Freshly returned from his first real “guided snow goose hunting” in Arkansas, Forrest Russell colorfully describes to Ramsey Russell a school-of-hard-knocks swindle lesson about choosing the right outfitter, and why rolling with good friends takes precedence over all else. Bigwater then asks Ramsey “questions from the inbox” as Duck Season Somewhere podcast turns a year old. What was happening a year ago? First duck, leg bands, places he’s hunted that he’d consider moving, and the only place he’d hunt if he had to? How’s the pandemic affecting travel? Much more in this episode.
Snow Goose Sh*t Show
But what was your first sign that this was going to be a goat roping of epic proportion?
Ramsey Russell: I’m your host, Ramsey Russell. Join me here to listen to those conversations. Welcome back to Duck Season Somewhere, intermission time. Feels good to be home. I’m sitting at home with a fireplace going, watching my dog stretch out a Char dog laying and I’m sitting here with world famous Big Water and my sidekick Forrest. How you all doing today?
Mark Wilson: Good Ramsey.
Forrest Russell: Pretty good.
Mark Wilson: I don’t know about your son, but yeah, I’m good.
Forrest Russell: Just out of little money.
Ramsey Russell: Let’s fly off into – let’s go ahead and start this episode.
Mark Wilson: I think so.
Ramsey Russell: Snow goose shit show. And I hate to say that vulgarly but it truly is. There’s been a conservation order season now for two decades, a little over. It’s become a business, it become an industry, shooting whitey, shooting snow geese, hunting these birds out here on the wintering grounds. It’s become an industry of epic proportion. The problem is anybody can be a snow goose guide, all you need is a web page and Facebook page. Something interesting, you folks that know me, especially my client, you all know how I got in this business. I got in this business on my own goose rodeo, way back when, and hey, you can find your own good hunts out there but Getducks.com and USHuntList, we work with reputable outfitters to kind of save everybody a little bit of time and money on going to the wrong outfitter. And I thought was pretty darn interesting that my number one son, my oldest child who has side kicked with me, shoot all over the place around the world at times. He and his buddies did a little bachelor trip and booked a trip to Arkansas an affordable, a super affordable snow goose trip.
Mark Wilson: Which is your first red flag.
Ramsey Russell: That ought to be a red flag.
Mark Wilson: That’s your first red flag.
Forrest Russell: It was a red flag.
Ramsey Russell: How much did you all pay?
Forrest Russell: It was $225 a person.
Mark Wilson: And that’s lodging too right?
Forrest Russell: Yeah, with lodging, with meals, it was $650 total per person, for eight people.
Ramsey Russell: For 3 hunts, 3 days, meals, and lodging?
Forrest Russell: Yeah, 6 hunts. So morning hunt and evening hunt.
Mark Wilson: That’s the first sign, your guide didn’t know what the hell he’s doing. He doesn’t know how to price it.
Forrest Russell: Oh I know.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah. Well he doesn’t know how to price it because hey only $225 a day, its snow goose hunt, let’s go try it. And it just sucks people in. It’s what I call pennywise and pound foolish, and I hate you had to learn it. But now I got to say I did gain tremendous amount of entertainment value with the text messages.
Forrest Russell: I mean everybody kind of knew what we were getting into. I mean they talked to me about it and I mean, I looked at you know Dirty Bird all that, and I mean everybody there’s 23 years old, just out of college. And just, I mean basically everybody just wanted to go on a cheap trip we’re like, well, we can do this for less the same is going to cost to go to New Orleans or whatever like that.
Ramsey Russell: Right. And that’s a lot to be said for that, it was super affordable, you all are very young people and just getting out of college, just getting your feet wet. Haven’t all of you moved out of mom and dad’s house yet? Let alone get married and all that good stuff. But, so that’s all good and fine. But red flag number one is pretty cheap, but you never can’t tell because there are some, it’s snow goose hunt, there are some savvy folks out there.
Forrest Russell: And we expected, we’re probably going to be sitting on the field trying to run traffic on a big spread and might shoot 4 or 5 geese a day.
Ramsey Russell: If the goose god smile, and the weather comes in, my trading birds like that running traffic work sometimes. Like a lot of reputable outfitters that run traffic successfully. But what was your first sign that this was going to be a goat roping of epic proportion?
Forrest Russell: My first sign is when,
Ramsey Russell: Feel free to read from your notes. Go ahead.
Forrest Russell: Yeah, I’ve got a whole package.
Mark Wilson: Read that text you sent the first text. That was that was a good one.
Forrest Russell: Yeah, my first red flag before even, I mean two weeks ago, Zach said, yeah, man, talked to the outfitter today, he’s got 100,000 geese sitting on his field. And I said, okay, well first off, I’ve waited a long time, I ain’t never seen 100,000 geese sitting on a section of rice.
Ramsey Russell: A little bit of an exaggeration.
Forrest Russell: Yeah, I mean 10,000-15,000, that’s reasonable. 100,000 geese. There’s probably not 100,000 geese in Arkansas County right now.
Ramsey Russell: So you get to the lodge, describe the lodge?
Forrest Russell: So we pull up behind the sonnet, a little old crack house. And we walk in, I meet the guide, I mean he’s just like I expect him to be. He looked about like, you remember that Davy Crockett show when he fights Bigfoot? I mean dude comes in about 6’7, 400 pounds, and walks in and just immediately starts to show. Just man, there’s geese everywhere, and this dude, which I mean you’d have to read my text on what exactly I said, but I mean it was just –
Ramsey Russell: You said little crack house lodge, no cable, beds unmade, seems like a paint huffing house trim carpenter.
Forrest Russell: Yeah, I mean, to a T.
Ramsey Russell: And I ain’t going to read his name but no, that’s not a good sign.
Forrest Russell: We walk in. He said, I got a, so he had to go deposit our balance so that he could go buy a cordless drill to put together the bunk beds in there. But he said, just sleep wherever. I mean none of the beds in the house are made. He said, I ain’t got anything that you all ain’t already got. And I said, well, I ain’t sleeping your damn bed. I can tell you that right now, it’s point which one you’ve been in and I ain’t going to be in that one.
Mark Wilson: Beds unmade.
Ramsey Russell: Well, I mean, I’m not saying that maybe I didn’t show up early in the May didn’t make the bed but I’m sitting there thinking to myself, I mean, let’s be real here. There’s a pandemic going on. When the bed ain’t made, has not been made for the last 5 hunters since opening day, I mean we’re talking about absolute crack house, flop house or something like that. I mean, pandemic been going on, I want clean linens at least to start.
Forrest Russell: As cable just got out, going out about an hour before we got there, of course brand new TV still had the sticker on it. Not a picture in the house, I mean didn’t have pans, didn’t have plates.
Ramsey Russell: But it had good heat.
Forrest Russell: Oh, no heat.
Ramsey Russell: No heat whatsoever?
Forrest Russell: No heat whatsoever. No central heat.
Ramsey Russell: You showed me a picture of the back door wasn’t attached, was the breeze coming through?
Forrest Russell: Yeah about let’s see, it was the, I guess, after the first morning walk in the door just falls off the hinges, and the average person would go to Home Depot with his brand new cordless drill, and buy a new hinge, and put his door back on hinge. But he let it hang off a one hinge for about 6 hours and finally William just ripped it off the door, ripped it off the remaining hinge and set it up on the side. So I mean, he just knows, and then the screen door on it was also stuck open, and I’m just locked up. No effort, didn’t even try to close the door. So that out there was just free airflow the entire weekend. 28 degrees weather.
Ramsey Russell: Well, let’s get down to an important subject.
Mark Wilson: I would get drunk as shit to make that happen.
Forrest Russell: But we stayed plenty warm.
Ramsey Russell: What kind of meal might one expect for $225 a night to include meals and lodges? And we know what the lodge is like now.
Forrest Russell: So first evening, the whole, meals included, whatever, whatever.
Ramsey Russell: I’m almost envisioning the guy with an empty, saying, hey, I’m going to snow goose guide and I need a house. That house been empty for 13 years, I think I’m just going to move in. Nobody will say nothing.
Forrest Russell: Yeah, exactly. That’s exactly what it was. So this guy also apparently owns a catering company. But about 4:30 around, we went to Max, I brought shells, Zach went bought shells, everybody bought like a case of shells and I’m like, okay.
Ramsey Russell: Well you need the case shell to snow goose,
Forrest Russell: You got to have a case shells.
Ramsey Russell: Takes a lot of bullets.
Forrest Russell: Thankfully Max takes everybody takes unopen cases of shells back. So he owns this catering company, we’re having whatever for dinner, and about 4:30 he calls, hey, we are having issues with the catering, whatever, whatever, here’s 100 bucks, gives eight people 100 bucks go eat. We’re like, okay, whatever. About 60 calls after that, they ended up getting it worked out who’s going to bring by dinner. And it was just, I mean like Stouffer’s lasagna, I mean, but everybody was just, okay, whatever. And then he was talking about, so tomorrow morning, me and my guide, who had got there the day before, from Nebraska. Yeah, I just, I mean a kid, probably 24 years old, and I got it, he just wanted, he was trying to get his foot in the door and get something on his resume so he could work for somebody bigger. So he was like, we’re getting up and leaving at 3:30, which they did and they left at about five. He said, we’ll turn the oven on for you, just pop the breakfast in. I was thinking, I don’t know what I’m saying, so he has this three breakfast baskets on the counter the night before, and I peek in on one of them: already cooked biscuits, one of them is already cooked bacon, and one of them already cooked eggs that he throws in the oven for you for your hunt.
Ramsey Russell: How was that?
Forrest Russell: I couldn’t tell you.
Ramsey Russell: So you were telling me and big water the next morning, I mean, I’m sure you all stayed out by the fire pit and enjoy the cold weather and burning. I mean, look, you all are regardless of how this is all going down.
Mark Wilson: They are going to have good time.
Ramsey Russell: You all are eight guys on a bachelor party, roommates and friends, and so you’re going to have a good time. But the next morning you get up and how did, what was the rally call? For the hunt?
Forrest Russell: So we get out there the whole, he’s talked at all off. He’s got 70 dozen full bodies, two E-callers, the vortex machines. We get up
Ramsey Russell: 70 dozen. That’s help me here. 844 bodies?
Forrest Russell: Yeah something, a little short for 1000, pretty good. A bunch of full body. So we get out there and there’s approximately, I’d say 10 dozen socks and probably, I mean 10 dozen total decoys, with probably half of them full bodies.
Ramsey Russell: But you’re talking about most of these belong to the young man from Nebraska, who you described as a pretty good guy. He’s just getting his foot the door, he’s contract with this guy, he shows up with his trailer full of decoys.
Forrest Russell: Well, that’s what we thought. But the decoys were the guys we did confirmed, But everything else was the young guys, the trailer, the truck, the layout blinds, the A frames, everything except for the 10 dozen decoys where the young guys. So we’re sitting here, and this guy calls everybody and okay, so here’s the setup and I talked to my buddy from stock guard, I asked about the guy the day before and heard exactly what I figured I was about to hear. He was talking like, yeah, I’ve heard just past shooting and ditches and stuff, and sure as shit, he’s got an A-frame in the ditch, and I mean, sitting in knee deep, just mud. And I was like, okay, here we go. Calls everybody up and it’s like we’re about to go into battle, in the opening scene of Rambo or something. He says, we’re out here to save the tundra, drain every shell you got, we’re killing every, beating his chest, I mean, just trying to get everybody fired up. I mean, it goes on for 2, 3 minutes just, I mean a full on like reading a script. I mean, it wasn’t his first time to give this speech before.
Ramsey Russell: Well, Let me hear it.
Forrest Russell: I’m not. But, it was something. And then to end it, and it is snow goose hunting, we’ve done our part, but we may not fire a shot, it’s goose hunting. And I said –
Ramsey Russell: We are going to get rid of the snow geese, we are going on the war, you shoot everyone, you shoot all your shells, they’re deteriorating mallard habitat. We got to kill. But it is snow goose hunt so we may not fire shot.
Forrest Russell: Yeah, exactly. And so we sat and it went, I didn’t load my gun until 8:30 and we sat there and E-caller didn’t work okay? His brand new E-caller out of the box. He said, he had two E-callers, but he shows it with one brand new one that’s “brand new” doesn’t work, says it’s broken, but turns out it was just a dead battery. They didn’t charge the night before opening day. So needless to say, he sat over there with his one little, calling about every 30 minutes. He’ll just go. I mean just like that, like it was like he was peeping on the teal call or something every 20-30 minutes, no geese looked at us, obviously. And we did have one lone goose, I don’t know if he was crippled, sick or just lonely. He landed out in the middle of the field and walked all the way to the spread and he got out there about 80 yards. And I said, well nobody else going to shoot him. I mean, everybody in the blind started ripping at this goose on the ground and we killed him.
Ramsey Russell: Putting him out of his misery.
Forrest Russell: Yeah. And then we sat there till 9:30 or so.
Ramsey Russell: Even the guide didn’t jump up and say we didn’t get skunked by god.
Forrest Russell: He didn’t say a word,
Ramsey Russell: He probably woke him up.
Forrest Russell: Yeah, I mean, seriously? And so we sat there till 9:30, left, whatever, says he has something lined up for that afternoon, he said we’d leave the house about one. Get out there and at one he calls and says it’s going to be about three. Honestly, if there’s any day of this trip you want to stay home and just drink, it’s probably this afternoon. Zach says, I mean we paid to be here, well just go sit out there whatever. So we go out there, so he did have a few more decoys out. I’d say he had probably 15 dozen when we get out there layout blinds in the bean field. I’m talking with the Avery plastic grass, I mean halfway brushed in, halfway at best.
Ramsey Russell: So you all moved to another field for that afternoon?
Forrest Russell: We did move to another field for the afternoon. And the guy said he did his E-caller, he did have the battery charge and it worked for about an hour and then it stopped working again. He did say this is the first time, he was honest the whole trip. He said, we might shoot a few this afternoon but probably not. It was like, but they’re coming here in the morning and you better keep your shells on the left side of you, gun on the right so you can reload as fast as you can, because it’s just going to – And I was like, okay, I need to say, we don’t want you to goose guide again.
Ramsey Russell: Everybody wants to be a snow goose guide until it’s time to do real snow goose.
Forrest Russell: Yeah. So after he tells us that, probably didn’t kill anything whatever, he gets his blind says, well it’s about time some shut on and he snored for two hours. Never open his blind, never looked out, never looked for a goose. I mean just sat there.
Ramsey Russell: Did you all burn any of his firewood?
Forrest Russell: We burned all this firewood.
Ramsey Russell: Well, he probably had enough to encourage ya’ll. He wanted you all to stay warm.
Forrest Russell: Yeah, there he had a, I mean it probably wasn’t his firewood. I don’t know, he said, he lives here, but he had two pairs, he never changed clothes the entire hunt, the entire time we were there, and he had two pairs of shorts, and that was it.
Ramsey Russell: Well, he traveled a long enough to know some of us like that.
Forrest Russell: But, he said, just, burn whatever’s, don’t burn my pecan. We burned every piece of pecan he had out there, and we stack the fire as high as we could, and burned every single piece that fire would burn in the time we were there.
A Good Ole’ Texas Snow Goose Hunt
I must say we killed, I know we limited on specks, all of us limited on specks, and then we almost, say we shot 40 snow geese.
Ramsey Russell: Break. I want to diverge a little bit. Do you remember the first snow goose hunt that you and Duncan and I went on? I don’t mean back when we used to crawl ditches. You remember the first one down in Texas?
Forrest Russell: Oh yeah.
Ramsey Russell: We show up, we get invited by a very young man, I’d have to look through my notes, figure out his name now it’s been so long. Real nice guy, back when I blogged.
Mark Wilson: Katie?
Ramsey Russell: Katie Prairie, down around Eagle Lake and this young man reached out to him and said, you know what, it’s not like it used to be, but I’ve got some pretty decent hunt I’d like for you and your two young sons to come hunting. And we show up, and it’s this young guy and an old school guide from way back when. And we stick out rags, just a little floppy tent pole things that they take those little things out, a bunch of them in a rice field and where the whites –
Mark Wilson: Classic Texas.
Ramsey Russell: And both of these boys, it was just like going back to the 70s and 80s and both of these boys had a mouth calls, but they knew how to blow them. And, we didn’t hear about limit on 20 people. Let me tell you what, it was me and Forest and Duncan, they were just in high school and it was three other men from Texas, and those two guides, and we put a big old pile down. I must say we killed, I know we limited on specks, all of us limited on specks, and then we almost, say we shot 40 snow geese. It was awesome. It was just so awesome. So now we were using, they were using mouth calls, that’s how they rolled, and using the old school stuff. That’s how they roll. But it was a good experience. I mean it was nothing like what you’re describing.
Forrest Russell: Oh yeah.
Ramsey Russell: And spring snow goose hunting is not a guarantee. I would, I’ve got a tremendous amount of respect for people like Matthew Pill and Nick Marcy’s, and many others I know that really do it right. Because you can put over, you can work 5-6 hours on the spread and stick everything out, you can get everything done perfectly. You can have scouted the X and steal. Then nature or something’s going to do you wild and you ain’t going to fire but a few shots, that’s just snow goose. But boy, it’s just like playing it, just like pulling that slot handle all night, if it ever lines up, boom, it’s a jackpot, and that’s what you got to go into. But what you’re describing is an absolute shit show of epic proportion, and unfortunately,
Mark Wilson: We’ve all been there.
Ramsey Russell: It works, everybody listening, you book enough guided hunts, you’re going to get there. And some of these folks are real good at selling and inducing you with price and inducing you with promises that are just BS. And do the math. If you do the math, if that guy was to take 10 groups like he did these young men, he’d be balling in about $60,000 cash money, which is probably two or three times the county per capita income. You know what he does with that money, I have no idea. And I ain’t about to say this man’s name or his business, it don’t matter because what I’m not trying to impress, I want Forrest to tell the story everybody was, it’s going to happen to you. Because these kinds of outfitters exist in a cash business, it’s too easy with social media and a web page to call yourself an outfitter with promises to the moon, and there’s too many people wanting to go do it. I mean, because the cost barrier of just the three of us, hey, let’s go into snow goose hunting, pretty steep hill to climb, with the gear and stuff and so. Forrest how did your hunt with this person end? You are out there and the ditch again, so how did it end?
Forrest Russell: It just went, I mean, first morning, then that afternoon, killed one goose. Next morning show up –
Mark Wilson: That’s the one that walked up.
Forrest Russell: Yeah, we kill the one that walked up. Next morning show up, same spread, it’s 28° night before and there’s a half inch of frost on every decoy out there. So the first thing I said, I mean, do you plan on killing geese this morning? Oh yeah. And I said, well how do you plan on killing with all that frost on decoys? And he said, oh, you don’t, it doesn’t bother me. And I said, well, I’ve hunted long enough, I know a duck will flare off that and I know a snow goose will. I ain’t no snows hunter but I know that. Whatever, we went back and forth for a little while, went out there and brush a few decoys off again, didn’t fire a shot. No E-caller again. Again, no E-caller. So we go that afternoon when he was out doing his “scouting”, whatever he was doing, he sounds that afternoon. I’d rather trips, all right, look, well this guy get this money back or what, I really don’t care what we got at least give him a hard time. We can’t just let the guy just get away with this. Now I’ve been at this point, everybody was still being nice and I’ve been –
Ramsey Russell: That’s right about the time I got a text from you that said, it’s kind of like its comical, it’s kind of like Tiger King but it ain’t and it really ain’t comical because we’re getting taken advantage of.
Forrest Russell: Everybody was in agreement. It was, I mean, we were having fun, but I mean it was just a complete joke.
Ramsey Russell: Well, by then what is the ratio of bottles of bourbon to snow geese?
Forrest Russell: By the end we added it up, and after all was said and done, and we went hunting with another buddy.
Ramsey Russell: We’re going to talk about that.
Forrest Russell: We came out to about five bottles per goose.
Ramsey Russell: Five bottles per goose. That sounded like a pretty good ratio for a hunt like it. So you all are sitting in that ditch, he’s in his blind, it ain’t working. How did you all handle it?
Forrest Russell: So we go out that second afternoon, and I get everybody, I was like we have to give this guy a hard time, not being quiet, more diplomatic.
Ramsey Russell: He’s quite diplomatic.
Forrest Russell: Yeah. He said, well, just let him be, we’ll see how it goes, and I’ll talk to him at the end. I said, okay. And we made sure with him on the phone we said, we’re going to have an E-caller tonight. I don’t care if you have to go by one, he said yeah I’ll go buy one from Max, and his dad was at Max and took a picture of an E-caller for $420 bucks. Call dude, yeah man, they got one at Max, go buy it. He calls back, well, they want $1000 for that thing, and we’re like, well you’re lying to us right now because it’s less than half that. We have a picture of it and he comes up another, he goes buy one, get out there, has the decoy said only sit there, and I said, all right, where’s the E-caller? And he gets out there and start fumbling with it, and he lays in the decoys for 20 minutes. I mean it doesn’t work. He said it was his old E-caller, couldn’t figure out how to get it to work, so he’s obviously lying. And then I just, I mean, when I saw we didn’t have any E-caller again, I started going after him. We get there in an A-frame just on top of turn row sticking out like, I mean the no shot of every killing the goose here. And he’s lying on the layout blind on top of it next to it because he only brought four stools for 10 people to sit in, and so I just sat there just, I was just giving him a hard time about the E-caller and how much of a joke he was.
Ramsey Russell: You were giving him a hard time?
Forrest Russell: Yeah, and then the guy would not even look up. He tried to argue with me for second like, we don’t even need any E-caller man, look at all these geese on that, we ain’t fired a shot in three hunts. We obviously do need one.
Ramsey Russell: It’s something today.
Forrest Russell: Yeah, I was like, I mean, and I said, I mean are you just use the pass shooting operation that we do? Oh, no man, we decoy, but we hadn’t, I mean, you don’t even have a caller.
Ramsey Russell: What did he tell you, he shot last year?
Forrest Russell: Oh yeah. So last year, his self-proclaimed, Buck Gardner told him it was the best caller he’s ever seen his life, but he “don’t feel like messing with all that shit”. He killed 18,000 geese last year. He averages 15 geese per gone per hunt, so that would have been what 300 geese for our group every hunt? Something like that.
Ramsey Russell: Maybe he was just having a bad day.
Mark Wilson: He was off a little bit.
Forrest Russell: Anyway, long story short, yeah, he was just a little off. Our group did throw his ratio off. We came out 365 days, you got to kill 50 geese are about 49 and half geese per hunt to hit his, what he did last year. So he gets better bump his numbers up a little bit. Anyway, long story short, I’m giving him a hard time, and we sit there, I would say go back and forth, but the dude laid in his layout blind and wouldn’t even look at me for about an hour. And I was just sitting there, just going on and on and on about, I’m going to start me up a guide, so all you got to do is make a damn website and take in the cash and –
Ramsey Russell: Oh boy, he got his first shot of Big Water.
Forrest Russell: Actually, after we sat there for about an hour, dude never looked at it, would never responded to me.
Mark Wilson: Is this the 6’8, 400 pounds? Who looks like a professional wrestler?
Forrest Russell: Yes. Wouldn’t say a word.
Mark Wilson: And you’re talking shit to him?
Forrest Russell: Yeah. There was eight of us and the guy didn’t even bring a gun to his own goose hunt, so I wasn’t too worried. And so finally Zach said, all right, we’ll –
Mark Wilson: Zach is the one who book the hunt, right?
Forrest Russell: Yeah. It’s his bachelor trip. He said, all right, I’m going to go talk to him. And he goes down there and takes a knee next to his blind. God, I never, sits up at his blind, lays down and talk to him for a little while. And Zach’s dad goes down there and they’re going on and on, we gave him a few minutes and then me and Matt walked up, and then eventually we were all sitting there circling. They went from like, all right, what are we going to do to, I mean then we I mean everybody just laid into this guy, just telling them exactly what we thought of him. And he, I mean he’s sat there, never stood up at his blind, wouldn’t stand, wouldn’t look anybody in the eye.
Ramsey Russell: So you all are eight people are standing around right at the foot of looking down on it. And he didn’t make an eye contact.
Forrest Russell: Yes. And he’s just lying there, and face red, and he just sat there. Yeah man. I just, whatever we’re getting some damn money back. He was like, I’ll give you know all the cash in my wallet and I’ll write you a check for the balance and all this, Okay. So we the young guide comes picks us up, and we don’t start a mutiny. His guy was like, I ain’t, he was like, I don’t deal it. He said, I’m going to. So he scheduled a meeting.
Ramsey Russell: What did you tell me what you told that young man?
Forrest Russell: I said, if you care anything about your reputation, I’d leave tonight. I wouldn’t go with this guy, another day and he said –
Ramsey Russell: It would get him on a bad foot, guilty by association.
Forrest Russell: Yeah, exactly. I mean, but –
Ramsey Russell: He’s a kid that obviously wants to be in the industry, need to be in the industry on the good side.
Forrest Russell: Yeah. So anyway, he brings back and was like, this is ridiculous, guy never stood up out of his layout blind until we were back at our trucks. So we unloaded on him, well I’m going to get my money, and drove back out there, him and his dad and a few other people went out and talked to him again. The guy, pull his wallet out and gave Zach, let me say I made a note for how much he gave him. Pulled out his wallet and gave him $34 cash, gave him a 20 or 10 and four ones and Zach said, hell no. He said what in the hell? I mean, he was like don’t even to give me this. So he was like, give me, I mean, you’re giving me every dollar you have in your wallet. Dude pulls out gives him $534.
Ramsey Russell: I want to hang on the Benjamin Franklin.
Forrest Russell: And then we’re sitting there, he said, I’ll mail you a check, and they said no, we’re going back to the house. So they put that he got in the guide truck, and they follow him to the house, and he wrote a check which I’m sure it’ll bounce. But yeah, postdated check.
Ramsey Russell: Those listening, what’s the high and low that a $22,000 check from this outstanding pillar of the community is going to actually go through? Anybody want to guess if it’s going to bounce or how high it’s going to bounce? But go ahead..
Forrest Russell: But so anyway, thankfully, because there’s nothing at lunch. Well we’re going to go out this afternoon if he has E-call we’ll sit there while whatever. I talked to at lunch one of my buddies Austin Ward from their staff. So we hunted in my Early Bird Outfitters. He knew I was coming, I’d asked him about, you know this guy when we were coming up and he told –
Ramsey Russell: Does he also do snow goose hunting?
Forrest Russell: Yeah, he does do. And I think it would have cost, but, 100 more dollars a person to go stay in nice lodge.
Mark Wilson: For the whole trip?
Forrest Russell: No, I mean like –
Ramsey Russell: It would be $150 more per person.
Forrest Russell: For three days. Yeah.
Ramsey Russell: But in all fairness, Austin and his dad have built one of the coolest little camps out there that I have ever been to. It’s beautiful.
Forrest Russell: I mean top notch. So he text me and said, he called me and said, hey man, I don’t have any clients tomorrow. He was like, I mean he said, I don’t have a feed lined up, but I’m sitting out of big, just try and run some traffic if you all want to come. And I was like, hell yeah. I was like, I didn’t ask yet, but I guarantee you we’re coming. I said, make sure it’s lodges are open. He said, yeah, just come on.
Ramsey Russell: That says to me, we thought a lot of him and the boys we hunted with him last year. I mean he’s really good people. He’s really good people and we just hit it off with him good. But to me it says a lot to him that number one, he called to check on you, number two said, hey, if you want to just come over here and there’s a plan B, and at least hang out in a nice place. And that just says so much to his character.
Forrest Russell: Yeah, there’s no doubt about it. But, so, me and Gary, we walked back up. Everybody said we had 20 firewood stacked 20 stacks high on his fireplace. We can’t walk. We were literally sit there like we’re playing Jenga blocks and see how high we could stack the firewood in this pit. And, so, I come back and say, all right, I got an option for us and every single person before I even said, and said, let’s go.
Mark Wilson: This is, hold on what was your buddy’s name? Zach. Zach I’m talking to you right now, the next time that there’s a hunt that needs to be planned, please let the Russell boys do it.
Forrest Russell: Yeah, it really, I mean, nobody cared that we weren’t shooting geese and everybody was just there to have fun. But it was just the guy cared so little and it was just such a scumbag, everybody was ready to get away from him.
Ramsey Russell: That’s the bad thing. I mean, you can have bad hunts, but if people care and people are working hard, people taking care of this.
Mark Wilson: That’s what makes all the difference.
Do Your Due Diligence and Find the Right Hunt
That’s why I want to come on and tell the story because a lot of these young listeners that are going to go on guided hunts, you can find good, affordable hunts within your budget. But do your due diligence. Research, research.
Ramsey Russell: But when somebody just don’t care, they’re just in it to scam people for money, that’s what’s so bad. That’s why I want to come on and tell the story because a lot of these young listeners that are going to go on guided hunts, you can find good, affordable hunts within your budget. But do your due diligence. Research, research. Talk to lots of people that have hunted with this guy. Talk to people that you know that have hunted with this guy. That’s the number one way you find out the good from the bad is just personal reference personal referrals. That’s the number one thing you can do is network. Instead of using that, I love these posts, I just avoided like the plague. You see them on all these little duck hunt chat room. Hey, what’s good out there to go with snow geese? Well, my Lord, have mercy. You’re asking for five million opinions. You just talk to people, you know and find a good referral. I mean, we’ve all we all know good people because of that. But anyway, well Forrest, it’s like I told you now, from outside looking in kind of got what you paid for, but at the same time, you all really, eight buddies walked away with a whole lot more stories for a for a lot. Didn’t kill a bunch of geese.
Forrest Russell: I told them, I said, we made more memories than we killed 100 geese a day.
Ramsey Russell: More than duck hunting, Getducks is the lifestyle we all enjoy. It really is always Duck Season Somewhere. Check out our caps, T-shirts, hoodies and more at our new Getducks.com store. That’s Getducks.com/store. Thank you for listening to and for supporting this podcast. And remember Life’s Short, Get Ducks.
Chatting with Big Water
Ramsey Russell: My buddy, Big Water. How are you buddy?
Mark Wilson: Man, it’s good to be here in the recording studios at the worldwide headquarters, Ramsey.
Ramsey Russell: Worldwide headquarters.
Mark Wilson: Yes sir. Hey, I want to toast man.
Ramsey Russell: Toast? Heck, yeah
Mark Wilson: I want everyone to hear, Let everybody hear this gulp. About a year ago, to the date, almost Ramsey. I was shitting in my britches. I’m talking about scared out of my wits. I knew as a dead man. I was petrified, horrified. We talked, I had been shoulder to shoulder with for one of the 1st 100 COVID cases in the state. I was standing right next to them, think about how unfortunate that is. So we had 300,000 cases since.
Ramsey Russell: And that’s back when the whole spin was. This is like the Spanish Flu and it’s going to annihilate. We’re going to be in a zombie apocalypse at the time.
Mark Wilson: And the world has shut completely down.
Ramsey Russell: My world, there was a stick in the spokes.
Mark Wilson: You had just rolled in from Azerbaijan.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah, that’s right. And damn well we’re to wait a year ago.
Mark Wilson: You just launched this podcast and I want to congratulate you on the success of this podcast has come a long way.
Ramsey Russell: Thank you. And you know what for anybody listening, thank you all because this thing as far surpassed, what we were thinking it would turn into. And I enjoyed, I mean, I found a purpose in sort in this podcast because so enjoy meeting folks. I’ve always talked about the people to people, but you spend so much time in the duck blind and I just enjoyed the stories and hearing and meeting people and man, it’s just been so much fun. I get inboxes, which we’re going to get to in a minute all the time, talking about this story and I’m like Forest Gump, just this dumb guy that bumps into folks and see this world unfold is how I feel like a lot of times, but I so much love it. But hey, anybody listening, thank you all for listening to Duck Season Somewhere podcast. Very, very much appreciate it.
Mark Wilson: Are you happy with it?
Ramsey Russell: Yeah man, it’s just, I didn’t know what to expect getting into, the podcast into things and I’m very happy with it.
Mark Wilson: How many episodes did we do this first year? Do you have any idea?
Ramsey Russell: Yeah, I looked at it the other day, a little over 100 episodes. We got, when we started traveling, we started doing so many episodes around the country to tell the story, multi perspective story about some of these different areas that I was having to put two or three episodes a week. But I could tell that some of my listeners got a little bogged down and behind. But man, they called up, they just kept grinding the listening.
Mark Wilson: Any other stand out, any podcast that jumps out at you?
Ramsey Russell: Boy, I tell you, personal favorites. Some of the ones we’ve listened to, some of the ones, they got a whole lot of download for the retired game wardens. Who else? That feel of risky. Mallard guy, geneticists who would have thought they got commanded so much attention. All of the Louisiana episodes just bang it up and boy, have we got some doozies coming enough dove covered weeks, we got some really good and I’m proud of and I don’t know, it’s almost, some of my, kind of like duck hunting, my favorite episode is the next one, really. I just so enjoy doing this. But man, a year sure has gone by quickly on one hand.
Mark Wilson: It flew by and it’s – we’re in a much better situation. Today, we’re both inoculated. Is that the right word?
Ramsey Russell: Inoculated? Vaccinated? Vaccinated.
Mark Wilson: We’re vaccinated. Both shots.
Ramsey Russell: Both shots.
Mark Wilson: Where we’re going next?
Ramsey Russell: That’s a good question. I know some people I talked to, man, they’re all against the vaccination and I respect it. I mean, but Big Water, I’m going to tell you where I’m at in this world because of Duck Season Somewhere, literally traveling all over the world being shut down to this day in parts of the world because of COVID. I remember back when during the Tiger King part of COVID them talking about getting chipped, oh, we’re going to be microchipped. Let me tell you where Ramsey Russell is a with right now. If they told me that I had to be microchipped and that microchip looked like a 3.5 ft. unicorn horn, rainbow colored coming out in the middle of my forehead, all I can say is I’d have to duck to get on a jet. You know what I’m saying? Just bring it, I’ll deal with it later. I’m ready to start getting out and moving. But it’s been a blessing in so many aspects, I probably would not have had the time to start a podcast, were it not for the pandemic? And I probably would not have taken the time to travel as extensively throughout the United States as I started doing. I really enjoyed that. Connect with the guys.
Mark Wilson: That was a coast to coast adventure.
Ramsey Russell: Four Flyways and a new dog and just the whole work. But man, most importantly, literally rolling into homes and camps, of the people listening, which I’m forever indebted.
Mark Wilson: You know what I liked about the stories was that, real America is still out there, it’s thriving and we just got the wacko cities and those people, if we could get them just to fall off into the sea, we will be fine.
Ramsey Russell: I’m telling you all right now from California to Delaware, this is not, turn off Fox news. This is not Republican versus Democrat, it’s not blue versus red. It is extreme urban renters versus everybody else. I mean because man, this country is still at 99.9% real Andy Griffith American flag, John Wayne America.
Mark Wilson: You can feel it on the podcast.
Ramsey Russell: I can. That’s what blows my mind is from coast to coast, south to north, everywhere I go, everybody I meet duck hunters are just real Americans, man, they’re just like me and you.
Mark Wilson: I love the guy that invented the goalpost. I mean he was great and he was just as down to home and –
Ramsey Russell: Real America. Andy Anderson was his name and it’s just attractive mechanic and third or fourth or fifth generation duck killer. And, he just, but so the people that introduced me to, you know what just blew my mind is, I just fall in with all these folks, it was like finding my tribe, as John Odell put it like meeting brothers from a different mother all over the country.
Mark Wilson: Hey, take me back for a second on that, I got a question for you. What was the deal that led them? I listened to it and I was, what was the deal that led them? There was something, was it a windmill or a fan, it was some kind of.
Ramsey Russell: That’s what I heard it was. What it was, is he had used some kind of kite. I remembered, when he talked about it, I remembered this contraption that had the spinning wings and they had taken to painting those wings to give it contrast and they just noticed it really attracted ducks. Well, when the wind doesn’t blow to kite didn’t fly. So he came up with this idea of how can I make that flash happen? So he designed this goal post.
Mark Wilson: So many good people we talked to on this trip.
Ramsey Russell: Unbelievable, and I’m looking forward to meeting all you all one day, we’re going. Hey, today’s episode, if you’re ready to get into that is what I call, from the mailbox.
Mark Wilson: A lot of good question.
Ramsey Russell: Because I get a lot of these questions from people that inbox or send me text messages, everybody’s figured out. And I just text this guy or emails and I said, hey, will answer some of these questions instead of one case by case, I’ll just answer it for everybody.
Mark Wilson: Yeah, let me ask you one. I read through a list of some good questions here. Pick some out and a lot of good questions from all the listeners and we do appreciate them. And I know you’ve told it, but I can’t recall it. So I’m going to ask you. How old were you? Do you remember how old you were? What species and where you were, when you shot your first duck?
Memories of First Ducks Hunted
So your first duck was shot, killed two ducks in one shot in central Mississippi around 20 years old, a pair of mallards?
Ramsey Russell: Yeah, I do remember and this is going to, this may shock the world. I mean, a lot of guys that started duck hunting when they were babies, with their daddy. And that wasn’t the case for me man, my grandfather introduced me into wing shooting and I accompanied him out to the dove field when I was a young child. But his health failed him before I actually shouldered the shotgun. He was not that generation that took extremely young people to the duck blind. And so he had retired and everything else and had died before I went duck hunting the first time and one day I’ll tell you one day I was in central Mississippi piney wood country deer hunting, I was out of high school. He shot a deer. He had run up in a thicket. I was sitting there just watching him. I knew he was still alive. When you run that thicket, I’m just waiting on to get dark, letting him chill out and every wood duck on God’s earth started flying treetop high, coming into the swamp behind me the next day I was loaded up with shotguns and was waiting on him. Didn’t know no better, I was a young man. Had no decoys, had no call, just had the stories my grandfather told me and I sat on the edge of a beaver pond, too late I since learned and, pull the trigger one time and it was a pair of mallards that came in –
Mark Wilson: Mallards?
Ramsey Russell: Pull the trigger one time just killed a pair of mallards with one shot.
Mark Wilson: Two in one shot?
Ramsey Russell: Two and one shot. That was the first ducks I ever shot.
Mark Wilson: You’re a natural.
Ramsey Russell: And went back and shot more wood ducks a couple of times and learn better. But you know, I tell you it was in the early 90’s, and a fraternity brother, I was an AGR, a fraternity brother invited me over to Arkansas to duck hunt. The limit was two mallards and we went off into some public timber, there will be a crowd of us. Gosh, might be five of us, others might be 15 some mornings and their art was landing the birds. And I never, ever will forget that flock of mallards, the first flock of mallards coming in and me shooting a bird on the fly and Mr. Boyd saying no, no, son we don’t do that.
Mark Wilson: Now, was this the first time that you hunted over decoys on a real duck hunt?
Ramsey Russell: That was the first proper hunt.
Mark Wilson: The calls.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah. Once I went to Mississippi State hunting Yockanookany River bottom. I would jump shoot. Out there scouting deer, I do love a deer hunt. Hell, I went to Mississippi State, want to be a deer biologist. And that’s when, I never get this one particular real one, one of these real big cold front blue wing, it got extremely cold down around single digits. And I was back there scouting on the deer, we’re going to be moving and right across the beaver pond wall to wall ducks. As quick as I could get home and come back with a shotgun. I crept back over the levee “boom boom” and shot some ducks and that’s how I hunted. I didn’t know how better.
Mark Wilson: So you were in college when you killed your first duck?
Ramsey Russell: I was in college. I was in my twenties.
Mark Wilson: You got a late start. I had no idea.
Ramsey Russell: Got a late start. I didn’t know how to blow a duck call that time. But man watching those folks, land and called and work those ducks. I stopped by a man shop on the way home. All them boys blew Alvin Taylor calls, and we went over to Clarington and I bought one. Didn’t know nothing about it, but I learned and the rest is history as they say.
Mark Wilson: So your first duck was shot, killed two ducks in one shot in central Mississippi around 20 years old, a pair of mallards?
Ramsey Russell: At Copiah County Deer camp.
Mark Wilson: Really? Goodness gracious. Most of the people probably would have thought that you have shot one about 4 years old or something, five years old.
Ramsey Russell: No, I did not. I went to duck camp, did that kind of stuff, my grandfather, he hunted over in South Arkansas. When I went down to Texas in college, this is pre-season that hunt in the timber. I was 30 miles, living 30 miles behind a locked gate, probably an hour from the border. I had gone down to be a deer biologist and man I was hot to trot wanting to be the next Jim Crow laws, or Harry Jacobson, or Dr. Deer. That was me, man. I would eat up that stuff and we started shooting at a deer like to hurt her mama, son. Let me tell you what that was a job description, and I took it to heart making a whopping 500 bucks a month man. All I had money for with beer dry beans and reloading supplies. And every time the wind blew from the north, the remote stock tanks of ranch with 17000 acres, nothing but stock tanks, and it would, it fill up with duck.
Mark Wilson: Only water around.
Ramsey Russell: Only water around and I would go out and didn’t have no decoy and didn’t have no call just for, I got properly introduced to it. What I would do is, I would ease up before dark to the edge of that pond and sit quietly and adult will fly by “bam”. I’d shoot him with the sound. All the ducks get up and rally. And when I got done I have my duck, and I’ll tell you how late this, what I put it on map of the year was 1990. It was the year that steel shot was option. You can find it, but it wasn’t required. And so I didn’t shoot it. I had an old pump 12 gauge at the time. But it’s just something about touching those ducks and eating those ducks, it just, I connected to my roots way back when. And it’s so funny, the reason I think about that story is man, I was fast tracking on my way to being a deer biologist. That’s what I would eat up with his white tailed deer, and shooting those gadwalls and wigeons, and anyone will tell them what kind of drugs you shoot down there, never a greenhead. It really launched me in a new direction. I came back and I was still in wildlife but I had an interest in waterfowl. And it wasn’t a proper introduction but we gave our kids with the decoys, and the calls, and the dogs, and all that kind of stuff but it is now. Who else got a question, Big Water?
Mark Wilson: Let me ask you this. And I want to say this, this is a subject but with regards to duck bands, you remember your first one?
Ramsey Russell: No.
Memorable Banded Ducks
I’ve killed a banded black duck, I’ve killed the first common eider drake that I ever put my hands on.
Mark Wilson: Don’t remember the first banded duck you ever got?
Ramsey Russell: Might have been wood duck. Might have come from Knoxville County. The first one I can really remember it came from Tiba Hall or Knoxville County. And it was not from the refuge like I would have thought it banded. I mean, that’s the first one I’m thinking of with a wood duck band. And I don’t know if it was my first or not but I, maybe it was. But thinking it came from the refuge, I got shot several wood ducks that I said it came from a federal refuge and none of them did, they all came from up north. Places like Paris, Tennessee and Minnesota and Wisconsin, Indiana. All those wood ducks. None of those wood ducks came from down south.
Mark Wilson: How many species of birds have you killed banded? For me? For example, all I’ve ever killed as a mallard, and a wood duck, and a goose.
Ramsey Russell: I have no idea. I really truly have, I’ve never done a count like that. One thing I don’t, I really don’t matriculate my hunts. I wish, I just, I wish sometimes I had kept a journal and documented this stuff. But one thing I don’t do even this day, even to this day. Now I look at social media, Instagram and different stuff like that, it’s kind of like my journal. Where I document hunts and record experiences, but I don’t keep track of dead birds, I don’t keep track of, I don’t do that stuff. Because it devalues the experience to me. Just knowing how many, I don’t want to how many dead birds I’ve killed. I do know how many species I’ve killed. I got a man, my bible, so to speak, is a old Waterfowl of the World book I got way back when, 20-30 years ago. Man, it’s got feathers taped in it, notes and sidebars and changes of geniuses since then and all kinds of stuff. I just keep up with it. But I don’t have any idea how many, I know, I’ve killed some cool stuff. I’ve killed a banded black duck, I’ve killed the first common eider drake that I ever put my hands on. The first one I shot clapped his wing dove underwater was never seen again. The second one I swung through and it was a pair and we knew to chase those pairs, we knew that only in pairs will a really nice adult breeding female exists. And so I swung through on the drake. Kill them both in one shot. The drake came back in, boom! It’s banded. Kill the bird down in New Zealand. Picked up a band in Uruguay one time, a ring teal hen. I’ve got it placed on a drake because hens aren’t very attractive and that came from Brazil. And they actually had an online reporting system. And I turned, I couldn’t read it. I’m like, I’m speaking of Spanish to kind of get by and I couldn’t understand it, because it was in Portuguese. But I turned it in, the biologist wrote me an email says you’re the first hunter, let alone the first American to ever report one of my bands.
Mark Wilson: That’s pretty cool story.
Ramsey Russell: The black duck was an interesting story. I don’t want to bog up too much time on the podcast, but I was hunting Hank Shaw up in Delaware and it was terrible. It was warm, the birds weren’t flying, we went to a nice place, and I had called him up the night Forest and I want to come. He said yeah, you Southern boys want to shoot black duck. I said no, I want a banded black duck. And he hung up on me. And we went out the next day and he had one of the finest dogs, I’ve ever hunted over, dog named Ryder. And Ryder was just one of these amped up dogs, oh he was ready, he was like a cold spring at all times. And I said something to a mid-morning, said something to the dog, I said, don’t worry Ryder, I’m going to, you bring me a black duck and I’ll shoot you in a band of black duck, I’ll shoot you another one. And Hank was like, dude, I’m just telling you, man, you’re wigging me out about this banded black ducks because they don’t exist. I’ve killed two of my whole life and this man has killed a lot of good birds. And by that time of black duck started walking, it was a hen, I pulled the trigger, fell off behind us. Out goes the dog, out goes hank behind the dog, out I go. By the time I got outside, Hank come running past and Hank leaned over to take the duck from the dog, from Ryder, and Ryder flew past him, stopped in front of me and handed me a banded black duck. Hey, you just got to talk to the dog, right? But I really don’t know, I have no idea how many total species. Snows, Ross’s, Keppler’s, big Canada’s. One of my favorite mornings with bands and I won’t shut up about it was, hunting with a friend’s daddy up in Ontario, I’d say 15 air miles from Jack Miner the first day we went out. The opener didn’t fire a shot and I was just going to hunt that one morning, like, you got to stay, it’s going to be a five mile an hour wind tomorrow, 10 mile an hour, wind is going to be a migration. I said there was going to be 80 degrees, just trust me. So I stayed over another night went out the following morning, a six pack come in, well, maybe a 10 pack followed by 10 pack. The flock fractionalized and some of them sat down right in front of me and some of them, as they were sliding in to his sides like two flocks, some on his side, some on mine. The last thing he said before he shot his side was, the furthest bird on the right is banded. So when he shot that bird, jumped up, boom, I shot him. Of course, rest of them flying, now picked two more, shot three of them, and Cooper was with me and she was a band magnet of epic proportions. This little Char dog can’t brag on that right now. In fact you may be the jinx, but all three of those birds I shot were not only Jack Miner banded, but they all had a federal bands too. I mean six bands and three.
Mark Wilson: That’s what we’re looking for that’s good stuff.
Ramsey Russell: That was memorable.
Mark Wilson: That’s memorable. Hey, I got a funny one for you that I want to tell you. The first time I ever went to Arkansas hunting with a fraternity brother, my first time to Arkansas and he grew up in it. So I’m all amped through the roof just to go to Arkansas and he’s done, he didn’t even know what road he lives on. I call him, I’m like, you go out there, and turn on 278, then on 88 down for he, man, I don’t know the name of the roads out here. But I finally got out there to even I said, man, we got up the next morning, I said, hey, get the decoys, because they told me not to bring anything. And he said, oh yeah, he said decoys and he goes up under his house. He had one of those houses on a conventional foundation, and he pulls out this massive string all piled up, looked like dingle berries, tractor weights and bolts and screws. And they were all wrapped around. And I said, Shawn I said, we’ll never get these things untie. He says it don’t matter. He said it looked like a feeding frenzy. So we take this pile of about two dozen decoys and when we throw them out, they make up a little circle about 12. And I mean it’s just, it looks like they’re all right there on top of each other. So we shoot one duck that morning, I shoot one of, the only duck that got shot. And that was my first trip to Arkansas: a banded mallard, so that was my trip to Arkansas. That’s my memorable band story.
Best Places in the World for Waterfowl Hunting
One place on earth that if I had to hunt the rest of my life? It would be that remote location down in Argentina. We call it Rio Salado.
Ramsey Russell: I don’t know how many bands, I got a bunch and but I know this, I’ve given away a bunch. I’ve led a bunch go. Back in the day we shoot a lot of brant bands and I just didn’t want to be the guy with clients that was the only guy that got a band. Now, trust me, but if a single come back and it was mine, if I shot it. And, but one of the most memorable banded birds, I never got, it haunts me. We were in Netherlands, his first book and never took another two close friend of mine to this day, they’re close friends, John and Chris and we went after barnacle geese on a place I had annihilated them in the previous visit. But a farmer had disked up a bunch of sugar beets about a mile away, and those geese just weren’t going to have it, they were lifting up off the reservoir and they were just, they weren’t coming down. So it was going to be, you could tell by two hours into the hunt we weren’t going to fire a shot. Well, they’ve got these feral Egyptian geese, they’re completely indifferent to decoys, don’t give a dang about it. But I looked to my left and about a half a mile away here come a pair of two Egyptian geese coming right down the dry ditch, we were sitting in. Two geese, me, and two clients. And they’re going to come right over 30 yard high, and I got time to think about it. What do I do? Do I shoot? Because they’re coming on my side or do I, do the noble thing and let the clients have a shot. And they’re both excellent shots. Well, if I were going to shoot, I’d shoot the bird on the left, the back bird, I’d let the one slide in front of me, and I don’t shoot the back bird and let one of them shoot the other bird. But I decided not to. I said no, I’m going to let them have the birds. I said, hey, you all get ready for the birds. And John knocked his out, fell off in some fallow field right there in front of us about 10-15 yards and Chris missed his. Didn’t cut a feather. So I sit in the dark to cover belt high and it’s like turn up greenbelt high out there, and I go out there to kind of handle Cooper a little bit, help you find it. Here comes some barnacle geese they didn’t end up coming in. But I laid down in case it did. And when that yellow dog come up with that bird, first thing I saw was a band. I’m like holy cow. It was a colored band marker and right above it, above his leg joint was metal band. I’m like God, dog double banded. I’m sitting there, man, and then I look at the other leg. It’s also banded. Triple banded. I’m like of all the time to do the right thing. And of course John a friend by the by then, he didn’t just thank me for doing the right thing. No, he cut a string and wore necklace outside his shirt and every time every time I looked his waist it held it up and jingle. Thank you, Ramsey that down warm.
Mark Wilson: Three band.
Ramsey Russell: And only, I never forget one time down in Baja. It was a slow brand hunt. Late in the season. We killed half dozen birds between 2 or 3 of us. And the boys came in to bring lunch on their boat and they held up your hand and cross their arms, like a little egg and said neo and neo senor, neo okra. And, so I said kiaki, and he reached up under the bound, toss me a banded brant, yellow torsol. And I handed to one of the young clients, that was hunting with us and that’s the least I could do. And of all the people in the earth we’ve dealt with this boy come up short when it came time to check out. Come up short about $300. And I spotted him, and I’ve done that oftentimes the only person, and almost 20 years of dealing with that screwed me, was the boy getting, that’s one band, if I could take it back, I’d take it back, hope he chokes on it, hope he lost it, but anyway. We got any more questions from the mailbox today?
Mark Wilson: Hey, I got an interesting question for you here about, if there was, there’s one state they are or not, it could be more than one, but any places that jump out at you that if you could move from Mississippi and move to and making new residents, anything jumps out of the state?
Ramsey Russell: Yes. Yeah, that’s a good question too. Because have I ever been anywhere that I would consider living beside Mississippi. Born and raised, 54 years old, living in Mississippi, and the first answer that it jumps out to me and this is more than one state man is, my daddy always said, home is where you hat hangs. But Utah, man, I love, I love the people, I love the resources, I love the hunting tradition, I love the access to public, I love the big game hunting opportunities. I’d like to live somewhere that was beautiful between the mountain ranges and the snow. Yeah, Utah, that’s going to shock you. California, man, if somehow or other, the people of California could vote out the 1% crazy that we all associate with California. I’d be, that may you all be porting that way, tomorrow. I love California, I love California duck hunters, I love the public land, I love the hunting culture, the hunting tradition, I love them burritos, I love the people, I love California. Those would be two states in a heartbeat, Utah for sure. But uproot mom and going out of Mississippi right now. No, that ain’t happening, no time soon. But those are two states that jump out to me in a heartbeat, I’d moved to.
Mark Wilson: New Jersey?
Ramsey Russell: I like New Jersey man.
Mark Wilson: I was really surprised.
Ramsey Russell: I really loved hunting in New Jersey. I don’t think I could live there. It’s too, because you got to understand what we were hunting was so remote. Like once you get off the boat ramp in your 200 yards away from the house , it’s like it existed 200 years ago, let’s say. But when you get back or nine million people with it within a couple of miles and that’s just a little much for double RR.
Mark Wilson: Let’s see here. I got one for you. All right, this is interesting. If you had one place and one place only to hunt. I know it, but our listeners want to know it. Where would it be? One place on earth?
Ramsey Russell: One place on earth that if I had to hunt the rest of my life?
Mark Wilson: That’s it, you got to stay there and hunt.
Ramsey Russell: It would be that remote location down in Argentina. We call it Rio Salado. It’s too pure and it’s too, like I envisioned duck hunting being 150 years.
Mark Wilson: It’s a time machine.
Ramsey Russell: It’s like stepping on a time machine. And that’s one place above all, I would spend the rest of my life. But lord, I would really not want to do that. I like experiencing the different people and cultures and traditions and species. But if I ever just one place that would for sure be it. One more question from the mailbox were probably boring people with all this mess.
Mark Wilson: Oh man, you got, they had some good ones. All right, this is the one I always ask you and then the one everybody’s biting their fingernails about right now. What’s going on with Canada? Are we going to get in this? I don’t have a good feeling about it. But you know more about that.
Waterfowl Seasons Around the World Post-Covid
Ramsey Russell: I don’t have a good feeling about it. The more I talk to people up there I talk to somebody this morning that had talked to, I talked to a magazine publisher that had talked to Saskatchewan Tourism that told him he believed it could open in June. I talked to an outfitter yesterday, one of our US hunt list outfitters, Mr. Ben Webster, I don’t know who he talked to. But he believes he may have talked to tourism also. He believes maybe they’ll open in June. I’m going to tell you man, from what I’ve heard and seen on the hills of this last 12 months, I believe that Trudeau, President Trudeau makes our current administration look like heaven. I’ll be shocked if they open. I don’t, I’m unaware of them doing anything but keeping tourists from coming in that they’re doing. I’m going to unaware and somebody correct me if I’m wrong, I’d love to know this. How are they doing with their COVID vaccines? Because last I heard, there weren’t any mention, hide nor hair of it, and I bet a million dollars that political administration has gotten their shots. But I don’t see it happening. I hope it does. I mean, and I’m going to tell you all right now if I have to go sit in a hotel room for 14 days and get quarantined, I’m all in. I’ll wait it out, work just like I did the day at the office, and then spend the next month up there hunting and doing, and get my life back spinning again normal. But I don’t know last I heard if you get approved by the government to come up there you have to take their test. You can only fly into four ports, one out west, three in Ontario, and have to take their test. And if you, for three days, two grand to their hotels, be fed a meal with a knock on the door. And if you test negative then you can go to another hotel of your choosing and serve out the remainder of your quarantine. I don’t know, Big, you start hearing that kind of extreme. Maybe something’s changed in the last few weeks since I heard that story. But I don’t. I guess. But if I had to guess, Canada is not going to be open this fall.
Mark Wilson: And what’s going to be the, I mean the fishing and hunting and that tourism side of it, that industry, what’s going to, is it, I mean two years if its worst case scenario, what’s going to be left? Is it going to be in shatters and shamble? I mean…
Ramsey Russell: I know in talking to the outfitters that we work with up there, they’re in a real good place right now and some of the outfitters, I know we’re in a real good place. They’ve, salted away their funds, they’ve kept their stuff in place. In fact, one of the boys I know is actually building a magnificent 6500 square foot brand new lodge. He’s ready. And he said, you know what if it doesn’t open this year, it’ll be next year, I’m ready. I’m covered. But I’ve already heard that, I’ve already heard from outfitter, forgive me from clients that have not gotten called back in six months or eight months or a year from outfitters, they had sent money to, what does that tell you? They’re gone and they’re not coming back. But I’ve heard that as many as 50% of outfitters in certain provinces will go out of business or have gone out of business. And I’ve seen the same thing in foreign countries. I’ve seen the same thing down in Argentina and down in Mexico that those outfitters are out, and we’re speaking of COVID man, it’s not over. We’re not – it seems like we should be out of the woods, but we’re not. You what I’m saying? Person or persons with certain political affiliations are just bound and determined worldwide to drive this freaking car off the cliff and into the ocean. So I don’t know what the future holds, but I know, we’re in a position – Getducks.com, US Hunt List, we’re in a position that we’re holding strong, we’ll be ready when the world is ready.
Mark Wilson: Can I ask you one more question? Two more questions Canada-related. Mexico look good. Really impressed. Mexico, and it was nice the way they did their stuff, you pointed it out, you said, yeah. Talk about that for a second.
Ramsey Russell: First off, it’s crazy that as much traveling as I’ve done internationally in the past five or ten years that I had a few butterflies in my stomach dragging my mask up, and getting on a plane, and flying down to Mexico. I had a little trepidation about it. But the minute I walked out of that airport into that sunshine, it started being normal. And by the time I was on my first beer by the pool, I’ve forgotten all about COVID. It felt that normal. And the most shocking thing that I saw and experienced and we talked about this with several guests and in a model on episode was how this little country as compared to us, the precautions they’ve taken. Some of the airports had little mistress and it was no big deal. You walk through, you get missed it when you show up to the airport before you go through customs that they check your temperature. So now, everybody in front of you, nobody has a temperature. Everybody’s normal, everybody’s healthy. Like they didn’t have hand sanitizer bolted on the wall for your optional use. As you walked into Walmart, as you walked into the resorts. As you walked into stores. As you walked into restaurants, a smiling face squirted it on your hand, you’re stepping on a little floor mat to clean your shoes. They check your temperature again. And so everywhere you went, going to Walmart, you look around you go, wow, nobody has a temperature. Everybody has clean hands. Clean shoes has probably been missed.
Mark Wilson: Much more advanced than us.
Ramsey Russell: I mean, it’s just basic nothing bolts precautions that weren’t inconvenient or make you feel conspicuous. And of course, because the Center for Disease Control coming back in America required a nasal swab to make sure you were not COVID infection where you came back by day two or three of the trip. You look around and everybody, nobody’s got COVID. We’re all COVID free. And I’m like my gosh, why can’t I go to my local Target and know that, I’m just saying it felt so normal and so good, and it felt good to be back in my happy place. You know, that really felt good about that.
Mark Wilson: And lastly, give us an update on Argentina. What are you hearing from your folks down there?
Ramsey Russell: Boy, I tell you what, we’re sitting on G, waiting on it. No, our outfitters are setting up shop, everything’s good to go. We had some really good news. And made by the time this airs, we’ll have more news. But we have some really good news a few weeks ago that they had started accepting foreign applications for nationals from neighboring countries that had been vaccinated to come into the country. And look, them folks have been scorched earth lockdown. They’re having trouble getting their COVID vaccinations implemented nationwide. But we heard that then we also heard that one of the politicians had put a bill before Congress to allow tourism. Their economy is in a tailspin. They don’t have the luxury of just borrowing dollars to hand out to folks. They don’t have that luxury. Most countries don’t or won’t. And so we heard a lot of good news. But still I was kind of, sort of expecting that on March 28. They might go ahead and open it to tourism. They did not, so now we’re just living 14 days to 14 days. And comes to realization they might not. They might not do it. And the crazy thing, big water, how people are so ready to travel. As recently as this morning, we booked in Argentina trip. And the first question they opened? Nope, when are they? Have no idea. They got book because if he can’t go this year, we’ll carry it the next year. We’ve had a lot of bookings for 2022, but for us administratively we’re having to dodge and weave around the assumption that 2020, 2021 bookings are going to be on those dates. We have to accommodate dates accordingly with the worst case assumption. But who knows, man, silver line in South Africa’s open. And we had a trip during COVID rescheduled in august because of the pandemic, and boom we’re going this year.
Mark Wilson: And for all you guys listening, I just want to remind you South Africa that that wing shooting down there. I’m talking to Jim Cruz. Cruz was telling me that dove hunting down there is on, that between Mexico and Argentina it’s legal to dove hunt.
Ramsey Russell: The program that we’ve got developed that I’ve been working on right now for Getducks.com, now that our brand new website is up and going. We’re finally getting around to getting our new program listed for South Africa. It’s not just the dove hunting or the pigeon hunting, it’s the ducks and the geese and the upland birds. I would put it, I really think that are South Africa wing program with you go on. The puma longer version or the Zululand version or you marry the two like a lot of our clients and do an extended trip. I would put them on par volume-wise with Mexico, and here’s what makes it just a little bit different than Argentina. It took us two years to get this nail down. But we find it and it took me going by the taxidermy shop and sitting down and when you talk to a South African taxidermist about salt and skins, they’re thinking a belt deep vat of salt, and making them hard as this lumber right here, like a coup to hide? No, it took going in and showing her how to salt green skins and roll them and freeze them for transportation. But we have got it, where all the bird capes can be imported into the United States for United States taxidermy. And that was a major hurdle to cover what we got it done. And, had our first shipment come in at the height of COVID of this past year, about 70 bird skins. And they’re sitting up at Kennedy Studios right now. A lot of them are to be mounted.
Mark Wilson: Tell me one of them is an African pygmy goose. You guys out there, if you want to go shoot one of the most striking ducks you’ve ever seen, that is one, it’s a duck not a goose.
Ramsey Russell: Kind of cool. It’s a cool little, but there’s a lot of cool species. I can’t even remember how many species I struck off to include upland birds, but it’s like, it’s this combo hunt because you pass you these geese and the volume is good. Then you go out and decoy ducks. They do more driven guinea fowl than you do man. The man we hunt with animal puma long and has got some of the most amazing bird dog power I have ever seen it. You better have it because it gets, once it starts warming up and that do evaporate. It’s hot. We’re putting up right Franklin and gray partridge and different Franklin’s, and it’s just, and then you back up and you go do something else, and it’s just amazing. It’s a really cool hunt. But anyway. Folks, thank you all for listening to Duck Season Somewhere. Send us your questions, man. A lot of you all have got questions, I get in boxes all the time. But if you’ve got a question, you’d like to hear talked about on the subject matter, you’d like to talk about on a future episode of Duck Season Somewhere. Send it in. You can text me, my number’s everywhere in the world, or you can send it on Instagram inbox. You’ve been listening to me and the world famous Big Water, AKA Mark Wilson talk. Thank you all for listening to this episode. I’ll see you next time.