Ramsey Russell shares a great duck hunt on Colorado’s South Platte River with Colin Mulligan and family. Their paths crossed while hunting in North Dakota. Mulligan tells Ramsey about growing up duck hunting in Colorado, his capstone project that has become bigger than he’d ever imagined, and where he sees himself and duck hunting going. Great glimpse into the future.
Going Places: A Young Ducks Unlimited Hunting Guide
Ramsey Russell: I’m your host Ramsey Russell. Join me here to listen to those conversations. Welcome back to Duck Season Somewhere on the banks of the South Platte River in Colorado with today’s guest Colin Mulligan. Colin, how are you?
Colin Mulligan: Good. How are you, Ramsey? Thanks for having me.
Ramsey Russell: Heck yeah, man. What a small world, I was a guest on the podcast today, and kind of the whole concept for a segment of it was about the small world nature. And I was in Kenmare, North Dakota several weeks ago, and every night there’s a garage feed, somebody’s having dinner in their garage. And I’m driving over with one of my hosts and he said, man, there’s some guys here from Colorado who want to meet you, said they know you, something. And there you and your dad were, and we hit it off, and now coming through Colorado, boom, we get to share a duck hunt together, what a small world that is. But here’s the best part, you know a lot of my homeboys from back in Mississippi, Ed Wall, and something. I’m like, well how the heck do you know these guys? Talk about a small world, huh?
Colin Mulligan: Yeah, yeah. I think that’s how I got the conversation started with you was I had just hunted with Ed and done a little TV deal like a week before. He was talking about you and talking about your swan hunt in Utah, I believe it was.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah.
Colin Mulligan: Yeah. And he was like, yeah. And I said, I got up there and I was like, huh, I’ll be danged.
Ramsey Russell: How old are you Colin?
Colin Mulligan: I am 21 years old.
Ramsey Russell: 21 Year. Old-old man, ain’t you? You may be one of my youngest guests. In fact, I’m pretty sure you’re among the youngest guests I’ve had so far. But tell me about this Ducks Unlimited hunt. How did a 21 year old kind of get in charge of organizing a Ducks Unlimited television program? How did that happen?
Hero or Zero?
Ed showed up with some guy Shepard from Moose Media and Derek Christensen from Campus Waterfowl, and we ended up getting 70 ducks killed in three days, which was, I felt like it was pretty good.
Colin Mulligan: Yeah. So when I was a senior in high school, I felt like there was just a lack of younger people getting into the sport. A lot of times they talk about the next generation, and the older generation passing on the legacy to the next one, and how we’re going to keep the legacy alive. Well, I kind of realized early on that like, my best friends, that’s how we all kept ourselves out of trouble. I played three sports and then I’d get up on the weekends and go duck hunting with all my buddies. So there was no staying out till 2:00 A.M or anything like that. And I just felt like I wanted more people to have that opportunity. So what I ended up doing was I founded the first high school Ducks Unlimited chapter here in Colorado. Long story short, we had a really great banquet, we had 250 people raised, like $40,000 in 3 hours. And it was awesome. I met a bunch of people, I learned a bunch of stuff that was super relevant for life that happened to be relevant for life later on. And then kind of from there I got involved in college, went up to C.S.U and then things kind of got weird there with COVID. But I was always — I go down to Memphis to a collegiate convention that they call Third Term and it’s just a really cool turnout of younger people. I love it, that’s why I like to duck hunt. That’s kind of what we talked about. It is all about the people. And so I would just go meet people at those conventions and everything else and they said, something happened where they had a deal fall through, and one of the guys, his name is Mark Orbits, he’s the head of youth and education for Ducks Unlimited. He called me and said, hey, we’re looking for – it was two weeks before the hunt – and he called and said, we’re looking for a hunt, we’re looking for a filler hunt. He said, we have this new thing called Campus Waterfowl. He said, obviously you’ve been super involved, you started the high school chapter blah-blah. I recently actually got inducted onto their National Board of Youth and Education, which is kind of cool. He said, we’re kind of looking for a cool story that can tie in with the college kids, and how you can take the experiences that you’ve had from the DU, and translate them into the rest of life. What you don’t think about is like, I was learning how to use an email for a business sense long before I needed to use one for a business sense. Now it’s super relevant when I’m going in the workforce, but when I was a senior in high school, I was foot free, fancy free and footloose. So it was kind of one of those cool learning experiences. And he said, we’re trying to tell that story about how that got started. He said, do you have any ducks? And I’m like, well, I think I have the story. It’s warm everywhere. It’s tough. I said, look, Mark, I said, we filmed the hunt two weeks ago or so, and October here, and we were talking at the beginning October and I said, it’s going to be a hero or a zero. I mean, you can send your guys, and I’ll work my butt off. But I said, I’ve been guiding antelope hunts, I’ve been doing pheasant hunting, and the rest of that. And I said, I don’t know, but I’ll give it a shot. So I called up three of my buddies and we put together the deal. Ed showed up with some guy Shepard from Moose Media and Derek Christensen from Campus Waterfowl, and we ended up getting 70 ducks killed in three days, which was, I felt like it was pretty good. I mean it was all local ducks, but I mean by the time we were said and done, I think we had a better suntan than anything else because of —
Ramsey Russell: Where did y’all hunt? Did you hunt the same place we did?
Colin Mulligan: No, we stayed away from the river. From going up and down the Front Range, I started knocking on doors. I made some of my buddies drive me around when I was 14, prior to even having a permit, so I could go knock on doors. So I had some really good relationships with some of the farmers, kind of up and down the I-25 corridor. And it was really fun, I hadn’t seen them in two years, but there were always pawns, there’s always those places that you go to and whack them. And so I kind of went back to those places, and it was fun to catch up with the farmers, talk to them and see how they’re doing. We hunted three different — well we hunted one pond first day, and were shooting five, and then hunted the second pond the second day. It’s kind of funny there was a bunch of ducks on it, but the coots on the other side of the pond kind of took advantage of us, live decoys type of deal.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah, that’s what they do. That’s what coots do.
Colin Mulligan: They’re annoying. But then we went back to the first pond for the third day. I just finally got it figured out for putting them pretty good feet down the hole. Ed was hollering from his camera, says it’s a sign of a good time.
Ramsey Russell: Yep. Anytime a cameraman makes funny noises water filming, you know it’s good.
Colin Mulligan: That’s right.
Ramsey Russell: I call it sex noises. They sound like they’re making sex noises “Ahh-Ummm-Ahhh” that’s good. It’s a universal thumbs up. If guides or cameraman are making them kind of noises then the footage is good. The hunts good.
Colin Mulligan: Yeah, yeah. I always say it’s kind of like the most fun thing to do, you carry on or whatever.
A Family That Hunts Together
You never know when your last one is going to be, so you might as well soak it up as many times as you can, because those are the people you love, and that’s what you love to do.
Ramsey Russell: I got to hunt with you, and your dad, and your brother, and one of your close friends, and it was like crawling into this environment. I could tell you have done this a lot, y’all were in y’all’s element. It kind of gave me an outsider’s view of what it must have been like if somebody joined me and my sons back in the day hunting. It’s just that was y’all’s thing. Y’all had your routine. It’s almost like everybody got their place on the bench, and knew their job, and where they’re going to put out decoys, and how this thing was going to go, and who was going to wear the hen hat, and all that good stuff. Talk about growing up hunting. I’m assuming your dad introduced you to duck hunting.
Colin Mulligan: Yeah. I mean growing up that’s what it was. I played sports all throughout the week and then on the weekends, that was what I was looking forward to doing. I got 118 when I was seven. I had my dad read me the test, that was the early state permit, you get it here in Colorado. Still not that good of a reader, I guess. But anyways, that’s how we spent time together, and like I said before, that’s how I spent time with a lot of friends. As much as I love to hunt with big groups of people and meet new people doing it, and taking new people out, I really cherish spending time with my family in that blind. And then, obviously as you saw today on the Platte and on our hunt, it was one of those things that you just can never get enough of. You never know when your last one is going to be, so you might as well soak it up as many times as you can, because those are the people you love, and that’s what you love to do.
Ramsey Russell: Amen. That’s a good way to put it Colin.
Colin Mulligan: How can you get a better day, do what you love and with the people you love doing with?
Picking Favorites: Upland or Waterfowl?
I think greenheads are going to take the bacon.
Ramsey Russell: So what struck me when I joined y’all and we got in the blind, we started duck hunting and I realized, oh, this is, they are duck hunters. What was so different about that? Was it the fact when I met you, just a couple of weeks prior in North Dakota, I’m there as Goose Fest is going on? Everybody in town is targeting geese and ducks, and maybe going out and chasing a few of them birds in the afternoon because the bird’s wonky, but not you and your dad, y’all were there to shoot up on birds. And so I just really kind of hung y’all on the wrong peg as being upland bird purists. But you hunt both. Obviously you’re very passionate about upland, but you’ve got a background in waterfowl – which do you like best?
Colin Mulligan: Oh, that’s a tough question. I think greenheads are going to take the bacon. You get a good greenhead back flapping in your decoys, I mean that’s pretty hard to beat, but I like them for really different reasons. I think there is — it’s funny that you said — in North Dakota, I was thinking about that, like, oh, this guy, he’s probably crawling into this duck line with these guys on the Platte thinking, I’m not really sure what to expect because they’re kind of upland bird guys. And the upland bird guys stayed up on birds and waterfowl hunters stayed on waterfowl.
Ramsey Russell: But now the word on the streets, a lot of folks I met in Colorado talked about what a great stretch of river y’all had, like really good duck hunting. We’ll get into it for a minute why that little stretch is so good. It’s got all the elements going for it. So I knew, y’all duck hunted but it was just kind of odd in North Dakota. I bet father and son upland bird hunters walk all day long to shoot a Hungarian partridge over the hog. And when I meet you in Colorado, it’s all about the waterfowl, and it was a doozy of a hunt. Really, really, really good hunt. That was a very, very memorable hunt. I would chalk it up right now as an extremely memorable hunt on that whole stretch of road tour. It was just incredible. What we saw, what we did, and how the birds just gave it up, and everything else, it was just a memorable for a lot of different reasons. But I remember you telling me, I remember hearing us talking, and you telling me about as you got off into high school, and you got off into college, how competitive and all it was on the front range, playing the Front Range game out in Colorado. And it left you a little disenchanted which kind of steered you over towards upland.
What Makes for a Good Hunt?
There was no piles, there was no nothing, there was no competition, there was no — it was just me and dad. It was just the person that brought me up hunting and that was just so wholesome for me.
Colin Mulligan: Yeah, I think the inclusivity of waterfowl hunting up and down the Front Range has just seen a dramatic change over the years since I’ve been coming up in high school. Here in Colorado, everybody, I mean it’s a beautiful place to live, right, we have 300 days of sunshine a year. You can go skiing, you can go hunting, you can go fly fishing, you can go hiking or biking, there’s so many things to do. And so we’ve just seen a boom in population, everyone wanted to move here. And so as a result there’s a lot of development where I used to hunt and that has created a lot of competition. And I think because of that, I think you’ve seen some –there’s some guys a little bit older than me in their late twenties that are studs, I mean, that can flat out kill some birds. I think you hunted with a young guy that is also a stud, the young Colorado boy, Colton. What those guys have to do all the time, birds — they would see everything in the book — I mean, you have to figure out a way to be different. Now, I’m not afraid of the competition side of it, but I felt like people were starting to — it was all about how many you killed and that was the sign of success. And I follow into that a little bit different. I make fun of my dad for having gray hair all the time and he doesn’t really get it. He’s like, I don’t really understand the social media thing. You’re an older guy that’s got the social media thing figured out. But besides that, people my age are judging it based on how good your Instagram looks and everything else. And I was like, man, this is just isn’t what it is. When college was going, the way it was going, I’m really just, I don’t do well on a college campus. So I started training some dogs. I started training from pointing dogs and I really fell in love with the art of trying to get one of those dogs to do what they do. Then from there, my dad’s always loved to upland bird hunt, and so it was just like — I was going to Spain actually, I was moving to Spain, and right before I moved to Spain, me and my dad, we got a family farm in Kansas. We went out there, and we were hunting, and it was just him and I, and we shot some bobwhite quail and then we ended up with our limit in roosters. It was just like the most fulfilling day just because I was with the person that literally introduced me to hunting. There was no piles, there was no nothing, there was no competition, there was no — it was just me and dad. It was just the person that brought me up hunting and that was just so wholesome for me. I was like, man, once a year, I’m going to take my dad to go chase a different type of upland bird all over the country. And I’m going to hope that by the time all is said and done that we’ve killed all the upland bird species in North America. Then we’ll probably have to start doing what you do and start traveling all over the world. But it’s just kind of, it’s just that unique feeling of just doing what my dad loves, and I love, being outside no matter what. And then also, the pointing dogs and also just a retriever, you saw little puppy, and she’s going to do both. That’s how I ended up in North Dakota. Actually, it’s kind of funny. I ended up there through mutual – I’m not sure if you know Brad? Well, you’ve hunted with Brad. But I know him from North Carolina and he’s like you got to come up and hunt ducks with us in North Dakota. And I was like, man, is there any upland birds up there? And he’s like, yeah, there’s Hungarian partridge and pheasant. I said, how many hunts are we talking? So obviously we talked to your good buddy, the Prince of Kenmare there. And he was like, yeah, they’re all over the place. I was like, I’m sold sir. And dad hopped in the truck and drove 11 hours to shoot out Hungarian partridge.
Is it Really All About Social Media Piles?
I think in the social media sense, I think a lot of these bigger brands, especially in waterfowl, don’t realize how much influence and power they have upon the next generation of outdoorsmen.
Ramsey Russell: It’s interesting hearing somebody your age talk about the social media piles because when you get around a lot of old guys like me, there wasn’t social media when we were your age. We took phones with the old fashioned – not phones – we took photos with the old fashioned cameras a lot of times. And it went in our shoe box or wherever you kept your photos, your photo album.
Colin Mulligan: You used to scrapbook back in the day Ramsey?
Ramsey Russell: Well, I mean back in the day you had magnetic pages, you put your photos in that. We didn’t have social media. Heck, I was older than you when the Internet was born. And I know it sounds crazy but it’s just the truth. But you hear a lot of conversations with a lot of guests a lot of times, we older guys wonder where hunting is going when there seems to be so many people in social media trying to cultivate a sense of self or brand based on pile pictures or something. But here you are, that demographic, saying that’s not what appeals to you necessarily. Now look, you and I have hunted together and don’t hang me on the wrong peg folks, listen, because you know I like to shoot a duck. I mean, everybody in that blind did.
Colin Mulligan: We love to stack them.
Ramsey Russell: Absolutely we do. And I think it’s a proper tribute to hunting, and to hunters, and to the resource to make a great photo. But that’s not it. The dead birds aren’t the end all be all of this thing we do. It’s the time shared. It’s the stories told. It’s the retrieves. It’s the environment. It’s that South Platte River, that beautiful place, that sunrise, those geese flying over the slough, it’s the whole ball of wax. And so I just thought I’d find it interesting that someone your age conveys a sense of something beyond that. You and I were talking at the garage feed and you indicated to me that there’s just something wrong with that, that you wanted more out of it than just that. Some of the brands in the industry portray this thing, and I’ve had several conversations recently about that too. So I just think it’s interesting to see someone that is your age, that demographic, that’s pure social media saying, no, no, no, I want something more. I kind of like being off with my dad, just me and him, and one on one. It’s like, I think one day we hunted over in North Dakota, man, y’all put some miles in to finally get a Hungarian partridge or two over your dog. Is that right?
Colin Mulligan: Yeah.
Ramsey Russell: I mean that’s a whole another sense of commitment. Just sitting in a duck blind because a lot of days you go out and you just shoot a duck or two. But that’s a whole big difference in having to walk 10 or 11 miles to kill a bird over point. I mean that takes real commitment right there.
Colin Mulligan: Yeah. I think we ended up one day with like right around 13 miles.
Ramsey Russell: Wow. Glad I wasn’t with you that day.
The Place Isn’t Anything Without the People
And if the culture of duck hunting is not about killing ducks, it’s about the people you’re sitting next to.
Colin Mulligan: We hadn’t figured it out, right? Like this is some Colorado guys just trying to figure out where the hunts live. So we got to figure it out though. We got to love it. It was fun. Yeah. I think in the social media sense, I think a lot of these bigger brands, especially in waterfowl, don’t realize how much influence and power they have upon the next generation of outdoorsmen. And so when there’s always – and like you said, don’t take it for a mistake when the going is good, I love getting, see what I mean? Don’t get me wrong, like if I’m going to stack 30 greenheads, let’s stack them, like, let’s do it, let’s shoot a bunch. If the ducks are here, let’s do it. But at the end of the day when you think about, and tell me if I’m wrong Ramsey, that’s why I like hunting with you gray hair guys, because you guys have a lot of experience, a lot of stories. It seems like in life, as you move forward, what it comes down to is the people that are around you in the moments. The people make the place; the place really isn’t anything without the people. Like that’s what you remember about something. What I remember about Kenmare is talking to you in that garage, talking with Brad, talking with all the other guys in there, and the Minnesota guys, and all those people in there. And like when I went to Spain, there’s people that stick out, and that created the culture for me. And if the culture of duck hunting is not about killing ducks, it’s about the people you’re sitting next to. So if we’re constantly focused on these pictures, going hunting for pictures of tons of birds, then I think we’ve lost some culture, because the culture is about the person sitting next to you and what you share as a common bond. Because if you think about it, the craziest thing to me is you can come from any different walk of life, like any different. It doesn’t matter where you’re from. If you duck hunt, if you hunt, if you’re an outdoorsman, you speak a little bit of the same language. And that common thread, it doesn’t matter what your background is, you can relate, you can connect, and that’s a beautiful thing. And so I think social media, it connects, like it’s cool because it connects people. But I don’t think you should — it just becomes a conversation of how do you define success? And don’t get me wrong, I like a successful day, just like anybody else. If we can put six guys in that blind on the river and beat them down, and I can give guys a hard time about shooting hands and everything else, then yeah, I’m going to do it, because it’s fun camaraderie, and I’m going to remember that. But what I’m going to remember about our hunt is –- I already don’t remember how many exactly how many ducks we shot. It’s about 20 or so. But I’m going to remember you shooting that goose right in the face at 50 yards, right above us when I was like, wow. I thought you were shooting a 28 gauge, and I was like that was a heck of a shot.
Ramsey Russell: I would have shot at him with that 28 gauge and felt good with it because of number four pellets, yeah.
Colin Mulligan: That’s right, those Boss Shot did the trick.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah.
Who’s Wearing the Hen Hat?
And the reason that came about, honestly Ramsey, is because, you sat there with my family, I mean they like to give each other a hard time.
Colin Mulligan: But I remember Michael putting the hen hat on and then sitting there with my dad, my brother.
Ramsey Russell: That’s when I knew I was with a fun group of boys now, because right off the first volley we knocked down three mallards, right off the bat. And I think, it’s three mallards, somebody, Char Dawg brought up a hen. And your dad says, well who’s wearing the hen hat? And your buddy just picked it up. He knew who shot that hit, he just grabbed it and put it on, he was proud to have it. How did that tradition start? A hen hat. Look folks, they had a — what kind of hat was that? Like some kind of crazy mountain man hat, like a handwoven baby blue hat with things kind of dangling down. What kind of hat is that?
Colin Mulligan: Yeah, I think it was like a stocking cap that was like an extra big one, handed by your grandma with all kinds of goofy colors to kind of make you look like a dummy.
Ramsey Russell: And had them little ponytails coming down off the side of it and a great big old fur ball on top.
Colin Mulligan: It kind of made it make you look kind of cute, like you messed something up, not to say there’s any problem with shooting hen. That kind of came about — that stretch of river, like we talked about is a special place — it does produce a lot of ducks, but it’s kind of fun to know exactly what you’re shooting at. And we had a day on the river where it’s like we’re just having problems with you can only shoot two hen mallards per person. So it’s like getting kind of around it. That time and I was like guys like this has got – we got to shoot some drakes, I’m about shooting some green heads.
Ramsey Russell: They make a better picture.
Colin Mulligan: That’s right. We’ve been talking about the picture a lot, but they do make a better picture. So I said, we got to shoot some green heads. There’s plenty of ducks. Let’s take our time here and shoot some green heads. And so originally I started charging people five bucks when they killed one. It’d be like it was a penalty, and then we took that, and we found a couple of different hats and bought those, and then you kind of shame some people a little bit. Now look if you’re on days where you see five ducks and one hen mallard comes in, you smack her and then that’s awesome. But like I said, we’ve had some really special days on the river, very fortunate, we like to take our time. And the reason that came about, honestly Ramsey, is because, you sat there with my family, I mean they like to give each other a hard time.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah exactly. It was a typical duck blind. And I had a great time. We stuck it out and it was just wonderful. It was absolutely wonderful. What makes that stretch of river — there’s a lot of things going on that makes that little stretch of river so special. I hunted the South Platte River in a couple of different locations. What makes that spot so good?
The Sweet Spot on South Platte River
We just let them sit there and never touch it, and those ducks kind of pour off, and we just pick them off as they come out.
Colin Mulligan: I think there’s a couple of different things going on. I think it’s just like anything else, food, open water, they have a refuge and they have a place to go, low hangout and get away from predators. So when you look at the entire South Platte, there’s a lot of good honey holes but the main thing are those warm water sloughs. We just so happen to be fortunate in the one that sits a little bit away from us – that it holds quite a few ducks and it always stays nice and open, no matter how cold it gets, and it’s kind of a refuge for them. We just let them sit there and never touch it, and those ducks kind of pour off, and we just pick them off as they come out. That’s why it kind of stays consistent. There’s a lot of fields around, there’s a lot of ag fields. So they go feed, and then they have that, and they have all the river, that whole stretch. It’s kind of funny, on the river, different weather days affect it differently. The thing that we happen to be very fortunate with on that piece is that those ducks seem to work the best when there is a 5 to 10 mile an hour wind out of the north and bright sunshine. If it is 35 degrees, bright sunshine, we got a little wind, I mean we’re going to smash them. But the thing is, if it’s really windy or if it’s really snowing or really cloudy, we really don’t do as well. We’ll still kill 5 to 10 ducks. But not, we won’t get to 20 like we did with you, or 30 or 40 or 50. It just doesn’t happen. So I guess in Colorado we’re fortunate because there’s 300 days of sunshine. So during the winter time like it is now, it’s warm.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah.
Colin Mulligan: It’s just warm everywhere right now. It produces and it stays consistent.
Ramsey Russell: I like the way that y’all’d blind, its every space is very nice, very well concealed. It just looks like a clump of brush, but it’s on this little gravel bar island. You come out, you walk across knee-deep water, you get up on that island, you got your blind, further on you’ve got a deeper channel. And the funny thing is the bird down that went over across the river and got up under a snag, I walked over and sent Char, and she got down end of it. She kind of went across lollygagging because it was a pretty good current coming through there and she winded that bird. And man, she started digging in and paddling, but it’s like walking on a conveyor belt. She wasn’t going anywhere.
Colin Mulligan: Yeah.
An Ideal Duck Blind
Some of the birds would come off at that primary channel and just float, because the way the wind is blowing, they float right over the blind. Never even known we were there until it was too late. It couldn’t have been better.
Ramsey Russell: What I had to do that finally would convince her to go across the river, was stop, handle her on the bank. It was just a whole different situation with that current going on, that will test any dog, but it was just to me, it was a perfect position. And your dad was showing me an old wooden blind that a prior – some old men – the prior landowners had, and they built it just kind of across from the island on the side you walk in on. But you would have been looking right into the sun on those clear days and all that good stuff. Man, y’all have got that blind in a perfect location. You’ve got that warm water slough, that’s a little private sanctuary, just agriculture around. And I smelled the feed a lot. First thing I smell is their food, a lot around here, yep, wow. I mean it’s kind of like the pole perfect conditions. And because it’s private property, nobody can come on there and hunt yet when y’all aren’t there. So you all can kind of manage the hunting pressure.
Colin Mulligan: Yeah. So, well, managing hunting pressure is, as everybody knows, is a must. You will definitely see our numbers drop the more we hunt. Now if the birds are here, we can go every other, we’ve had times where we’ve gone a Saturday and Monday and smacked our 40 green heads, and all life is good. But then after that, you’re going to let sit for a week and a half, two weeks or a week at a minimum. Let them get back in there, let them get comfortable. That blind, it’s kind of a cool project. I guess give credit where credit’s due. Dear old dad, as much as I like to argue with him – I’m sure your son likes to argue with you about stuff.
Ramsey Russell: You’ll outgrow it one day Colin and realize your dad’s right about everything, but go ahead.
Colin Mulligan: I don’t know. I’d probably have to ask your son about that, see if he agrees.
Ramsey Russell: He would, but go ahead.
Colin Mulligan: Yeah. Dad kind of figured out as we’re talking, we just needed a – we have a blind up the river that sits in a different spot. But that river changes every spring and summer as the water goes up, more water runs through there, the sediment changes, and the river changes, and the sandbars aren’t the same. So we’re like – our big blind where we normally hunt, it just the sandbar wasn’t right this year. The flow wasn’t right. The current wasn’t right. So we kind of went down the river. And that big sandbar has always been there. We sat in the corner on the weeds, like where those old guys had that old duck blind. We’ve done well right there. And so my dad was like, well why don’t we just put a blind in here? So we went and looked at it. And I said, I think it needs to be out on the – I said, I don’t know how you do it. I said, I don’t know how to get out here because we’re probably going to have to take it down because it’ll flood in the springtime. I said, I don’t know how you do it, but I think it needs to be on this spot. And I think you need to have the sun to your back so that everyone’s not looking into the sun, because we deal with that in our other blind, people are putting their heads out, and then the ducks see you, next layer or whatever. And so I said, let’s just put our backs to the sun, let’s sit in here on this little channel, and see. If you can figure it out, it would be a good spot. And so my dad somehow figured out, he is in the industrial industry. So he deals a lot with pallets. And he was like, started looking around his yard and stuff, and had all these pallets. So he took them up there, and made a blind out of it, and bought the covers that flipped, and actually turned out really good.
Ramsey Russell: And think about having that sun at your back, especially when you got a lot of sunny days, like you’re talking about, you’re in the shadows. You’re sitting down and you’re in shadows, and you’re so much better hidden in shadows than – when it’s gray, it’s just flat light. There’s not enough contrast. And so you’re really going to stick out more. I thought the blind was absolutely perfect, man. He assembled walls out of those pallets and then brushed them up real good. And we walked across over on the other side and I looked over, we sail the duck down, we walked over to the Char to find on the cover. And when I looked over, it’s like, wow, I could not even see y’all. That blind blended in so perfectly. It was amazing. There were a lot of the ducks that morning because the wind was variable. Some of those ducks, they wanted to be in a little shallow channel out in front of us and whatever, slack water. And y’all had the decoys in different areas, and those birds would come in and pitch in towards those little slate. They knew just where they wanted to be in those little slack water areas. And throughout the morning we were so well hidden. Some of the birds would come off at that primary channel and just float, because the way the wind is blowing, they float right over the blind. Never even known we were there until it was too late. It couldn’t have been better.
Colin Mulligan: Yeah, it worked out good. That was actually my first time getting to hunt that blind this year.
Ramsey Russell: Really?
Colin Mulligan: Yeah, it’s so busy dinking around with big game and upland birds that I haven’t had a chance to get up there. So it’s fun to share them, share with you, and shoot some green heads right in the beak, shoot them in the lips.
Ramsey Russell: You got it briefly – you were telling me – you got it very briefly in high school or was it college?
Colin Mulligan: In college, yeah.
Ramsey Russell: Good way to make a little extra money.
Colin Mulligan: Yeah, that’s right. I never guided waterfowl hunts because I didn’t want to ruin my love for it. I grew up loving it. So that was like my thing, you know what I mean? And I haven’t really got, obviously we have a farm in Kansas, or whatever. So I’ve been upland bird hunting, but hadn’t done that to the same religion. And so I kind of had an offer to go do some upland bird guiding and that’s how I kind of got into the dog stuff. And then I got into doing some big game stuff, doing some antelope hunts, did some deer hunts, and it’s really exposed me to a whole another world. The reason why I do it really, it was started as a great way to make some side money, guidance. Good cash, don’t get me wrong, but the people that you meet is incredible. Like for a young guy that’s 21, where can I go spend a half a day with a business professional that’s very successful, that’s paying to go on these nice, high-end hunts, and soak up the information for free? Like, I’m getting paid to soak up the information from them. So that’s why I kept doing it because it’s, for me, I want to do things in my career, kind of a no brainer. It’s just cool to learn from people. I mean, it’s kind of like how do I learn about the traditions of duck hunting? Well I go listen to Ramsey. He’s been all over the place. It’s like, that’s part of it, passing knowledge on. So I think that’s a really cool part of being able to guide and hunt and everything else.
What in the World is Gundoggin?
It’s like the manual that comes with your vehicle for bird dogs.
Ramsey Russell: Tell me, last subject I want to cover is because I found this fascinating. Tell me about Gundoggin. What is Gundoggin, and what are you going to do with it?
Colin Mulligan: Yeah, So Gundoggin is a concept that I developed that was supposed to be a Senior Capstone for college that I kind of took crazy. Through all my hunting, and guiding, and duck hunting, upland bird hunting, and all that stuff, your dog like is your best friend. It’s awesome, right? And when I was spending time training dogs and doing all the other stuff, I realized that people really don’t understand as much as they think they do about their bird dog. They would send their bird dog off to the kennel, and they’d get them back, and in a month, it wouldn’t be what the dog was when it left. They just didn’t understand how to run the dog themselves. And that falls on the trainer as well. But when I started trying to figure out how to train upland dogs and bird dogs, there’s videos on YouTube, but there’s really no good system in place where I can go and kind of look like, okay, I need to do this, I need to do this, I need to do this, and then this happens, kind of step by step.
Ramsey Russell: Do you mean like how to train the dog?
Colin Mulligan: Yeah, like there’s just really no way of how to train the dog, to know the proper steps from when you take that puppy home to what to expect from it when you get it back from the trainer. Or if you take it to the trainer, or if you train it yourself, what to expect in the field.
Ramsey Russell: A lot of people, myself, I travel. I am what I am and I ain’t what I ain’t, and I ain’t a dog trainer. And so I raised a puppy off to a certain point to get the permanent teeth, give him off to a trusted dog trainer that I’ve used forever. And he forced fetches, then I take the dog hunting, but I’ve learned over the years that I need to go down and get trained also. And that’s a shortcoming of a lot of guys that send their dog to get trained, and then they get this machine, they really don’t know how the joystick works, and they become distant. I mean, is that kind of where you’re getting at with this?
Colin Mulligan: Yeah. And so really what it became is, it’s like a manual to bird dogs. It’s like the manual that comes with your vehicle for bird dogs. So what we did, was I found two really, really, really good trainers. One, her name is Miele Rebels. The other one’s name is Russell McLennan. They’ve owned kennels for years, 20 plus years of experience on both of them. So that’s 40 plus years of combined experience. And we took a really good videographer, who I think you’re somehow mutual acquaintances with. You haven’t met him, but I’m sure you will. And we had him film it. We came out with 350 plus minutes of video that was like a step by step, well vetted, what to do with your bird dog from the time you get it. Because like you said earlier, you send your dog off at six months when it has its adult teeth to get forced fashion with someone you trust, that’s fine. What a lot of people, I think, don’t understand is there’s so much that happens from the time you take that puppy home to the time you send it off that you can build that much better of a foundation. So your trainer actually has that much more potential to work with. If you think about it like that, right, it’s like you’re building a really, really good foundation, there’s so much you can do with your puppy before that six month mark and then let the professionals do it. Or for the people that want the connection with their dog, don’t want to send their dog off, now, if they follow the program, they only have to send their dog off for a month instead of five months. It only cost them $1,000 instead of $5,000. And what it becomes is a way to shorten that time and give people the information that they need to understand about their dogs. It really started off as a way to educate about your bird dog, educate people about their bird dog, and how they work, and those things because the human, their owner has so much more influence on their behavior than somebody thinks. And through spending time with dogs, I really realized that, and I thought, man, if more people knew this, if so many more people would be so much more pleased with their dogs because they’d just have a better understanding. And they can help their dog become even better. And so we’re going to take it, we’re going to try to find a vet and get them in there to share some tips. But it’s meant to be a way to educate people about their bird dogs.
Ramsey Russell: A great bird dog resource for owners.
Colin Mulligan: Yeah, absolutely. And it’s really, well, retrievers are trained differently than pointers. But the Gundoggin thing was meant for upland bird dogs. Also, in the future we’ll probably transition into some so they can go both ways. I talked about my Lab, she’ll hunt. Where we’re training to hunt upland, she’s, we had her pointing birds the other day. We had our pointing Lab, it’s kind of cool, but she’ll also go duck hunting with us, no doubt, just trying to get a dog that can do everything with Dad. But that’s really the goal, is to educate. I really have enjoyed teaching bird dogs and learning about bird dogs so as to give a piece of information that people have worked on for 40 plus years, trying to learn in a simple way to understand, in a professional way to understand. So I think it’s going to turn out pretty cool. I kind of started as a, like I said, as a college project that I kind of was like, man, I think it’d be cool if I actually brought this to life.
Ramsey Russell: So yeah, so it started as a Capstone project, your senior year, now after college you’re going to really try to do something with this.
Colin Mulligan: Yeah, so it’s live now, gundoggin.com. It’s pretty cool, the whole training things in there and-
Ramsey Russell: It spelled like you’re saying it, GUNDOGGIN?
Colin Mulligan: Yeah.
Ramsey Russell: Okay. There’s no G on the end.
Colin Mulligan: One word. gundoggin.com. With Gundoggin, we kind of came up with it, it’s like a lifestyle. You start getting to learn about your dog and it just becomes a lifestyle. You don’t want to go anywhere without Char, you certainly don’t want to go hunting without her.
Ramsey Russell: You’re right about that. And I think upland dog owners are maybe even more passionate. I mean dog people, whether its hounds or bird dogs or Labs, you’re passionate about it. And I think the world needs a good resource like that, Colin. I think you’re onto something. And I think you could find a future in something like this.
Colin Mulligan: Yeah, I appreciate it. Yeah, hopefully it turns out good. If people have questions about it and if anybody’s listening or whatever, feel free to reach out. I love talking about a dog.
Ramsey Russell: Colin, how can people connect with you online?
Colin Mulligan: Obviously I have an Instagram, which hopefully you’ll tag in this, its CJMulligan_ is my user name. Feel free to message me on any of those. We also have an email on Gundoggin, its firstname.lastname@example.org, reach out to me there. I love to connect with people online, especially talking hunting. I’ve had some really cool experiences getting to travel to go different places hunting, just as you have. I like talking to younger guys, so if there’s some younger guys listening, I’m happy to have you out and experience a different part of the country. It’s all about that next generation.
Ramsey Russell: Well Colin, I appreciate your time coming on tonight. I really enjoyed hunting with you, your brother, your buddy, and your dad. Like I said, it was a very special time. I learned a lot about you, and I learned a lot about y’all, and I really got to get a real good sample of South Platte River duck hunting and culture. And for that I’m thankful. Thank you for being on tonight.
Colin Mulligan: Yeah, thank you Ramsey. Thanks for what you’re doing for the sport and showing people different parts of the world and different things about duck hunting. You got a very unique perspective on the whole thing, so I appreciate you on that.
Ramsey Russell: Yes sir. And folks, thank you all for listening to this episode of Duck Season Somewhere. We’ll see you next time.