After a couple days chasing ducks together, Ramsey Russell discusses Wyoming duck hunting with Levi Kary. Born-and-raised Wyoming, Levi grew up hunting big game with family and only recently began seriously waterfowl hunting. Levi tells about growing up in Wyoming, why duck hunting appeals to him, how he began the Pull ‘N Feathers podcast, and nuances of duck hunting in this part of the US.
The Very Best of Wyoming Waterfowl Hunting
Everywhere it froze up already but that was nice and open, and it was a little Jacuzzi for those ducks, and man, was it socked full.
Ramsey Russell: I’m your host Ramsey Russell join me here to listen to those conversations. Welcome back to Duck Season Somewhere from Wyoming. Man, what an incredible, incredible place. I’ve been through Wyoming before, I’ve duck hunted Wyoming before but I’m in a different part of the world. Man, there’s snowcapped mountains off in the distance. And yesterday we crawled down, went down this goat trail just — I’m like, its pitch black dark. Hope I don’t fall. All the way down into this gorge and into this beautiful incredible river, ducks got up. Had a great time, and it was just like a scene out of the John Wayne movies with red rock canyons just kind of boxing us in, and shooting ducks. You know when you think of this part of the world, what do you think of? Cowboys, Indians, the old West, Buffalo Bill, buffaloes, all that kind of good stuff. But it’s incredible, incredible waterfowl hunting. My host today, my host out here in Wyoming is Levi Kary and we’ve had a great time. Levi, what about hunting in Wyoming? What about yesterday, man? How special is that?
Levi Kary: I mean that’s just a special spot. I mean when I found that spot, I had already been looking at it on online maps and stuff, and I thought man, there’s just got to be ducks down there. And the first time I crested over that hill and looked down into that gorge, into that river bottom, it just blew me away. It was late season. Everywhere it froze up already but that was nice and open, and it was a little Jacuzzi for those ducks, and man, was it socked full. So couple weeks after that, we found out, oh hey, we can get access through this chunk of property. We can go hunt it. And man, it was a good time.
Ramsey Russell: You know, you drive through this part of the world and its way more dry than wet. So it makes sense that if there’s ducks, duck habitat, you’ll find some ducks near water. But the Shawnee River is something else. I mean it really — sure I knew there’d be ducks but it was breathtaking. It’s like in the dark, all I could see was the trail ahead of me as we’re going down a pretty steep incline on the trail, if you call it a trail. And we get down there, it’s kind of shadowy because it’s dark yet. I can hear a few ducks getting up out there where we’re going to set up. But as the sun started kind of lightening up and of course it took till 9:00 or 10:00 o’clock to pop up over the canyon wall and look down on us. But it was just breathtaking, it was magical, like nothing I’d ever seen. And it’s just the little things I remember, besides that sheer red cliff face changing colors with the evolving light is the water was so clear. You know, you could see all that green algae on the bottom and it looked like a tarnished copper penny, the color of the water. But as we were sitting there waiting, it’s just this wisp of steam kind of hugging the water and snaking along, going. And you were explaining there was a thermic pool up ahead, upriver from us. And it’s just literally one of the most enchanting spellbound-like places I’ve ever shot a duck. And what I didn’t expect was Gadwall. Mallards, Golden Eyes, I’d expected. Gadwalls, I don’t know why I didn’t expect, but that’s mostly what we shot were Gadwalls and Green-wings.
Levi Kary: And that’s the thing. You start venturing down to that black abyss, the never ending black abyss is kind of what I like in it too. You know, you’re like, man, when am I going to get there? You know, if I get there and then as that sun rises, you get those two differentiating colors of those red walls, that nice aqua blue water. It’s amazing.
Ramsey Russell: What I remember is we kind of crested over into the abyss, you call it down the trail. You looked at me said, hey, don’t worry, if I didn’t think you could do it. I wouldn’t take it down there. My last thought was they don’t know me from Adam.
Levi Kary: But I mean, I know you’re an abled body human being, you know you’re not a disabled person by any means. I don’t think you have a terrible bum trick knee or anything like that.
Ramsey Russell: But anyway that was an adventure unto itself, and then we duck hunted, and it never really warmed up. I guarantee you it warmed up on the far side where the sun was hitting. And I wanted to be like old mule deer just sitting up there in that sun, basking. But we had a great hunt and then it was a great little heart-beating workout coming back up that trail. And it seems so much longer going down in the dark than it was, but going out it was just short and steep, you know that last little 100 yards had me huffing and puffing, I ain’t going to lie to you.
Levi Kary: Yeah. You know with getting other things figured out in that area too that being cold will be a little bit easier because we are going to be on the other end of the bank where the sun is going to be shining, and things are going to get better as I figure out that spot I think.
Ramsey Russell: From here on out for cowboy Wyoming — bunch of Wyoming cowboys out here, born and raised, this is just foul weather. I get up in the morning, its 19 degrees 20 degrees, that’s a cold January day in Mississippi. And it’s really, it’s a dry, it’s not brutal, but y’all do get cold up here don’t you?
Levi Kary: Oh yeah. We get really cold and that’s when things get good for us, especially on that chunk of river because all the other little ponds, all that other water freezes over and those ducks are going to go to that water.
What’s Historic About a Reservoir?
So they came up with this irrigation system doing different reservoirs, and moving that water through different canal systems and ditch systems.
Ramsey Russell: How would you describe water here in this surrounding area? I mean it seems to be like when I first got into Wyoming, I’m driving along and there’s a historical marker, and I wasn’t going to stop but I did take a gander, and it was a reservoir. I’m like what’s historic about a reservoir? Is it mostly reservoir and a creek here and there, irrigation water? What’s the water thing out here?
Levi Kary: Exactly. And that’s how our whole area was founded. It was basically because of irrigation. When people came over here, they thought it was a great area and everything, but in order to make a living, we’ve got to raise livestock, we’ve got a farm all this stuff. So they came up with this irrigation system doing different reservoirs, and moving that water through different canal systems and ditch systems. And so that’s where all of our water really comes to. Yeah, you’ll have a spring here and there where it’ll run down into like an old farm pond or something. And for the most part, yeah that’s where all of our water comes. But they turn off that canal and that takes some of the water away for those ducks to sit in. So that isolates them a little bit more. Then you got to wait for everything to freeze up. Once that freeze-up happens that’s when you start able to find these ducks in these river spots because our river — at least that river even further downstream doesn’t really freeze up that often. I’ve been here, I’ve lived here my whole life, and further downstream, like where our town is, I’ve only seen that river part freeze up twice in my life. Last year was one of them and it was only froze up for two weeks last year, and that was after duck season had ended.
Ramsey Russell: So the ducks are always here.
Levi Kary: Yeah.
Ramsey Russell: You probably got a population that ducks never migrate south. This is their Southern term.
Levi Kary: Right where we’re at, we’re in a basin, so we’re surrounded by mountains. It’s kind of like a little bit of a banana belt if you will.
Ramsey Russell: A banana belt that gets how cold in the winter?
Levi Kary: It gets real cold. I mean there’s been times when it’s been below 32°, 32° below zero.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah, that’s pretty damn cold.
Levi Kary: Dang right. Especially with the wind behind it.
Ramsey Russell: Wow. You were telling me the other day like I drove through and there was a historic marker in the reservoir but there really wasn’t a community around it because I got in the middle of nowhere. Why is that?
Levi Kary: You know, I couldn’t exactly tell you to be honest. But there is a little community that’s not terribly far from there but it’s downstream from that reservoir. So that’s where they want to move the water to in that flatter area and stuff, that’s just where they’re going to hold it.
From Big Game to Waterfowl Hunting
I feel like you can have closer camaraderie sitting there in the blind, talking amongst yourselves, just sharing that moment even more than what you do up big game hunting.
Ramsey Russell: Did you grow up duck hunting out here?
Levi Kary: No, sir. I did not.
Ramsey Russell: You lived here your whole life.
Levi Kary: Lived here my whole life, 31 almost 32 years. I was introduced into hunting just like most people are, by their father. And he brought me up elk hunting, mule deer hunting, and antelope hunting.
Ramsey Russell: Typical Wyoming.
Levi Kary: Typical Wyoming stuff. And through that I’ve been very, very fortunate to kill some very respectable animals. I mean that’s not 100% what it’s all about for me but as a young kid that’s what it’s all about in your head. And then through quite a few years later, I would say five years late ago, a worker friend of mine was talking about duck hunting, and I was like why in the heck would you want to eat one of those greasy stinking SOBs?
Ramsey Russell: Because you never had.
Levi Kary: Never had. And everybody around here said doesn’t know how to cook them really. So everybody around here says they taste like crap. So why would I want it? So I’m sitting there talking to him, giving him crap, and he says you know what, just go out with me one time. All right that’s fair, I’ll go out with you. He gets me all set up with the licenses and all that stuff, I got all the decoys, don’t you worry. I’ll bring the waders, I got a dog, this and that. Go down there, and just like a lot of people, that first green head that came cupped up, foot down in the decoys, 30 yard shot, bang, dog goes out and gets it. I was hooked.
Ramsey Russell: Do you remember it?
Levi Kary: I can see it as I’m telling you, I can show you the exact spot.
Ramsey Russell: Did it just pop up out of nowhere?
Levi Kary: We got to watch him work. We got to watch him work good. And so he spun like three times. And that first time he went away, I was like he’s gone, no way. And my buddy hit that comeback call, right on a dime, came and spun back. He got quiet, doing some feeder chatter, you know, a couple single quacks. And that duck kept going, and then he hit him, here he comes back again. And that third time he just foot down, committed and he said, kill him.
Ramsey Russell: Was it into the Shawnee River?
Levi Kary: Yes sir. I can point into the exact same spot.
Ramsey Russell: Wow. But you know like I saw a picture last night over at your house, it was the Kary boys on an elk hunt.
Levi Kary: Year 2005.
Ramsey Russell: Yep. And it was you and your uncle, and your daddy, and your brother, and an honorary close friend type with five big old bull elk antlers. You all had been up in the mountains and that’s pretty darn social.
Levi Kary: Oh yeah.
Ramsey Russell: A lot of people like I would say that duck hunting is a lot more social than big game hunting but not necessarily. What resonates with you about duck hunting? What is it about duck hunting? Cause you kind of went all in on it.
Levi Kary: I definitely went all in. What resonates with me is being able to actually truly enjoy what you’re around. I mean you could do that with big game too, but you’re — I don’t know it’s just different, it’s more relaxed because with big game at least around here you’re only pulling the trigger once. So you’re committed and on high until that trigger pull’s done and then it’s all done for. I mean, yeah, you can drink with beer with the buddies, and hoot and holler, and all that stuff afterwards, but I don’t know, just there’s so many different things to it. I feel like you can have closer camaraderie sitting there in the blind, talking amongst yourselves, just sharing that moment even more than what you do up big game hunting. It’s just really hard to describe for me. But I mean it’s got me hook line and sinker and heck I got my dad into it. My dad thought the same exact thing.
Hunting Where There’s More Antelope Than People
So that’s why I love antelope. It’s a lot better table fare than what it’s made out to be.
Ramsey Russell: Your dad raised you to be a hunter, big game elk, and mule deer, and antelope. And by the way I heard you tell your daughter last night, little girl, won’t be long before she’s out there, and you said you hope that her first animal be a pronghorn. What was your first animal?
Levi Kary: My first animal was actually a small mule deer buck, shot it out of a cornfield right before school. And I remember going to school, still had bloody jeans on and everything, and there’s no way I was going to take off them pants going to school.
Ramsey Russell: And I heard that.
Levi Kary: Yep. I’m so proud. I shot my first buck, I mean grinning ear to ear. I can see it right now
Ramsey Russell: But you want your daughter’s first animal to be pronghorn, why?
Levi Kary: I’ve always called antelope hunting trophy rabbit hunting. It’s so laid back, you can shoot the smallest little buck you want or you can make it really hard and chase that 80 incher, you know, that Boone and Crockett, if that’s your cup of tea. And there’s a lot less pressure around here because there’s way more antelope than there are people. There’s more antelope than there are mule deer, there’s more antelope than there are elk, and I hate it but I see why they do it and I actually love it. With the way they manage those, you have to draw for that antelope tag, it’s not a general over the counter, they don’t offer that, they offer it for mule deer and elk. But if you really think about the grand scope of it, antelope make up a small portion of the national population. The overall number is very small. So that’s why I love antelope. It’s a lot better table fare than what it’s made out to be.
Ramsey Russell: I’ll tell you what and I’m going to say it I’ve shot a couple antelope. And I hear people say, oh well, you know, then. I like it. Now the first thing that struck me the first time I ever walked up to one, it smelled like a goat. I hear people call them speed goats. Well, I like goat and I think antelope is absolutely delicious. You know, I really do. How do you cook antelope?
Levi Kary: I mean, I love taking the back straps, butterflying them out like into steaks, and just salt and pepper and making them up like a steak. You got to keep cooking medium rare. It’s wild game. They don’t have the right fat content that domestic game has. But another thing I like doing is making like little tiny chicken fried steaks out of them.
Ramsey Russell: Chicken fried steak anything.
Levi Kary: I do little fajitas. I mean all sorts of stuff, sausage.
Ramsey Russell: Both pronghorn I shot, I was in college. And it was hot. We weren’t in Wyoming, we were down in New Mexico. And for a minute we got back, shut them out. And they were going to cook, I said no, no, deep boned him, put him in an ice chest down, put in the cooler, flew home with it, and got home. And I mean, the entire thing, tenderloin, back strap, front shoulders, all the pieces of meat sliced up, and made fajitas, and threw a party. Had a fajita party, you know, and just marinated them. And it was something simple. I did like onion, peppers, red wine, lime juice, vinegar, or something like that. And then cast iron skillets over wood coals, just browned it up, just turned them out, you know, with tortillas. We ate the whole freaking goat. In two parties we ate two goats.
Levi Kary: It doesn’t take a whole lot to feed out of goat, you know, dressed out their way, and like all of 60 or 70 lbs. But yeah, I mean but that’s the thing too, is the reason they get a bad reputation is people don’t cool them down quick enough. But I mean most of the time when you’re shooting those suckers it’s hot out. So you got to open those suckers up, you got to cool them down. I always bring a big old five gallon jug of cold ice water in the pickup with me. You open them up after you got them out, clean them out, and then I pour and I wash down that hole inside cavity out, try and bring down that temperature. And then the minute I can get them home, I’m throwing them in a walk in cooler, something, getting that goat cooled down because otherwise they’re going to bone rot, spoil really quick. I mean every hunter tries to put down an animal very quickly. But I mean, an antelope, when those suckers get running, that adrenaline’s going, and I really think that affects how that meat tastes as well.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah it does. Getting back to duck hunting. So you got your daddy hooked on duck hunts, tell me about his first duck hunt with you.
The First of Many Field Goose Hunts
Elk, and mule deer, and pronghorn, and Lord knows what else, and finally got out there on a goose hunt.
Levi Kary: Actually his first waterfowl hunt was a field goose hunt. And I told him, I said I’ll have him walking next to you, I’ll do this just because I can tell you’re passionate about is what he’s telling me. I could see his doubts. So I actually invited the kid that got me into waterfowl hunting because I thought it would be poetic. So I’ve got the guy that got me into waterfowl hunting, I’ve got myself, and then I got my dad on the far left. We’re working a group of honkers and dad’s just sitting there giggling, I could hear him giggling and shaking in his blind. I mean I’ve watched this man shoot giant trophy elk and barely even shiver. I mean he was happy but he wasn’t nervous, I mean visibly nervous. And then he goes, can we shoot him, can we shoot him? I said no, no, we’re not going to shoot him, we’re going to make him land. And I’m not kidding you when that honker sat down, not even like eight inches away from my dad’s head and I could just hear him, oh I can hear him breathing, he’s right next to me. Oh, I mean, I’m just kind of peeking through my blind just watching it, and his whole blind was just trembling. How that goose didn’t like, look over like, what the heck, you know? And we had plenty of geese out in front of us, I said alright let’s take him, he jumped up, and there we go.
Ramsey Russell: Wow. So he is a waterfowl hunter now or is he still just go cause —
Levi Kary: He’s a waterfowl hunter you know but he —
Ramsey Russell: How old was he on that first shoot?
Levi Kary: That was five years ago, I mean he was 50.
Ramsey Russell: Wow. Born and raised out here. Elk, and mule deer, and pronghorn, and Lord knows what else, and finally got out there on a goose hunt. And all these geese he’s seen flying around his whole life.
Levi Kary: Well, now I’ve got him out scouting and stuff like that, and dad just goes, you know, I didn’t ever really realize how many geese and ducks are flying through the air. Because when you’re not looking for them, they’re just another bird flying through the air.
Ramsey Russell: Did you cook it? Did you skin to cook it for him?
Levi Kary: Yeah. Skinned it to cook it for them. Taught him how to make jerky out of it and stuff, you know, that’s kind of a Wyoming thing, you know, we all love our jerky, everybody does, it’s a staple up here really.
Ramsey Russell: It is a staple up here.
Levi Kary: So taught him how to make jerky out of it. And then last year when a boy from Alabama taught me how to make duck the correct way. Then we went over to my dad’s house and I said dad, I’ll tell you what, I’ve got this recipe that I would put it up against a ribeye steak.
Mouth-Watering Recipes for Goose & Duck
Ramsey Russell: What is that recipe?
Levi Kary: It’s just a normal salt and pepper. Just cook the skin down. I mean, just a normal duck steak skillet.
Ramsey Russell: Pan seared.
Levi Kary: Exactly.
Ramsey Russell: Three minutes.
Levi Kary: Yeah. You know, you want that the skin side to be sound a little bit like sandpaper but do not overcook it after you flip it, all that stuff. I always have a temperature probe, just because I could get to drinking too many beers and let them go if I don’t, and watch my temp, sitting about 130 and pull them off, let them rest for a little bit.
Ramsey Russell: I’ve had people tell me you can take them skin side down and light the fire once you’ve got them on a cold skillet, and let it warm up, and let them get to that temperature that it does something to the fat differently. But me, I always just start with a hot skillet and I go three minutes down, three minutes over, three minutes in the oven and then make a reduction of some sort and put it back over and it’s just foolproof. And I don’t know about a goose. I’m going to tell you, Canada goose is one of my least favorite waterfowl species to eat. It’s just tough. They’re big. In my part of the world, some of them may be as old as you, you know what I’m saying? It’s a tough bird but it’s doable. I mean like last night you cook some great stir fry and went to a lot of – I mean, it’s a little more detailed than a lot of stir fry I’ve eaten, but it was absolutely delicious.
Levi Kary: Thank you.
Ramsey Russell: What did you marinate that goose breast in? You took those geese breast and marinated them in Coca Cola?
Levi Kary: Coca Cola. I let them sit in Coca Cola for five days. And a lot of times I’ll actually trade out that Coca Cola every day and it helps pull a lot of that blood out and those breasts will almost look like chicken breast. And that’s usually when I do jerky. I do like a sweet and spicy mix when I’m trading out that cola all the time.
Ramsey Russell: I think you could have marinated them in that sauce, which was soy sauce, rice vinegar, ginger, is very simple.
Levi Kary: Yeah, ginger, soy sauce.
Ramsey Russell: Rice vinegar, sesame oil.
Levi Kary: Sesame seeds.
Ramsey Russell: Don’t forget the cornstarch.
Levi Kary: Yeah, because I about did.
Ramsey Russell: And I think that was nearly it.
Levi Kary: Yeah, I think we might just be missing maybe one little –
Ramsey Russell: Chicken broth.
Levi Kary: Chicken broth, yep.
Ramsey Russell: And I really think you could have marinated in two or three of them ingredients and then and of course stir fried, move them off to stir fry your veggies, remove them all, put them together, put them over —
Levi Kary: Noodles, or those crunchy noodles or whatever.
Ramsey Russell: It’s pretty simple. And I like to put some cayenne pepper on mine, really kicked it off a little bit.
Levi Kary: I definitely wanted to. And normally when I’m making that stir fry sauce, I throw in crushed red pepper. But my wife thinks ketchup is hot, and my daughter is pretty close.
Ramsey Russell: Ketchup is hot. Okay, yeah, but go easy on the red pepper. Y’all got enough cayenne to last your lifetime if ketchup is hot.
Levi Kary: No kidding, right. But I’ve also bought some of that stuff so that’s why.
Keeping Honey Hole Secrets
And that’s the secret, it’s access to the right spot.
Ramsey Russell: Both of the hunts we did up here so far were very, very simple. Well, just a little scenic getting down to the Riverbank yesterday, but I think we threw out 10 decoys, nothing fancy just and they’re moving like nobody’s business because of the river current. And you didn’t use a Mojo. We didn’t need a motion decoy. I don’t think a Mojo would help – I don’t think a spinner in this part of the world would help. I don’t think they’ve seen enough, which brings up a point: there are duck and goose hunters around but so far most of them I know are pretty dang cloak and dagger, secret quiet about it. I mean it’s just not – but you know, like we didn’t hear another shot yesterday.
Levi Kary: And a lot of that I think is steeped into our big game background. You don’t want to tell anybody your little honey hole because, I mean, Wyoming 90% of it, if not more — I’m just pulling the statistic out, but —
Ramsey Russell: A lot of it.
Levi Kary: — I mean, its public land.
Ramsey Russell: Right.
Levi Kary: So you don’t tell anybody where you got this buck or you got this elk because next thing there’ll be 50 people on that same hillside.
Ramsey Russell: You’ve explained to me last night while we were cooking dinner that like the river itself is public.
Levi Kary: Correct.
Ramsey Russell: But the land ain’t.
Levi Kary: The land ain’t.
Ramsey Russell: The land up the bank ain’t. It takes permission or something to get to the bend, or the stretch of the flat, or the hole because they’re not just using the entire river. They’re looking for certain little areas to lay up out of the wind, out of the current, maybe with some areas to feed on invertebrates or something like that. And that’s the secret, it’s access to the right spot.
Levi Kary: I mean, there are plenty of places around that are private but the Game and Fish has gone in and basically leased it out for walking purposes. You know, there’s spots like that, but those spots get hit. And then there’s plenty of BLM or that type of state land that butts up to the river and stuff. But you got to look and find those spots, and kind of like the place we hunted, it was landlocked by private – there’s a lot of that checkerboard stuff that goes on. So I mean that satellite map that’s on your phone is your best friend.
What Every Waterfowl Hunter Needs to Know About Water & Land Laws in Wyoming
So the way it works, at least in Wyoming, is the state owns the water.
Ramsey Russell: Talk about the property laws on that river. Like where does that landowners property rights end? How does it end? And then talk about that landmark. I think it involved a duck hunter case about private property rights on that river.
Levi Kary: It was fisherman not getting peckish. So the way it works, at least in Wyoming, is the state owns the water. And a lot of that’s from irrigation, and it’s for getting the water down to Louisiana, Mississippi. Overall that’s how that water is supposed to go from whoever’s — and whoever can use it is the first one in line as the tributary flows down. So with our land laws though, if you own one side of the river and Joe Blow owns the other side of the river, you own one side, the guy owns the other side right to the middle of that river. But because the state owns the water, if you wanted, you could float the river down and you could duck hunt all you want. That case you speak of, that fisherman jumped out of their float boat or their little raft, and the landowner saw him do it, tried prosecuting them for trespassing. And that fishermen must have had a really good lawyer or something because they brought in a scientist that said there was no physical way that you could remove all the water molecules between that person’s foot and the land or the rock that was underneath of it. So I mean I don’t know if I’d want to trust my luck that much.
Ramsey Russell: That’s some real bad luck stuff.
Levi Kary: Yeah. I mean, if it were me they would have locked me up and thrown away the keys, that’s what would have happened. And I get that from my job in a conference. I don’t have that actual case number, I don’t have that actual true solid fact but there was somebody giving a presentation at my work that was put on by the state. So I think it’s pretty legit.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah. Wow, that’s a heck of a lawyer and heck of a thought. I mean, is it my property, ain’t it? It seems like it would be. That’s a very simple setup when you go into these areas and today was a very simple setup too, but it’s really not an arduous water setup around here, it’s just a few decoys and maybe a little bit of motion and concealment.
Levi Kary: Yeah, it’s not like — kind of where you’re from, where your rivers are generally a lot bigger, right?
Ramsey Russell: Lot bigger.
Levi Kary: So, I mean, you don’t have a whole lot to make things complicated really. And I’ve always been told KISS: keep it simple stupid. So why not?
Ramsey Russell: Yeah, and then today by contrast, again, very simple, we park a truck, we walk a few hundred yards and you call it a creek, I call it a ditch. I mean it was five yards wide and not even over the top of my knee boots because we were putting out decoys. And we just strung them all willy-nilly up and down, a little bit here, a little bit there, the wind of course didn’t do us any favors, but it didn’t matter. And we could have gotten off some tall grass, it’s still, we got up under that tree and just waited it out, and didn’t do too bad, shot some ducks. Had that one big bunch come in, a couple of big bunches coming around, right at legal. And then it was just kind of picking up green-wings and boundaries that were trading up and down. But I mean it was just a tiny, tiny bottom body of water. Is that a creek?
Levi Kary: Technically it is. I mean that that wasn’t an irrigation.
Ramsey Russell: Which I call creeks.
Levi Kary: Crick, yeah.
Ramsey Russell: I have got a crick in my neck but anyway.
Levi Kary: I get that from some quite a few other people, I don’t know, but that’s what I’ve always been called it. But yeah, technically on the map, you pull it up, it says that it’s a creek.
Ramsey Russell: You’ve been watching birds just falling. They used to drink, to loaf, I mean I can’t help but think that that as tight as that thing was and shrouded with grass, that 20-30 miles hour wind would have helped a lot because they want to get off whatever open water they were sitting on and come in and just tuck out of nowhere.
Levi Kary: Oh, that would get them out of it.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah.
Levi Kary: That spot definitely would get them out of it.
Ramsey Russell: That would get them right in that spot. But I mean it was all just a little chip shots. I mean that the birds we shot, the Mallards, which I don’t remember how many birds we shot, it was a bunch, but I mean they were just, boom, that they were just right there on top of – what got me was when the Green-wings would come through, they look like one little slot electrical racetrack. I used to have one, because they were right over that creek and every little bend and dip. They just followed until they come around the last curve there, right on top of us. And it’s just, I mean, I thought that was so interesting here.
Levi Kary: Yeah.
Ramsey Russell: Will that piece of water freeze?
Levi Kary: Typically that doesn’t. I mean further way further downstream, it will. But that right there, it stays pretty open. There is enough, a couple underground drains that flow into that, like from irrigation drains, that flow into that and that’s what helps keep that open. So it’s almost like a little warm water slough. It’s not like a hot spring driven warm water slough.
Ramsey Russell: But you all do have those around. Do you?
Levi Kary: Oh, yeah, yep.
Ramsey Russell: I mean we’re far north compared to Mississippi and we always wait on cold fronts to blow birds down. But y’all season runs until when is your duck season?
Levi Kary: Middle of January.
Ramsey Russell: I mean, so we get ten days more than y’all get. And y’all are way up here and its -32. Plus you’ve got the habitat and resources to sustain horrible numbers of waterfowl. And everybody I’ve talked to said it just gets better, and better, and better, when a lot of these shallow water, and fresh, and still water freezes and they all congregate on these thermic pools and these rivers and stuff like that, they say it’s just stupid. Absolutely stupid. I can’t imagine.
Levi Kary: Yeah. Getting the Goldeneyes to finally move in right, you know, all that. That just adds to it too. I mean, not only do you get a lot of Mallards and Green-wings and that kind of stuff, but when those Goldeneyes show up, that’s when you know that things are going to start getting really good.
What Waterfowl Species are in Wyoming?
23 species of waterfowl to include Common Scoters.
Ramsey Russell: You told me when I got here the other night, over dinner or breakfast, you were telling me you had counted 20 something species of waterfowl out in some local areas. 23 species of waterfowl to include Common Scoters.
Levi Kary: Yeah, I couldn’t believe I saw those.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah, I think they were lost.
Levi Kary: They definitely were.
Ramsey Russell: Somebody posted up a picture on social media just yesterday of two Common Scoters in Kansas, and I’m thinking I don’t know where you Scoters went, you know, because they’re lost and they ain’t lost no more.
Levi Kary: No.
Ramsey Russell: Do you eat the Golden Eyes?
Levi Kary: Yeah. Most of the time I make jerky out of them. That’s what I usually do. But man, I love shooting them, just I mean, they’re so fast.
Ramsey Russell: They’re a beautiful bird.
Levi Kary: Oh yeah, gorgeous.
Ramsey Russell: One thing about – getting back to that Shawnee River yesterday – we set up and bam-bam, you doubled on a pair of Gadwalls and Char went to the second mark and she spanked it. I mean she was there lickety freaking split, bam, right where it fell, and then she’s stuck because she knew where that mark was. She’s looking and looking. For the whole time she’s looking, fighting the current, I’m watching that duck getting further and further away down river because that current is moving.
Levi Kary: Yep.
Ramsey Russell: So I finally had to trot off down there, whistle her off, get her on bank, run ahead, send her back up in there and cast her because I think she picked up after it got light.
Levi Kary: Yeah, she could see that bird.
Ramsey Russell: She could see that bird moving. But boy, that first one that hit that white water, I was like God, that’s a Mississippi dog.
Levi Kary: And normally I would have gone out in the river and picked it up. But because that algae that we talked about before, that grass or whatever, that stuff is slicker than snot, and I’ve tried that before, and few times I’ve gone down and it wasn’t good.
Ramsey Russell: Do you think that Wyoming local people’s participation in waterfowl hunting is pretty much the same? Do you think it’s grown? Because it seems to be like this resurgent, big resurged interest in waterfowl hunting, do you think did it here too? Or is everybody pretty much sticking with their old cowboy ways?
Levi Kary: It’s growing. Look at me, look at me pushing my dad to do it, and then there’s a few other people that I know that are getting into it that weren’t ever before. Now that I’ve gotten into it, I haven’t even taken them out, but now there’s four firemen down at the Fire Department that are duck hunters now. And I keep trying to get them to go out with me rather than compete against them. And just schedules don’t match up, and things like that, but it’ll happen, it’s growing.
What’s the Pull’N Feathers Podcast All About?
I just love talking hunting, and dogs, and every aspect of it with everybody. It’s just it’s an excuse for me to sit down and BS, and talk with people.
Ramsey Russell: That’s good. Well talk about, let’s change this up a little bit. You’ve got a waterfowl podcast.
Levi Kary: Yes sir.
Ramsey Russell: Pull’n Feathers.
Levi Kary: Yes sir.
Ramsey Russell: How did that come about?
Levi Kary: That all came about originally two years ago, and it just happened sitting out in a goose field, sitting amongst all of our buddies, and we’re sitting there BSing, saying man, we’re funny aren’t we? Man, somebody would really want to listen to us. I mean, and thinking back, I’m like, what were we thinking? You know, who would really want to listen to us? But it just evolved from there. Next thing I knew I had ordered a recorder, I had ordered mics and I’m going, oh crap, we’re doing this thing. And we made it work. And pretty much I’m the only guy still from that group that’s carrying it on. You know, my buddy who you met yesterday, Ryan? He just would elect to not talk and stuff, which is more than all right, but we’re still good hunting buddies and whatnot. He likes to kind of help out and dabble, and maybe schedule some people here for us to get on our podcast and whatnot.
Ramsey Russell: How would you describe the scope or purpose of your podcast?
Levi Kary: To make connections with people. I mean similar to you in that way. We get a little bit ruder and cruder at times, not all the time.
Ramsey Russell: We hunters can be rude and crude.
Levi Kary: Correct, correct. But I also like covering big game. I just love talking hunting, and dogs, and every aspect of it with everybody. It’s just it’s an excuse for me to sit down and BS, and talk with people.
Ramsey Russell: Talk about duck hunting.
Levi Kary: Talk about duck hunting, talk about elk hunt, antelope, you know anything, as long as it relates to the outdoors.
Ramsey Russell: What was your – and I’ve never really asked this of another podcaster but why a podcast? I mean you want to connect with people, but what do you hope to accomplish?
Levi Kary: Hell, I don’t even really know, to tell you the truth. To really accomplish would be to help connect people together too. And I’m no expert myself, by any means as a waterfowler, as a hunter in general, but if I can share what I know with somebody just getting into it, I’m going to do it. Or the more I can learn from somebody else, the better it makes me, and if I can record them helping me out, it’s going to help who knows who else. And I don’t know, just find commonalities, you know, and things like that.
Ramsey Russell: That’s just it. That’s one thing I’ve learned if I hadn’t learned one thing in 20 years of beating around the world – meeting, and talking with duck hunters, and talking to clients, and talking to client prospects, and talking to people at shows, now talking to people on podcast, talking to people like yourself, talking to engaged social media folks – is duck hunting really is like this universal truth, this universal language. And you don’t really have to speak Azeri to communicate with an Azerbaijani duck hunter, or a Wyoming duck hunter, or a California duck hunter, or a Delaware duck hunter. There really is. We talk different, we eat different, we grew up different, w got some different local values and upbringing but we are really kind of sort of the truth. And that’s kind of what led me down this trail as I saw this, and just wanted to tell the whole story of duck hunting, and share it, and grow it. And it’s really not important to me to have quote “rock stars.” In fact, what do the rock star bring the table? Nothing. You know? I want to talk to the heartbeat, you know, and get us all kind of together. So much divisive forces. It seems to me like to an extent a lot of the brands the way they communicate to the public it builds like this sect-type rivalry. Oh, no, no, I don’t shoot that, I’m on the other team. No, no, no, we’re a duck hunter. Shoot what you want, wear what you want, be what you want. We’re duck hunters. Let’s work together. That’s just kind of my take on it all. You know, bringing this universal truth together but beyond the consumerism. If you can just shuck yourself of that brand consumerism, now we’re down to the heartbeat. I don’t notice what kind of bibs you’re wearing, the boots you’re wearing, the waders you’re wearing, or decoys you’re using. I just don’t notice it. It’s just beyond the point. Use what works for you.
Levi Kary: Yeah, exactly. And like you said, people are just so quick to go after another hunter for some little tiny thing. You know, you’re losing sight of what the heck you’re really out there for.
Ramsey Russell: It’s a growing process. And boy, I tell you what, I’ve learned from mistakes a whole lot more than from successes. You tend to forget that. Mistakes make you better. And it is a climb and grind to the top, or to wherever you’re going, and there really is no end point. A lot of the feedback we get from podcast and social media, I think it’s working. I want to get beyond – obviously we have sponsors, but they’re not, I’m not out there beating. But hey, it’s products I’ve used for a long time and believe in. And if I don’t believe in it, I don’t want to be a part of it. How can I dare tell you come use this or use that if I don’t use it and believe in it myself?
Levi Kary: Exactly.
Ramsey Russell: But that’s not hawking consumerism, is just sharing, what I tell you is what works for me. You know what I’m saying? Here’s what I used to wear, because it works, I mean –
Levi Kary: If you want to try it, try it out and if you don’t like it, okay, that’s okay, that’s your own ideal. That’s fine.
Ramsey Russell: You know, what works for you, that’s just it. I just try to shut myself of all that. I think that it’s like influence, “influencer”. That used to not be a job title and now all of a sudden it’s like become this career goal of a lot of people. I don’t understand it. I’m old school. I’m old. I don’t understand it. I don’t understand trying to cultivate that persona.
Levi Kary: I think a lot of people think it’s the easy way to be famous. I really do
Ramsey Russell: Yeah, I don’t get it.
Levi Kary: But you know, the more I get into some of this podcast stuff and getting my name out there and stuff, it’s like, I don’t want to be famous. I just want to talk to people.
Ramsey Russell: I want to hear the stories.
Levi Kary: Well, yeah, exactly. And just being famous complicates it and puts a bigger target on your back, things like that.
Ramsey Russell: The last thing I want to be as famous. It’s like everybody wants to be a rock star, to which I say there’s only one Elvis Presley, he was the king, and the rest is just, who are they? Who are they? You know what I’m saying? Except for Lynyrd Skynyrd, I’m going to throw him in there too. They were somebody too, but not everybody, not every rock star is going to be Elvis Presley or Lynyrd Skynyrd. So just be yourself, and move on, and be genuine and authentic, and make this thing happen. And that’s why I have been on your podcast, have listened to your podcast, it’s just good conversations with people and that’s what I like.
Levi Kary: Talking about that whole conversation thing that that brings up kind of something I brought up to you about having that anti-hunter, that vegan on our podcast. That was just back to the whole finding commonality thing, let’s have a discussion, let’s be as civil as we can about it. I wasn’t there to change her mind. I knew she wasn’t going to change my mind, but let’s maybe see where each other comes from a little bit, but that conversation could have gone a little bit better in ways but-
Ramsey Russell: You tried.
Levi Kary: You can try and you can only do what you can do. And now, sadly, I see her starting to start trolling people that are following me and stuff. So I’m about ready to get after her and have another conversation again.
Ramsey Russell: Here’s what I love. My wife says, you found your calling, podcast and it is. Duck hunting is a culture, and culture is made up of people, and people are different, and one of the highest compliments I ever received from my good friend, Tom Beckby. He said Ramsey, you’re a cultural anthropologist. I said man, I’m going to print that on a business card because that I love that, I like that. I mean, that’s what compels me down the rabbit hole of exploring duck hunting and why people duck hunt, how they started duck hunting, and who duck hunts, and it’s such a subjective experience. There are people that that would love what we did yesterday on Shawnee River and people that would hate it.
Levi Kary: Oh, yeah.
Ramsey Russell: There’s people that love to hunt flooded timber and people that can take it or leave it but that’s what makes it great. Now I’m going to end on this. After traveling the whole freaking world, yesterday is just absolute vital living proof that America is, I mean head and shoulders blessed above everybody else with this magical playground. We’ve got way more species, diversity than anybody else, especially when you start talking subspecies. We’ve got all these different nooks and crannies. And right about the time you think you’ve seen and done it all, the sun rises over the Shawnee River, and you’re in this spectacular wonderland, you know? I know that tomorrow morning, or a week later, every day is not going to be like that. It’s endless. It’s endless the places in this beautiful country of ours. And you meet so many passionate duck hunters. That’s the whole point for me. You know, whether it’s this podcast or just traveling, or waking up the next morning, or answering the phone. That’s the whole point to me. We’re absolutely blessed beyond measure from California to Delaware, from the Gulf Coast up into Canada. We’re blessed beyond measure compared to everybody else in the world.
Levi Kary: Couldn’t agree with that more.
Ramsey Russell: What next? How’s the species and the hunting and just – end on this note. How’s everything going to change here in Wyoming when and if winter comes? And it’s coming.
Levi Kary: Winter is coming. You can feel it out there. It’s only going to get better. That’s all I can say. And looking forward to it. It’s going to be great.
Ramsey Russell: Does it ever get so cold that you say I ain’t duck hunting?
Levi Kary: I’m too hardheaded to quit. I really am. I’d be out there frozen in a block of ice before I quit. It’s the whole reason I got a dog.
Ramsey Russell: Yep.
Levi Kary: Yep. You know, the whole reason I got a dog, I told my wife, you’re going to either plan a funeral because I’m going to end up falling in that river, getting above those waders and drown, or you’re going to let me get a dog.
Ramsey Russell: Levi, tell everybody how they can get in touch with you.
Levi Kary: You guys can get in touch with me on social media, Pull’N Feathers podcast and shoot me a DM or whatever. And I love to talk to you guys. And also listen to everywhere you can find this podcast.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah, very good. Folks, thank you all for listening this episode of Duck Season Somewhere. Rate, share and engage. Thank you all for listening. I do appreciate you. Just so you know, you guys that hit me up on social media and text messages and all. Y’all are sending me down this rabbit hole, man. Y’all are just riding me with spurs. And it compels me to go deeper and deeper and further down the road. And I do appreciate y’all for listening to this episode of Duck Season Somewhere. See you next time.