It began on the Garwood Prairie. The famous Blue Goose Hunting Club was brainchild of colorfully legendary waterfowl hunting guide Marvin Tyler and spawned Texas’s once world-famous snow goose hunting industry. Mike Lanier was only 13 years-old when his dad dropped him off at the Blue Goose Hunting Club to work. In this special episode of Duck Season Somewhere, he describes hunting snow geese back in the good ol’ days before ATVs, e-callers, full-body decoys, telling stories about the salty pioneers that made it happen, why it became famous and what became of it. Like a collared blue goose fluttering slow-motion over old-school rags at only 15 yards, this is an episode you’ll definitely not want to miss!

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Turning the Blue Goose into Red Bluff Prairie Hunting Club


Ramsey Russell: I’m your host Ramsey Russell, join me here to listen to those conversations. Welcome back to Duck Season Somewhere. I’m in Garwood, Texas, population 600, rice as far as the human eye can see, or I should say rice fields. The Garwood, Texas prairie is historical snow goose hunting. Today’s guest Mr. Michael Lanier, Red Bluff Prairie Hunting Club. He’s been around for 50 years, for such a young man, and I’m just dying to get him on here to talk about some of the legends of this area and how they used to hunt. How are you Mike?

Michael Lanier: I’m wonderful. How are you Ramsey?

Ramsey Russell: I’m good, I appreciate you having me. I know you’re busy, but introduce yourself to everybody.

Michael Lanier: As you said, my name is Michael Lanier. My real name is Michael, but my mom is the only one that called me that, usually when she was mad at me. I know we can all relate to that. But I own and operate Red Bluff Prairie Hunting Club, which is kind of an offshoot of the old Blue Goose Hunting Club that was started in the fifties by a man named Marvin Tyler. He sold out to a friend of mine who was started guiding for him in the fifties, John Fields, in 1982. And John kept the Blue Goose going until about 2008 when he decided he was going to retire, and my wife and I took over a lot of the property. We didn’t keep the name, but we turned it into to Red Bluff. We kept a lot of the property that’s been hunted under the Blue Goose since the 50s.

Ramsey Russell: When I was a young man – I know you were a high school superintendent for a long time – I spent a lot of time in the library, that’s what they called the detention center. And I can remember dreaming to come down to this part of the world and lay up under those just skies full of snow geese. And I finally did it in the nineties. And limit was five, and on the best of days we’d go out and shoot five, and it was great. We walked out in the field and put the little rag with the dolls, and if everything conspired, it was good. If it wasn’t, we always shot geese. But snow goose hunting I learned, and I fulfilled that dream, and really and truly that was my first hunt away from Mississippi. That kind of opened up the possibilities of waterfowl season somewhere else. That was right here in this region, right here. How did you come down the path of this operation? How did you fall into this working with Marvin?


World Class Waterfowling from a Young Age

I didn’t know it at the time. I just thought, you know, that’s the way it was.


Michael Lanier: Well, I started hunting when I was a really, really young kid, and as all young kids and families do your father takes you hunting and I started my family – a portion of my family farms, rice and family friends around the area. So, I had access to world class waterfowling. I didn’t know it at the time. I just thought, you know, that’s the way it was. And I got to go on some phenomenal stuff. I remember the first widespread hunt I ever went on was back when I was a kid. There was two papers in Houston, one was a Chronicle, one was a Post. So we took the Sunday Chronicle out there and threw it on the rice double and shot geese. And you didn’t even pick it up at the time cause it’s going to rain and just disintegrate. So, left it there.

Ramsey Russell: Just how everybody did it. 

Michael Lanier: Well, that’s how people that didn’t have all the stuff to go. But he talked about one of my heroes and that’s Marvin Tyler. He always will be. He started along with a man named Jimmy Real in Eagle Lake. Depending on who you want to talk to, all them started widespread hunting here there and yonder. Well, I have my own version. And those two gentlemen started widespread hunting on the Texas coast. Marvin owned a restaurant in Altair. Jimmy was a rice buyer in Eagle Lake, and they kind of co conspired to go commercial goose hunting. Because after World War II – I listened to the old, I love listening to old guys when I was living there, and they tell stories. And there were always ducks here. You know the prairie; the rice fields were just full of potholes. That was for land planes, and bench leveling, and equipping, and all the stuff we have going on now. And the ducks were always here. Rice farming one that big, but after World War II, rice really hit the prairies. And the geese, from what I’m told, were always down in the coastal marshes and they moved up on the prairie because they found a new food source. And it just kind of evolved from there, the geese hit, and Marvin and Jimmy, they saw an opportunity, as far as I know. How can we make money taking these people sports hunting? And they did. I would imagine probably the first white spread, well, I know because we were hunting cloth rags when I started. You carry those things out in the field and they were some of the tablecloths from the restaurant that got dirty, and cut up and bed sheets and pillowcases, and whatever white cloth you could find, old cotton cloth is all it was.

Ramsey Russell: How did you literally get started? Because I understood it was a very young age.


Blue Goose Season Records

There was 5000 people that came through the Blue Goose in the season. 


Michael Lanier: Yeah. Well, my dad is, like, as I said, all parents did, they took you hunting, they took you fishing.

Ramsey Russell: That’s what dads do.

Michael Lanier: That’s what dads do. That’s what good dads do. And I didn’t know it at the time. But when I was about 13, my dad knew Marvin and took me up to the Blue Goose and he said, boy, this is who you’re hunting with tomorrow. And I said, okay. You’re to be seen not heard as a child, in those days. Didn’t ask a whole lot of questions, but I said okay. So, he took me up there and, and I started as Marvin’s helper and some of the older guides helper. You were the swamp rat, you’d carry this stuff for him and all of that. And so that’s what I did. And as we were talking earlier, I was telling about my dad, as I got older, we were running in the heyday. There was 5000 people that came through the Blue Goose in the season. We didn’t teal hunt, that’s just during goose season.

Ramsey Russell: How long was the season? What period of time did 5000 guns come through Blue Goose?

Michael Lanier: First in November the mid-January toward the end of January. There’s a lot, we had a chalkboard when you walked into the restaurant. It was just like you saw in the old school it was green, that old slate board. It had lines on it. It had the day’s date. It had a place, a column for the party name. It had a place for the guide and it had a place for the lease you were hunting. And there was 35 lines on that board and it would be filled up a lot of days.

Ramsey Russell: And where was everybody coming? Where were those sports coming from?

Michael Lanier: All over the nation. Mostly out of state.

Ramsey Russell: You have read the same magazines that I was.

Michael Lanier: Yes sir. Yeah. We took a lot of the outdoor riders hunting. But anyway, that’s my dad dropped me off and I got to doing that in years. After I got older it slows down around the holidays because it was out of state people, and they want to you know spend the holidays with the family. Most of these were corporate things or entertaining clients, and well you don’t want to miss family time to do that. So, it slowed down. So, I’d say you know dad we got let’s go hunting. No, that’s okay. That’s okay. And about the third time, third year I asked him, he said, no that’s okay. I said, dad why don’t you want to go hunting with me? He said son, I hate that. I’m like, what do you mean you hate that? I said, you took my brother and I hunting when we’re little. He said that’s what a father is supposed to do. But I found a way – you loved it so much – for you to do it that I didn’t have to. You’re happy, I’m happy, we’re all happy. So, he never hunted another day in his life.

Ramsey Russell: When he dropped you off at Marvin, did he drop you off to hunt or to work?

Michael Lanier: Work. 

Ramsey Russell: Okay. So, you found your way to work this thing.

Michael Lanier: Yeah. But I learned I learned how to set spreads and I learned how to —

Ramsey Russell: You learned from the best —

Michael Lanier: I learned from the best.

Ramsey Russell: And you pay dues.

Michael Lanier: Oh yes sir. You didn’t make much money.

Ramsey Russell: I’m just thinking a 13-year-old kid was the mule.

Michael Lanier: Oh yeah. And I wasn’t real big at the time. I know I’ve grown a little bit since then. But some of the older guys, if you ever listened to them, my nickname was Tiny. I showed, you know most years you throw that big rag bag on top, and he said all we could see was 2ft moving underneath it. Then I came back one year and they’re like my God what happened? So they – Freddy Walker was one of the guys – he stuck me with that name, called me Tiny.

Ramsey Russell: Put me on a timeline here. 70’s?


Working as a Mule for a Hunting Outfit

I still wonder, if Marvin Tyler knew what I was paying for leases and stuff right now he’d roll over in his grave.


Michael Lanier: Yes sir, early 70, 71.

Ramsey Russell: And I don’t even think they were real ATVs. I mean I hadn’t come out with the three-wheeler back then. This is men and boys carrying rags —

Michael Lanier: Strap it on your back and go. Real rags, and when they got wet, they were heavy. You made numerous trips and dirty fields. Yeah, I’ve had one knee replaced already, I had two ruptured discs, I had a shoulder surgery that didn’t go well. So, and it’s all related to that.

Ramsey Russell: I guarantee you it is. What was your average workday like back in the 70s doing that kind of hunt? Walk me through. You wake up in the morning at what time and then what?

Michael Lanier: You wake up at three in the morning, get to the restaurant or you’re already there sometimes there was guide cabins there you could stay in, stay in Marvin’s house. I mean he’d do whatever but you’d walk in and one of the first task was to fill the water glasses. I’ve yet to understand what that was all about. But nobody ever drank from them dad gum water glasses. But we had to fill them all. You know we’re pouring them and he’s in the back with the help there cooking breakfast and getting set up, and that started in about four o’clock. He’d tell you go wake the hunters up. So, we had 11 mobile homes out there, and you go beat on the doors, and wake up all the all the hunters, and they come in they get breakfast. Their guide would get with them and get everybody registered, if that was their first day there, and depending on where you go. But because what you have to understand is we hunted just a couple of miles from the restaurant. I’ve hunted all the way down the other side of Victoria.

Ramsey Russell: Geez, how far is that, about an hour and a half?

Michael Lanier: Yeah, hour and a half. So that three o’clock in the morning sometimes turned into two because you had to leave in order to get down there and get your spread set. So, it was really before the days of leases occurring.

Ramsey Russell: Could you all still knock on doors or know people, shake a hank?

Michael Lanier: No, they didn’t care anything about them at all. They were happy for you to hunt them. Of course, he stuck a little money in their hand and not much, they were tickled. I still wonder, if Marvin Tyler knew what I was paying for leases and stuff right now he’d roll over in his grave.

Ramsey Russell: He might be.

Michael Lanier: My God, we hunted some of the primo stuff in Texas. There was a family, and they still live in El Campo, called the Hancocks. They owned what was called, we called TWI, Texas West Indies, a huge ranch down there and speaks to that area kind of west of El Campo. And unbelievable, and just, we had place after place like that. I still have what we call The Kelly. It’s actually Sandy Creek, 9000 acres down there, and I have that because of the Moore family, I have a very close relationship with them. And it was relationships mostly. Most of the guides were from the area, we knew people and you drove and found geese, you just that’s Mr. Angstrom. So I’ll go ask him. Yeah, boy, go ahead, get them birds off my crown. And we’d go hunt them. So basically, if you saw them, you could hunt them. But the leasing around here really got big in the eighties, rice farming, the prices just started going to pieces. Their inputs were high, but what they were getting, they’re getting the same price as they were getting in the fifties. And so, they were looking for ways to make money, so they finally figured out that, you know what, we can do stuff to create habitat on our property and people will pay us for it. And that’s when the leasing really took off. So, it’s another revenue source for him. And there’s a plus side to it though Ramsey, because prior to that, you really couldn’t get them to do anything for you. They’re like, I’m not going to try and draw them things to my ground. So they didn’t want to pump water, they don’t want to do anything like that, but when they saw the kind of money that they could generate, it helps their income. They started working for you as the hunter, or the outfitter, and the benefactor were the birds were creating habitat. So, it was a great thing. Probably the beginning of the downhill slide of the birds because more and more people came and came and gun pressure is still a horrible thing on this prairie.

Ramsey Russell: It is. We’re going to get back to that.

Michael Lanier: Go ahead.

Ramsey Russell: So, you set up to the field, you got up at two or three o’clock in the morning, you got your hunters up, everybody eats a big breakfast, you drive and I don’t have two hours or ten minutes.

Michael Lanier: Ten minutes. You may not go very far.

Ramsey Russell: How many tablecloths, newspapers? How big was your spread?

Michael Lanier: On the cloth rag days, if you set 600, that was a big spread.

Ramsey Russell: 600 pieces.

Michael Lanier: 600 pieces for 400 to 600.

Ramsey Russell: We’re sitting at an 8ft table. So, I got a white tablecloth. How many decoys am I going to get, it the side of a napkin?

Michael Lanier: Usually about 3×3.

Ramsey Russell: 3×3?

Michael Lanier: Yes sir.

Ramsey Russell: How much time did it take? How laborious was, how much work was involved?

Michael Lanier: It’s labor intensive. But if you had 400-500 with you and guide, you know, we go around, we throw the rags because you you’ve got to set the fire. 

Ramsey Russell: You know you have got to cut all them tablecloths into 3×3 pieces.

Michael Lanier: Yeah. It took some time to do all that stuff. But you throw the spread out on the ground and the hunters would come along and fluff the rags. And back in those days rice stubble was real tall. So, you just shake that rag out, drape it over the stubble. Kind of make it look like a dome look like the back of a feeding goose.

Ramsey Russell: 600 is not a bunch.

Michael Lanier: Yes. For a cloth spread though, that’s pretty hefty. 

Ramsey Russell: Hunters wore the white.

Michael Lanier: Yes, sir.

Ramsey Russell: Laid in the decoy.

Michael Lanier: You became a decoy.

Ramsey Russell: Laid on the mud.

Michael Lanier: Yes.

Ramsey Russell: Or whatever the ride was?

Michael Lanier: Whatever was there. So sometimes you got against the levy, you as a back rest.

Ramsey Russell: Did you mouth call or use store bought calls? Do we have a caller?

Michael Lanier: Yeah, mostly store-bought callers. I mean there were some guys who can mouth call but I didn’t. I blew an old 800 for years. That was my – I didn’t know what the difference between the snow goose and a speck and the Canada. I could blow all three on that one call. I didn’t know. So Joe Briscoe has got all these different things going on where rice lands all of them.

Ramsey Russell: He’s got a shoveler call and gadwall call and I’m serious about the gadwall call, he don’t really have a shoveler call, but I’m going to talk him into it.

Michael Lanier: You need to. That man is talented. He is a good guy. I blew an old 800 for forever, and I don’t think I have the lungs to blow that thing anymore because it took some air to get through there. But we’d set the spread, he’d set the hunters down in what we call the firing line. You’re on the downwind edge, you get them inside the edge of the spread, lay them down. So, it’s safe and you give your safety speech about guns pointed out of the spread. I’m going to call the shot. You know you have your gun pointed downwind, I’m behind you. I’m going to have my gun pointed upwind and when I call the shot, everybody just rock up on your hip, pick a bird, make sure he comes down.

Ramsey Russell: Y’all would have been shooting lead back in the day.

Michael Lanier: Oh, yes sir. 

Ramsey Russell: What was your ammo of choice?

Michael Lanier: I shot reload number fives.

Ramsey Russell: Number fives. Full choke?

Michael Lanier: Yeah, full choke an 870. That’s all we ever know.

Ramsey Russell: Number fives snow goose hunting. That tells me that they were close, there weren’t 80 yards.

Michael Lanier: No, no, you didn’t shoot at birds that high. No, they were good decoy birds. We reloaded our own. So we had a meth dealer come in and give us a formula one time. He said it’s not in the book because it’s not safe, but it’ll sure work. And we’re shooting three-inch shells and I guarantee you went through four boxes, you had a headache after the day was over. It does some damage.

Ramsey Russell: What was the ideal situation? I mean, you just know because I’ve got this scout report, I’ve got these weather conditions. I’m going to murder him today.

Michael Lanier: Ideally if you’re in a feeding fog, close to the roost in the feeding field with the fog. Yeah, it’s done. They’re coming.

Ramsey Russell: You still say the same thing.

Michael Lanier: Sure. Yeah. As you get older, you remember things older people tell you, I remember so many things that Marvin told me that, at the time, he really didn’t pay attention to. But you remembered and he said, boy, this is just like real estate. I said what are you talking about? He said its location, location, location.

Ramsey Russell: Boy that’s a fight, that hadn’t changed one bit.

Michael Lanier: No that hadn’t, but understand we didn’t really hunt geese in the field until they were there the third day.

Ramsey Russell: Really?

Michael Lanier: Yeah, we let them set, let them build up, let him get comfortable.

Ramsey Russell: Y’all wanted them to stick.

Michael Lanier: Yeah. So, but you had so many options, you could do that. Now if a bird flies over a field, somebody’s hunting in the next day.

Ramsey Russell: You were telling me how many snow geese were down here in that era?

Michael Lanier: 1.2 million

Ramsey Russell: 1.2 million.

Michael Lanier: On the Texas, Louisiana coast.

Ramsey Russell: Is what average–

Michael Lanier: Average survey? Yes sir.

Ramsey Russell: You know, we had a guy historian on here, and he was explaining exactly what you said, that historically those snow geese would leave the prairies of North Dakota around Kenmare, up in Canada, and fly straight because at some point there was a lot of agricultural stopover. There wasn’t a lot to maybe stop and they came down and got in that marsh.

Michael Lanier: Yes.

Ramsey Russell: And then the 40s and 50s, rice took off. Now you got the surrogate emergent marsh habitat with feed. Boom, now they don’t have to go quite so far. It kind of exploded it seems like maybe the population grew from historic levels and got up to 1.2 million. And that’s when y’all were out there hunting them with newspapers and anything wise you could get. What would happen after the hunt? You go back? How many birds were y’all picking? How are you picking?

Michael Lanier: I can’t remember one. We always had a guide’s party at the end of the season, and this was later on. And I don’t keep totals of my birds. Everybody looks at me like you’re funny today, but I’m like, I don’t, they’re like why? I said, you know what, I don’t really care how many birds we kill if that hunters happy when he leaves, I don’t care. And so, I’m not about a number’s thing. Oh we killed this many, but I can remember what we had because I want it. I was in college and we had a guy’s party at the end of the year, and it started a week before, and it ended like three days before the last day of the season for the guides’ party. And you had to guess how many birds we were going to, how many geese we were going to kill for the season. And George and Wanda were the pickers and they kept a running total in there, and everybody was trying to guess it. Well, I just use a little algebraic formula, we got this many hunters left, and this is what we’re going to average per day. So anyway, I can remember we came, I came up with a little over 12,000, I came real close. That was geese, not ducks. And the ducks, we have ducks, like nobody really hunted them.


Picking 400 Geese a Day 

You can’t even give the stuff away anymore with the synthetics that are out there. So, it’s really not worth picking.


Ramsey Russell: I mean there have been times you’ll go to pickers were picking hundreds of birds a day.

Michael Lanier: Yes sir. I remember 400 birds piled up in front of the picking house and we’d have to help.

Ramsey Russell: They stayed busy.

Michael Lanier: Yes, sir. We get in there and help them.

Ramsey Russell: Helping picking them?

Michael Lanier: Oh yeah, on them machines with rubber fingers. 

Ramsey Russell: Because I can remember back in the 80s you’d go to a picking shed, and I’ve never seen one of Mississippi, but you go to picking shed down here and they had the big vacuums coming off, doing something with the feathers, selling feathers, and selling stuff, and you pick them back up to get a whole pig goose with the head of wing attack.

Michael Lanier: Well back then there was a market for the down and the feathers, and oh yeah, those big old sacks, there were 6-8. And we’d pile them up and the buyer would come down at the end of the season. You know, after a month or so, and we had them stockpiled and he’d give Marvin a bid on it. And then okay, and then will they send a truck and pick them up and take them? You can’t even give the stuff away anymore with the synthetics that are out there. So, it’s really not worth picking. So, most people just breast the birds out now that’s how it’s done. And if you’re funny, my wife and I, when we started this, I said darling there’s a few things I’m not going to do because I’ve done them all my life. And she said, what’s that? I said, number one is pick birds, I want nothing to do with that anymore. And I said number two is lodge people. I said because you talked about the long day, what time of day did the day end? Well there’d be nine o’clock at night you’re dragging home.

Ramsey Russell: You said like every night you’re having to wash all those rags.


The Long Days Being an Outfitter Requires

It was an 18-hour day a lot of times. And you didn’t go home, you didn’t see the kids, you didn’t see the wife.


Michael Lanier: Oh, if it was nasty, I will wash them. But you’re scouting for the next day. So, you got in from the hunt, if you had to wash your parker’s or pick birds, you did that, you didn’t go home. And then about three o’clock in the afternoon you loaded up and you went scouting the prairie looking for birds for the next day. We all went in different directions. We had our assignments and we just went and we brought the scouting reports back to Marvin and John later on, and decisions were made. Okay, this is who’s going where the next day. And so, it made a long day. And I’ve got a wonderful wife. I’ve been so blessed with family. She’s, as I said, put up with me and my addiction and this is an addiction, I don’t care what people tell you. I’m not addicted to anything else but by God, I’m addicted to this. And she’s put up, we’ve been married 37 years and she’s put up with me doing it. But it took time away from your family because it was a long day. It was an 18-hour day a lot of times. And you didn’t go home, you didn’t see the kids, you didn’t see the wife. And I said, you know what I want to be able to do? I said, I want those guides at the end of the hunt to be able to go home and be with their family. They’re welcome to come ride with me if they want to. But I ride every day and some of them ride with Wayne. I talked to you about Wayne, he’s been with me a long time. He rides with me. But I want those young, those 30 year olds to go home and spend time with their family, do what they need to do and I’ll take care of the rest of it. So, that’s kind of how we’ve evolved into in the way we do things here, we don’t lodge anybody. So, they don’t have to deal with that. Paula fixes breakfast for them in the morning, and everybody loves it, and they walk in and get their breakfast, get the coffee and get the guide, and down the road they go.


How Edible are Snow Geese?

Depends on who cooks it, and how it’s cooked, and how it’s taken care of.


Ramsey Russell: You’re talking about plucking versus breasting. I’ve eaten snow goose. I like snow goose. I’m not saying I like all the snow geese, but most snow geese I’ve eaten tasted good to my wife because of a horrible cooking incident back in college, which involved too much beer, and one light bulb, and uneven heat on the grill. She bit into a piece of basically raw duck. She just kind of wrote that off her list of things she wants to eat. But years later, had some snow geese, double tenderized them at the butcher, chicken fried them, made with gravy, put them back, smothered them. Come up with a whole goose, work to breast in half. That’s a lot of goose meat for a young lady and she loved it. Said you need to start cooking deer meat like that more often. That snow goose, what do you think about snow goose? Do you think they’re, they’re good to eat or can be good, made good to eat?

Michael Lanier: You know, it’s kind of like anything else, Ramsey. Depends on who cooks it, and how it’s cooked, and how it’s taken care of. That has a lot to do with any game that you eat. I mean Marvin used to cook it, we ate it, but Marvin was a phenomenal chef, not just–

Ramsey Russell: He owned that restaurant.

Michael Lanier: He owned that restaurant by God, steak and seafood. And we had a waiter there named Shorty who had been there – he started with him and Shorty probably died, I don’t know, 15 years ago. But those men had an ungodly ability to remember and understand. We’re running 5000 people through there in a year. But that hunter walked in, he’d know their name, he’d know where they’re from, he’d know their family. But there were famous sayings, because they’d sit down to eat and they’d be like, what do you want? Well, how about redfish that slept in the bay last night. It’s fresh. That was one of his famous things, but wonderful guy. I’ve been so blessed to be around so many. That’s what I tell people about hunters is, and I know there’s bad eggs in every basket, but for the most part that people are people. But for the most part, my God, you meet some of the most wonderful folks, and you said, man, you’ve been doing this almost 50 years. That’s one reason I do, I love to sit here in the morning, and visit with those guys, and talk to them and especially the young ones, they’ll walk in and my wife and I are both retired educators, and I love to take little kids hunting. Let them walk in and go in the back room they see all those mounts and pictures, and they see that big old alligator hanging on the wall, and they light my fire again. I want that generation hunting. I’ve got three grandkids and teal season ends this Sunday. I know this airs after that’s over. But by God we’re going hunting. I don’t have a party that–

Ramsey Russell: Great time of year to get kids, because my kids when they were that age, they were going to get wet.

Michael Lanier: You get wet, it’s not cold, we figured out how to manage the mosquito population around here, which is really healthy, and there’s a lot of action. So, kids aren’t laying there and bored to death. That’s why I don’t hunt deer. I’m like, I don’t have anything against it. But I’m like sit there for and I love to watch the wildlife and stuff, but it’s kind of boring if you want to understand. 

Ramsey Russell: That was out there to watch the sunrise, I see.

Michael Lanier: Yeah. 


Hunting Tricks of the Trade from Marvin Tyler of Blue Goose

Marvin was a big rough looking guy, but he had a heart bigger than Dallas.


Ramsey Russell: What kind of guy was Marvin. I’m sitting here writing and asking questions at the same time. What kind of guy was Marvin? What would he like to work for? What would you like to be around?

Michael Lanier: Marvin was a big rough looking guy, but he had a heart bigger than Dallas. Now you didn’t want to get on his bad side because he had a dark side too. But he’d walk in a room and I know you’ve met people like that. They have that aura, that presence.

Ramsey Russell: Charisma. 

Michael Lanier: And that’s the man right there. Even people that didn’t know him, he’d walk in like he’s in charge, and he was. And we all respected him and he was hard on you. If he thought you didn’t do what you ought to do by God, he got on you like your daddy. He was one of those people, I just, there’s several people in my life I never wanted to disappoint: one was my father, my grandfather, a few uncles I’ve had, but another one was Marvin Tyler, I never wanted to upset that man.

Ramsey Russell: Did he teach you any hunting tricks of the trade that you still do today?

Michael Lanier: Sure, sure. Yeah. I mean he taught me how to read bird body language. How do you look at the field and figure out where you need to set up, and the list goes on and on, it’s amazing. He was just a book of knowledge. But you have to listen to him. He was going to tell you those things. You had to pay attention to it. And I was just so fortunate I got to ride the prairie with him a lot and listen to him, and learn from him. He was kind of almost like another dad to me. He had a heart big as a Dallas, man. But it could be rougher. Rougher than a cop too if you ever need it to be.

Ramsey Russell: I would like run that many hunters. You’d have to, you’d have to have a little backbone.

Michael Lanier: Oh, yes sir. 

Ramsey Russell: Not everybody is easy to work with. Not everybody is pleasure to be around.

Michael Lanier: No. And you’re going to get some of those hunters in that are just walking talking jerks. He wouldn’t tolerate a whole lot. I think most of those could figure that out. I never saw too many of them get crossways with him and if they ever got crossways with him, they never came back. So, he just like, you’re not welcome here anymore. He ran his own show, he talked about media and stuff and we took the outdoor writers association hunting every year. They’d come in. I got to hunt with Bob Bristler, and just a litany of people, and it was just amazing. But we didn’t advertise much and he’s like, what are you doing? I said, what are you doing Marvin? Why there’s no ads in the papers. They write stories about us. I mean I’ve been in Outdoor Life and Field and Stream, and all those different things, and that was good advertisement. But he said, I’m going to tell you what Bob said, the best advertisement in the world is word of mouth. He said, everybody that hunts know two or three other people that hunt, and if they have a fabulous time, they’re going to tell their friends and they’re coming back. He said, you can spend all the money in the world you want on written advertisement. Why do we do this? He said, well it helps a little bit. He didn’t throw it completely out the door.


The Habitat that Housed 1.2 Million Geese

The amount of pressure on these birds is unbelievable.


Ramsey Russell: Changing gears just a little bit, let’s talk about this region, this area used to be 1.2 million geese. What was the habitat, what was the landscape like then? What was this community like. These communities around here like then, whenever, 1.2 million geese and these legends of Blue Goose running around versus now.

Michael Lanier: We’ve lost probably 60% of our rice acreage in the state of Texas.

Ramsey Russell: Why?

Michael Lanier: Well you talk about Katy prairie, I mean, it’s a cement prairie now. Basically, with houses everywhere. Development and population explosions have taken over. That’s part of the reason the crops have evolved. The reason the geese have demised. I mean Rob Sawyer —

Ramsey Russell: Rob, Yeah.

Michael Lanier: And Rob said the best thing I’ve ever heard, and I always told him I’m going to use it. So, Rob I’m using this, but I’m giving you credit for it with the changing populations. The geese, he calls it “death by 1000 cuts.” Everybody has their one reason why the geese left Texas in the numbers that they did. They want to blame Ducks Unlimited. And I’m like, don’t blame Ducks U9uyre1nlimited. I said they have done more for waterfowl, but everybody wants to blame something.

Ramsey Russell: Blame somebody.

Michael Lanier: Blame something or somebody, it’s not my fault. But I don’t think there is one thing. You have less rice acreage, everybody wants to blame the new machinery, I haven’t met a goose that starved to death behind that combine. If you live here year-round and you get a real wet spring, this one was one for instance, I can take you out and show you some fields right now that were farmed in rice last year. My God, look at all that rice out there, it’s volunteered back. So don’t tell me those birds don’t have anything to eat. I think the weather changing is a good – that’s the one that probably had more effect than anything. I mean we’re sitting here now at the end of September and it was 97 degrees when I was driving up here. When I was still hunting as a kid, a lot of times you put a jacket on, it was cold, may warm up, you know later in the morning, but daylight is pretty chilly and that’s a player. The farming practices have changed, we talked about the old fields that we had all the depressions in them and everything, and bench leveling as we call it, or equipping. They laser level the ground, it’s for water management, everybody wants to be as efficient as they can. Used to flood a rice field and it was just fields with levies. There were run by a laser to tell you – you wanted this break so you could hold some water across the field. Well, top of the cut may have ankle deep water in it and the bottom of the cut’s knee deep, and now you go out in those cuts and there’s two inches of water all the way across and no depressions. But that’s what a lot of people don’t understand. Those depressions were important sources of feed for the waterfowl, especially in January. They’re not looking for that carbohydrate as much anymore. They want that protein, they want that little invertebrate, that’s what they’re looking for, and we’ve taken that away from them. So that’s a player. The amount of pressure on these birds is unbelievable. 2011 on this prairie, as far as ducks were concerned was probably one of the finest I ever remember. But we were in the middle of a drought and the Lower Colorado River Authority controls the Colorado River, and they control the pumping, and I’m on a couple of boards that deals with them. They have their water management plan, which I understand, but in 2011, they curtailed interruptible water – which farmers are interruptible water. So, Eagle Lake had no water, Bay City had no water. But Mr. Lehrer, when he sold the irrigation system here in Garwood, he took care of the Garwood people. One of his things in his contract was Garwood will always be allowed to pump water as long as there’s water running down that river. Ramsay, there’s always going to be water running down the river. Austin’s big and every time they flush their toilet, it’s going somewhere. So, we have water, it was great. But the other prairies lost their water, and a lot of those hunters came here, and the hunting pressure just exploded. And God bless them but a lot of them never left. They just found a, oh man, I landed in God’s country and here I stay. But that had an effect on it. Birds aren’t going to stand pressure. They’re going to leave the goose hunting. Everybody says, oh, there’s no more roost on the prairie? Well, I’ve been in meetings with Texas, Parks and Wildlife and Ducks Unlimited. And they’re like, how can we fix this? We need to put water on the prairie and I’m like, that’s understandable. But it goes back to what we talked about in the 80s, when rice farming started to really decline and they started, how do we generate additional revenue when we do it through hunters. And we used to put big roost on the prairie. But we were hunting geese, that cost was astronomical. But we hunted the geese that came off of it. So, we didn’t mess with it. We left it alone. When the goose population started to really decline, we’re still putting those big bodies of water up. But now we’re not getting any revenue. The only way we could get it is to duck hunt it.

Ramsey Russell: You said some time during our pre-show visit, even Marvin had some big places that were just held–

Michael Lanier: Oh, yes, sir.

Ramsey Russell: He developed these areas are flooded these areas just to hold geese and his shooting. 

Michael Lanier: Yes, sir. Yeah, just around Garwood. There’s one I mentioned, the Benches. That’s been there since the 50s. The Layer family always pumped it up. It’s 200 acres. And that was a sanctuary you stayed away from. You see people lined up down I-693 every evening watching the geese fall into it. There’d be 50,000 – 60,000 birds using that thing. It’s still pumped up. But the birds aren’t here and people get criticized for hunting those waters. But what I have to explain to them, I’ll agree with you. It’s hard to roost a bird when you’re going to hunt that water that they’re on. But these people are paying money, these outfitters are paying money to put that in there. They’ve got to be able to get their expense back. The only way they can do that is to duck hunt it. Doesn’t negatively impact the geese shore. Yeah. And if I told you any different, I’d be lying to you, no. 


Hunters Back in the Day Vs. the Present

Bloodthirsty. Kill them. Stack them.


Ramsey Russell: How many geese are there now? But there was 1.2 million back in the heyday.

Michael Lanier: The snow geese, the winter counts are under 300,000.

Ramsey Russell: But it’s still good hunting. I mean bird, I see folks down here —

Michael Lanier: We just don’t run the hunts. I run about 1200 guns a year through this place between teal season, which go back to the Blue Goose days. We didn’t teal hunt with Marvin, nobody wanted to. It was a nine day season, four bird limit and I take some landowners hunting every now and then, or some client that wanted to go but we’re just going to sit on a levee and shoot teal. But now it’s a big revenue. I’ll put over 300 guns through this place in 16 days. So, it’s a big revenue source.

Ramsey Russell: Have you seen a change in hunters the guys, you were taking hunting back in those days.

Michael Lanier: Bloodthirsty. Kill them. Stack them.

Ramsey Russell: Yes, sir.

Michael Lanier: They’ve evolved, they’ve learned, and I’ve hunted with some for over 40 years, and I’ve watched them evolved from, “We need to kill the limit,” to, “Man, isn’t that pretty?”

Ramsey Russell: Is it an age thing?

Michael Lanier: Probably that’s probably part of it. But I see some of the young hunters, I had a doctor, well, you know him, he was here and I just, I love him to death. He is bringing like, what’s he got six kids?

Ramsey Russell: He’s got some young, yeah.

Michael Lanier: But he brings two of the boys hunting and I love to sit, and watch him teach these kids what it’s really about. And he does such a great job.

Ramsey Russell: It’s got to be about the experience because even back in the heyday when y’all had 1.2 million geese, y’all weren’t always hauling out five birds a man on the strap.

Michael Lanier: No, there were bad days, there were bad days. So, God, you didn’t want to go back and tell. His first thing, what’d you do wrong? That’s what people don’t understand. There were bad hunts back then too. It was more the norm to go out and do pretty well. Did you kill five birds of man every day? No. But you sure we’re doing it more consistently than you can now. We run, like I said, 1200 guns a day a year through year. And if I ran 15 goose hunts, that’s probably about it. But I’ve got to wait until I’ve got geese on my property. And then I called some of my clients that love to goose hunt. And I got a couple of guys that are young, they’re where they’re 30-40 years old, that’s young to me, and they still love to do it, and we’ll set them up and take them then. Before I always used to tell them, I said, by July 1st I knew every day I was hunting during the season because it was booked, and there was always going to be birds, and it’s not that way anymore. Part of it’s people, and the change, everybody’s last minute now, everybody’s so 100 miles an hour doing 9000 things. They’ll call me on a Friday, hey, can you take me in the morning? I’m like, no, I’m full.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah. 

Michael Lanier: I’m like, I’m sorry. And sometimes they’ll have a last-minute opportunity. The world has changed. But you talked about the hunters and that one in particular, it just makes my heart feel good, for lack of a better term, to watch him do that with his kids. I’ve got a young dog, I’m hunting this year. She’s 18 months old and she’s really good. But she’s going to miss some birds, and we had one that crippled out about 100 yards and went out, and he took those two boys out there, and he said we need to look for that bird. Because I told him, I said doc I’ll take the dog should get to know. He said I want to teach them what it’s about. And dadgum, they found that bird, brought it in, and I was proud. And they did the right thing. They just got one that I crippled, we’re going to get him. No, it’s called wanton waste, so don’t do that. Yeah, I’ve seen the hunters change and for the better for the most part. 

Ramsey Russell:  And the decoys, back in the days, I was coming down here in the eighties nineties, it was a pickup truck with those sacks you’re talking about with all those wadded up rags, and now it’s trailers with full bodies and ATVs and which added to the disturbance.

Michael Lanier: Yes.

Ramsey Russell: But you got to get all that stuff out there.

Michael Lanier: Yes.

Ramsey Russell:  Steel shot 3.5 inch magnums. It’s a litany of changes and I just wondered what you saw a change. I think that’s why I asked –


The Best Old School Decoy Spreads 

Major is always trying to connive ways to kill more birds. And he decided to use that banquet table cloth. 


Michael Lanier: Yeah, just going from the rag, the true rag spreads to the bank. I don’t know who takes – and again, in my mind, who gets credit for the plastic rags, and I can only speak to the Blue Goose. But I remember an old guide, he’s still alive, a good friend of mine, Major Binge. He came in one morning and he said, I want to use these rags, Marvin. And Marvin was like that ain’t going to work. My God, what are you doing? And what he’d been, he was a school administrator too, it’s weird we’re a lot of school administrators. But I’ve been to the bank which they go to in the Spring, and he’s sitting there. Major is always trying to connive ways to kill more birds. And he decided to use that banquet table cloth. So, he started, and we cut up many a spread in the kitchen at the Blue Goose. You catch the end of that banquet table cloth roll, wrap it around your arm about 10 times, get one of those big butcher knives that he cut steaks with, rip it, throws down 10 rags, rapid. So that’s where that evolved from. I don’t know if he was the one that came up with it, but I give him credit for it because he was the first one I saw. I still know Marvin was like, I’m sure that ain’t going to work, by God what are you doing? He said let me try it. He said all right. Well it wasn’t too long the rest of us were using it because you could pack 600-700 on your back by yourself and they didn’t weigh anything.

Ramsey Russell: When was the first time you saw some of those synthetics began to hit the market? Y’all said, oh boy, this is it.

Michael Lanier: I can remember another Marvin deal because Johnny Sporting Goods is a big operation in Eagle Lake. We all still go there. Everybody buys their stuff there, Johnny Mikeston started that. And it was a south wind decoy, and it was a wind sock with a plastic goose head on top and a plastic stake.

Ramsey Russell: I remember those.

Michael Lanier: And I picked up about three dozen of them just to sit in the front of my spread, around my hunters just to break them up a little bit. Marvin looked at that and he’s going to work by guts. The only downside was they had the plastic stakes and they snap. You get those sports helping you, and you tell them look, grab it at the bottom and shove it in real gentle. Well they push it by the head, and pop, and there you go. So, and then we went to the plastic rags making wind socks ourselves.

Ramsey Russell: Great stuff like that.

Michael Lanier: Yeah. We started with just wooden dowels and we migrated to bamboo from the nurseries. And then we went to fiberglass rods, because those wouldn’t break. You shove them in the ground real easy, they were thin. Oh yeah, you make your own wind socks.

Ramsey Russell: You think if conditions are right, you can still go out and shoot some birds down here like that?

Michael Lanier: I guarantee you, I guarantee you. Give me a cloth for ag spread on a good windy day. We’ll mow them down.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah, absolutely.

Michael Lanier: Yeah, they just flutter. That was the thing about the wind socks and even the plastic – well the plastic rags would blow off so easy and blow down in the stubble. But the cloth, even in high wind, they just sit up there, and they just shake just like a goose, you know, look like them. You get these wind socks now and it’s all kind of noise, and that old cloth rag just shake and it didn’t talk. And those birds just come on. So yeah, I’m going to do it again one day. I still got some cloth rags.

Ramsey Russell: As Blue Goose scaled 5000 hunters a year, did Marvin continue to take teams out daily and guide or was he just kind of the commander in charge?

Michael Lanier: No, in the early, the last probably three years or so, he was there, he didn’t hunt much. But oh yeah, he’d go up there and look at the party and figure out who we’re hunting. You saw MET that’s Marvin E Tyler, he was the guy in charge. So, and yeah, he ran his hunt. He had the kitchen help there, and they cleaned up, and took care of stuff as we went out the door.


Outfitter Guide “Fun Hunts”

A lot of the guides would get together and we’d go fun hunt.


Ramsey Russell: And as it scaled out, and he was a guide and you were a guide. Did y’all still enjoy just two of y’all going out and hunting together?

Michael Lanier: Oh yeah, we call them fun hunts.

Ramsey Russell: Fun hunts?

Michael Lanier: A lot of the guides would get together and we’d go fun hunt. Like I said during Christmas, it would slow down during the holidays because we’re doing a lot of corporate out of state people. It slowed down. So yeah, we go fun hunt, and oh yeah, everybody had to call everybody to do their thing, and it was much more of a social thing than anything. We had big fun doing it. But yeah, he was tremendous man. I was like I said, I’m so fortunate that my– I’m so fortunate my daddy didn’t like to hunt, took me up there.

Ramsey Russell: You got a second dad.

Michael Lanier: Yeah, I got a second dad and he started me doing this, and it’s just like, like I said, I don’t have any addictions except that. And it’s who I am. I just love to call him, watch him work. And I love to go out on the prairie and watch him. 


Favorite Hunting Stories & Memorable Clients

I thought I was going to die right on the spot.


Ramsey Russell: What’s your fondest memory of Marvin? Out in the field hunting together? A joke?

Michael Lanier: Oh, probably the thing that sticks out in my mind is, we get these, I mean there’s movie stars hunting with us. 

Ramsey Russell: Like who?

Michael Lanier: Ricky Schroeder. Yeah, I took him hunting a lot, Andy Griffith.

Ramsey Russell: Oh, come on.

Michael Lanier: Yeah, that’s what really caused the thing to explode. And it was before my time in the 60s. But you remember the American Sportsman?

Ramsey Russell: Yeah.

Michael Lanier: Curt Gowdy. Andy Griffith came down here with Curt Gowdy, and I guess they’d heard about it and came down here and filmed an episode of the American Sportsman, and hunted with Marvin – and just people like that.

Ramsey Russell: It was on like a chicken bone because he was hot back in those days. He was the guy.

Michael Lanier: That’s what caused this really to explode because I watched American Sportsman every Sunday afternoon. That’s what you did, and people saw that, and boom. It just took off. I mean they’re calling, they’re coming. But to get back to my favorite story, is he didn’t care who they were, if they were the most famous movie star or an athlete who’s at the top of his game doing whatever, or a Governor, or the Secretary of Defense – if they didn’t do what he said, that man would crawl them like nobody’s business. I’d just be like, I can’t believe he said that. That’s the Governor of Texas. Oh they did. And I got to hunt with Tobin and John Armstrong who owned the King Ranch. I hunted them for years. One of my favorite stories of that old dog, Bear, was up there at Chesapeake Bay. I had them out, I had the Armstrong’s out in the black land prairie and it was wet over an orchard. And that old dog loved to pick up stuff and carry it around and usually was a flashlight or something reaching somebody’s bag, get their flashlight, and pack it around. I saw him one morning, we’re throwing that spread, and I’m like, what is that son of a gun got in his mouth? And I was like, Bear, come here. He came over, well, I saw Missy – and she became the ambassador to England or something, I guess in her later years. I saw her come out there and she had a hand warmer. And I guess she had taken it off, Bear decided he liked that. So he picked that up. So by the time he got to me with it, it was full of dog slobber and black land mud  – you couldn’t hardly recognize it was a hand warmer. I’m in college and I grabbed it and I went, ma’am, I am so sorry, I said, I’m going to replace this for you. And she said no, Michael, that’s okay. And I said no ma’am. I said, I’m my dog ruined it, I’m going to replace it for you. She was so kind. She was like, does your family have means? I wasn’t really sure what that meant back then. I said ma’am? She said is your family kind of well off? I said, oh no ma’am. I said we’re just working folks, why? And she said, well, Michael, that’s mink.

Ramsey Russell: Oh.

Michael Lanier: I thought I was going to die right on the spot. I just Marvin just fell out laughing and I’m like, she’s like don’t worry about it, it’s okay. I was about to kill that dog. Sorry thing. A mink hand warmer. Who brings that out there? But their part, they’re packing their Parker side by sides, and their hand tooled King Ranch, leather gun scabbard. But you talk about the nicest people. Very unassuming, work with you, get out there and set that spread. They had no problem with it. They worked right beside you and did a great job.

Ramsey Russell: Was that always a part of the program on those hunts – that the clients just helped carry? I mean they were all, they were always part of the labor force.

Michael Lanier: We had what we called VIP Hunts, which if you were, wanted to pay for those, you could. And what that meant is you got about four guides, more three or four, and the bulk of us would go out and set the spread. We leave really early and we go out, set the spread and then the head guide, the lead guide, would bring them. It was usually Marvin in the early day, he’d bring the hunters out there and walk you to the spread, and you sit down and were taken care of. Those were the best days and the worst days because it never failed. I’d set the dad gum spread, Marvin walk out there, boy, you’re 100 yards wrong, pick it up. We’re 100 yards in this 500 acre rice field, so we pick it up and move it and reset it, and he’d set it down but they didn’t help then. And then they pick up and go back to the truck after the hunt and he had broiled shrimp oysters. Oh yeah, big old party on the end gate while we’re out there picking up decoys and stuff. But sometimes we got to eat the leftovers if there was any. So that was a good thing. Oh, it was, it was cool, it was fun.

Ramsey Russell: What do you miss most about those days?

Michael Lanier: Just stuff like that. Just the camaraderie and I’ve got great relationships with my guides. There’s some quality people. I mean if you ever met them, we’ve all got a very similar personality, we do things differently. But they’re classy people.


The Legends of Texas Goose Hunting

Because he was ungodly, he could just read a field, and read birds, and he just knew what to do. 


Ramsey Russell: Are you still in touch with a lot of staff you worked with back in the 70s and 80s?

Michael Lanier: Yeah, some that are still around. A lot of the guides that passed on, that I was always a young one running up through the thing. But in the 80s, there’s a lot of those guys like Leon, random man’s friend of mine, he runs Top Flight Hunting Preserve, they’re in Columbus and he guided with us there. The New brothers, they’re fishing down in Port Mansfield now, and their dad was a dentist, they’re twins, you can’t tell them apart. I can, because I was around him so much. But they were little boys that came in and hunted with us and decided they wanted to be fishing and hunting guides. I’m like, what? They lost their mind. But anyway, they’re very good at it. But a lot of those people are still around. Major Ben is, he’s older, but I still see the Major from time to time.

Ramsey Russell: Do they still hunt?

Michael Lanier: Major? No, Major doesn’t hunt anymore. But I’ll tell you what, Major guided until he was about 76.

Ramsey Russell: Wow.

Michael Lanier: He’s tough as a boot now. I’m going to tell you. He did, he took out a limited number of parties, but when the Blue Goose folded up, he went to hunt for another operation because he still wanted to goose hunt. And when I started this, we were mostly duck hunting. We’d goose hunt some, but we’re mostly duck hunting. What a fine gentleman. He and his wife both are great people.

Ramsey Russell: Marvin retired. You said when he was in his early 60s, about your age?

Michael Lanier: So what am I still doing?

Ramsey Russell: That’s my question. Because, I’ll tell you, I meet a lot of duck guys and outfitters around the world, and you’ve been at this a long time. You and Mr. Jean Campbell remind me of each other and the fact that you all are young acting. Y’all are happy, you aren’t to relax. There’s not three cartons of cigarettes and a bottle of Maalox on your dashboard, it’s just, you seem to really enjoy what you do.

Michael Lanier: I do. I love what I do. Is it frustrating? Sure. On the days when it’s tough. And there’s a lot of days when it’s tough. I think I know what I’m doing, but despite that you can’t control it all. And you have to realize that, and I go back to what Marvin said when I was a kid, I remember things. You had a bad day and he’s like, he said, boy they got a brain and two wings. If you think you’re going to outsmart him every day, you got another thing coming. And I’d have a bad day and I remembered that he’s right. He’s right, and they need to win some just so there’s more of them to keep coming. 

Ramsey Russell: Why do you think he retired?

Michael Lanier: I don’t know. He had back problems. His back was really bothering him. But look at what he did. His back was horrendous and he loved to fish, and he wanted to still be able to do that. And we used to go, and it was legal. We’d go fish for the restaurant, we go down to Port O’Connor and catch redfish and that’s what got served in the restaurant, legal to do, and not anymore, I guess. But anyway, he wanted to still be able to fish. He was passionate. He was probably a better fisherman than he was a goose hunter if that was possible.

Ramsey Russell: Wow.

Michael Lanier: Because he was ungodly, he could just read a field, and read birds, and he just knew what to do. I think that was the reason he knows he got to where he couldn’t get out and do what he wanted to do anymore. And I don’t really want to be a manager either. I still hunt and I still love it.

Ramsey Russell: Being tour guide?

Michael Lanier: Oh yes, sir. Sometimes you have to just be that boss and the manager and herd the cats, as I call it. I think he physically couldn’t do what he wanted to do anymore. Great man. I showed you that picture on my phone earlier. I’m not a big put stuff on Facebook, but I will post that every year before the season opens and honor him because he’s why Texas goose hunting is. He and Jimmy Reel and some of those other people, like I said, those are the two legends in my mind. I mean you hear about these people, oh, they’re a legend. I’m like, well I don’t know about that. But these two dadgum sure are. 

Ramsey Russell: Absolutely. They put your life on a path and trajectory that led it right here.

Michael Lanier: Some days I want to go dadgum it. But no, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. He did a lot for me and like I said, the man had a heart bigger than Dallas, but he also had the biggest hands of any man I’ve ever seen in my life. I didn’t want them around my neck.

Ramsey Russell: No, sir. Remind me why you changed the name? You told me before we started recording, you went from Blue Goose changed–

Michael Lanier: John told me to keep it.

Ramsey Russell: Red Bluff Prairie.

Michael Lanier: Yeah. It was more of a liability thing. I mean we’re in a very potentially liable business that someone’s heard and they can come back on you from.

Ramsey Russell: Which is kind of a clean slate thing.

Michael Lanier: Yeah.

Ramsey Russell: What’s the origins of Red Bluff?

Michael Lanier: Garwood, the town you’re in right now was called Red Bluff when it was originated.

Ramsey Russell: Oh, okay.

Michael Lanier: And I say that because two buildings over when I was a kid, a man named Jamie Hopkins had a rice office. He sold the rice and he was kind of a historian. And I’d go in there with my great uncle. I look at the pictures and the books, and he had a picture and you could tell it was Garwood, it was called Red Bluff. If you come from Eagle Lake on 950, coming this way, we’re on a high bank and before the willow trees and everything took over, when you looked at it, you could see that old red river bottom dirt. So, we’re on the bluff and they called it Red Bluff. And then somebody named Judge Garwood got the town named after him. Never been here. I don’t know how, but anyway.

Ramsey Russell: Probably won at the poker games.

Michael Lanier: Yeah. I decided we’re going to change the name. So I said, you know what? I’ve hunted Garwood prairie all my life. So we’re going to hunt Red Bluff prairie.

Ramsey Russell: Absolutely.

Michael Lanier: That’s what we did.

Ramsey Russell: Mike, thank you very much for sharing that story. Thank you very much for being here.

Michael Lanier: My pleasure. My pleasure, sir. I’ve enjoyed, I hope I haven’t bored you to death.

Ramsey Russell: And absolutely not. I know everybody’s enjoyed this one. And folks, you have been listening to Michael Lanier, Garwood Texas, Red Bluff Prairie Hunting Club. Thank you all for listening this episode of Duck Season Somewhere, see you next time.


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Benelli USA Shotguns. Trust is earned. By the numbers, I’ve bagged 121 waterfowl subspecies bagged on 6 continents, 20 countries, 36 US states and growing. I spend up to 225 days per year chasing ducks, geese and swans worldwide, and I don’t use shotgun for the brand name or the cool factor. Y’all know me way better than that. I’ve shot, Benelli Shotguns for over two decades. I continue shooting Benelli shotguns for their simplicity, utter reliability and superior performance. Whether hunting near home or halfway across the world, that’s the stuff that matters.

HuntProof, the premier mobile waterfowl app, is an absolute game changer. Quickly and easily attribute each hunt or scouting report to include automatic weather and pinpoint mapping; summarize waterfowl harvest by season, goose and duck species; share with friends within your network; type a hunt narrative and add photos. Migrational predictor algorithms estimate bird activity and, based on past hunt data will use weather conditions and hunt history to even suggest which blind will likely be most productive!

Inukshuk Professional Dog Food Our beloved retrievers are high-performing athletes that live to recover downed birds regardless of conditions. That’s why Char Dawg is powered by Inukshuk. With up to 720 kcals/ cup, Inukshuk Professional Dog Food is the highest-energy, highest-quality dog food available. Highly digestible, calorie-dense formulas reduce meal size and waste. Loaded with essential omega fatty acids, Inuk-nuk keeps coats shining, joints moving, noses on point. Produced in New Brunswick, Canada, using only best-of-best ingredients, Inukshuk is sold directly to consumers. I’ll feed nothing but Inukshuk. It’s like rocket fuel. The proof is in Char Dawg’s performance.

Tetra Hearing Delivers premium technology that’s specifically calibrated for the users own hearing and is comfortable, giving hunters a natural hearing experience, while still protecting their hearing. Using patent-pending Specialized Target Optimization™ (STO), the world’s first hearing technology designed optimize hearing for hunters in their specific hunting environments. TETRA gives hunters an edge and gives them their edge back. Can you hear me now?! Dang straight I can. Thanks to Tetra Hearing!

Voormi Wool-based technology is engineered to perform. Wool is nature’s miracle fiber. It’s light, wicks moisture, is inherently warm even when wet. It’s comfortable over a wide temperature gradient, naturally anti-microbial, remaining odor free. But Voormi is not your ordinary wool. It’s new breed of proprietary thermal wool takes it next level–it doesn’t itch, is surface-hardened to bead water from shaking duck dogs, and is available in your favorite earth tones and a couple unique concealment patterns. With wool-based solutions at the yarn level, Voormi eliminates the unwordly glow that’s common during low light while wearing synthetics. The high-e hoodie and base layers are personal favorites that I wear worldwide. Voormi’s growing line of innovative of performance products is authenticity with humility. It’s the practical hunting gear that we real duck hunters deserve.

Mojo Outdoors, most recognized name brand decoy number one maker of motion and spinning wing decoys in the world. More than just the best spinning wing decoys on the market, their ever growing product line includes all kinds of cool stuff. Magnetic Pick Stick, Scoot and Shoot Turkey Decoys much, much more. And don’t forget my personal favorite, yes sir, they also make the one – the only – world-famous Spoonzilla. When I pranked Terry Denman in Mexico with a “smiling mallard” nobody ever dreamed it would become the most talked about decoy of the century. I’ve used Mojo decoys worldwide, everywhere I’ve ever duck hunted from Azerbaijan to Argentina. I absolutely never leave home without one. Mojo Outdoors, forever changing the way you hunt ducks.

BOSS Shotshells copper-plated bismuth-tin alloy is the good ol’ days again. Steel shot’s come a long way in the past 30 years, but we’ll never, ever perform like good old fashioned lead. Say goodbye to all that gimmicky high recoil compensation science hype, and hello to superior performance. Know your pattern, take ethical shots, make clean kills. That is the BOSS Way. The good old days are now.

Tom Beckbe The Tom Beckbe lifestyle is timeless, harkening an American era that hunting gear lasted generations. Classic design and rugged materials withstand the elements. The Tensas Jacket is like the one my grandfather wore. Like the one I still wear. Because high-quality Tom Beckbe gear lasts. Forever. For the hunt.

Flashback Decoy by Duck Creek Decoy Works. It almost pains me to tell y’all about Duck Creek Decoy Work’s new Flashback Decoy because in  the words of Flashback Decoy inventor Tyler Baskfield, duck hunting gear really is “an arms race.” At my Mississippi camp, his flashback decoy has been a top-secret weapon among my personal bag of tricks. It behaves exactly like a feeding mallard, making slick-as-glass water roil to life. And now that my secret’s out I’ll tell y’all something else: I’ve got 3 of them.

Ducks Unlimited takes a continental, landscape approach to wetland conservation. Since 1937, DU has conserved almost 15 million acres of waterfowl habitat across North America. While DU works in all 50 states, the organization focuses its efforts and resources on the habitats most beneficial to waterfowl.

It really is Duck Season Somewhere for 365 days. Ramsey Russell’s Duck Season Somewhere podcast is available anywhere you listen to podcasts. Please subscribe, rate and review Duck Season Somewhere podcast. Share your favorite episodes with friends. Business inquiries or comments contact Ramsey Russell at And be sure to check out our new GetDucks Shop.  Connect with Ramsey Russell as he chases waterfowl hunting experiences worldwide year-round: Insta @ramseyrussellgetducks, YouTube @DuckSeasonSomewherePodcast,  Facebook @GetDucks