We only thought we’d seen and done a lot together until videographer, Jake Latendresse and I went duck hunting in Peru. From nearly 16,000 feet high into the Andes Mountains for a handful of mountain waterfowl species found nowhere else on earth to along the Pacific Ocean at sea-level duck for cinnamon teal and white-cheeked pintail, every day was an absolute stand-alone adventure. But the incredible duck hunting was itself only the spear tip. It was the complete cultural immersion into ways of life we’d never before encountered that left an indelible impression. Jake’s behind-the-camera attention to detail makes him perfect for such adventures, and today he articulates this unique Peru duck hunting experience. Watch the Life’s Short GetDucks: Peru Duck Hunting video on GetDucks YouTube Channel (link below).


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Ramsey Russell: Welcome back to Duck Season Somewhere live in Peru, the wonderful country of Peru. And it’s awesome to be here because I love Peru. But I tell you what, it feels so much more normal than South Africa because I’m finally traveling again with my buddy, the world famous Jake Latendresse. Jake, what do you think about Peru?

Jake Latendresse: Ramsey, it’s good to be back. Peru was a refreshing vacation from life. Peru is a great place. It was similar in a lot of ways to other places we’ve been, but different, more different than not in a lot of ways than places we’ve been.

Ramsey Russell: How was it alike and how was it different?

Jake Latendresse: Well, it was alike in that some of the species that we saw, like the white cheeked pintail and the cinnamon teal, were familiar faces to both of us. But at the same time, the density, the population densities were higher. And then some of the locations along the coastal waterways there seemed to ring a bell, particularly in place somewhere like Australia. You remember, I think that was the first trip we went on together and we went to some of those places down in Australia that were very similar in habitat and vicinity to the saltwater, to the ocean. But the highlight for me was really the high altitude hunt that we did. And the species were different, the culture was different, yet that’s sort of my bread and butter, the high altitude in the mountains, having done lots of big game stuff. So there was a familiar feel there, but I really enjoyed that because of the people we met in the little alpaca farm. And the species were magnificent, particularly, even though it was brief and very limited in terms of how many we saw and the opportunity we had to stop and see the – let me start all over there. What was that duck?

Ramsey Russell: I don’t know, where you’re going though.

Jake Latendresse: The duck on the river.

Ramsey Russell: Oh, yeah, the torrent duck.

Jake Latendresse: So, the torrent duck was very special because we got to stop to see a couple of them and they gave me time enough to get the camera out and film a species that I had never seen before. Really hadn’t even thought about the torrent duck. But once I was looking through the lens and zoomed in on those ducks sitting perched on those rocks in a heavy Whitewater river, I thought that was really cool. That was a beautiful duck.

Ramsey Russell: The first time I came to Peru has been now a long time, almost like over a decade. And you could hunt those birds and we did hunt them, but it was spot and talk. I mean, we literally walked around the rim of the river glass. And to me there, I just asked Ranieri and Dwight there’s got to be some torrent duck. And they said, oh, maybe here you go there’s a torrent duck. It’s funny that I get asked about that species of duck so many times. Well, I’d go to Peru, but can’t hunt the torrent duck no more. And I don’t get it. I did it because I was here and it’s a fun hunt, it’s a cool species. But to me, it’s kind of a merganzer. And how I recognize that bird sitting in that rock is his posture looks like a cormorant. Do you know what it’s like a penguin is sticking way up high like that and they move like a penguin. I think they’re a cool bird and I wish they closed them for just purely political, ignorant type reasons. They’re everywhere. They’re plentiful and they are interesting life history. But to me, it just really, I like that, I like those other mountain species a lot better. I get it, if you’re wanting to collect them all. But I just, I don’t really get it. But one thing I’d never seen while hunting them, though, you remember we were driving, we were way up the mountain, now, the last we saw was the torrent ducks, I saw one. Actually, I saw 3 or 4. And I said, stop. Well, by the time we got out and got the reed set up, they had a little family, cohort of male, female and their offspring had jumped in the water and what I couldn’t believe is how quickly they were floating down that river. You couldn’t run and keep up. How do you describe it? Like a –

Jake Latendresse: Rubber ducky rose.

Ramsey Russell: That’s exactly what they look like, bobbing through the rocks and just going along nonchalantly down the river quicker than you could walk or run.

Jake Latendresse: They were safer to do that than they would be to get up and fly away or run away or whatever that I mean, because half the time as they were bobbing, weaving through the rapids in the river, they would disappear and reappear, disappear and reappear. So, yeah, they’re much safer and much quicker to get away that way. So it was a definitely a different duck. But like you said, as I’ve lived in Colorado for 31 years and spent a lot of time in the mountains, they do remind me of common mergansers that do the same exact thing in the upper rivers, upper reaches of the rivers in Colorado as well. So, yeah, I think you’re right there.

Ramsey Russell: They’re not truly a merganser, but they’re somehow kissing cousins and I find it interesting, if you read up on them, they’re largest natural competitor for that niche they occupy are trout, because they eat the same, they eat trout foods –

Jake Latendresse: They eat nymphs. They crawl the botton and move rocks and –

Ramsey Russell: Nymphs, wigeons, little fish. That is one reason I wish, I don’t know if you noticed it in your film, but on their, like, on what be the wrist and the bend of their wings, they’ve got these little spurs and they’ll use them to fight each other, I’ve heard, but they use them to – when they’re on the bottom of that river, think trout stream run bottom up river, they can put their wings down, they can anchor themselves in place in the current or they can crawl and navigate through the rocks as they’re predating whatever they’re eating down there.

Jake Latendresse: Like a bat would walk on the ground.

Ramsey Russell: Like a bat would walk on the ground. Exactly like that. What –

Jake Latendresse: I think the other species that really stuck out in my head. I mean, the Puna teal was really cool and they’re beautiful, but like we’ve talked about many times, it was very similar to the silver teal.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah.

Jake Latendresse: That we’ve seen in Argentina many times. So it was a familiar face. But that –

Ramsey Russell: Crested duck.

Jake Latendresse: The crested duck was special. And I didn’t realize how cool or special it was going to be until you got your specimen and when you brought it back to that little alpaca farmhouse and we started taking photos. This may, it probably has nothing to do with the species that I was familiar with, but with the purple speculum and the coloration of the wings, the first thing I thought of was a gadwall.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah.

Jake Latendresse: I don’t know why it’s much bigger than a gadwall, it seemed like. But that was really the first thing that came to my mind. But I thought that bird was really cool.

Ramsey Russell: They don’t look like much sitting out there feeding. They just look like a brown, mottled type duck. Their plumage, the way the colors are done, it’s like a marbled teal. That’s the only place I can put it. Slightly different colors. They got a real butterscotch colored chest, dark head, little crest, kind of like a green winged crest. But when you pop open those wings, that bronze, that brightly bronze colored wing is just – I don’t know why I’m so enamored with that bird, but I am. More than the Puna teal, more than the torrent duck, more than the sharp winged teal, more even than the Andean goose, which will be a close second, is just something about that real terrestrial goose. The only ones we saw on the water were way up against the shallow. They got longer legs. They were standing to where their body wasn’t wet. Did you notice? You touched that bird? You notice how chicken like his feathers are?

Jake Latendresse: Yeah. It was really –

Ramsey Russell: Not goose like at all.

Jake Latendresse: No, it was maybe softer.

Ramsey Russell: Not as oily, not as – it’s like loose, like a chicken’s the only thing I can put it in frame and I think it’s because he doesn’t have to oil as much to be in the water. That’s all I can think of.

Jake Latendresse: We’re talking about the Andean goose.

Ramsey Russell: Andean goose, yeah.

Jake Latendresse: Yeah. Those are really cool, too. I mean, I think different.

Ramsey Russell: Did you even think how long his legs are when he’s out there walking.

High-Altitude Wonders: The Unique Ecology of the Andes Mountains

But they’re out in these alpine meadows way up high in the Andes Mountains, which was pretty unusual, at least for me, it was.

Jake Latendresse: And different in the beak design through evolution to do whatever it is they do when they eat and they graze in those alpine meadows to differentiate the species that we saw at 14,000ft to 16,000ft were different in that they had different habits, life habits than most traditional ducks that we as Americans are used to. Like you said that Andean goose when you think of a goose or waterfowl, you think of water and where they spend their life, most of their life in the water. But I was surprised to see those Andean geese in the habits that they were in the habitat that they were and also that they weren’t really flocked up while they were a lot of them. They were mostly in pairs and small family groups. And I don’t know if that’s that time of the year or if that’s their typical life history pattern. But it was kind of, it was neat, you could look out an alpine meadow and see 2 here and 2 over here. There’s a few times we saw, I think we saw 2 flocks of over a dozen maybe in a group, but that was pretty much it. But you could see them from a long ways away because they’re these white, from a distance they look similar, the coloration is like a snow goose, but they’re out in these alpine meadows way up high in the Andes Mountains, which was pretty unusual, at least for me, it was.

Ramsey Russell: All those species we shot that day were between 14,000ft and 15,000ft, almost 16,000ft. But I mean, we were way on up there, man, that’d be like the top of Uncompahgre in Colorado is where we were playing around.

Jake Latendresse: Or even higher, really at the top. I mean, our highest mountains in Colorado are 14,300ft. Those are the biggest ones we have. So even where you shot the teal, the Puna teal and the speckled teal and the crested duck was really at the top of the mountain, the highest mountains in Colorado.

Ramsey Russell: That’s crazy, isn’t it? We’re out there duck cunning at those high elevations.

Jake Latendresse: That’s what got me the most. Particularly when I put the drone up and then I could get a really good visual on the environment that we were in. And man, I was flying that drone. It was like a surreal experience. Like I was flying a plane, a virtual plane across these the Andes Mountains and the high rigid peaks in the background with these big blue lakes in the alpine meadows full of different duck species and other, even other shorebirds, that was a really neat and unique experience. And I’m sure we’re going to talk about how you hunted them and what differentiates that from the traditional waterfowl hunting methods. But I think that’s something that stands out and it’s something that people should – you don’t have to because it’s a free world and think and do whatever you want. But I think people should really look at that and consider accepting that as a way to harvest these birds, because really, that’s the best way to do it.

Ramsey Russell: Oh, let’s go there, because when you start getting to these mountain species, you’re looking at a very niched and not, I’d say, low population in terms of distribution. And it’s not the kind of bird you go after 20 or 30 or bag limit. You need a pair, a nice adult breeding pair. And I’ve had clients and know a lot of serious, very serious bird collectors that when they go after those type species, they bring a 22 long rifle or 22 short. It’s just one trigger pull, pop. They’re not hunting with shotguns. It is about a collection. And the world’s a lot bigger than our own backyards. And we all grew up duck hunting with decoys and calls and being well hidden. But these aren’t the only birds. These 4 species up here in the mountain of Peru are not the only birds. When you go after some of these species in Mongolia or other places, that’s exactly how they’re hunted and they’re never going to decoy. In South Africa, we got the beaten bushes in South Africa, Jake, and some of those species just don’t, they don’t decoy. If you’re going to kill one, you’ve got to get up to them and pull the trigger. It’s just a jump shooter, a spot and stalk, which is kind of rewarding in and of itself. I mean, I enjoy it all. I love to shoot birds over decoys, but I do enjoy getting up in a new environment and hunting a species that’s not a mallard duck and doesn’t behave like a mallard duck, doesn’t know a mallard duck, don’t speak the same language. I really kind of enjoy that.

Jake Latendresse: I agree, Ramsey. I mean I just like you did. I grew up a traditionalist in the south, duck hunting for wood ducks and mallards and pintails and gadwalls and wigeons, the decoy and doing the spot and stalk thing. The first time I saw that, it kind of reminded me of my childhood, because I used to go jump, shoot levees just to be able to kill some before school in the morning. And it was kind of like that as an adult. You look at it and you go, well I mean, that’s not really how we duck hunt. But we didn’t come here to duck hunt the way we duck hunt. We came here to duck hunt the way they duck hunt. And if you don’t accept that and understand the difference and the traditional ways that they hunt these species, then you’re really not getting the full effect of what you’re here to do and who you’re doing it with.

Ramsey Russell: If you’re a true bird collector, that 22 long rifle is superior to a shotgun because it’s one little bullet hole. You can shoot them at a longer distance, it’s less damage to the hide and –

Jake Latendresse: It’s quieter.

Ramsey Russell: It’s quieter. it’s a long ways to go to bang out a, pick a species, to bam, pull a 12 gauge and end up just mangling the bird and that can happen. And so anyway, it’s just a different experience. And if you fall off, I tell people all the time that are collecting or think they are, be careful, it’s a slippery slope. You’re going to have to get way out of your element to accumulate all those little beautiful waterfowl for your mantle. But that’s okay. I like it. It seems like 2 and a half months ago that when we got off the plane in Lima, it slept 2 hours and went up in the mountains. But that day in the mountains, it’s like a month of experience we got. I mean, first off, it was hours down that bumpy road, but do you remember driving up and I don’t know where we were, that little dirt road village and those folks were skinning dinner on the side of the road right there in downtown. Whatever wide spot in the road that was skinning that llama.

Jake Latendresse: Yeah, that you know –

Ramsey Russell: That’s not something you see every day.

Jake Latendresse: No, that was classic National Geographic content right there where these are mountain people. They do what they do. They ranch llamas, they ranch alpacas, they ranch sheep for the wool and the meat. And they were just doing it on the side of the road like they thought it was funny that we stopped to watch them and take pictures because they’re just preparing their food.

Ramsey Russell: Another day in the mountain for them.

Jake Latendresse: Exactly.

Ramsey Russell: And we stopped, and that last stop we just stopped to grab that bird, boom, shoot that bird. And then the dad invited us to come into the house and very simple dwelling way up in the middle of nowhere mountains, these people dig up sod, dry it and burn it in that wood burning stove we saw. And to me, that was just, that was incredible walking into that little house where they farm, they grow sheep and alpacas, probably not many, and sell the wool down at a market similar to what we went to today before lunch. That was, man, you want to talk about crawling up into it, such simple people. And you and I said the same thing. They kind of got it figured out.

Jake Latendresse: I mean the colors, the people, their language, these are mountain people. And it’s much different than like down in Argentina or down in the flatlands where there’s gauchos ranching horses or cattle or whatever it is. These are mountain people.

Ramsey Russell: Walk.

Jake Latendresse: Yeah, that walk. And survive at high altitude. I mean, I remember actually feeling weird, my mentality felt weird. Like, there were times I spent a little time at altitude and I’ve been twice to 17,000ft on different occasions. But it was a long time since I had been at that altitude. And being much older now than I was when I first went up there and in way better shape back then, I had, I remember thinking I had a little confusion at times at that altitude and certainly was much more labored breathing than I remember it being before. And also obviously coming from sea level or even coming from Colorado, going up to that altitude that quickly, I could definitely feel the effects of it. And that’s a whole experience within itself. if you haven’t been to altitude, that’s something you definitely need to prepare for the – you can get altitude sickness at that level. It starts at 12,000ft. And I think going to 15,000ft or 16,000ft is a completely different atmosphere, almost than what you’re used to. So when you come here to do this hunt, definitely prepare yourself for that kind of experience because it’s different. You got to stay hydrated, that’s for sure.

Ramsey Russell: Jake I love traveling for a lot of different reasons and we’ll talk about it, but me looking at the birds through binoculars over a shotgun, trying to get the trigger pull, you’re watching the whole experience through a camera lens, very critical. But it’s like you just take that one day up in the mountains, you got a lot done. I mean, it wasn’t just filming the spot and stalk. I mean, you flew the drone, you did stuff. In that environment, what, some of the B roll, some of the scenery, some of the little supporting footage you get. What are you looking for in a situation like that? What do you remember filming in that particular scenario?

Behind the Lens: A Filmmaker’s Journey in the Wild

As a filmmaker and particularly for wildlife or human activities and in a life history form, I’m looking for something different, something that’s going to stand out.

Jake Latendresse: Yeah, as a filmmaker and particularly for wildlife or human activities and in a life history form, I’m looking for something different, something that’s going to stand out. And when you’re spot and stalking, I’m filming you basically walking and sneaking up on a bird. But I’m also watching the birds to see if they’re going to do something different or like when we pulled up on that flock of Andean geese up on the hillside there above the vehicle, I was excited because I put my camera in slow motion mode and I knew they were going to fly at some point because they were a bit wary. And my objective was to get them flying, walking and then flying as a family group in slow mo, just to see their wing patterns, just to get that type of cinematic footage of wild animals in their element. And I’m always looking for something different, particularly birds up close, birds in there and in their element or them doing something different, whether it’s mating or fighting or a coot fighting a crested duck over a weed or 2 teal, 2 male teal fighting over a hen or whatever it is. Those are the kinds of things that I’m looking for because my objective is to capture something different so that it’s compelling when the viewer watches it, when it’s all, when the final cut comes out, I just want people – I want people to look at it and appreciate it because it’s something they’ve never seen before.

Ramsey Russell: That’s something because we were only hunting ones and 2s, 4 species, whatever, 7 or 8 birds total. And we really made time to film a lot of the species life history. You remember, like the Puna teal, the Andean geese. I think you got the torrent ducks. We really did spend quite a bit of time just sitting quietly and letting you film some of those species doing what they do.

Jake Latendresse: I think we’re on the same page there where when we go to these different places, we know that, okay, your objective to be here is to harvest one so that we can look at them up close from an anatomical and physiological perspective or biological perspective, but at the same time, capturing them doing their thing without being spooked in their natural environment is something that’s really important, because a lot of these species have never really been documented properly. And with the right equipment, we have the opportunity to showcase these species doing what they’re doing. And like we’ve talked about before, Ramsey. I mean, I think you say it best, they’re similar in a lot of ways, because ducks are ducks. Teal or teal. Mallard DNA is mallard DNA and pintails are pintails. But at the end of the day, they look different. And so when we get to capture them in their natural environment, I think the things that run through our head are things like, wow, man, they do act like teal or they sound like blue winged teal or the pintail whistle. Pintail from this part of the world whistles like the pintail, the northern pintails do. And so when we recognize the commonalities and the parallels between this different species around the world, that brings us home. And that’s what so compelling to us as viewers, because we’ve never seen it before, but we recognize it and that makes it interesting to us.

Ramsey Russell: But again, to your creativity, it’s like the last morning we hunted, we went to cinnamon teal we went to a new spot they called chasma. And from the truck, just at the crack of dawn, walking through all that yellow succulent into that shallow water, it immediately felt enchanting. We needed wind, we had no wind. We needed wind. It was like slick mirror. The cascading mountains to the east, the mountains to the west all reflected on that water. And I felt like I was walking in a fairy tale. And you took it to a new level, because after we’d gotten some birds, it was photo time. And, man, some of the photos you took were just utterly amazing. I mean, I could feel it. But you, again, you looking through the lens, you see it. You see, okay, now, this opportunity.

Jake Latendresse: I mean, the mirrored images that I was seeing from – I was, what, probably 100 yards, 70, 80 to 100 yards away behind you, back towards the sun. And the ducks were coming from the west and the east and sometimes the north. And I could see the reflections. I mean, there were thousands and thousands of shorebirds, flamingos, little piper type birds. And I could see the reflection on the water and I just thought, God, this is unbelievable. And then when you guys were walking around on that really low lying island that you were on, when you stood up, I could see your reflection just like a mirror. And so as a cinematographer or photographer, I recognized those unique visuals. And you do your best to try to capture them on camera. And it was very easy because the sky was blue. there were very few clouds in the sky. The sun was just popping up, so we had that golden hour of light and it just created this palette of colors that was that was just obviously something that was very creative. I didn’t really create it. I just captured it on camera, I mean, that came from somewhere else.

Ramsey Russell: That’s awesome. Why you think those people up in the mountains, that little mountain family, kind of had it figured out? I mean think about it, Jake. Even down here, even with us working all day, every day, we still can’t escape the news cycle. Hurricane Ida, the Kabul and these folks are sitting on the side of mountain, ain’t got a care in the world, they just get up in the morning, go take care of their sheep and cook that bread they fed us.

Jake Latendresse: Kachonga, I think it was kachonga, it was like a waffle cake, but better. I mean, they were –

Ramsey Russell: Cook the simply to be cooked.

Jake Latendresse: They were so kind to invite us into their homes and give us the opportunity to share that experience with them. To them, they were trying to be nice, just like you would invite someone, let’s say you stop and help someone fix a flat tire on the side of the road in America or you meet someone at a restaurant and all of a sudden you got, it’s a small world because you have mutual friends or what it is. And then you invite them into your home to be kind to them and to give them some offerings that they’ve never experienced before. That’s what those people did for us. And it all started because Ranieri had a previous experience with that man who was walking from town and he gave him a ride home. He was carrying a big box that he had purchased an item in a store in town. He was walking home with it on his shoulder, on his head and Ranieri gave him a ride home. And that’s what initiated the friendship and the trust that allowed you and I to go in on Ranieri’s coattail into this home. And as we sat there and absorbed this experience, it became a lifelong memory for us, because who gets to go into an alpaca farmer’s house and have 3 of his daughters cook kachonga waffle cakes for us and drink their coffee and sit at their home. And we’re sitting here looking around in this room. Their bedroom is one big room and their entire family sleeps in there individual –

Ramsey Russell: 8 of them.

Jake Latendresse: 8 of them sleep in individual beds. And their kitchen, living room and gathering room is all the same room itself. And we’re sitting there on this old, beat up wooden table that wouldn’t even qualify as a picnic table in a state park in America. And we’re appreciating –

Ramsey Russell: Sitting on alpaca.

Jake Latendresse: Sitting on alpaca blankets as seat cushions. And we’re sitting there looking at this like, God, are we spoiled or what? These people have very little of nothing. We have everything that we want and we complain about not having things in life. Toilet paper, for God’s sake. And these people are literally sharing this experience with us. And we were humbled to our knees because of what little they had. And I remember thinking, God, how lucky these people are to be so poor.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah, how lucky they are to be so poor. They had relatively nothing compared to any of us and yet they gave us the best of every single thing they had. And it just, humbling is a good word, but I felt rewarding just having to, got to go in there and visit with them.

Jake Latendresse: I’ll never forget that 30 minutes we spent with those people. And Ranieri we’re going to send the photos of that family. We took the time to take family photos with this family that we didn’t even know. And they put their arms around us when we gathered there. When we were leaving and even their dog liked us in the end.

Ramsey Russell: I forgot about that yapping dog.

Jake Latendresse: And it would be an honor. I may or may not ever go back into that home. But if I get that photo to Ranieri and he sends it to them on a printed canvas and they hang it on their wall in their home and it sits there crooked or straighter, however it ends up in their home. It would be a great honor for me to know that that picture is hanging in their house.

Ramsey Russell: I think they’d love to have it, too, because that’s one thing you go into a lot of homes around the world, you see family photos. There was no nothing in there. They just worked. They’re simple people. And I think if we brought a stretch canvas or gave it to Ranieri to hang up, I believe they’d hang it on one of those blue walls and be just as proud as they could be to have it.

Jake Latendresse: I would be proud. I would probably walk in there. If I ever go back there again and had the privilege to go inside that house and see it hanging on their wall, I probably would come to tears over it.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah. And then on the other hand, we went down to the coast, we hunted. What a strange, the contrast from 16,000ft to going for hours through the Atacama Desert, just like sand dunes, motocross riders. Dream come true for hours.

Jake Latendresse: I mean, it’s like a Mad Max film.

Ramsey Russell: Like a Mad Max film. Nothing. And then, bam, you’re in this town and there’s sugarcane and rice and potatoes and agriculture.

Jake Latendresse: Chickens.

Ramsey Russell: Chickens galore. And we talk about some chickens now, because that was one of my funniest stops of the trip. we shot the ducks. We went out, we shot ducks on several locations. But then one day we wrapped up quick, took a shower and went north to go see that bull fight and the cock fighting farm and all that good stuff there. And, man I don’t know what I was expecting, but I wasn’t quite expecting all that. That was a trip. And just even though economically, I mean, this was a vast 3rd or 4th generation estancia, very – I mean, nowhere in the world you go, folks, does many people have a bull ring in their backyard. They’ll see a lot of people or a cockfighting ring that’ll see a bunch of people. I mean have world championship type stuff that, that’s a backyard they have. Not to mention the, those ponies that are – He showed us the awards, the trophies of the very best in the whole country of Peru. But again, they just rolled out this level of hospitality and red carpet that almost was overwhelming. Their family showed up. Their kids showed up. Matador from Columbia showed up. They went and pulled some of these animals out and just gave us the full thing. What were you expecting? What do you think about all that?

Ancient Traditions: The Soul of South American Animal Sports

And some of the horses that they showed us were some of the best. And even the fighting roosters that they had were bred for their DNA. And these are ancient activities that go deep into the soul of South America.

Jake Latendresse: I mean, the thing I got out of it that I would relate to these listeners or the viewers of our videos is it’s like field trial or hunt test Labradors that are bred for their DNA, that are bred for certain traits and characteristics in their DNA. And I think a lot of people probably have a misconception, including us until now, about bullfighting or cockfighting, because it’s not traditional to us. It’s not a part of our history or our heritage. Yet when he showed us the trophies, the pictures, and told us about the history of his bulls, it was like that. It was like these were champions. These were like the greatest Labradors in the world to Americans. They were equivalent to that and these were the best bulls in the world. And some of the horses that they showed us were some of the best. And even the fighting roosters that they had were bred for their DNA. And these are ancient activities that go deep into the soul of South America. Particularly, we are in Peru and you can’t deny that tradition to them. And to be critical or to be judgmental over it is a display of ignorance, because you don’t know what it means to these people. It’s much more than what we see from animal rights activists or critical theories on these activities, because there’s animals involved. It’s just something that’s misjudged. And it became very apparent, I think, both of us, when we left that farm.

Ramsey Russell: Well, we filmed that one practice bull fight. The animal wasn’t killed. In fact, it was one of his good fighting bulls that had gotten blind from fighting with a bull out in the pasture. He took us and showed us and he didn’t so he took it out and showed us, here’s this fight. Here’s what’s going on. And I mean, I got to be honest with you, I don’t understand stabbing with that big, long spear on the horse. I don’t understand that. I don’t understand anything about bullfighting except that it’s a drama unfolding and the blood comes out. And, man, I showed it on social media because that’s what it is. And whoo. For the first time, I was on the outside looking in because I have gotten people that did not understand duck hunting. I have had those people come after me in social media. I’m not going to quit killing ducks. I’m not going to deny my tradition and my heritage because certain people don’t understand it. But for the first time, here I am a duck hunter showing this Spanish tradition that stretches back for centuries. And now here are all these duck hunters criticizing me for having the audacity to the show and I’m like, wow. And then at lunch our host was a world renowned matador, retired now, he always wanted to raise these animals and he does it, some of the best bulls in the world. And he had invited one of the top Peruvian matadors, who was a Colombian by birth, to come. And this whole discussion around the table about Ranieri pointed out that they didn’t understand why someone like me or you would travel around the world shooting ducks. I would never want to kill a duck, they said. But once he explained it to them as kind of, sort of equal to this tradition in terms of bullfighting, they go, oh –

Jake Latendresse: There was a pair of them.

Ramsey Russell: Right, it there exactly. But it was just kind of, it was one of those little surprises. the world’s a lot bigger than our backyard, like Mark Twain said, you just don’t gain perspective by vegetating in your own little corner of earth. And I just didn’t expect to come to Peru and go to an exhibition bullfight and walk away with this thought that, wow, this bullfighting that I don’t really understand culturally or traditionally is in this day and age in the year 2021, is very similar to my own tradition of duck hunting. I just didn’t. And it took some duck hunters, being critical of it in social media, for me to fully appreciate that.

Jake Latendresse: I mean, let’s be transparent about all this. What’s the difference between that? I mean, there are differences, don’t get me wrong. But when you compare the parallels to, say, shooting a whitetail buck, a giant whitetail buck with a bow and arrow, you double lung it or you shoot it in the heart and you get excited because it was the biggest deer you’ve ever seen in your life, then you have to look at yourself. If you question bullfighting or cockfighting, you have to look at yourself and ask yourself, well, what’s really the difference there? Because I did it with a sword in my hands or because it ran off and I didn’t see it go down or what’s the difference? Or shooting a bull elk, a trophy bull elk. And let’s not lie to ourselves here. It’s not like we can’t go to the store and buy any kind of meat that we want in America. you can’t say that you went elk hunting just for the food. You went there because it’s a sport and you enjoy doing it and you shoot one with a 300 Win Mag or even a bow with a big broadhead or an 80 pound compound bow or whatever it is. What’s the difference? It’s a traditional heritage activity that we enjoy doing. That’s what the Peruvians were doing with bullfighting and cockfighting. And we make judgment on them because the media and anti animal rights activists had painted that picture. And they paint the same exact picture that they do to them. They paint the same picture on us when we go elk hunting or deer hunting or duck hunting or whatever. So let’s not pretend that we’re better than someone because we misunderstand something. Cause we’re not.

Ramsey Russell: That’s my point, Jake. And that was just. I did not expect to come and expect – My only regret is not knowing I have nothing to do when I get home, not knowing that there were a big bullfight in Lima tomorrow night, else I’d have scheduled to stay. And our host up there in northern Peru invited us to come as his guest to Lima and experience a real bullfight. He sells them in lots of 6 bulls. I’d love to go see it. Man, I would love just to see more about this wonderful culture. I’d love to see it.

Jake Latendresse: I want to go see a cockfight.

Ramsey Russell: I do, too.

Jake Latendresse: Like, I want to go, like, what’s the difference between that and a UFC fight? I mean again, let’s not lie to ourselves here, man. We’re humans and humans, by nature, want to see violence. That’s why we watch NASCAR car crashes, we watch football for the collisions across the middle. Who doesn’t like to watch a good fight in baseball, at home plate or at the pitcher’s man, between a pitcher and a batter because he threw the ball too close to his chin. I mean, we, for whatever it is, it’s in our innate DNA to maybe not enjoy, but to gain aggressive excitement when something violent or something big dramatic occurs. And I found myself feeling the same way. They brought those roosters out to fight, but they put blunt neoprene spurs on them.

Ramsey Russell: Like boxing gloves.

Jake Latendresse: Exactly. They were boxing gloves with headgear on. It was a sparring match. And they did that to show us what it was about, how the DNA was bred for design, so that certain types of roosters had a fighting style that made them better than another rooster in a match. Just like you would see Conor McGregor and an opponent and an opponent in an octagon in a UFC match.

Ramsey Russell: Well, as he was describing a lot of his up and coming prize fighters, he described them in those terms and, like, what he was saying is, like, they really don’t have a lightweight or heavyweight weight class that a lightweight can match up, a different height, a different length, a different body mass can match up, because it’s all about the heart of the rooster. It’s his fighting style and his speed and agility and his endurance and how they go after it. they don’t have weight classes in cock fight. They just throw them out there.

Jake Latendresse: But they did, remember, he told us they had, they weigh those birds and they fight against each other based on body weight. Now, it could be a lean, tall rooster fighting a short, stocky rooster that weighed the same exact amount. But they do have weight classes and they have championships for those different weight classes. And I’m sitting. All this stuff is registering in my head like, this is like. I mean, maybe that’s, ancestrally speaking, maybe all these forms of battle. That’s a challenge. It’s a battle between a human and a beast in the bullfighting ring or a human versus human in a UFC ring or a rooster versus rooster in a cockfight. And, yeah, I’m not going to sit here and deny the fact that it’s not for everyone. And I get why someone might not want to watch that, but to criticize someone else for having that innate excitement when it happens to me is just being judgmental. And somewhere down the line, you could look at someone, a critical person, that’s pointing that out. Somewhere down the line, you can find hypocrisy because maybe they like something that’s not for everyone either. I mean, it’s just you do you and me do me.

Ramsey Russell: One thing I wondered if we were walking up the aisles, looking at all those freaking roosters, is none of them had spurs. And I asked them, where are the spurs at? And they cut them all off. And the reason they put sometimes metal, sometimes plastic, depending on where the event, what the local rules are, is because all things equal, those 2 roosters, short, tall, heavy, fat, whatever, paired up when they put those sets of spurs, they’re equal sets of spurs like boxing gloves. And all things are equal. Now it comes down to the heart and the agility and the fitness of that particular cock to fight.

Jake Latendresse: Exactly.

Ramsey Russell: And I’m like, God, this is insane. I mean, I really kind of got into it, I’m not going to lie to you. And those people are so, man, they got trainers coming in, they’ve got fitness coaches coming in and training these roosters. And his logbook is immaculate of how he keeps up with even some of the chickens he told, he said, well these chickens here, if their brother, if they’re offspring, don’t win, they’ll end up in the stew pot but if they win, then we know we got good genetics. We need the hen side, too. I couldn’t believe there was that much into it.

Jake Latendresse: I mean, even driving out to the pastures where all the fighting bulls were of different age classes from calves to adults, breeder bulls it kind of reminded me of Africa in the Cape buffalo world where and even their instinctual defensive mechanisms built in those bulls. I mean, they were fine with the truck riding around, but it wasn’t like we were going to step outside and go take a leak in front of one of those bulls because if you did, you’re probably going to get charged. I mean, they had that instinctual fighting reaction and they weren’t – It’s not like they were unhappy, but it’s like there’s a fire burning inside those bulls-

Ramsey Russell: To go hurt something.

Jake Latendresse: And I found that to be very fascinating and very wild. And there’s something about it that ignited some energy and some adrenaline in me. Just like any guy that likes aggressive activities, be it football or whatever, hockey or sports I felt like it was the same kind of parallel, to be honest with you.

Ramsey Russell: We went up and looked at that exhibition bull before the fight, before the first cold beer. And I walked up those stairs and looked down at chute and his niece was like, be careful. I’m thinking, man, this woman’s been raised around this stuff. She’s scared to death of it. And I couldn’t even see the bull for all the dust. I’ve never seen a Brahma bull or a black Angus beef bull pawing the ground and snorting and snot coming out. Him swinging his head, just looking to hook something. And then when the dust settled, I say, picks up a good. And when they opened up the gate, I expect. I don’t know what I expected, but I’d expect him to come out trying to kill everything in sight.

Jake Latendresse: Oh, dude, he was –

Ramsey Russell: I mean, I figured he’d just walk out and kind of he come out, running like he bust the gate open with his horns and his snot blowing out his nose and just everybody with a flag. It was on the court getting him going, was running behind that cover, because he come out, knocked him head. I didn’t see that.

Jake Latendresse: Like Mike Tyson coming, getting in the ring. He’s just looking for he’s –

Ramsey Russell: Heck, yeah, land punches.

Jake Latendresse: Just fired. It’s like the old cartoon of the blue bull where it had a ring in his nose and the smoke coming out of his nose and he’d take the chalk and sharpen up his horn tips like a pool cue. I mean, it was that – it’s real. It actually is real. And it’s not just a postcard or a cartoon.

Ramsey Russell: And they got all the – they got Ranieri and they brought out, started bringing out some of them cows and them lesser bull they kept wanting me and you to go out there, and I’m thinking, I ain’t have 3 or 4 beers. I ain’t about to go out there.

Jake Latendresse: I kept thinking, I don’t right now, I don’t have, I’m in Peru. And the last thing I really want to do is get hurt in Peru because I’m pretty sure my health insurance ain’t going to cover me down here even if I didn’t get killed. I mean, it’s pretty obvious they were ready to help defend you and distract a bull if he got you on the ground. But one little swipe of those horns in between your legs there and your family jewels will be injected.

Ramsey Russell: We talking at a high pitch the rest of his life.

Jake Latendresse: We talking like Mickey Mouse.

Ramsey Russell: They kept saying, come on. I’m like, you ain’t got enough beer. I’m good.

Jake Latendresse: I’m good. I got to film all this.

Ramsey Russell: I’m happy right here. What were some of your favorite foods we had down here? We really did get a good sampling of food while we were here.

Jake Latendresse: I mean, I think all of it –

Ramsey Russell: All of it, right.

Jake Latendresse: Even the kachonga up in the mountains of those people, it’s as simple as flour and baking soda and sugar and fried in oil. I mean, it’s a funnel cake, but that was really good. I mean, all of it. All of it’s good. The corn when you sit down for a meal in a restaurant, they always bring in – In America, you might get a bowl of popcorn or a bowl of nachos with salsa or something like that. And here you get this deep, these fried corn kernels and it’s almost like the origination of corn nuts, but it’s a little bit different.

Ramsey Russell: It’s like popcorn popped inside the kernel. Delicious.

Jake Latendresse: They’re soft. They’re so good, like, I was looking for those things, trying to figure out how we could do this at home. But it’s a special type of corn they have here and their corn kernels are so big that it’s easy for them to do. So I guess you’re just going to have to come to Peru to experience that. But that was pretty good.

Tradition and Respect: Understanding the Cultural Significance

It’s a connection. It’s not just turning them out to be slaughtered, man. There’s a love and a connection and a respect for the tradition and the honor of it all.

Ramsey Russell: It was pretty dang good. One thing I forgot to say when we talk about those prize bulls, we went in to eat lunch and I really did enjoy that lunch they fed us. It was different steaks and stuff like that. Just all that meal they served us, that was the hottest hot sauce until that point when people say that spicy, I say, oh, dad, I get you. And it wasn’t that spicy. When that lady said, this is spicy, I’m like, yeah, buddy, it was spicy. It lit me up. But getting back to the bulls, they raise them, they fight them, they kill them. All them bulls end up eating a big old steak, cooking afterwards, but you know what surprised me the most about that? It was when we went on the. Inside that courtyard at the estancia where we ate lunch and they had those bulls heads mounted on the terrace. And he pointed to one and said, that was the first bull I ever fought. And he pointed to another and said, that was our best bull breeder bull ever and he pointed to one and said, that was one of the most, whatever, notorious bulls ever bred in Peru. Wow. I mean, it’s like a tribute to these animals. It’s a connection. It’s not just turning them out to be slaughtered, man. There’s a love and a connection and a respect for the tradition and the honor of it all. That’s just something I want to point out. It wasn’t until I saw those bullheads mounted on the man’s patio that I realized, wow.

Jake Latendresse: That was their version of the fighting bull hall of fame.

Ramsey Russell: Exactly what it was.

Jake Latendresse: And they respect those bulls just like a big game hunter, probably more so because of the personal relationship that they had with those bulls raised on that farm and all the awards that they won or the experiences they helped create. But I would liken it to someone that there’s a story behind every deer head and every elk head on every person’s wall in America. And I think that if you wanted, if you could parallel it to anything, it would be similar to that and there’s honor in it.

Ramsey Russell: Speaking of food, if we were driving back down here, down to chasm the other day for that last hunt, we stopped and got what was some unbelievably good chicken noodle soup, I’d call it. But was that not the skinniest drumstick you ever seen?

Jake Latendresse: When you know is a fighting god. Let’s –

Ramsey Russell: If you wonder what happens to all these birds that get killed. And even Ranieri goes. He goes, well, they probably had a fight here last night. What do you think they do with all these chickens?

Jake Latendresse: Let’s call it lean. Not skinny, but lean.

Ramsey Russell: It was everybody. I’d say if you can just – It looked and it was tough, it was muscular, it was strong it wasn’t some big flunk –

Jake Latendresse: It was chewy. You had to chew it off the bone.

Ramsey Russell: Wasn’t no eating it with a spoon, was it?

Jake Latendresse: Even the skin was rubbery. It was really good. And the soup was divine.

Ramsey Russell: Amazing.

Jake Latendresse: The chives we put in it. And again, the deep fried, call it popcorn snack.

Ramsey Russell: Corn nuts. Yeah, really awesome.

Jake Latendresse: Really good. Canchita is what they call.

Ramsey Russell: Canchita. That’s what the corn nuts are. Well, Jake, as always, I enjoyed it. I really, South Africa felt so, I felt so good being in South Africa earlier this month, but I didn’t really feel normal to my old sidekick, Jake was in there recording it and filming it. And I’m almost on this note right here, Jake. One thing I really like about traveling with you, because you’ve traveled to a lot more countries than I’ve had. You have got some experiences. You never run out of stories. I don’t know how many times we – how many trips we’ve been on together. I’m going to say 10. Every time I’m with you, I hear new stories. Plural. Tell me about, you got to share this story. Talk about the time you were somewhere and wanted to go film a jaguar. I got to hear this story again. Because that was a good one. You went to go film a jaguar. Somebody you met was going to film a jaguar.

Jake Latendresse: So I was in Belize and I’d gotten to know this, the waiter at a restaurant that we went to quite a bit. And I asked him, do where I could go film a jaguar? And he said, oh, yeah, I know. So he gave me his phone number and we stayed in touch while I was there. I was there for a couple weeks and he finally told me. He texted me on my phone and said, Jake, I have a jaguar. I have a regular jaguar and a black jaguar. It’s a friend of mine that I know who has a big, high fence area and you can come take photographs of the jaguar. I was like, I’m in, dude. Just tell me where to meet you. So, he came by my room one morning, like, 04:30 in the morning. We went from Belize into Guatemala. We just went straight across the board. There was no border patrol, nothing. We just drove into Guatemala, went up in the mountains. And we’re driving through the mountains. I’m going, this is beautiful. This is cool. I’m really glad I’ve done this. Then he rolls up to this big, immaculate gate, this metal gate with these rock towers built on both sides of it, these pillars and it was an electronic gate. And there were armed guards. There were 3 armed guards there with AK-47s, 45s and 9 millimeters and radios on their shoulders like military almost. And I went, oh, shit. Like, as soon as we rolled up there and I looked past into – I could see through the woods. There was an airstrip back there. And I was just like, oh, my God, please. I was like, no. Let’s go, Vamus. Let’s go. I’m not interested. I don’t want to see the jaguar. And he goes, no, it’s okay, Jake. It’s okay, amigo. No, no. So he pulls up and these armed guards surround the vehicle and he rolls the window halfway down. That’s when it dawned on me, well, he doesn’t really know these people. He just knows of these people. And he said, I don’t know what he told them, but he told him in his language that I was a photographer and I wanted to take photos of these jaguars.

Ramsey Russell: American photographers.

Jake Latendresse: And I’m sitting there going, oh, my God. He’s going to get my neck slit with a knife or machete here. And the guy said. He just shook his finger back and forth. He goes, no, no, go, go. And so I was like, come on, man. Listen to him. Let’s go. So he backs out and we pull away. And while nothing happened and nothing even really came close to happening, I felt like that was a near death experience, because I thought, well, he what he’s telling them out of naivety and he’s just trying to be nice and hospitable to me. He’s telling them, hey, man, my friend Jake here, he’s a photographer. He’s not a DEA agent or anything like that, but he just wants to take pictures of your jaguar, can he come inside your compound? And I’m just going, oh, my God. I’m really glad that nothing happened, because I could have easily disappeared that morning in the Guatemala mountains.

Ramsey Russell: And that’s how you kill time in the truck with Jake when you’re driving 6 hours up a mountain side is endless stories like this. Folks, thank you all for listening to Duck Season Somewhere, see you next time.

[End of Audio]

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