wild bird.
Dillon White: It’s a grind. Goose hunting is a grind. It’s not every day.
Ramsey Russell: Nothing easy about it. I mean it takes a lot of work.
Dillon White: We spend what? An hour this morning brushing blind?
Ramsey Russell: Yeah, at least.
Dillon White: Just to watch birds fly by at a half mile away, going to another field.
Ramsey Russell: And I know it’s not because they saw us, heck, I couldn’t see us.
Jonathan White: That’s what keeps you coming back. It’s competitive. It’s you versus them and it’s competitive.
Ramsey Russell: But you all aren’t out there just shooting bands, are you? I mean, you all aren’t going out there just to target hardware are you? I didn’t get that the other day.
Jonathan White: You’re not going to get that many. You’re not going to get enough bands to say, I mean, just to go out and shoot bands, you’re not going to get enough, you go out there to own – you want to get those birds in and that’s what our goal is. And if we can get something really close and see something that’s cool but our whole goal is just to get them in.
Ramsey Russell: How I described our experience the other day, which was epic, it was a little hazy, little foggy and the birds were just, I mean right off the back, they started coming in, they wanted to be right. And to me it was a small spread, it was certainly no bigger than what we put out this morning, I wouldn’t guess, maybe some more white birds, but it was small, and they were coming in and landing right in that hole in front of us. And you did shoot a band, you were sitting there waiting on birds to come in, and you know, they would kind of come in a circle there from right to left, and landed at whole, but then if they did kind of spin off, I want to throw a bigger circle that kind of come right over the blinds. Boom! You popped a single, and said, I think that was collared, and they got up, started meddling around. When the coast was clear, you jumped up, tried to back, sure enough, it was collared, you saw something. But that’s not the end all be all. I mean it’s just how I described as like, just imagine these birds are working, you don’t want to educate 1500 working birds when I can wait a little, and I can enjoy the show, and you all seem to be as much into that as anything like I know I sure enjoyed it, that’s just spoiled me.
Dillon White: It’s something and once you do it once.
Jonathan White: It’s addicting, it’s like just like any drug, you want more when you get a couple birds of land, it’s like you want more so why not get a big flock? So why not let more land? So why not let them land? Let the big flocks follow them. And then at one what point do you call the shot? Because now you have too many birds in the decoys.
Dillon White: You have 5000 of decoys you’re like
Jonathan White: And it doesn’t happen every day. It happens every so often and when it does happen, you don’t want to ruin the moment. So you’re sitting there going, I don’t know when to call the shots now I guess we’ll just watch for something because this is just so awesome to get to watch.
Dillon White: And get to appreciate them. That’s what we do, we appreciate.
Ramsey Russell: It’s just like even we shot plenty of birds. I don’t remember how many, almost like 50 but we didn’t just shoot indiscriminately. Most of us didn’t, on the Aleutian, to look for a big white band. And on snows, white birds.
Jonathan White: Pick your trophies.
Ramsey Russell: I mean, just kind of shoot kind of cherry picking through there just getting the right fruit.
Jonathan White: And you’re not educating. When you pick out a couple of birds and a smaller flock to shoot, you’re not educating as many birds. When you let a couple, when you let the big flocks go, and your smaller birds and your smaller flocks come in and you pick a couple birds, you’re only educating 10 extra birds, you’re not educating 10,000. And so the next time those birds come back, your chances of having them come in closer are better versus guy busting a bunch of birds and educating everything. That’s why we try to, when we hunt, we shoot small. We just, that’s why we do it.
Ramsey Russell: Quality over quantity.
Dillon White: The other day, one of the other guys we took hunting, he was like, you guys are like, I don’t understand how you do it, and Johnathan told them they were like goose snipers. We’re not goose killers, goose snipers. They come in, we sneak in, we hide, we spend more time on the hide than where we hunt. And we put our spread out and where, how the geese are sitting in this field, not just a blob of white or a blob of brown. We try to mimic exactly how they sit in these fields and then they come in, they work. If we get small bunches, we shoot them, big bunches come, we don’t educate them. And like he said we’re just goose snipers at that point.
Ramsey Russell: Well let’s talk about the white way because it’s not just what you’re shooting. It is the work starting with brushing the blinds and leveling the blinds and getting everything low profile. Starting from dark 30 until you’re picking up decoys. What is your way? What is your game? How do you make those spins and those grinds happen in your decoy? What level of detail? What goes into the detail of your hunt?
A Willingness to Fail & Learn
And we’ve tried a lot of, just stuff that people wouldn’t be willing to try because they don’t want to fail.
Jonathan White: I mean you hear it all the time. Guys always say scouting in the hiding. All you got to scout and all you got to hide. But that’s where most people slack. They all go. Well, I found birds. Well that’s cool, but how were they sitting in a field? What were they doing? Not just were they there, the next comes to hide. You have to have a hide. And if I could take a field with less birds over, more birds with a better hide, I’ll take the better hide or else you’re going to shoot them flying over, you’re not going to shoot them feet down.
Ramsey Russell: And you all are hunting out in the middle of these fields. Even if that’s where the birds want to be.
Jonathan White: No, you can’t hide in the middle of our field.
Dillon White: There’s no, our fields are bare and they’re 2 to 4 inches tall. And everybody knows you can’t hide late on a blind in 2 to 4 inches of stubble or grass, whatever we’re doing. So either you can lay in Tyvek, which isn’t the way we do it because the geese can see.
Jonathan White: I think the guys who kill birds can lay a Tyvek and get them, they can get close enough to kill. And it’s, I’m not judging anyone for doing it, if you want to get birds, it’s a great way to do it. But if you want to get them feet down, you got to have a good hide.
Dillon White: You got to hide. You can’t have a human silhouette land in the middle field. So they’ll see you.
Jonathan White: The way we look at it is how do we make it as easy as possible on these birds to land? And how do we be there without being there? That’s what we ask ourselves before we hunt. How are we going to be there without them recognizing that were there?
Ramsey Russell: And how do you minimize the disturbance of the birds that aren’t getting shot? Yeah, I would throw that in there for you.
Jonathan White: And that’s why when you get a bird, when you get a flock to start, and they do land, you just enjoy it because it doesn’t always happen, you got to take the good with the bad. Like this morning, we got skunked. We didn’t get skunked but they bypassed us. It wasn’t what it was the other day and you got to know that you’ve got to be willing to fail, to be a good hunter, you got to be willing to fail. You have to be willing to try things, and if you’re not willing to fail, you’re not willing to learn, and if you’re not willing to learn, and if you’re not going to get them close.
Dillon White: There’s been countless times where it’s been my brother and I, one of our good buddies, we go out and say we’re going to try this.
Jonathan White: And we try something off the wall.
Ramsey Russell: Like what?
Dillon White: Put decoys 60 yards off.
Ramsey Russell: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done? But I mean, look today, you took three Sandhill confront decoy and set him 100 and something yards from the spread.
Jonathan White: I don’t know if it can hurt, but it might help. We put full bodies 60 yards off the edge verse, you don’t want their eyes on the blind. 20 yards, 60 yards, 40 yards.
Dillon White: Laid in them. Tried to brush in like we did today with that grass and laying the decoys. Well, that didn’t work that day.
Jonathan White: We’ve hunted tree lines, we’ve hunted ponds, we’ve hunted, I mean, just any scenario that you’ve seen, geese, we’ve tried to mimic it with decoys and then put our blinds to where they don’t stand out. And we’ve tried a lot of, just stuff that people wouldn’t be willing to try because they don’t want to fail.
Dillon White: And it’s a lot of work.
Jonathan White: It’s a lot of work.
Dillon White: Ramsey found out this morning, it’s a lot of work.
Ramsey Russell: Is it usually just you two guys? I mean, what’s your ideal group size?
Jonathan White: Ideal would be just me. Okay, so ask Dillon how many I mean.
Dillon White: Yeah, last year I had to work, Jonathan got a lot of big spins by himself.
Jonathan White: When you have one blind. It’s just, it’s incredible because you have one blind to hide. When you have two blinds it’s really good, when you have three blinds, it’s pretty good, when you have four blinds, it can be –
Dillon White: It’s still pretty good, at four blinds it’s about maxed.
Jonathan White: It can be good when you get 6, 7, 8 blinds, it’s like, well we’ll see what our odds are.
Ramsey Russell: Just like going duck hunting where we stand in willows or something like that, trying to hide, the more people you have to hide. The more people you have to make sure aren’t looking at the ducks or shooting up or doing something or playing on the phone at the wrong time. It’s just kind of becomes a cluster.
Jonathan White: We love hunting with people, but preferably as far as looking for a hybrid or a blue Ross or anything, just getting a spin to start, Dillion and I would be preferable.
Dillon White: Ideal would be two guys.
Jonathan White: We worked really well together, we know what we’re doing, we know we’re on the same page.
Dillon White: We’re on the same page, we know what each other’s thinking at the same time, where we’re going to call the shots, where the birds are coming from. We have one good buddy that we take that tags along quite often. Dylan Hughes, he would like to get his name out there.
Jonathan White: Yeah, Dylan Hughes, he just doesn’t see bands.
Ramsey Russell: What do you look for? What are you looking for? I mean, how did you see that collar on that bird? I caught myself looking and I looked at thousands of them while waiting on you all to call the shots, I’m getting into position. I’m like, man, they ain’t going to find them.
Dillon White: You were just too antsy though.
Jonathan White: So this is just but it really pisses my brother off is that I have a bad eye and I somehow just see them because he’s like, I have a bad eye.
Ramsey Russell: You don’t see the blue Aelutian collar.
Jonathan White: You’ll never see color. One of my collars one time, I thought it was a certain color, and I went and picked it up, and it was a different color. You will never see color ever. Even if the sun is at your back, you might get lucky and see color, but you’re just looking for an abnormality.
Dillon White: Their necks are off, they’re weird.
Ramsey Russell: A little chink instead of being like a solid pipes, got a little chink.
Jonathan White: You’ll see something.
Dillon White: A feather malfunction.
Jonathan White: You can’t even explain it.
Dillon White: Just weird.
Jonathan White: If you see a weird looking bird shoot it, see what happens.
Dillon White: We got kind of what to look forward to. I mean Jonathan really training how to look for him and then I started too a couple years after Jonathan. He is good at it. And then we started hunting with our Brad Cochran, the Owner or part owner and we sort of learned from him or what they look for and his good friend and I mean it’s just any abnormality and like you’re looking at the, you don’t look at every bird, you look at the view.
Jonathan White: It’s like watching TV. When you see, when you watch the TV you watch a movie, you’re watching the whole screen and when something happens off in the corner you catch it. But if you’re looking at the main character you’ll never see what happens around them. So when you’re watching a flock you just,
Ramsey Russell: Like watching a basketball game. You don’t take your eyes off the ball, you don’t see him get into position.
Jonathan White: If you watch a single bird coming by you, you’ll never see anything. But if you just kick back and enjoy the show. And about the time that I pick up my phone to record a video and I’m not paying attention to anything and I’m just kicking back relaxed watching the show. I’ll go, oh there’s something.
Dillon White: And he shoots it. Let’s call her because he’s got a lucky horseshoe up his ass.
Jonathan White: And that does happen.
Ramsey Russell: But he does kill more bands and collars than you do. Is it just a luck or is he a better hunter?
Jonathan White: Both.
Dillon White: I don’t know if that he’s a better hunter. There’s a little,
Ramsey Russell: Does he have a better shot?
Dillon White: Not a better shot. He’s trained, he has trained his eye. He is good at seeing him. But he has also got luck, let me tell you a story, he’s got luck was we were hunting with a couple buddies out in the native field and it’s slowed down we had shot some bird. We had a real good game.
Jonathan White: It was like last week.
Dillon White: One of those good days. And so there’s a group of 50 roskies is just buzzing. This native area coming through Corton and he jumps up and they’re about 40-50 yards.
Jonathan White: Not that far.
Dillon White: They’re about 40-50 yard, he jumps up.
Jonathan White: I would have thought about 40 or 50 there about 20 or 30 but they’re Corton.
Dillon White: So they’re just cruising. They ain’t coming in, they’re just cruising hauling ass. And he jumps up, shoots one bird and looks at the guy, he took the landowner’s friends and said, I’m going to be upset that birds collared, not collared, banded. I said, and I bet you no doubt that, that bird is going to be banded and he picks it up.
Jonathan White: When that bird fell I saw a certain flicker when it fell. And I mean when it fell out of the flock, I went-
Dillon White: Sheer luck. This is your luck.
Jonathan White: I saw it, as it fell I saw the bird turned in the air and I went, that was different.
Dillon White: He walks back with a big grin on his face.
Jonathan White: It was bedded and I just, I knew it. One other time we had a single coming –
Dillon White: Back to that flock, it wasn’t like the lead bird or the back bird. It was a bird out of the dead center of like 25 roskies.
Jonathan White: So that was pure luck. I put it 2 feet.
Ramsey Russell: Was that the one you’re aiming at?
Jonathan White: No, I’m not even going to cover up this story. I put it two feet in front of the lead bird and when roskies ball up in court, they’re like teal, and when they ball up in our courts they’re just tight and hauling. And I put it about two feet in front of the lead bird and dropped to another, middle of flock. And that was pure luck. It just is what it is. It’s just pure luck. I’m not going to cover it up. But it is what it is. That just was a lucky shot.
Ramsey Russell: Shooting bands and hardware and all that extra stuff to me is nothing but luck. It’s just, it’s statistical, the more birds you shoot, your odds of picking one up is more. God, that’s about the best I can do. I don’t have an eye forward. One time I saw a band on a bird before it got shot once, and I’ve shot lots, and I didn’t shoot, my son did. It was a brant. And came in just right off the deck. He broke off a flock, come right in and I whispered to the blind. Don’t birds banded, but let the rest of them come in. Well, my youngest son jumps up, tried to hold his gun, click, Forest killed him. The rest of birds booger out. But I saw you couldn’t help from here. You couldn’t help to see it.
Jonathan White: When you see it, they stick out when you don’t see them, that’s like where are they when you do see it? It’s right there.
Ramsey Russell: This kind of the way it is. There are people, especially biologists that would hear us talk about how you all hunt at that elevated level that would just get squeamish because it might skew or mess up their data. And there are people, I mean, let’s face it, there are people out there that are targeting, that are hunting only to kill bands and collars, and most are riflers. I don’t consider those waterfowlers anyway. The man’s hanging high pod rifle outshooting hardware. That guy’s not, I wouldn’t even call him a hunter. I called him a poacher, I’d call him a slob.
Jonathan White: It’s illegal. I mean, they shouldn’t be doing it. It’s not right because it takes away the trophies for the rest of us.
Ramsey Russell: But we’ve heard the stories about people that will land and let get tight just to mow them down and play that played in statistical logic, getting bands. You all have heard them stories I know. But that’s not what you all are doing, not at all. You’re out there just laying out, how often do you hunt? How often do you all goose hunt?
Jonathan White: January.
Dillon White: Maybe if we’re lucky on a good year, the day after Christmas to the end of January.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah, wow. That’s a pretty short season.
Dillon White: It’s short.
Jonathan White: By the time they get down this far south, it’s quick.
Ramsey Russell: Every day?
Dillon White: No, we hunt probably three or four days a week.
Ramsey Russell: That’s still a bunch.
Jonathan White: It’s a lot.
Dillon White: We hunt 16 to 20 days in January.
Jonathan White: In January, my wife was like, hey, where, are you coming home at all? I’m like, well, it’s January.
Dillon White: You know, it’s January, we’re going to be hunting.
Jonathan White: But that’s what we got and we have a month.
Ramsey Russell: What do your wives think about you all’s crazy passion?
Dillon White: I think we’re a little crazy.
Jonathan White: It keeps us away from other girls.
Dillon White: They’d rather be into the geese than other girls, I guess.
And we really do believe that if people were taking these high percentage shots on smaller flocks, hunting would be better for everyone.
Jonathan White: Like you said about the bands, you know what? What we represent, it’s statistically what we could have shot last week versus what that one collar represents. It really is accurate versus what we would have. We just saved, we let a lot of geese go that are still alive. But statistically speaking, we underrepresented what we could have shot. We could have shot over 200 birds that day and we have a collar to show for.
Ramsey Russell: Well, that’s what strict hardware hunters are doing. They’re biasing the sampling data such that it looks like more birds were harvested than they actually were. And what could happen is no matter how many geese there are, if the biologists were to run those numbers and at some point in time they are liable to cut the season shorter, cut the bag limit or should I say, oh, we’re shooting too many birds. That’s where a guy going out and just mowing down geese just to get hardware and reporting them. That’s what it’s doing for, because I understand it.
Jonathan White: If people were that good at seeing bands and killing that many bands and collars, which collars are pretty rare nowadays. But if people were killing that many bands, I want to know where they’re hunting. Because basically what we’ve done is we went from killing, everyone when they’re younger, they want piles of birds because it looks cool in pictures and it’s fun to go out and hunt with their friends.
Dillon White: And we were filming. So we’re trying to film birds working and falling in that video aspect of it.
Jonathan White: And we killed the same number of bands now as we did when we were shooting. We killed the same number of random bands as we were when we were shooting. But we’re basically just cutting out the extra birds. We really don’t, we don’t kill anything more. We’re not killing – we might kill one extra two extra bands a year. But that’s pretty slim. I mean, you got to see a lot of birds to catch them in the air and we’re not ground pounding them. We’re seeing them in the air and basically, you can only eat so many geese. So we’re watching them, you kill a couple extra. And the data that you’re representing is actually less than what you could have killed.
Dillon White: For the birds we have decoy that we could have shot. And the bands that we do kill.
Jonathan White: It’s underrepresented.
Dillon White: Mostly Jonathan’s lucky bands. I mean, I feel like it’s an accurate number in the scheme of it all.
Ramsey Russell: It’s a natural organic number.
Jonathan White: 20 bands a year. It doesn’t happen. We’re killing the same number of bands as we would have. But without the extra geese.
Dillon White: Yeah. And we don’t kill, educate so many birds because we’re not shooting at every single flock that comes in.
Jonathan White: Our hashtag is #noskybusting. And we really do believe that if people were taking these high percentage shots on smaller flocks, hunting would be better for everyone.
Dillon White: Hunting wouldn’t be so tough.
Ramsey Russell: It keeps the day to day quality higher.
Dillon White: Yeah, exactly.
Jonathan White: Quality over quantity.
Ramsey Russell: Quality over quantity. And that’s the thing, I’ve always said, duck hunting especially this year in the Deep South is not getting any easier. In fact, it seems to be getting harder and harder to longer stretches between great hunts and so it is, it has become important to me how the game is played. You’ve just got the ritual and the effort, you know what I’m saying just to play a clean game, so to speak. And at some point time, I think of a lot, you think a duck hunting like baseball, it’s the fundamentals whether you’re an eight year old playing baseball, whiffle ball in your backyard out here, or you’re in the major league baseball at the Fundamental, but it starts getting played at a much higher level. And that’s kind of how I would, that’s kind of how the other day hunting with you all that is how I perceive that experience. Holy cow, I’m seeing some goose a lot, but we’re always shooting instead of getting to experience this. And it was specially, I know, I was taking a bunch of little iPhone videos put on Instagram and my stuff blew up wanting to know who you all were and how to guide, get the telephone number. I said, well it ain’t got it, it’s just a couple of brothers.
Jonathan White: We were just having fun.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah. Did you all get a lot of inquiries about that kind of stuff? I bet you all get a lot of inquiries anyway.
Dillon White: Yeah, we get guys, there’s always guys, hey, you guys guide? No, we don’t guide.
Jonathan White: And the worst part is having to tell them no. We don’t guide.
Dillon White: I hate telling guys no.
Jonathan White: We want, I mean we would love for, if I can line up 40 people on the edge of the field and let them watch what we watched it would be a great because I mean when that happens, you don’t even have to pull the trigger. I mean we do it every time, we just like, well when do we shoot now? I guess. Let’s just watch. Let’s just enjoy it. We’re just out here in nature just watching and most people don’t get to see that and if I can line guys up and hide them and let them see it, it would be great. But it’s just not practical.
Dillon White: That’s part of the reason of our Instagram is just our story and what we do, like how many people get to see, well you saw last week.
Jonathan White: Ramsey, you hunted all over the world and got to see 5000 snow geese land. Most people don’t, they don’t have the patients.
Ramsey Russell: No, that took it to a whole new level for me. I’m like dang, I haven’t been doing it the White way. I’ve been doing it the wrong way. It’s pretty incredible.
Jonathan White: And there is no wrong way. It’s just our way. It just, we just have fun landing birds. There is, if you want to kill waterfowl, there’s no wrong way to do it. It’s just, if you want to get them, you get them. But we just love watching them get close.
California Waterfowl Hunting Opportunities
But when it’s January, we’re home and it’s our field, this is our home field.
Ramsey Russell: California has a lot of surprising waterfowl hunting opportunities. Do you all get out and do you all hunt just right here in your backyard. Is this, you all’s game? Or do you all venture out into other parts of the country and other parts of the state?
Jonathan White: January is when it’s
Ramsey Russell: January right here on the home field.
Dillon White: This is our home field and this is our game.
Jonathan White: This is our Super Bowl, this is our home field. But in the meantime, we’ll go travel.
Dillon White: Early in the year, like we go up to Washington with our buddy up there and we’ll go to Oregon earlier this year and try to get some Aleutians up there, and we travel around. But when it’s January, we’re home and it’s our field, this is our home field.
Jonathan White: And we still get, we can get on your feet, on our home field off more often than that. But at least it’s our home field.
Dillon White: At least I’m close to home and go home and cry my bed I guess.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah, you got long to drive.
Jonathan White: That’s what people don’t realize. You see a picture of something on Instagram and they think, man, they must be stacking them up. No, we watched a lot of birds go.
Dillon White: For that day we did stack them up. There was two or three days like we did stack them up.
Jonathan White: When you were there, there’s a lot of birds we could have shot and then there’s days that we couldn’t have shot him, but we take the good with the bad and we just have fun out there.
Best Recipes for Goose
What are some favorite ways you have to cook geese?
Ramsey Russell: Changing gears, enjoyed lunch today, that was a heck of a gumbo, posted it up on Instagram stories. But what is your favorite way to cook these geese? What are some favorite ways you have to cook geese? Gumbo?
Jonathan White: Gumbo is about the best. Sometimes just simple salt and pepper, fry them in a grill with little bit of butter. Just keep it simple.
Dillon White: This year, we’ve been getting some birds up out of the rice you can tell by the way they have the yellow on their bellies and I was just dicing them up and frying them on the skillet and put them over rice and that’s been good. My kids have been eating it. My wife eats it just with salt and pepper.
Jonathan White: If you go carne asada. If you use the Mexican recipe it’s really good.
Ramsey Russell: How do you? Carne asada? How do you do that? I might want to do that.
Jonathan White: I’m not Mexican, so you’re going to have to google that one. But it is good and we have a Thai buddy that will cook them and they, Asian recipes really make goose good.
Dillon White: That’s a strong flavors and their seasoning just with the strong flavor of the goose. It is good.
Ramsey Russell: I have been in California over week and I’ve eaten at least one burrito a day until today and today is not over. I’m probably going to eat a burrito on the way back to the hotel, but it’s really they’ve got burrito dialed in that, but the best I had was that, what we had the other day for lunch, that truck, dirt road town and,
Dillon White: Stevenson.
Ramsey Russell: Stevenson California.
Ramsey Russell: That was really good.
Jonathan White: Jinx, you owe me a coke.
Ramsey Russell: That’s what got me to thinking, if I were shooting as many geese because there’s only so many ways to cook goose. I mean I think I’d be having to go in, I think I have to be exploring that carne asada ground up and makes some burritos. I think it blends itself really good to that.
Jonathan White: Chile Colorado is really good.
Ramsey Russell: Which is? What is Chile Colorado?
Jonathan White: So you have Chili Verde, which is green sauce and Chili Colorado, which is red and that deep red chili sauce.
Ramsey Russell: Like an enchilada sauce?
Jonathan White: Darker. It’s just, you basically just, if you really, if you could either use ground up chili or you can use real dry chilies and blend them up. It just is a really good strong flavor that complements goose.
Dillon White: You made what Chile Verde?
Jonathan White: Colorado? I’ve done both but Chile Colorado is better. Chile Verde is good, chili Colorado is better, gumbo is just really good. Even just a simple goose stew.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah, somebody show me a picture of it. That looks really good. Is that nearby we go eat that for dinner tonight? Yeah, Google image. Well you got to find me somewhere good to eat in Fresno tonight. I’m starting to, hey, we’ve been talking about food so I’m starting to hanker burritos again for supper, John.
Jonathan White: Stuff gumbo and tortilla.
Ramsey Russell: Jonathan, tell me the time that your brother Dillon went deaf in the middle of a hunt. What’s this all about?
Jonathan White: So we have a buddy that grew up here and he moved back to Missouri. He works for Beretta and I met a friend at the shot show, he came out hunting with us and we said man, let’s pull a prank on this guy. My grandpa was always just great with pranks and,
Dillon White: He’s a jokester.
Jonathan White: We figured, you know hell let’s keep in the family. So we had to pull a prank on him. He obviously talked to me at shot show. So we said, we told my brother was deaf and he’s never met, Dillon White: He’s never met me before.
Jonathan White: He’s never met Dillon.
Dillon White: Or how loud or I’m not.
Jonathan White: And when Dillon drinks whiskey, he’s loud.
Dillon White: I’m never loud.
Jonathan White: He’s just loud. And so this guy shows up and I said, hey man, when you go out in the morning you’re going to meet my brother Dillon he’s just so you know, he’s deaf, don’t worry about it. He’s not one of those sensitive deaf people, you can talk to him loud and yell at him. You got to yell at him or else he can’t hear you. But don’t worry, you’re not going to hurt his feelings, he’s cool, he used to be able to hear, he knows what’s going on, but he’s deaf now, he lost his hearing. So this guy shows up and we get out there in the morning, its dark, just like you guys showed up and we get out there and I go, hey man, this is my brother Dillon. He goes, hey Dillon, so and so nice to meet you. Dillon just stares at him.
Dillon White: It was so hard to keep a straight face.
Jonathan White: Dead stare. And he goes, so and so nice to meet you and I go, louder so and so nice to meet you, louder so and so nice to meet you. Oh hey Dillon. Okay, cool. So if they meet and he’s like he felt, like he just felt awkward that he had to yell at this guy. Anyway, so he just yelled at this deaf guy and Dillon were all I had to actually act like I was going to pee on the side of the truck because I was laughing so hard on the first get go. And so when we go hunting and we’re we,
Dillon White: And I’m driving the side by side.
Jonathan White: So Dillon driving the side by side and we get the decoy trailer hooked over to the side by side. And I tell my buddy and I said, hey man, Dillon’s deaf, he can’t hear the side by side. If you hear him revving it up too hard, you’re going to,
Dillon White: You have to knock him on the shoulder tell him to slow down.
Jonathan White: Tell him slow down. You’re revving the engine too hard, you can’t do that, you got the RPMs too high. Don’t let him do that. He’s deaf, he don’t know. So this guy is driving.
Dillon White: And I’m he sat between Jonathan and I in the seat and he’s,
Jonathan White: Tyler, it was you and Tyler and him in the middle. I’m in the back laughing and I slapped him on the shoulder, hey man, you keeping track of his RPMs? So finally he’s like, he now thinks that Dillon’s deaf is hell. He’s driving a side by side,
Dillon White: Through water, through floodwater.
Jonathan White: Through floodwater deaf. And we get out hunting and Dillon starts, we get the decoys out, nothing’s going on. I mean now the prank still going because he has no clue. So then Dillon starts duck calling and he whispers over and he’s like, hey man, your brother is pretty good, duck calling from being deaf. I’m like, what do you mean? You think he’s retarded? And so he’s like, no, like he actually knows how to call make. Like, well, he knows the vibrations in the call, right? He used to be able to hear, he can feel the call. So finally we shoot some teal in the fog and they go out and sel,l and he and I, Dillon and I are out in the ponds picking up these ducks. And he goes, hey, do you get that one over there? I said, yeah, I got that one. You can, we slip, its four hours of deafness before Dillon finally cracks. Did you get that bird? Oh yeah, I got that. You get that bird. Yeah, I got it. So when we come back to blind he goes, how do you hear you out there were like, okay, well, it turns out he’s not deaf. He just found his hearing. Oh it was hilarious, his face when Dillon yelled at him Dillon?
Dillon White: It was so hard to keep that straight face when I said that.
Jonathan White: He was so scared of driving that side by side thought that the deaf guy, I mean blow the engine.
Dillon White: From the part to where we parked to where we hunted its water and in the headlights. Yeah, I know where I’m going on the road, like, I know where I’m at. But someone that’s never hunted out there. It just looks like a sheet of water. Its two ft. deep or six ft. deep. They don’t know how deep it is. So we’re cutting across the water. This guy, I mean you could tell in his face that he’s pretty dead at that point.
Jonathan White: That’s the thing about the California floodwater. When California floods, it’s just flooded. But it’s all grasslands out here, so it’s flat, we know where the washouts are and this guy’s freaked out because Dillon’s revving the engine, he thinks he’s deaf, he’s going to blow up the bike. Oh man that was just, all three of us trying not to laugh. Well this guy thought my brother was deaf. It was great.
Ramsey Russell: Did he have a pretty good laugh with you after that?
Jonathan White: He laughed? And then ever since then we just talk about Dillon being deaf. That’s great.
Ramsey Russell: Well, there was another story you told me the other morning about, sounds like your dad was a good dude man. He carried you out on his shoulders and when you all were four or five years old, and let’s shoot a boot lip for your first duck. But you all fed him mud hen one time? Is that what we call a coot?
Dillon White: Yeah coot, American coot. That’s it.
Ramsey Russell: How did that go over?
Dillon White: Yeah well he,
Ramsey Russell: What were the origins and tell me this story.
Jonathan White: Everything starts with the real slow day.
Dillon White: Yeah it was real slow day and mid-November California, duck hunting’s really slow and so we’re like you know what and there’s coots all over our ponds. And my dad is a jokester himself and so what better way to get back at my dad for joking with us.
Ramsey Russell: So he is a jokester?
Jonathan White: Oh yeah my grandpa, my dad, they’re all jokesters. Sarcasm.
Dillon White: Yeah. And so what better way to get back at him than just shoot a bunch of these mud hens and clean them and cook them for him and see if he eats them or not.
Jonathan White: So in this creek it’s about a 3ft drop into this creek and they’re just heard it up like sheep in this creek. And if you have one guy go down and pop over the bank, they’ll run right over across the top of the water, right in front of the other guys up the bank. So we did a little mud hen hunting.
Dillon White: Some mud hen hunting we shot 20-25 we breast them all out, clean them all, took them home, Jonathan cooked them. He’s the chef.
Jonathan White: Now we just fry them. We threw him in salt, pepper, garlic and flour and pan fry them with eggs.
Dillon White: And they’re about the same size as a teal or spoonie.
Jonathan White: We told him we shot a bunch of teal that morning, which is completely believable in the grasslands.
Dillon White: So we took them to him.
Jonathan White: He’s lying in bed with my mom hunting, just cup caking. Were like, dad you’re going to go in the morning? I ain’t going I got to hang, I got to stay home, whatever you got your cup caking. So I guess guys will do that from time to time.
Dillon White: I’ve never done that. So Johnathan cooks them, we take them to him in bed. He’s all, he eats them every single one off his plate all mud hen. He comes back in the kitchen, we all are sitting there, we were laughing. I don’t know who it was me, you.
Jonathan White: And RJ and figure who else were in the kitchen? Just laughing.
Dillon White: He comes back for seconds. Well Jonathan goes, well, you liked that mud hen, don’t you? Oh, I knew something was different about those birds, they’re just different.
Jonathan White: I knew it was, there was something off, I knew there was something like no you didn’t.
Dillon White: We put I don’t know 10 breasts on his plate to eat, ate all of them.
Ramsey Russell: Did he go ahead and get seconds after you talk?
Jonathan White: He started to and then basically what I found out is if you don’t tell someone its mud hen they don’t know the difference. They have no idea. It’s a little bit stringier but no different than any other.
Dillon White: There was a mallard duck off of a sewer pond.
Jonathan White: Yeah that was great man. He came back for a second.
Dillon White: Oh man. We got him good and he couldn’t help but laugh because he knew he was had and he would do that joke to someone else. He knew we had him.
Ramsey Russell: When you least expect it, expect he’s probably going to get even with you.
Dillon White: Yeah, We got him good.
Ramsey Russell: Anyway folks, how can anybody listening get in touch with you all? How can they plug into, you all in social media?
Dillon White: We’re @thewhitebros on Instagram and that’s it, that’s us, that’s our lives. I mean, that’s what we do. We run beef cows and we both work full time and we hunt geese and we hunt pigs in the offseason. That’s about the extent of it. And we’ll hunt doves in dove season.
Ramsey Russell: @thewhitebros which is bros, short for brothers, I guess. And they’re on Instagram. Folks, you’ve been listening to Duck Season Somewhere. You’ve been listening to my friends, Jonathan White and his brother, Dillon White. Dillon, you got a career in shrimp peeling if you work at it. I believe that if you just work a little hard on the shrimp peeling, I believe you and Jonathan might have a future in it.
Dillon White: I don’t know.
Jonathan White: Just stick to trying to do geese.
Ramsey Russell: Thank you for listening to Duck Season Somewhere. Look forward to seeing you next time.