“The sounds of wild geese set me free,” explains Ian Kilpatrick, who’s spent most of his life hunting very near his home in Manitoba. From a cozy basement room adorned with bear, deer, antlers, furs, feathers and other sentimental reminders of their lifestyle, he and son, Cole, describe memorable times, special people, by-gone retrievers. While hunting styles and technologies have changed since the father was the son’s age, their then-and-now stories explain that what it is really all about remains unchanged.
Ramsey Russell: Welcome back to Duck Season Somewhere in Manitoba, north of Winnipeg somewhere in the Interlake region, which is a great big geography. Joining me today are father and son Ian and Cole Kilpatrick. I met these guys, 15, 16 days ago, we were on a pretty kick butt duck goose combo. And the things you learn about people standing around in the early morning waiting on birds to fly and then afterwards at the cafe, never ceased to amaze me. How are you guys doing today?
Ian Kilpatrick: I’m doing real well, thank you.
Cole Kilpatrick: Yeah, I’m doing good.
Ramsey Russell: Ian, I’m going to start with you. I want to ask you this question. Tell me about growing up? Were you born and raised in this area?
Ian Kilpatrick: Well, actually, I was born in Ontario and we moved out to Western Canada in 1964 and we’ve been here in Manitoba since 1972.
Ramsey Russell: How old were you when you all moved out here? How would you have been back then? Child?
Ian Kilpatrick: I was 9, when we moved to Manitoba.
Ramsey Russell: Did you hunt?
Ian Kilpatrick: No.
Ramsey Russell: Did your people hunt?
Ian Kilpatrick: No, they did not. My dad was a United Church Canada minister and wasn’t raised in a hunting family, but when we got here and every kid that I went to school with was raised with guns and with hunting and by the time I was 12, I was so itchy that I just.
Ramsey Russell: Every kid you went to school with hunted something.
Ian Kilpatrick: Every kid. And to be left out of that and not be part of that –
Ramsey Russell: I think you have to be 12 years old in Canada to hunt.
Ian Kilpatrick: Yeah. Here in Manitoba, you got to be 12 to get your hunter safety. I got my hunter safety when I was 15, I got my first shotgun, my dad bought me a little single shot 20 gauge at the local hardware store, I still have it here, too. It’s a little CIL 402 and shotgun and 2 boxes of shells was $49 plus taxes.
Ramsey Russell: But he didn’t hunt.
Ian Kilpatrick: No.
Ramsey Russell: So who’d you hunt with?
Ian Kilpatrick: Well, I started once I turned 16 and the guys were getting their driver’s license, we started hunting with kids from school. And there was one local police officer here in town, his name was Joel Lachlan, he took me out a few times and mostly upland hunting and stuff.
Ramsey Russell: What kind of upland, ruffed grouse? I’ve seen a few ruffed grouse up here.
Deer Hunting Chronicles: Joining the Ranks of Bush Pushing in 1981
First time I hunted with them was in 1981 and opening morning, we went out there was 19 guys.
Ian Kilpatrick: Ruffed grouse and sharp tails. And he was kind of a mentor and then when we got a little bit older, I started deer hunting when I was 18 and I was working for a fella just west of town here and he big time into deer hunting and the old time deer hunting, where they were big gangs pushing bush. And first time I hunted with them was in 1981 and opening morning, we went out there was 19 guys.
Ramsey Russell: There was 19 guys pushing bush, because out in this Parklands area, there’s open ag land and then there’s clumps of bushes and that’s where the deer hang out, how does that work? You all just surround it and push them out to each other?
Ian Kilpatrick: Yeah. These guys had been hunting together for years and they knew the lay of the land, they knew the terrain and they knew where the slews ran through and if a big agricultural field on one side and then a big bush and you would post up on the slough and you would push it from the ag land into that slough and you would have 2 or 3 guys posted on that slough. And with those big bunches of guys like that, they would do big blocks of bush, like 300 acre chunks of forest and it was nothing to see 35 or 40 deer come out the other side, it don’t happen anymore, we don’t do that anymore.
Ramsey Russell: Well, with 19 guys, 35 deer running out, how many deer might you all kill on a great push?
Ian Kilpatrick: Well, it depended because there was always lots of missing because it was running shooting. But the guys that stood out there was a fella I was working for him, his name was Jerry Thompson and that fall in 1981 there, it’s probably not really legal, but hunting with a group like that, you can sign on 4 guys in what they call party hunting. So everybody in that gang signs on together in groups of four and theoretically, one guy would be able to shoot 4, but that fall, he shot 7. He could shoot. And that kind of hunting was very social.
Ramsey Russell: Hunting is very social.
Ian Kilpatrick: Yeah. But it’s changed because now with hunting in tree stands and hunting and archery hunting, it’s much more solitary and with that style of deer hunting, particularly, it was really social because between pushes, you’d like a fire and have coffee and have sandwiches and it was lots of Fun.
Ramsey Russell: Something similar to that in the Deep South, talk about traditional hunting and times change deer hunting has evolved to like what you see on television. And really traditional Deep South hunting was dog hunting, it’s hot, it was thick friars. And so you would line up, draw a stand, line up, cut them off and turn the Beagle hounds loose, those Beagle hounds barking, they can’t catch a deer, but they bark, make a deer nervous and deer would push on out. And same thing, maybe not stretched out running, but they ain’t sitting still a lot of time.
Ian Kilpatrick: No, that’s the big thing. I much prefer the way we hunt now, I’d rather shoot them standing still at 75 yards than running flat out at 250 and I enjoy the way we hunt now and you get to mentor your kids more that way.
Ramsey Russell: That’s a good point.
Ian Kilpatrick: Yeah, because you can be in a stand with them single. Well, that picture up there on the wall is Campbell and his grandpa and that was just out here. Grandpa come and he built a tower stand for the boys and he would sit up there with them and when Campbell shot his first deer, Campbell was up in the stand and Grandpa was actually standing underneath and Campbell was up 8ft off the ground and Grandpa was resting against one of the legs underneath and he couldn’t see as far. And all of a sudden, Campbell started shooting and Grandpa just about crapped his drawers because Grandpa couldn’t see the deer come out. But the smile on that man’s face is what deer hunting is all about.
Ramsey Russell: Exactly right.
Ian Kilpatrick: And that’s my favorite picture, that’s down here, because that guy was the best guy in the world to deer hunt with when you talk, after that year in 1981, when I was hunting with that big game, I started hunting with his son, he’s my father in law now, but his boy was in school with me and Karen is 2 years younger, and I’ve known them, when we moved here in 1972, they lived half a block from the church and they were the second kids I met when we got here. I’ve known those Karen and her brother and her sister since early 1972 and we’ve been friends. And Keith and I hung around all the time and after that year or 2 hunting with that big gang, then I started hunting with these guys with Keith and Barry and Uncle Bill, lots of fun.
Ramsey Russell: Well, you got a single shot shotgun, you started hunting up them birds, were you hunting deer with that single shot back on those push?
Ian Kilpatrick: When I first started, the first year, I was shooting slugs out of a single shot, 20 gauge.
Ramsey Russell: When did you start waterfowl hunting?
Ian Kilpatrick: I was 16. Started hunting with that single 20.
Ramsey Russell: Do you remember your first hunt or enough details about it, like how you hunted, the decoy, where you hunted, what you shot?
Ian Kilpatrick: Well, the one it would have been in 1979, I was 16 and I was hunting with a single 20, 3 of us went out, 2 guys that I went to school with, and we went out, it would be about a mile from where we were hunting yesterday morning with the boys and ducks, thousands of ducks. I was doing some work for the fellow that owned the land and I knew they were there and we’d finished combining it a couple of weeks before and that morning we went out, you could not see through the tornado. We estimated there was between 25,000 and 30,000 mallards in that field, the whole quarter section was covered.
Ramsey Russell: Quarter section, blackwood duck. And you were shooting a single shot?
Ian Kilpatrick: I was shooting a single shot. And the thing that I remember most about that, like the sights and the sounds of something like that, is way outweighs the number of birds that you shoot. The sensory overload from having 30,000 ducks spin around you for 2.5 hours.
Ramsey Russell: It makes my heart beat when 25 of them come and you hear all those things cutting above, we’re all looking straight ahead, the decoy, so we don’t flare them, it’s just hearing that sound come over and the bigger the flock, the more noise it makes.
Ian Kilpatrick: Yeah. And it’s something you don’t ever forget that. The one shooting thing that I remember from that morning is we had shot a bunch of birds and they would spin around and land up on the north end of the quarter and then they’d feed for a while, and then they’d get up and pinwheel around, again, you’d shoot a few more when stragglers come over you and stuff, we happened to look over to our right and there was 3 birds coming in right on the deck, they were about 6ft above this double and they were screaming and they were blue wings.
Ramsey Russell: Oh, really?
Ian Kilpatrick: And there was 3 of them and they were about, I don’t know, maybe 20ft apart in a row and they were screaming right on the deck and I swung ahead of the first one and pulled the trigger and the last one fell down.
Ramsey Russell: I don’t know how that happened.
Ian Kilpatrick: I don’t know how that happens either.
Ramsey Russell: I hate to admit it, but I shot at a duck today, I sat there watching the flock, picked a big old fat drake mallard, swung through, pulled the trigger, that’s my limit bird, the bird behind him died. I don’t know how that happened and Troy knew it. The other day we were hunting, we’re all out there hunting fantastic hunt and everybody out there had a semiautomatic, but one guy and that was you. And you told me a story about that shotgun, that was a 12 gauge. Tell me the story about that shotgun. Where’d you get that shotgun? Because you’ve been shooting for a long time.
Ian Kilpatrick: I’ve been shooting that shotgun a long time. It’s a Winchester Model 1200 and I got it for my 18th birthday from my parents for Christmas. So that would have been 1981 and I’ve been shooting it ever since. It’s just 2 and 3 quarter, doesn’t have 3 inch chambers, but it was good quality shotgun for the time and it has screw in chokes.
Ramsey Russell: It still is a good shotgun. I mean, how many birds might you have killed with that gun since you were 18 years old?
Ian Kilpatrick: I don’t know.
Ramsey Russell: With 2 and 3 quarter inch shells?
Ian Kilpatrick: Yeah. I don’t know. It’s changed now, I grew up shooting lead and I still would prefer to shoot lead, you had almost relearn bird hunting when we had to switch to steel.
Ramsey Russell: Oh, yeah. It was terrible. What load do you shoot with it now for steel 2 and 3 quarter? I really did not know, I have looked so hard back in the day, back in the pre Boss Shotshells day, I looked so hard to find 2 and 3 quarter inch steel and it’s virtually nonexistence in the States.
Ian Kilpatrick: We can get it here in Canada, there’s a couple of companies that make it and I shoot BBs, 2 and 3 quarter inch BBs for geese and 3s or 4s for ducks.
Ramsey Russell: What chokes that old gun? What choke do you leave in that old gun?
Ian Kilpatrick: I got a modified in it for shooting steel.
Generational Gift: From a Single Shot to a Pump Action at 18
From the time I was 16 to the time I was 20 probably just about every weekend that you could get out when you were 8 to 10 times a season.
Ramsey Russell: Your dad was a preacher, he didn’t hunt, bought you a single shot, 20 gauge, which is pretty good for youngsters. But when you turned 18, on your 18th birthday, he gives you a pump, 12 and that’s what you shot steadfast for 50 years, 40 something years.
Ian Kilpatrick: Now, 43 years, whatever it is. And actually using it more this year than I have been, so it’s kind of nice, so I’ve been out busy with life and stuff and I actually been out five times this year. So last year I bought a license and never got out at all.
Ramsey Russell: During the heyday, when you were younger, one as much life, one as much going on, how often might you hunt as a Canadian waterfowler here in Manitoba?
Ian Kilpatrick: From the time I was 16 to the time I was 20 probably just about every weekend that you could get out when you were 8 to 10 times a season, for sure. But now things have changed, life is busy and you don’t get out. The time to hunt is when you’re – for me, 16 to 25, if you got time and you got the will to do it, get out there and get her, because life gets complicated after that.
Ramsey Russell: Life gets complicated after that. I told my 23 year old son just that he’s in college and I said, son, be a college kid, because here in a few years, you can’t be no more. Life gets complicated, I call it Life’s short, Get Ducks. Get ducks when you can at any age. How long have you been hunting, Cole?
Cole Kilpatrick: Well, I turned 31 today and I was lucky to grow up in a hunting family, so I started when I was 12 and really I broke my hand when I was 12, so I didn’t get to do much hunting that fall. But from the time I was 13 on, I’ve been giving her pretty hard.
Ramsey Russell: Like in Mississippi, I don’t know about other states in the country, but in Mississippi there’s no age limit as long as the child is in the presence of an adult, they can hunt and I think that to hunt at age 16, you’re required to have a hunter safety and then with the hunter safety in hand, you can go off to hunt without the presence of a supervision. My son Forrest shot a duck 2 weeks for his 6th birthday. Now, I had to hold it like this and him prop the gun up and shoot him on the water blue wing, but I had been taking them out since they were potty trained. You grew up in a hunting family, we’re sitting here in a game room slapped full of all kinds of critters, before you were 12 years old and could hunt, did you still accompany the men out in the field?
Cole Kilpatrick: Yeah, I think, I’m trying to remember, how old would I have been? Maybe 6 or 7, dad, something like that.
Ian Kilpatrick: 6. One old on bonds there.
Ramsey Russell: You remember that day?
Ian Kilpatrick: Oh, gosh, I borrowed a young fellow that I was working in a hog barn east of town here and there was a 16 year old kid working in the barn and we were talking about hunting and stuff and to me, he says, I’ve been going out since for a long time, and I grew up in a hunting family and I got a bunch of old camo stuff that don’t fit me no more and he gave it to me and I brought it home.
Ramsey Russell: Oh, you’re showing a picture right there. He was a lot smaller when you’re 6 years old.
Cole Kilpatrick: Yeah, quite a bit smaller.
Ian Kilpatrick: And we went out just 4 miles east here on a half section and set up little spread, it was just the 2 of us and one gun and shot a couple of birds that morning and then we walked over and jumped the ditch and 3 mallards come out of the ditch and I got 2 of them, but they went down across the water on the other side and I had to wade through and go find these two birds. And there’s a picture in one of the albums upstairs of him standing on the deck in that Campbell holding these 2 ducks for Mum to take a picture of.
Ramsey Russell: Heck, yeah. See, when I was 6 years old, I wasn’t hunting, but I’d go with my grandfather and I’d try to beat his retriever to the duck, to the dove that was my job. I was just out there having a good time and I want to get them birds, I normally wasn’t as quick as that dog and sometimes I could beat him to it, not often.
Ian Kilpatrick: Another one I remember with him early was, well, it was the year you broke your hand when I shot that doe out here.
Cole Kilpatrick: Yeah, I remember that.
Ian Kilpatrick: I like still hunting, you go –
Ramsey Russell: Kind of walk, stalk.
Ian Kilpatrick: Well, walk and stalk or walk and sit. And I got what we do here on the trails and stuff, I would go out and I would sit pails in the snow white pails and you’d walk and then you just get to the pail and you’d sit on the pail and we were just out here, it’s only about 200 yards from the house here and sitting on a couple of pails in a little thicket, watching an area where we used to feed the cows out there and I shot a doe with the 30-30, and he was so freaking excited, it was funny.
Ramsey Russell: You remember that day?
Cole Kilpatrick: Oh, yeah, I remember it.
Ramsey Russell: Do you remember your first duck hunt?
Cole Kilpatrick: Yeah, I remember that hunt where he was talking, like, where I didn’t have a gun and yeah, I remember shooting my first goose for sure, that would have been one of the first bird hunts we went on, because I was with that old Ithaca that he was showing you, before we started talking and I actually pulled both barrels.
Ramsey Russell: Oh, yeah.
Cole Kilpatrick: Gave him both barrels, when that goose came in, he wasn’t getting away, it wasn’t on purpose, but I accidentally pulled both. And that was my first goose and I remember lots, a lot of them kind of blend together now. But we’d go out Campbell, who came with us yesterday, when he came out, before he could hunt and then while he was hunting and we did quite a bit, the 3 of us out there.
Ramsey Russell: It was a father son, father son thing.
Cole Kilpatrick: Yeah, when we were younger, we did a lot and it was just the 3 of us, really.
Ramsey Russell: Do you remember your first banded bird? You all shoot a bunch of bands up here. I talked to all you boys up here, you all put them away.
Cole Kilpatrick: Yeah, we do. I don’t have a ton of bands and I’ve been on some hunts where you’re not quite sure who shot it, so you end up pulling shells or something. But my first band, actually is pretty good story, I was hunting with a buddy of mine, Troy, not the Troy you know, but a different Troy and just 2 man hunt and the field was thick with Canadas, it was crazy. And we were filming, so we’re switching back and forth camera. So each flock there was just one of us shooting and we had a three pack come in, I went 3 for 3, dropped 2 stone dead in the decoys and I had a cripple land behind us and I got up and ran to get the first two out in front of me, and I saw the cripple, but I thought, I’ll get these first two, I picked the one up banded, first banded goose, super pumped, grabbed the second one, no band. And then I looked and that cripple was starting to look a little more lively than I thought, so I ran and grabbed my gun, threw a shell in, shot and he flew away, just flew off. And I thought, well, I just shot a band, I wasn’t too worried about it, right, I thought, well, that’s pretty cool, I shot my first band, get home watch the footage, that goose that flew away had one on each leg, but it makes for a good story.
Ramsey Russell: Ian, he said he shot that first goose with that side by side gun, when I got here, we had talked so much about your pump shotgun the other day, you got three family heirlooms sitting out there. Tell me about these guns.
Ian Kilpatrick: Oh, gosh. The Ithaca Model 37, that’s a hammerless, side by side 12 gauge.
Ramsey Russell: Who owned it?
Ian Kilpatrick: It belonged to my great grandfather, Fred Wood and I got it from my grandpa. My grandpa wasn’t really a hunter down Eastern Ontario and his dad, they dairy farmed north of Kingston, Ontario and that was the only firearm they had on the place, that was for butchering and for shooting woodchucks and shooting skunks or whatever it was for. But Fred did a little bit of hunting and I can always remember that shotgun sitting behind my grandpa’s kitchen door, it was always there standing and I was always interested in that. And that was the first shotgun that I ever fired, my grandpa took me out behind the barn.
Ramsey Russell: Where’d you shoot at?
Ian Kilpatrick: Shot a woodchuck. I was 11 years old, shot a woodchuck with that side by side and that was the first time I’d ever fired a shotgun.
Ramsey Russell: Was he the grandfather that owned these antlers? You showed me.
Ian Kilpatrick: Well, it would have been his dad that shot the antler.
Ramsey Russell: Your great granddaddy.
Ian Kilpatrick: My great granddad. And those antlers were always on the wall of the barn when we went down.
Ramsey Russell: As long as you could remember?
Ian Kilpatrick: Ever since I could remember. And when they sold the farm in 1981 or 1982, I asked them if I could bring those home. And the unique thing about them is the end of the one main beam is gone and I asked my grandpa one time. What happened to them?
Ramsey Russell: It’s been sawed off.
Ian Kilpatrick: It’s been sawed off, yeah. And he said that his dad, Fred, my great grandpa, would have cut that off, make a knife handle.
Ramsey Russell: It’s a heck of a knife buck, too.
Ian Kilpatrick: Especially, that would have been harvested in the 20s or the 30s, probably. So those antlers are getting pushing 100 years old and for that part of Ontario at that time, that was a pretty good buck.
Ramsey Russell: Tell me about these other two shotguns.
Ian Kilpatrick: The other two, I don’t know how long the barrel is on that thing, it’s an H&R topper single shot. And a good friend of my mom and dad’s, he passed away when he was 93 years old, he was in Lancaster Bombers in World War II. And he survived, I believe, I don’t know the exact number, but over 40 missions into Germany and he come home, he farmed here in the area and I knew him since we moved here in 72. His name was Art Campbell and he was one of the nicest fellows you’d ever want to meet. He deer hunted till he was 88 years old and he gave his deer hunting rifle to his great grandson and he phoned me and he says, I got a few other pieces, they’re not really worth a lot and he gave us this H&R topper, he gave us a little single shot Winchester 410 and that little single shot 22 and it’s old and it’s accurate. I cold shot a flocks with that 22 one time, almost 80 yards. Open sites, iron sights.
Ramsey Russell: Have you ever killed a goose or anything with that single shot?
Ian Kilpatrick: Yeah, I fired it. There’s a little crack in the stalk there now and I don’t fire it much anymore, but yeah, the boys, when they started hunting, before we got them into pumps and semis, they all started with single shot, it’s safer.
Ramsey Russell: Oh, absolutely.
Ian Kilpatrick: It’s a good way to start them and both the boys fired that shotgun as well.
Ramsey Russell: My granddad gave me a 20 gauge 1100 when I was a child, but the rule was, that’s back when kids listened to the folks, put one shot at a time. And what it did, I got in a quick habit of safety on and off going through that motion just instead of boom, boom, safety, it was boom safety, it maybe a better – I had one chance at that bird, not 3. And I did the same thing with my children and they were hard through the first hunting season or two, where you’d hear boom, click that safety go back on and they’d load it. I think single shot, whether no matter how you do it, I think that is the way to teach someone perfect shotgun etiquette for starts. Yeah, I really do.
Ian Kilpatrick: I know my guys, I pounded it into them, hunting is fun, it ain’t fun if somebody gets killed. And they got tired of hearing it and they told me they got tired of hearing it, but they heard it every time.
Ramsey Russell: And then you showed me a third shotgun, if my buddy Dale Borderland’s listening, he’s going to wake up when he hears this. Tell me about this other pump you got.
Ian Kilpatrick: This pump, it’s a 16 gauge, it’s a Winchester model, 1897, 16 gauge, got a hammer on it. And there was a good friend of my mum and dad’s was a carpenter, he was from Germany originally, and he come over to Canada after the war and he took that shotgun as payment for doing somebody’s roof and he ended up having some health issues and he got Alzheimer’s and I bought that shotgun from his wife for $75 or $100, I think it was, I can’t remember now. But we looked up the serial number on it and it’s manufactured in 1911.
Ramsey Russell: The stories it could tell.
Ian Kilpatrick: And that’s why it’s here, is because there’s history behind that piece and if it could talk.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah, well, I mean, that’s why I enjoy this podcast so much Ian is hunting is a hand me down tradition and tradition is all about history. One of my favorite writers down in South, William Faulkner, he said the past isn’t, what did he say? Oh, crap, I’m going to mess up a quote now that I set it. He said the past isn’t dead, in fact, it’s not even past and I think what he meant by that is that we are our past and in a hunting family or in a tradition, you are what those guns represent, that’s what it means to me. It’s something sentimental about that to me.
Ian Kilpatrick: Like that side by side 12 gauge to have something that belonged to my great grandpa, I never met him, he passed away in 1952 and I was born in 1963, never met Fred, but to have that sitting in my gun cabinet is like having him here.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah, I feel the same way when I pick up my granddad’s old 1100, I just feel like he’s there with me, some kind of how.
Ian Kilpatrick: Yeah. And it’s funny because we still go down there. I mean, that’s 1400 miles from here, Kingston, Ontario and we still keep in touch with the people that own my grandpa’s farm, that farm was in the Wood family from 1847 till 1982 and we’re good friends with the people that own it now. And it’s one of my favorite places on earth to go. And it’s a 120 acre farm that runs down over a hill to a lake shore on the back, it’s got 300 yards of lakefront on the back end of this farm and there’s deer and there’s turkeys and it’s gorgeous. It’s one of my favorite places to go and bucket list thing is to go down there and shoot a turkey on my great granddad’s farm.
Ramsey Russell: I need to shoot that old topper there, that old single shot topper.
Ian Kilpatrick: That hasn’t happened yet. But maybe, God willing, we’ll have a chance to do that yet, but that would be a real thing. Because for me, like I say, my dad and his family, they weren’t hunters, but my hunt tradition started with my great grandfather on my mum’s side and to have that gun here is just, we don’t shoot it much anymore, but it’s here and it’s part of who we are.
Ramsey Russell: Cole, you start off shooting with this side by side, what was your first gun?
Cole Kilpatrick: Well, I started shooting that 12 gauge pump when I started bird hunting more, when we started hunting more, he would start taking a single shot and giving us more shooting opportunities.
Ramsey Russell: What do you shoot now?
Cole Kilpatrick: I’ve got a Winchester SXP.
Ramsey Russell: Was that gun a gift or did you buy it when you got older?
Hard-Worn Heritage: Adventures with an Old Mossberg Pump
I had an old Mossberg pump that I beat the crap out of that thing, breaking ice and swamps and it stopped me from falling over.
Cole Kilpatrick: I bought that a couple of years ago. I’ve gone through a few guns and nothing too fancy. I had an old Mossberg pump that I beat the crap out of that thing, breaking ice and swamps and it stopped me from falling over and tip filling my waders full of water quite a few times and literally just shot birds with it until it was just not safe to take out anymore.
Ramsey Russell: We went out hunting the other day, you all had scouted religiously, pulled up with a trailer just had to want to go lay out blinds brushed in dog boxes, you had your chocolate lab, Bailey on one side, I had Char dog on the other. How does the way you hunt now, how you approach hunting, how you set up for hunting, how you call, how you shoot the whole ball of wax, how does that differ from how you grew up hunting with Ian?
Cole Kilpatrick: Technology and the gear has changed so much. Like when we were kids hunting with dad, we didn’t have layout blinds and they existed, but they were quite a bit of money and we were hunting under burlap blankets and throw a little stubble on top, and I remember you’d get that burlap and dirt in your eyes and it would just burn like hell, but it worked. We shot some birds, we weren’t killing limits, but it wasn’t about limits anyways. But then you start getting older and figuring out technology and different ways to approach it. So now we start using layouts, start figuring out how to blow a goose call through a lot of trial and error, we didn’t really use a call when we were younger either.
Ian Kilpatrick: I’m not a good caller.
Ramsey Russell: What are you laughing at? You weren’t a good caller.
Ian Kilpatrick: I’m not a good caller.
Ramsey Russell: How did the way you hunted or the way you would hunt without call now differ from – that’s pretty Cadillac setup they got.
Ian Kilpatrick: Oh, yeah. And that’s why I’m so impressed. My job as a dad teaching kids to hunt is to give them the tools to get better.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah, that’s a job of every dad.
Ian Kilpatrick: Man, have they got better. I just love going out with these guys now, because for me, it’s not about shooting limits and shooting birds, it’s about the whole ball of wax. And I can go out in the field, throw out a dozen decoys and lay down by myself, never fire a shot and have a great hunt. Some birds come in, some birds decoys, the sound of wild geese sets me free. It’s September and October is my favorite time of year and that sound is what gets me going and it’s not all about harvesting birds. Yeah, they’re good to eat, they’re fun to shoot, but you put everything all together.
Ramsey Russell: It’s about the overall experience. We’re hunters, not bird watchers, so it kind of, sort of is about shooting geese.
Ian Kilpatrick: Yeah, well, it is and I’ve shot my share, but I don’t have to shoot a limit to have a good time and I never have.
Ramsey Russell: Waterfowl hunting kind of, sort of is a lot like those old deer pushes, it is social.
Cole Kilpatrick: Yeah.
Ramsey Russell: The stories in between the volleys, while you’re setting up, while they’re going to get the truck, I mean, it’s the people and the stories and the dogs and the calling, the chase and yeah, we got birds to eat.
Ian Kilpatrick: About 6 or 7 years ago, Cole and Campbell and the other Troy, not the Troy that you know but the other Troy and I were 4 miles east of here, down the bog and the night before, the boys had been out looking and there was about a 1000 Canadas in this field. So we went out and we set up for Canadas, the next morning, the 4 of us, Canadas never showed up, mallards. We shot 28 mallards that morning.
Cole Kilpatrick: I think like, 26 were greenheads, too.
Ian Kilpatrick: It was just phenomenal. And decoying, they were coming in, Cole had a hand mallard land on the end of his layout blind.
Cole Kilpatrick: Right on my feet.
Ian Kilpatrick: Right on his feet. It was just phenomenal. And you never forget something like that and I come home and that’s running through your head and I wrote a poem about that morning.
Ramsey Russell: Save it for the end. I want to hear that poem. I got a note to hear that poem, but I don’t want to hear it right now. I want to hear it towards the end.
Ian Kilpatrick: Okay, you want to hear that towards the end, so that’s fine.
Ramsey Russell: You got it committed to memory, it must be something pretty good and meaningful, because I asked your son, he knows that poem and almost got it committed to memory, too. We’re going to save that for the end, Ian.
Ian Kilpatrick: It fills in, what for me, hunting here is like, I’ve been hunting here for 43 years, I’m 59 years old, I’ve been waterfowl hunting, most of it within 10 miles of where we’re sitting right here. There’s probably 40 or 50 quarter sections down here within 5 or 6 miles that I’ve hunted on. And it’s close, it’s local, and I know most of the landowner’s access is never an issue and I will do it till the day I die.
Ramsey Russell: Absolutely. Within that 10 miles area you’re talking about, I just want to ask, in the decades that you’ve been hunting right here in this 10 mile area, how has habitat or duck numbers or goose numbers or how has it changed in your career? Other than just the comfort and the technology and all that good stuff, how has the crops or the bird distributions or the hunting pressure is changed?
Ian Kilpatrick: It changes. When I was a kid 16 to 20, there was thousands of snow geese here every fall.
Ramsey Russell: Really?
Ian Kilpatrick: Lots of them. And that changed here in, probably about the last 10 years, there hasn’t been – the last 10 years, there was a noticeable difference in the number of snow geese that were migrating through here. 100 miles west of here, Gladstone area, there’s way more snow geese there traditionally and here it dropped right off and this fall, again, there’s more snow geese here right now than there have probably been in 20 years.
Ramsey Russell: That’s interesting you say that, because I’ve seen a lot and I’ve heard a lot of people say there’s more than there’s been here in decades and I was talking to Troy, I know this morning, Troy Bennett and the thing about he’s like, my words not his, but it’s like, what do you do with them? Everybody’s got trailers full of decoys but they’re grazed because there’s a real Canada goose hunting culture here. So the snows, I guess that 20 year hiatus, there’s kind of been a loss on how you really get after them.
Ian Kilpatrick: Yeah, I would agree with that. When I was a kid, we used to shoot lots of snow geese.
Ramsey Russell: Were you all pass shooting back then?
Ian Kilpatrick: No, decoying. Yeah, but you’d throw out, you’d have maybe a dozen snow geese decoys, it wasn’t big spreads, we might go and set up 25 decoys. Like two dozen decoys, dozen snows, dozen Canadas and there was 3 of us one time hunting down here be about 6 or 8 miles south here and we had 5000 snow geese land right on top of us with a dozen decoys. And again, the sensory thing, 5000 snow geese are loud.
Ramsey Russell: Century overload almost.
Cole Kilpatrick: 500 snow geese is loud, never mind 5000. Like they make a lot of noise.
Ramsey Russell: I had a conversation today, I love to shoot snow geese, I love to hunt snow geese, I love to eat snow geese, especially up here in Canada. But that heartbeat moment for me is when they swing down wind and they’re all flipping on their backs and doing this and doing that, it’s just like, man, it’s unbelievable.
Ian Kilpatrick: Yeah, I love that.
Ramsey Russell: It’s like a tidal wave.
Ian Kilpatrick: And they’re twisting and flipping and dropping, that’s pretty cool.
Ramsey Russell: Pretty dang cool.
Ian Kilpatrick: Oh, yeah.
Ramsey Russell: Is this your first dog, Cole?
Cole Kilpatrick: This is the first bird dog, yeah.
Ramsey Russell: And she’s good.
Cole Kilpatrick: Yeah, she’s good.
Ramsey Russell: When I walked in the house this evening I almost didn’t recognize her because she come up and licked me, she wanted to be petted, she wanted this, we’re out in the field, she’s got a one track mind.
Cole Kilpatrick: She means business.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah, I think that’s why she and Char dog get along so good, they’re very compatible female.
Cole Kilpatrick: Yeah, they’re good together.
Ramsey Russell: Because they both wanting to get in their mud huts and hunt. Yeah, we’re not even done setting up, they’re both in their mud huts and.
Ian Kilpatrick: They’re ready to go.
Ramsey Russell: Did you have dogs growing up?
Cole Kilpatrick: Oh, yeah, there’s been dogs here on the farm since I was born. My grandparents had dogs that were around here, we had dogs, there’s always been numerous dogs here growing up.
Ramsey Russell: You’ve had some duck dogs over the years?
Ian Kilpatrick: Well, not so much duck dogs, I never had the wherewithal and the sticktoitiveness to train one, to make it happen, because it takes a lot of work on the time.
Cole Kilpatrick: The time, too.
Ramsey Russell: I’m going to poke fun at you because my granddad said, to train a dog is easy, you just got to be smarter than him.
Skepticism to Joy: When a Dog Defies Preconceived Notions
We picked her up on Mother’s Day and she was 8 weeks old and she rode home on Karen’s lap. And from the time she started bringing stuff back about 6 days after she got here.
Ian Kilpatrick: That’s good. I’ve watched him train his dog and we were blessed with this puppy because it’s funny, when we got her, when we went to look at this litter of chocolate labs and both parents were papered, but they never papered the litter. And I specifically told them that we were thinking about getting a dog for hunting. And she said, well, the sire doesn’t hunt, but the mom is a natural, she never had a lot of formal training, but we hunt with her and she’s got lots of natural ability and that’s what she told us. And I come home and I told Cole that and he says, well, to me, that sounds like somebody trying to sell you a dog. But we brought that puppy home, we picked her up on Mother’s Day and she was 8 weeks old and she rode home on Karen’s lap. And from the time she started bringing stuff back about 6 days after she got here.
Ramsey Russell: Did you train her yourself?
Cole Kilpatrick: Everything myself.
Ramsey Russell: I’m impressed.
Cole Kilpatrick: Everything myself.
Ramsey Russell: You can’t train desire into a great animal, they either want it or they don’t, she wants it, Char dog wants it. But they remind me of so much is they got two speeds. Laying on a couch with her head on a pillow, just like Bailey’s doing right now, are hyper focused, running as quick as they can, coming back as quick as they can and waiting on another one and you just can’t train that into a dog.
Ian Kilpatrick: No. The thing with me, I am so proud of watching, being able to watch this dog hunt is, I got to watch my son train her and he has spent thousands of hours on that dog, literally. And to watch her – like she was doing triple retrieves in the yard here on dummies when she was 3 months old.
Cole Kilpatrick: I hunted with her that first fall, like, not a lot, but I took her out. So, yeah, how old would she have been, just a few months old and I didn’t want to take her until I go hunt 6 guns and screw things up. But I was actually guiding a couple of guys, and we’re hunting over a ditch with some long grass and we had a few ducks fall that we were having trouble finding them. So I called home and I said, bring her out here, worst case, we’re not going to find them anyways, right?
Ramsey Russell: Yeah.
Cole Kilpatrick: So she came out and she found a few.
Ian Kilpatrick: She was 5 months old.
Cole Kilpatrick: Just some bland retrieves in the grass and then I said, well, leave her here, she’d been around some gunfire and I said, we’re not going to get much more shooting. And she did get her actual first marked retrieve that day, I remember big greenhead came in, landed about 100 yards away and she marked it perfect and she ran out there and picked it up and brought it back. So it was nice to see all that. And at that point, it was a lot of work, but it was still just the tip of the iceberg, there was a lot more work done after that, still. But at that point, I was like, okay, I think this is going to work out, she’s going to be a hunting dog.
Ramsey Russell: There’s nothing like the first great hunting dog, I’ll never forget mine. And my granddad, again, used to always say, if a man’s real lucky, he’s blessed with one dog he never forgets. Could be his first, could be his last, but he never forgets that dog.
Cole Kilpatrick: Yeah, that’s Bailey.
Ramsey Russell: And they’re all different, they’re all unique in their own way just like kids, just like classmates, everybody’s a little different. You were telling me a story the other day about one of your dogs, Betty, I think her name was. Tell me that story, because somebody had it and didn’t want it or something.
Ian Kilpatrick: Yeah. A good friend of ours got a pair of golden lab pups from a farm lady up here west of Inwood and they got one male and one female and their kids were little at the time, this would have been kind of mid 80s kind of thing and these two kids named these two puppies Barney and Betty.
Ramsey Russell: Barney and Betty.
Ian Kilpatrick: Barney and Betty. And by the time Barney and Betty were 6 months old, the kids would get off the bus and the pups would come running out to greet them and knock everybody down, there was just so much life in those two dogs and it just got to be too much. Brian phoned me one day and he says, I don’t know what I’m going to do. He says, mom has decided that we can only keep one of these dogs, one of the kids is going to get hurt and he says, I’ve been trying to give her away, we’re going to keep Barney and he says, if I can’t find somebody to take Betty, he says, I’m going to have to put her down. And I said, well, don’t do that. I was still living at home at the time, this would have been –
Ramsey Russell: And you knew these dogs, obviously, you were familiar with.
Ian Kilpatrick: I was very familiar with them. I was good friends with these people at the time and spending quite a bit of time there and I knew Betty and I went home and talked to my mom and dad and they had a house dog already in the house, I was still living at home and I said to mom and dad, told them what was going on and my dad had a soft spot for dogs and he didn’t want to see this beautiful little golden lab get put down, so I brought her home.
Ramsey Russell: How old were you?
Ian Kilpatrick: I would have been early 20s. It would have been, probably would have been around 1986 or 1987, when we got the dog, when we got her. And we moved here to the farm and we bought this farm and took possession in October of 1990, so she was with us at the other place we were renting for a couple of years. And the day we moved here, I was worried, we were living on a farmyard about 3 miles from here and when we moved here to the farm, I was worried that she was going to take off for the other place. So the first night, she wasn’t a house dog, she was outside. And the first night, just as you come up the steps here into the porch, there’s a little cubby beside the steps and I put her, chained her to the iron railing of the steps and threw her dog bed in there and her food. Well, little did I know that the lady that lived here before had been feeding her cats in that cubby hole and every night, the skunks were coming up and feeding in the cat. So the very first night we were here, about 02:00 in the morning, all hell broke loose and it was 1st October, but it was still pretty warm and my mom had left the kitchen window open. And the dog got sprayed, the outside of the house got sprayed, it was wafting into the house at 02:00 in the morning and that was Betty’s first night here. But we had that dog –
Ramsey Russell: Now, if that didn’t make her run to the other farm, I don’t know what would.
Ian Kilpatrick: And that was the dog, she was so loyal and when you talk about remembering a dog, that’s the dog that I remember, because Cole would have been 3 and Campbell was just born, Campbell was a baby and it was again in October and we were in the house here then and we were running up to see her mom and dad after supper one night and she was getting the kids ready and Cole put his jacket and his boots on and I had to run outside for something and I went outside and tucked into the garage for a minute and I didn’t know, but this little bugger snuck out the door on Mum, Mum was getting the baby into the car seat and he come outside to see where dad went. And I was in the garage and door shut. He went out to the barn, opened the gate and kept on going. And I come into the house, started the car and come into the house and said, you ready to go? And she says, yeah, where’s Cole? And I said, well, he’s here with you and she said, no, he went out with you and I went uh-oh.
Ramsey Russell: Was it nighttime?
Ian Kilpatrick: It was just getting dark, it was early October, so dark by 06:30 kind of thing and it would have been about 06:00, just before 6 maybe. And my mom and dad were still living in the yard here at the time, we had another dwelling on the property at the time, so my mom and dad and Karen and I and my brother and Karen’s aunt and uncle lived across the road and we started looking and he was just gone.
Ramsey Russell: How long were you all looking?
Ian Kilpatrick: We looked for 45 minutes.
Ramsey Russell: I bet you were panicking.
Ian Kilpatrick: Well, Karen was really panicking. Karen was starting to melt down and so we come back to the yard and small town, I made 3 phone calls and there was 15 people here in the yard in 10 minutes. And we were just all getting together because now it was getting dark.
Ramsey Russell: Was it cold? What time of year was it?
Ian Kilpatrick: It was October.
Ramsey Russell: Okay, it was pretty cold.
Ian Kilpatrick: It was getting cool. And Karen’s aunt, when we were just getting everybody lined up and a plan to we were going to do a grid search and here on the back of the yard, there’s a half a mile of bush, thick bush and we had come in and we were getting all this lined up and had all the extra neighbors that had come to help. But Karen’s aunt had stayed out and she was about over a quarter mile south of the buildings here, walking down along the edge of a slash piece and she saw Betty and she called, Betty. Betty come over to her and said, where is he? Betty Kirk and went back.
Ramsey Russell: She was with him the whole time.
Ian Kilpatrick: She was with him the whole. And she stayed with him the whole time, she knew where he was.
Ramsey Russell: She guarded him.
Ian Kilpatrick: Yeah.
Ramsey Russell: And made sure no skunk got him.
Ian Kilpatrick: Well, it was such a relief to find them because it could have been bad, but for him, it was a big adventure.
Ramsey Russell: Sure it was. Dad, I saw 4 deers. Do you remember it?
Cole Kilpatrick: I remember parts of that, actually. I remember being found, like, not really realizing that I was lost, but I remember when she found me, she was just, like, in tears and like, oh, and picked me up, and I’m just like, what’s the big deal?
Ian Kilpatrick: He would have been 3 and a half.
Ramsey Russell: How long did Betty live?
Ian Kilpatrick: Betty was 17 and a half, she passed.
Ramsey Russell: I bet she buried nearby.
Ian Kilpatrick: Yeah, she’s up back here.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah. Wow, what a great dog. But she didn’t fetch birds.
Ian Kilpatrick: No, she was about 6 months old when I got her and she was a ball energy, she was just full of – and I was busy working and busy raising kids and family and farming and we had 100 cows here at the time and I was working out as well and I just never made it happen. She would have been good, I think she had it.
Ramsey Russell: I believe she would have been.
Ian Kilpatrick: She was a great dog. You want an illustration of a loyal companion and that’s why we got Buck. And the plan with Buck was to get him going as a hunting dog and then –
Cole Kilpatrick: He had an injury on his hip.
Ian Kilpatrick: Yeah, he got hurt and he got backed over in the driveway here one day when he was about 5 months old, so that kind of put the kibosh on training Buck. So then she come along and he made it happen. But again, for me, I wasn’t raised hunting with dogs and to watch this happen right from her being a little puppy, it’s been phenomenal to watch the progress, like you said, the desire. She wants to do this and she’s good at it.
Ramsey Russell: Troy Bennett, the other day, I said, you don’t mind if I bring Char? He goes, no, I don’t mind, he says, Cole’s going to have his dog, too. And we’re driving out there, he’s in the look, she can’t get every one of them, I’m going to have to jump up and get these birds quick, I said, I understand, when the waves are coming in, whatever. Somewhere along the morning, your dog working off the right side and mine working off the left, Troy, who doesn’t hunt with dogs, he goes, hey, this is pretty good, I’m not having to chase these birds, I think he kind of digs it.
Cole Kilpatrick: It’s completely changed bird hunting for me, I’ve always loved it, but now with a dog, it’s just totally different, totally better.
Ramsey Russell: I don’t even want to hunt without them.
Ian Kilpatrick: It totally elevates the experience.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah, it’s all about the experience. My first lab died at age 9 and that was two weeks before the duck season and it was the most miserable. And I hunted in a camp at the time that had a tremendous amount of talented dog power, it wasn’t the same. That was the most miserable duck season that I can ever remember was not having my dog. Ian, you said something the other morning, we had a great hunt, the boys got up to go get the trucks, you and I kind of started picking up decoys, you showed me a gun, but you said something to me, you said, like a proud dad, you said, these boys get it and it wasn’t just cold, it was cold running buddies. What do they get?
Ian Kilpatrick: Well, everybody’s a little different, but they understand how blessed we are to be able to do this, they’re good at it. Yeah, they harvest a lot of birds, but the level of calling and the level of planning and precision when they set out their decoys and where the wind is from and how many times that morning we changed directions on our layout blinds and that kind of stuff is, it’s a joy to hunt with those guys, they’re good, it’s fun. All the stuff they do – I’m getting older, it makes it easy. And for me to have been the instigator of that, that makes me real proud to see.
Ramsey Russell: Kind of like all them thousands of dollars he put into Bailey, you put into raising two boys to hunt.
Ian Kilpatrick: And to watch them take it and not just my boys, my girl, too. She loves it. And she was on a hunt here with some buddies, it was funny. Her boyfriend has 3 buddies and all 4 of them brought their girlfriends out and they shot, one of the girls wasn’t shooting, but they had 7 shotguns, they shot 7 man limit of Canadas in less than an hour. They got 56 Canadas in an hour.
Ramsey Russell: That’s a heck of a hunt.
Ian Kilpatrick: Yeah, just 3 Sundays ago.
Ramsey Russell: What’s it mean to hunt with your dad now? He started off taking you, now you take him. What’s that about?
Cole Kilpatrick: It’s nice to return the favor. Because especially now when we’re doing it a little more comfort, too. He busted his butt getting us out there, laying on pilled field, laying on clumps of frozen mud, laying under burlap and calling to geese with his voice and stuff like that, so it’s nice to return the favor a little bit now, put some of that work in.
Ramsey Russell: Have you ever hunted outside of Ontario? Your dad’s been hunting mostly just 10 mile geography. Have you hunted beyond that?
Cole Kilpatrick: Yeah, only once, I guess. I’ve done all my bird hunting in Manitoba, I’ve got some friends from the States that have been coming up and hunting in the Tulan area here for quite a while. They’re kind of the second generation now and they’re the older guy that isn’t coming up anymore. He met a local guy, became friends, started staying at his house, then the younger guys came and now they’re staying at the next generation’s house, the same thing is just kind of trickling down and happening. So we kind of got hooked up with them because we’re the local guys that there’s a kind of a family relation with Dustin and we’re the guys that have the same passion and drive as these guys. So we took them out and they invited us to come down and hunt in Nebraska with them on the Missouri River. So, we finally made that happen, the 3 of us went and I was going to go with dad one year and we had a blizzard cancel the trip.
Ian Kilpatrick: I had Nebraska licenses bought already and everything and the day we were going to leave, Craig phoned and he said, don’t come and it just dumped.
Cole Kilpatrick: I am planning, I’m going to go this December, I’m going to go back, I want to go with Bailey at least once while she’s in her prime.
Ramsey Russell: Fun to hunt new areas like that. But I guess for both of you, how do you feel having this backyard? Because you’ve got a pretty darn special place right here within 10 miles drive time, it’s a foreign concept to a southern duck hunter to know so many people, you can just knock on doors and go goose hunting or duck hunting, that’s a foreign concept to me, just knock on doors.
Cole Kilpatrick: We’re so lucky. And it’s not that we don’t realize it, but you have moments regularly where it’s just like, man, you just got to kind of sit back and be thankful for where we live and how we get to enjoy this stuff all the time. Unlike me guiding, we got one more week left, but I’ve been doing it like 5, 6 days a week and this fall has just been the perfect storm with food availability, lots of water and we’re killing like 6 to 8 man duck limits every day and it’s not all about the limits, but I mean, it’s fun when it goes like that, you have your years where it’s slower and it’s tough and it’s still really good, but a year like this in this area, I’ll remember this year forever, because it’s just been insane, just so lucky.
Ian Kilpatrick: And the birds are here. And the North American Duck Breeding Survey that Ducks Unlimited does come out here just a couple of weeks back and pintail numbers are down again 21% across North America and on a 5 year average, it’s down 54%. Pintails here, locally, we’ve seen more pintails this year than we’ve seen in 15 years.
Ramsey Russell: Shot a few this morning.
Cole Kilpatrick: Yeah. You guys shot a couple of nice ones this morning.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah. For this time of year, they were colored up nicely.
Ian Kilpatrick: Yeah, we’ve seen more pintails. And one of the head biologists for Ducks Unlimited down here at Oak Hammock lives just over here, 4 miles away and I was talking to him and I said, so what’s that about? I said, the numbers say that the pintails are down again and he says, well, that’s based on North American wide data and they are. But he says, locally, there’s humps just like anything else and here we got pintails this year. And just the other day, there’s a friend of mine, we have some relations with him through sheep business here and he used to guide years ago over at St. Ambrose Delta Marsh and he got to know some guys from Michigan, and they’ve been coming up here hunting until the COVID thing happened, they came up 24 years in a row. And then the last two years, they haven’t been able to come and they come last weekend, and on Sunday, they were up here, 10 miles west of us here, 12 miles west on North Shore Lake and they shot 21 gadwalls. We’ve always shot some up there, there’s a little chain of lakes up there, the Shoal lakes, there’s East Shoal, West Shoal and North Shoal and West Shoal is a protected area, no bird hunting, East Shoal and North Shoal big flat, marshy bowls and we’ve been shooting ducks up there for years, that’s where we do our water hunting. Down here, East of town, it’s all field hunting, but we’ve been going up there and shooting ducks in the Shoal lakes. And it’s always been a place where you run into a few gadwalls, but to shoot 21 in one morning, I’d never heard of that before.
Cole Kilpatrick: Yeah. And I’ve seen more than the last 5, 6 years, too.
Ramsey Russell: That’s good. I’m waiting on this note, Ian, now, I want to hear this poem about duck hunting right here. Tell me, this poem you wrote. When did you write it? How long ago?
Ian Kilpatrick: It’d be probably 6 or 7 years ago, I think it was after that morning.
Ramsey Russell: It’s one like some class assignment you did for him or something, is it?
Ian Kilpatrick: No.
Ramsey Russell: Okay.
Ian Kilpatrick: No.
Ramsey Russell: Your parents sometimes write your kids homework?
Ian Kilpatrick: No.
Cole Kilpatrick: Had I known he was going to write.
Ramsey Russell: What motivated you to write a poem? What inspired you?
Ian Kilpatrick: The memory of what happened that morning and the fact that it wasn’t the first time and it wasn’t going to be the last time that it happened.
Ramsey Russell: What happened?
Ian Kilpatrick: We got 28 ducks that morning and there was 4 of us and it was like we said before, there was mallards landing on our freaking blinds and we were set up for Canadas and the Canadas never showed and these just hundreds and hundreds of ducks.
Cole Kilpatrick: Big migrator group, they were coming in from 1000ft above us.
Ramsey Russell: You hadn’t seen them in the scout, but here they come.
Cole Kilpatrick: Yeah. There was a lot of luck involved just being in the right place, the right time.
Ramsey Russell: I’d rather be lucky than good any day.
Cole Kilpatrick: Any day, that’s right.
Ian Kilpatrick: And it was one of those hunts that you don’t ever forget. “So down on the bog, the sun’s coming up with the boys and the dogs and a big flight of ducks. The birds set their wings and drift down through the haze, sights and sounds you’ll remember the rest of your days. The boys call a shot, up go the guns, down come the birds, out the dog runs. It’s the colors and feathers, the whistle of wings, the smell of the powder just a few of the things. It’s the crunch and the stubble, the run of the dogs, the sight of a flock twisting down through a fog engraved in your memory you’ll never forget. But here comes some more boys, we’re not finished yet. Because down on the bog, the sun’s coming up with the boys and the dogs and a big flight of ducks”.
Ramsey Russell: I’d like a copy of that, Ian. That’s beautiful. That’s what it means to you. You really didn’t talk much about the duck, let alone the numbers, it was everything, it was that experience you talk about.
Cole Kilpatrick: Yeah, the process.
Ian Kilpatrick: And that’s for me, everybody that hunts is different. Some of the guys, they got to shoot those birds and that’s fine and I respect that. And like I say, I can go out and experience what these guys are doing and drink it in, watch how they do what they do and I don’t even have to pull the trigger anymore, I love it.
Ramsey Russell: It’s kind of a good place to be, isn’t it?
Ian Kilpatrick: It sure is. And to be in that place with guys that you taught how to do it, that makes it even more special. And they took what I gave them, and they ran with it and look where they ran to, these guys are good hunters.
Ramsey Russell: Ian, always said, kids spell love T-I-M-E, Time spent. And I can tell, meeting with you all the other day and meeting with you all again here today in you all’s happy place, you all’s game room, I can tell it really means a lot to both of you all. All that time spent together.
Ian Kilpatrick: It really does. And it’s not just the boys. We’ve been on this farm 30 years now, every member of this family has shot a deer on this home farm. My daughter shot her first deer from Grandpa’s stand just out back here and Karen shot her first deer from there as well and we have harvested.
Cole Kilpatrick: I couldn’t put a number, a lot of deer here.
Ian Kilpatrick: I bet you, we’ve killed close to 50 deer on this 150 acre farm.
Ramsey Russell: A lot of memories.
Ian Kilpatrick: Hunting with Karen’s dad, he would come out when the boys were young and they got to hunt with their grandpa, I never got to do that. And they got to experience that and the smile on that man’s face and I never met a man that was happier in his life than when he was deer hunting. It was his special time here and it meant more to him than just about anything. And for the boys to been able to hunt with Grandpa and hunt here, it’s pretty special.
Ramsey Russell: Thank you all very much. I know I kept you up late.
Ian Kilpatrick: Well, that’s okay.
Ramsey Russell: Thank you all for sharing your story.
Ian Kilpatrick: Thank you. It’s been a real pleasure meeting you and a real pleasure hunting with you.
Ramsey Russell: You say that until my U-Haul van pulls up next door and I say, howdy, neighbor. Because I love Manitoba, I love Canada, but I love Manitoba.
Ian Kilpatrick: Yeah, we’re pretty blessed here to be able to – for me, I’m not a big traveler and I don’t need to travel all over the world and I can do what I want within 10 miles of home here and just drink in the bounty of what’s like – we’re blessed for hunting and fishing, too. Like, we got the big lake and the river, I can drive 15 miles and catch a 32-inch walleye.
Ramsey Russell: Pretty good stuff.
Cole Kilpatrick: Yeah, hunting, fishing, trapping, we’ve got it all here.
Ian Kilpatrick: It’s a good place.
Ramsey Russell: It’s -50, that’s a little salty for me, man. I ain’t going to lie to you.
Cole Kilpatrick: You do get used to it. It’s hard to fathom it, but you get used to.
Ian Kilpatrick: That’s what 4 wheel drive is for winter.
Cole Kilpatrick: Heated vehicles.
Ramsey Russell: Folks, you all been listening to my friends Ian and Cole Kilpatrick, father and son, right here in Manitoba, down on the bog, do you get it? Thank you all for listening this episode of Duck Season Somewhere, we’ll see you next time.
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