The front porch thermometer read 6 degrees one morning while Ramsey tried filling his swan tag in Eastern Montana. But hunting couple Chad and Tonya Sylvestre from New England had plenty other hunting opportunities to share in an open landscape stretching to all horizons.

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The Biggest Sky You’ve Ever Walked Under


Loving the cowboy country.


Ramsey Russell: I’m your host, Ramsey Russell join me here to listen to those conversations.

Chad Sylvestre: We’re just going to win this. I don’t have any bullet points.

Tonya Sylvestre: We should have just been recording the whole time you’ve been here. We’ve had some great conversations, but I feel like we haven’t got anything to talk about right now.

Ramsey Russell: We’ve got plenty to talk about right now and I’m recording already. So welcome back to Duck Season Somewhere folks. I am in Eastern Montana and it is beautiful. It is like the biggest, the biggest sky you’ve ever walked under, knee deep cover and just, you can see all the way out to the horizons in all directions. I’ve never hunted Eastern Montana and that’s what’s so interesting about it, and I’ve had a great time that we got here and a lot of the shallow water was frozen, there wasn’t a lot of birds that we were looking for in terms of waterfowl. Me and Char Dawg stumbled into some fun, upland bird hunting. We shot sharp tailed grouse, we shot pheasants. We had a great time and I got to kind of take a step on the wild side, so to speak, get out of the duck blind and stretch my legs, and it’s been absolutely wonderful. Today’s guests are Chad Sylvestre and Tonya Sylvestre and here in Eastern Montana. But y’all aren’t from Montana, are you?

Chad Sylvestre: No, sir, we’re not.

Ramsey Russell: Where are you from Chad?

Chad Sylvestre: I am from New Hampshire.

Ramsey Russell: New Hampshire?

Chad Sylvestre: Yep, grew up in all the New England states, spent some time in all of them. So, I’m a born and bred, New Englander.

Ramsey Russell: Born and bred New Englander out here in cowboy country.

Chad Sylvestre: Loving the cowboy country.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah. And what about yourself, Tonya?

Tonya Sylvestre: I’m from South Georgia.

Ramsey Russell: South Georgia.

Tonya Sylvestre: Yes, sir.

Ramsey Russell: Chad said that accent really came out this week. I brought out the best in you, didn’t I?

Tonya Sylvestre: Yes, you did. 

Chad Sylvestre: I don’t know if it’s the best you brought something out.

Ramsey Russell: Chad was tripping out last night. We got that cast-iron skillet going and the bird’s frying and mashed potatoes and gravy and all kinds of good stuff. You ever seen that side of her?

Chad Sylvestre: Never.

Ramsey Russell: Really?

Chad Sylvestre: No.

Ramsey Russell: You just need to come down the deep south more often Chad. We drank some moonshine, you broke out to Jerry Clower albums, I’m like, man, this guy can’t be from New England. Both of y’all, how did y’all get into hunting? How did you all become hunters? This Guy Hunts and This Girl Hunts in social media is how we all met; our orbit flew into each other on social media and here I am. But how did y’all get into hunting respectively?

Chad Sylvestre: My dad was an NRA member and he subscribe to the NRA Magazine, and he came to me one day and he’s like Josh, should I get the American Rifleman or American Hunter magazine? I said we’ll get the American Hunter magazine. And I started reading hunting articles and my dad didn’t hunt. I pretty much had to teach myself everything mostly through magazine articles because back then we didn’t have a lot of Internet, and I kind of got sucked into this article called the back page, and I forget who wrote it, but he used to talk about Chesapeake Bay, and hunting geese in the old days, and I just wanted to do that. And finally, after college I really just found myself chasing birds.

Ramsey Russell: And here you are.

Chad Sylvestre: Here I am.


Ruffed Grouse Hunting in New England: Romanticized?

I like to make a quality connection with the bird and then either miss it or hit it, but I don’t like banging my gun off tree limbs.


Ramsey Russell: Did you a lot of hunting? What kind of hunting did you do out in New England?

Chad Sylvestre: I chased ruffed grouse, mostly ruffed grouse as a kid, and that’s what we had, and I hated it because it was just miserable.

Ramsey Russell: But I’ve heard all this artsy fartsy, New England ruffed grouse stories. I mean all these magazines, all these paintings, all these pointers, I mean its old drama around it.

Chad Sylvestre: It’s very romanticized. The reality is not that.

Ramsey Russell: My reality of going after ruffed grouse is I can’t see my bird dogs, five or 10 yards ahead of me. I’m busting through dog hair, thick tickets and when the bird gets up, I hear him, but I can barely see them. And I’m shooting through, trying to punch holes through cover to get in touch with him.

Chad Sylvestre: Yep, that’s exactly and I don’t like it. I’m more of a wing shot kind of guy. I like to see the bird. I like to make a quality connection with the bird and then either miss it or hit it, but I don’t like banging my gun off tree limbs.

Ramsey Russell: Did you teach yourself to hunt this stuff?

Chad Sylvestre: Uh-huh, Yeah.

Ramsey Russell: Did you have a bird dog? We got there just young bird dog.

Chad Sylvestre: I wanted a bird dog, I wanted to hunt waterfowl. My mom finally got me this old Black Lab that – her name was Ruger believe it or not because I wanted her to be named after a gun – but I didn’t like Winnie or Remy or any of those. So, I went with Ruger and her and I hunted 8 duck together. That was it.

Ramsey Russell: That was it. What was your first duck?

Chad Sylvestre: It was a hen mallard. We had a beaver pond out back and her and I walked up on this duck, and I shot it, and she went and retrieved it and that was our first. I used to sit in the hay field every night in the fall. We had a small Canada goose migration and my dream was to kill Canada geese. Never did until after college.


Getting Hooked on Layout Blinds 

Then early goose season came along and it was every first-time hunter’s dream, it was a magical hunt. And I’ve just been doing it ever since.


Ramsey Russell: What about you, Tonya? How did you get into hunting?

Tonya Sylvestre: This guy here.

Ramsey Russell: Oh yeah?

Tonya Sylvestre: Yeah. I mean I grew up in the Southeast and was around hunting a lot. Just never had anybody that take me out or anything and I never expressed an interest. So, it’s not like anybody’s fault because they didn’t take me. But like I said, I grew up around it, knew about it, but until he and I started dating, I really wasn’t into it. I had a gun and I had taken hunter safety and all that kind of stuff but still don’t have anybody to take me. And he told me when we first started dating, he’s like hunting is my life and if you want to keep up with me, you’re either going to have to be okay with it, and know that I’m not there, or go with me. So, I went with him and it was a fun experience. We got skunked that first time and then that summer when crow season opened up, he took me again and got me practicing in a layout blind. I shot my first bird and I was like, oh, I can do this, because I wasn’t sure if I would be able to, but after that first, I was hooked. Then early goose season came along and it was every first-time hunter’s dream, it was a magical hunt. And I’ve just been doing it ever since.

Ramsey Russell: Here? Out here?

Tonya Sylvestre: No, this was in New-Hampshire, this was back east.

Ramsey Russell: Since I’ve known you, you’ve lived in a lot of different places in Maine, New Hampshire maybe New England.

Chad Sylvestre: New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, Montana.

Tonya Sylvestre: You were in Maryland for a while.

Chad Sylvestre: Maryland, that was Maryland. And then —

Tonya Sylvestre: We chased turkeys in Georgia when we were down there for a bit.

Ramsey Russell: What is it about? I thought you were a wild land firefighter.

Chad Sylvestre: Correct.

Ramsey Russell: At least it says so on your profile. What’s all the jumping around? I think of guys are there fires out in Eastern Montana. Is that what this guy’s out here.

Chad Sylvestre: No, I quit that, ooh, I don’t know, 15 years ago. Yeah, about 15 or 16 years ago I hung up the boots and went to nursing school because I was getting done with that profession. It wasn’t a way to have a family or a life really. And I looked around,and saw what I could do for a job, and I had a little EMT background, so medical wasn’t out of the realm of possibilities. And I saw that nurses make good money and they only work three days a week. And I was like, well I can hunt four days a week.

Ramsey Russell: There’s been something in the medical field like I always think of nurses is just leaving her home and going to the local hospital of the local doctor’s office. But there’s a whole industry around travel. A lot of these – especially out here, this little remote hospital you’re staying in. I mean small, very, very, very small town. They’re looking for good talent to come in. I’ve got some friends down the road I’m going to hunt with tomorrow that are also travel nurses and that’s how they ended up in Montana. Was that part of why you did it? Was that just kind of a skill set thing?


North Dakota Waterfowl

Yeah, it was just more ducks than I’d ever seen. And all our burns were for waterfowl habitat enhancement.


Chad Sylvestre: The goal was to start travel nursing and when I was working as a wildland firefighter, we did some prescribed fires in North Dakota and I was just blown away by the amount of waterfowl there.

Ramsey Russell: Describe that. How did the ducks in North Dakota contrast with everything you’ve ever seen before?

Chad Sylvestre: Yeah, it was just more ducks than I’d ever seen. And all our burns were for waterfowl habitat enhancement. So we were burning wetlands and just trying to turn the landscape into something more habitable, better for ducks.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah? The fire will do that.

Chad Sylvestre: I was just seeing – to me thousands and thousands of ducks – and all the local fire guys were like, no, this isn’t even hardly any ducks, this is nothing. And what I grew up seeing was two ducks on a beaver pond in New England. And then, you know, schemes of Canada geese flying over, maybe 40 or 50 geese in the field, you know, nothing like the numbers I was seeing in North Dakota. So, when I got into nursing, I was like, I’m going to start travel nursing so I can go to places like North Dakota and hunt ducks.

Ramsey Russell: How did you end up in Montana instead of North Dakota?

Chad Sylvestre: When I got my first travel job, I was talking to a travel agency and I said, hey, I want to go to North Dakota and they said, well we don’t have any jobs in North Dakota, but we have this job in Montana. I looked at looked at Google Earth, and I said, well that eastern side of Montana looks a lot like North Dakota. I can probably make that work, and it won’t be that far from the border if I want to go hunt North Dakota. So, I came out of this hospital and when I interviewed the lady was like, just so you know, we can’t see any mountains from here. And I was like, I know already Googled you, we’re good. And they worked me three days a week and the other four days a week I started chasing birds. 

Ramsey Russell: Like a lot of what we did out here was upland birds. I mean, so it’s not just – I mean there are wetlands and systems. I mean waterfowl production area. So, they nest up here, they migrate through here to just freaking wheat fields that stretch as far as the human eye can see. There’s a lot of grain that there’s habitat that borders a lot of upland birds too.

Chad Sylvestre: This is an especially good year. I’ve been out here three different years on the travel contracts and this is the best year I’ve ever seen for upland. The first couple of years I was out here, the pheasant numbers were good for – somebody like me, that’s a easterner never seen wild pheasants, but the locals were all telling me the pheasants were down in this year. I don’t know it’s got to be the drought conditions or something, but the upland bird – I’ve never seen so many hunts, I’ve never seen so many sharpies, I’ve never seen so many pheasants as I have this year.

Ramsey Russell: I’m not a huge upland bird hunter. I do like to hunt them. I love shoot ring neck pheasants. But I’ve shot a Hungarian partridge. I’ve shot sharp tailed grouse. I’ve never seen as many sharp tailed grouse as what we’ve seen the last couple of days.

Chad Sylvestre: Yeah.

Ramsey Russell: I mean big flocks. We walked down that one tree road thinking those birds were going to be unpressured and every about 50 or 60 of them two flocks. I mean that one tree that was incredible.

Chad Sylvestre: Yeah.

Ramsey Russell: Have you killed any?

Chad Sylvestre: No, that okay though.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah, that’s okay. They’re still there.

Chad Sylvestre: But that’s pretty typical for what we’ve been seeing this year.


Meeting a Like Mind

I mean, you all just seem to have married your best hunting partner.


Ramsey Russell: That’s incredible. How did y’all meet Tonya? How did you two meet?

Tonya Sylvestre: We worked at the same hospital in New Hampshire.

Ramsey Russell: Were you a travel nurse too? How did you end up in New Hampshire from Georgia?

Tonya Sylvestre: Previous life. I met a soldier, married him and his family’s from New England. So, I wound up up there. We raised our kids in a beautiful area of the state and that unfortunately fell apart.

Ramsey Russell: New Hampshire is beautiful.

Tonya Sylvestre: It’s magical. I mean that state’s kind of got everything. It’s got mountains, it’s got beaches. it’s got – there’s some farm fields-

Ramsey Russell: –foliage.

Tonya Sylvestre: Oh my goodness, the foliage. That’s what I’m going to miss being out here in Montana. But I wouldn’t trade this for anything. But no, Chad and I met working at the hospital and found out we were a lot more like-minded than our past connections.

Ramsey Russell: Y’all seem very likeminded. Two peas in a pod.

Tonya Sylvestre: We are, I mean, we like to get each other’s hackles up. But I mean, he’s my best friend. We have a great time together.

Ramsey Russell: You kind of married, you’re just to see y’all carrying on out there with the bird, dogs and hunting and doing what you’re doing. I mean, you all just seem to have married your best hunting partner.

Tonya Sylvestre: We’re perfectly matched. I shoot right, he shoots lefties. So we’ve got the full covered every time we hunt. The dog works back and forth between us pretty decent. I mean he’s a bit of a knot head. He’s a waterfowling dog that has learned how to hunt upland with us because we’ve been learning right along.

Ramsey Russell: He finds those birds.

Tonya Sylvestre: He does. He ranges a little long from my comfort zone. But I like to have the birds in tight and I’m not confident with my long shots.

Chad Sylvestre: I’d just rather know that there was a bird out there and if I didn’t get to shoot it, oh well.

Ramsey Russell: But y’all both come from New England, which is beautiful and it’s gosh, I’ve been out there enough to know how much I like it, but at the same time you’re out here in 1930 America. I mean, your nearest neighbor is a mile down the road or two, at least a mile or two down the road. And if you got 10 neighbors, you got to drive five miles, six miles, I’m going to guess.

Chad Sylvestre: Yep.

Ramsey Russell: And then we go to your nearest grocery store/restaurant/meeting hall/post office and it’s just a tiny little white spot and road with two or three buildings and a grain elevator.

Tonya Sylvestre: The people here saw it at the earth.

Ramsey Russell: Makes me think of Green Acres when you come from New Hampshire out here, you kind of think that Green Acres show. What is it like? I was telling Tonya the night, you know, my wife and I are bad about, you know, oh gosh, we need a pound of cheese for the recipe tonight, we just run a mile away and get it. You got to plan ahead of here or do without.

Tonya Sylvestre: These people out here are resilient. They make do with what they’ve got and if they can’t get access to it for another week or two, you don’t hear any complaints. It’s pretty impressive.

Chad Sylvestre: We do a lot on Amazon.

Ramsey Russell: A lot of Amazon.

Tonya Sylvestre: Yeah. The UPS guy’s through here pretty often dropping things off.

Ramsey Russell: I bet they do.

Tonya Sylvestre: Yeah.


Western Bird Hunting & Migration Changes

I mean the volume of birds that come through, I’ve never seen anything like it growing up in the Southeast, and didn’t see it in New England either. 


Ramsey Russell: I know you’ve hunted ruffed grouse. But what about this western bird hunting opportunity out here we did. I mean it’s unbelievable.

Chad Sylvestre: I think so.

Tonya Sylvestre: The migration is magical to watch come through and when we hit it right, when work schedules line up, it’s amazing. I mean the volume of birds that come through, I’ve never seen anything like it growing up in the Southeast, and didn’t see it in New England either. I went to Saskatchewan in 2016, met up with him out there because he was out here on a contract, and my jaw dropped the first time I saw a big storm of snow geese in the air. I didn’t know anything like that existed, and for us to be here, south of there and being able to get a taste of that is – I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Chad Sylvestre: No, it’s the migration is fairly short through here and it’s not as good as probably North Dakota. But you get the variety that you don’t. Like back East I get to shoot black ducks, mallards, wood ducks, that’s about it. Here we’re killing blue winged teal, green winged teal, wigeon.

Ramsey Russell: I’ve shot blue winged teals and canvasbacks.

Chad Sylvestre: I haven’t got into them yet. Swans, cranes, speckle bellies, Canada’s, snow’s, I mean, we haven’t focused on anything other than cranes and specks yet this year. But it’s just every year is going to be different, and depends on, we still haven’t even seen the ducks come down yet, and I don’t know if they’re going to skip us, or miss us, or swing around. I have no idea.

Ramsey Russell: Some of that hard water we’ve been seeing the last couple of days. I think they’re going to skip like a stone on south. Well, I mean east or something. They’re going to find what they need.

Tonya Sylvestre: This drought has definitely changed the flyway for sure. We’ve been seeing reports of a lot more birds further east of us. I mean all of our potholes are dried up. I mean the only water you see here is big water spring fed, anything that’s stand up that’s deep enough. But you drive around here and it’s just heartbreaking. You see nothing but giant white patches where it should be 2-3 ft of water.

Ramsey Russell: It’s been sobering for me driving through Canada driving through the – and I spent 14 days skipping around North Dakota. Now I’m here in Montana for another 10 days and so far, it has been heartbreaking. It’s been very disappointing as a duck hunter because I know where this is going. This much habitat as bone dry as it is. I mean these ducks, these little wetlands up here is where they come back to breed. Like a lot of those little white spots we saw Tonya driving around, we drove 45 miles the other day, we are in “wetland production areas” waterfowl production areas I should say. And if its bone dry there’s nothing to draw a duck there. They’ve got to go somewhere or not breed. And that’s scary. It’s just worrisome to me, we need more ducks while I last my world.

Tonya Sylvestre: Absolutely.

Ramsey Russell: I guarantee you. What if y’all had to get used to out here, cause I see you haven’t been with a few days, y’all to kind of bring your Eastern routes to the West which hearkens pioneers coming out west, you know with the buckboard wagon and just realizing they need different implements, different tools, different things than what they had, holding their garden back in New England, you know, back when they decided to make a new living out West. How is it getting your legs up on you out here?

Chad Sylvestre: Just being more adaptable I guess. Because back home, you only focus on Canada geese, basically, mallards, and here you have to kind of like, well, the speckle bellies are in town. Let’s hunt those. Alright while they’re gone, let’s see if we can find us a swan. Well no swans? Alright, so let’s go just being, I think being more adaptable versus like building a Canada goose spread or building a Canada goose rig or like I’m only going to hunt ducks on the water. It’s like dry field duck hunting is something we do out here. It’s not something we were able to do back East.

Ramsey Russell: And I like dry field hunting. Dogs like dry field hunting.

Tonya Sylvestre: It’s my preference.

Ramsey Russell: It can be very productive. You don’t need the waders, you don’t need to worry about falling in the mud.

Chad Sylvestre: So much nicer.

Ramsey Russell: It’s nice but it’s a little more work getting all that gear out to the field.

Tonya Sylvestre: Yeah, I mean we have to turn on a dime out here because we may today scout and go, oh you know there’s Canada’s over there, let’s get a plan built up to go hunting them, and things just changed so quickly because all of a sudden, well, those Canadas are gone, there’s a lot of pressure coming in over here now.

Ramsey Russell: But you can see the barley out here, the straw, how thin it is. An indicator of how low the productivity. Like I was talking to some boys up in Alberta and Saskatchewan and what we were seeing was whereas we might see some geese in the field and watch them for a period of time. You can’t do that now. There’s so little grain, they can move right through it and move to another field.

Chad Sylvestre: We’ve watched them several times feed out a field in a day. And we didn’t even have as many birds here as I’ve seen in the past. The biggest thing we’ve had to do as far as changing up the game plan was I used to run as many decoys as I could find. And I noticed everybody around us was doing that. So, we started running like a dozen decoys and hide down the edge of the field. And we’re getting shots, we’re getting less shots. But I don’t know that the birds would have come in if we were in the middle of the field because they weren’t doing it for other hunters. So, we just started running smaller spreads and hunting the edge.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah, with just two people you’re limited to with – how much gear you can get out there y’all are running. I’m guessing you’re running smaller spreads and normal that then I would think of a lot of guys I know out here throwing 500 or 600 decoys. Plus, a panel blind or a layout and you know, Mojos, and blah blah blah and I’m like, I kind of hard for husband-wife team to mobilize out there and do.

Tonya Sylvestre: Yeah, I mean we’ve switched to the silos that’s – I mean when I first met him, he filled my room with these giant full body geese and I was like, how do we get this anywhere. And so we have managed to kind of cut that down to something that’s more manageable and can haul a couple bags out.

Ramsey Russell: Some of the ponds we looked at, 3 or 4 ponds we looked at with ducks and geese on them, I can’t see the need for a massive spread.

Chad Sylvestre: No.

Ramsey Russell: No.

Ramsey Russell: Just enough maybe to hide behind. Just enough to get their attention to travel up along the points they were sitting on. A few ducks out there may be a little motion, maybe not. And just, I mean the plus side of having just a husband-wife team, you don’t have to go out and kill 4, 5, 6 limits. Just need a couple of limits, a few ducks.

Tonya Sylvestre: I mean if we come away with one in a day, it’s been successful for us. We’re happy with that. I mean we’re feeding just the two of us so we don’t need five freezers full of everything.

Chad Sylvestre: Yeah, I consider it a success if we each kill a bird, that’s success to me.


What’s the Local Mentality About Upland Birds and Waterfowl?

They don’t want you rolling up on their land without permission, that’s the biggest thing like in Montana.


Ramsey Russell: What is the local mentality? Like a lot of farmers and stuff. We didn’t talk to them, but a lot of the locals, how matter they had upland birds and waterfowl? 

Chad Sylvestre: They like the upland birds a lot of them. Well, pheasant hunt. They mostly don’t waterfowl hunt. I think it’s because a lot of them grew up waterfowl hunting and they would shoot geese.

Ramsey Russell: They could do small game.

Tonya Sylvestre: I mean they’re busy during the peak part of waterfowl season. They’re pulling in the harvest and everything else so they would get out if they can, but talking to some of the locals, they won’t even get out and start hunting pheasants till the snow flies. But as far as their take on people like us that are coming in from out of state – I mean we’re trying to make this kind of a permanent thing for us, and so we’re kind of getting ourselves into the community and we love it here, we want to be here. But because of that connection that we’re creating, we’ve heard feedback on their take on people coming in because people aren’t traveling anymore. So, they want to stay in the States and they’re welcoming to out of staters, but they want them to come out here and do it the right way.

Chad Sylvestre: And they want, they just want respect. You know? They don’t want you rolling up on their land without permission, that’s the biggest thing like in Montana. You’re required by law to, it’s not like North Dakota, where if it’s not posted, you can hunt it. You’re required.

Ramsey Russell: That’s changing and I believe whether people in North Dakota agree with me or not, that is coming to a change from what I saw. You know, who wants a free loader right on their property?


Farming and Rodeoing, Hunting and Fishing

And I don’t know, it’s a fierce independence and a can-do attitude among these folks that just to want to live out in this part of the world.


Tonya Sylvestre: Well this year, especially with the drought, you don’t drive on the field. You just don’t because I mean, we’ve watched acreage burn just them trying to harvest, let alone some average guy rolling out there trying to set up a goose spread. That’s their livelihood and they just want people to come do it the right way. So, we hope that we’re not rubbing anybody the wrong way. We try to do it the right way and we’re having a good time.

Ramsey Russell: You’re telling me a lot. Like, I mean, here’s what I’m getting at, I’m just beating around the bush. But we go to the local cafe yesterday and the lady that manages the co-op is 40ish. I’ve seen nobody – I’ve been here three or four days – I’ve seen nobody under the age of 40 except for the young man. There’s a couple of brothers we met yesterday that still farm out here, but they’re fixing to go to college, and who knows where they’re going to end up if they get into their taxidermy business, or get into something, they may not end up, they’re not going to be like the world beating the door down to do taxidermy here. They’re probably going to gravitate the bigger cities. So, in come Chad and Tonya that are in health care and the community kind of starts to embrace them. Y’all are kind of at that age that y’all might stick if y’all move in. I mean, and you drive around, everywhere we’ve driven in a 40-mile radius, it’s just – there’s homes, but there’s as many grandmama homes or great grandmama homes that are falling in. There’s probably more of those than there are newer homes. It’s almost reverting back to just like a wilderness out here. I would bet that the nearest church probably doesn’t have 10 or 15 people in it.

Tonya Sylvestre: And they don’t even meet down here every Sunday, they alternate with another church in the community.

Ramsey Russell: It’s a very rural area.

Tonya Sylvestre: Very much so.

Chad Sylvestre: And it’s getting more rural and I think a lot of that is, you can farm more acreage with less people. So, back when they were busting sod back here, one man could only plant 160 acres before summer came. And he didn’t have the time in the fall to harvest more than 160 acres now. I don’t even know how big the cutting heads are, I think they’re like 48 ft or something. A man and a farmer and his hired hand can, I think they can, I don’t know, tens of thousands of acres they can farm. So you don’t need a population out here to farm the same amount of ground.

Tonya Sylvestre: But on the flip side of that, the town, they want more people. I mean they have a hard time with getting doctors in here and they need it because it is a more elderly community and population. There’s not a lot, it’s definitely a niche. There’s not a lot out here that draws people to this. I mean if you’re hunting upland, that’s great. But you’re coming out on a trip most of the time you’re not coming to stay. Recreation is kind of limited as far as –

Chad Sylvestre: If you don’t hunt and fish, you don’t want to be here.

Tonya Sylvestre: Or farm and rodeo.

Chad Sylvestre: Right, rodeo. That’s right. Good point.

Tonya Sylvestre: Farming and rodeoing, and hunting and fishing. I mean it’s definitely a small market for people to come and stay and settle. So, we’ve been welcomed with open arms because we want to come and settle and we provide something that they have a great need for.

Chad Sylvestre: And we don’t want to change up the program they got going. We’re not coming from the big city being like, I’m going to tell you how I did it back East. Yeah, I just want to embrace what you do here.

Ramsey Russell: I hear a lot of, you know, people from California are getting the heck out of California politics, moving to Texas, want to make it California politics.

Chad Sylvestre: And I don’t understand that.

Ramsey Russell: You know, keep it like it is, it attracted you to it.

Tonya Sylvestre: Exactly. Yeah. Well, that’s the thing is people like, they want everything to stay the way it was when they grew up and they want to, like, live in that bubble. But when that bubble gets so tight because there’s too many people, they go somewhere else, but they want to take that bubble with them. And I don’t understand that mentality. Variety is good.


Winter is Coming

We’ll just settle in and listen to all your podcasts.


Ramsey Russell: Yeah, the bubble’s going to be wide open around here for a long time. We’re not too terribly far from the Canadian border. In fact, I’ve seen the Canadian border. Y’all pointed to it. It’s just shadow out on the hilltop. You know, we’re right up here. And I don’t know, it’s a fierce independence and a can-do attitude among these folks that just to want to live out in this part of the world. Why are y’all out here? Why did y’all say this is it, this is where we’re going to plant our roots, this is where we’re going to, I mean, y’all are talking about buying a farm out here, buying this home and boom, laying down roots. Have y’all – ain’t been here through a winter yet though, have you? Its -50. I mean, I’m just sitting there thinking, I stepped out yesterday morning, we were drinking coffee, folks, on the front porch before the sun come out and hit it, read 6 degrees. That’s an ice storm in Mississippi. I can guarantee you, you wouldn’t be able to go within a mile of my home and buy a loaf of bread, or a gallon of milk. In six-degree weather, get all sandwich meats you want, but it ain’t going to be no bread and milk, it’s gone. People are going to be anchored in. My wife is going to be burning a quarter firewood a day. But -50 and 5 feet of snow, I don’t know man, I don’t know. That’s all I can think is how beautiful it is right here right now, but winter is coming.

Tonya Sylvestre: We’ll just settle in and listen to all your podcasts.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah. And Jerry Clower. And you got the big old shop out here to work in it.

Chad Sylvestre: It’ll be nice.

Tonya Sylvestre: It’ll be nice to get some projects done.

Chad Sylvestre: We’ll get a little project done. Hopefully I can build some more goose decoys. We’ll see how it goes, I don’t know. But I got attracted to this area just because the bird hunting is – I ended up getting a bird dog and we were struggling back East trying to find birds, trying to find access when you could find birds. They were in the city park and I was like, I shouldn’t have to work this hard, and I knew about this place from in the past, and I was like, you know what, let’s just see if we can find a job back West again. We found one and here we are.

Tonya Sylvestre: Well they’re welcoming us back. I mean, the plan was to travel kind of all over. Let’s go to Wyoming, let’s go to Arizona, let’s go to Alaska, let’s go all these other places but —

Chad Sylvestre: We just kept coming back here.

Tonya Sylvestre: Yeah, this is his third time out, my second time out here, and this last time that we turned in on the dirt road when we were coming back, it felt like coming home.

Ramsey Russell: You were saying you came into this place, y’all are renting, fixing to buy right where we left?

Tonya Sylvestre: It was like we had been on an extended vacation. It just happened to be a year and a half between stays and I don’t know, it’s just, we really hope that things can go through for us so that we can make this a permanent thing. And even if this particular property doesn’t work out, I’m certain there’s something that we’ll find that’s in the region and we just love it so much.

Ramsey Russell: I love the waterfowl hunter, obviously. I love it but I do a lot of my roots back in college, back when I raised fill Springers was upland bird hunting. And man, a small part of me wishes I still did that. The last couple of days out here with all the pheasants, and the grouse, and the Hungarians, which Springs aren’t much on Hungarians. We went to that spot, the old man told us about one of the little holes in the walls on private property and Tonya, and I come in from the other side, and Tonya and I stepped in, and I was caught completely flat footed. Holy cow it’s like the OK Corral for about two seconds, there were roosters and pheasants going all which ways and we came out without a bird.

Tonya Sylvestre: Yeah, those were magical moments though. Just plays like a film in your head over and over.

Ramsey Russell: I came back and made some adjustments and yesterday was a little bit better but you forget about this because “an old man” told you about this spot, we went to the OK Corral. Nothing we did got a bird and Hungarian, there were a few birds around but nothing like the day before.

Chad Sylvestre: Nothing like the day before.

Ramsey Russell: So, we drove a half mile, parked the truck and walked, you said a mile out, I said five down that drain. There were birds rolling up, birds getting away, and then just out of the blue, a sharp tail, boom, I get it. I’m like, well I picked up my spirits and I take three steps, boom, get another one. Now I’m a little bit game, but over the next half, half mile of sunshine, just nothing. And I’d stopped to do something check a text something, and that rooster exploded right at my feet and I was like, God almighty. And then 100 yards later, boom, I killed a rooster, boom I killed another rooster, boom I’m limited out. It just happens, boom, boom, boom, I’m done. Char Dawg’s happy, I’m happy, y’all are happy, we’re all happy. 

Tonya Sylvestre: We’re cheering for you from across.

RAMSEY RUSSELL: And then that’s what is, man, to climb out of a duck blind and have that kind of opportunity in my backyard, and plus there’s Hungarians, plus there’s sharp tails, plus there’s pheasants. At lunch yesterday a lot of the old locals were so forthcoming with places like that.

Chad Sylvestre: Yeah.

Ramsey Russell: Little areas that have a lot of weight, place you may not have thought to look. There’s always a bunch of pheasants and it’s just a wonderful hunting opportunity.

Chad Sylvestre: It’s still small-town America out here and I got this bird dog. I got a buddy that’s like, I’m surprised you don’t do big game hunting. I’m like, I don’t have time. I mean, he’s not trained the way I want him to be trained, but he does good enough for me. And I love running the dog. I love running them on geese, I love running them on ducks, I like running them on sharpies and pheasants, and I don’t have time to really big game hunt.

Tonya Sylvestre: What would the dog do?

Chad Sylvestre: I don’t know, he’d have to sit home and then I’d feel bad.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah, he’d get over.

Tonya Sylvestre: I don’t know you’ve met him. I mean he’s pretty goofy, but he’s –

Ramsey Russell: As many as many mule deer, and white tails, and antelopes I’ve seen out here the last few days, I’d have to get me a few tags and polish up my bullets. Go out and get a little venison to offset my upland bird and waterfowl louder.

Chad Sylvestre: I may do a deer this year. I don’t know, we’ll see.

Tonya Sylvestre: Maybe next season.

Chad Sylvestre: Yeah, hopefully next season I’m an actual resident and I can afford to get an actual mule deer tag because they’re a little bit pricey for non-residents.


Creative Recipes to Make Every Hunt Count

So, I’ve been working for all these years just trying to make everything that we hunt edible. 


Ramsey Russell: Tonya, talk about that recipe. Chad was working, I showed up, house smelt delicious. You had a pot roast going, but I hope it’s good, expect a better suit, I’m sure it will be. And it was a thick gravy and I saw these peppers, zucchini peppers in it. And I said, you know, we make something at home kind of like this but mine is not as good, you kicked that recipe up a little bit. Talk about how you like to cook that. Talk about that recipe.

Tonya Sylvestre: Oh well, I mean when I started hunting, I committed to if I’m going to kill it, I’m going to eat it. So, I’ve been working for all these years just trying to make everything that we hunt edible. And the crock pot has just been my go to. So, I stumbled a few years ago on the, it’s all over the Internet, the Mississippi roast. So, we tried it on some goose meat and I found that the goose meat just doesn’t have quite enough fat in it to make it moist whenever you go by the traditional Mississippi roast recipe.

Ramsey Russell: I’ve used that recipe for my wife. She likes to cook beef. I cooked a bear roast, three bear roasts using that recipe and it makes it because all that fat. And you’re right, venison, waterfowl without the skin on the breast is much leaner.

Tonya Sylvestre: Yeah, it’s much leaner. So, it would still be kind of dry. So, I’ve just been tweaking it and playing with over the years, we’ve added vegetables to it and that has helped. And finally, I was like, you know what, let’s shift gears a little bit, let’s make it more like a stew than a roast, and so I just tweaked a few things, kept it with the basic ingredients that you find in that Mississippi pot roast. So, you’ve got all that flavor, but added some broth, added gravy, gravy is the big one because it does call for an Au Jus packet, but traditionally all if you make it that way, it’s a thin gravy. So, I just switched that over to gravy packets and that, I think it’s just made all the difference, and that’s the first time  – when you were here, when you first got here – it’s the first time I’ve made it that way and I think I finally hit that magic point for it.

Ramsey Russell: I wrote the recipe down and now my Mississippi pot roast, whether it be bear, or venison, or beef, or waterfowl is going to be that recipe. God, I like that thickness and that savoryness, that was really, really good. It’s easy, you know, I mean we, we do some stuff in. We start cooking ducks and geese with a cast iron and that all day gumbo. I love the ritual of gumbo, but it takes all day.

Tonya Sylvestre: It does.

Ramsey Russell: Sometimes it’s fun, just turn on the crock pot and walk away.

Tonya Sylvestre: Yes. With us the way that we’re always going, I mean he works three days a week, he’s off four days a week, but those four days a week, I’m chasing him, really. I mean, I love doing it myself, but he’s high energy, he’s on the go. So, if I didn’t have a crock pot, we’d never eat, especially during hunting season. I mean it would just be sandwiches every day.

Ramsey Russell: We ate last night pretty damn good.

Tonya Sylvestre: Oh, well that’s because you cooked.

Chad Sylvestre: That was the Ramsey Russell special.

Ramsey Russell: I had a good sushi. Tonya’s southern roots came out and she jumped right in.

Tonya Sylvestre: See, I’ve always been a sushi fan.

Ramsey Russell: She had run around like a chicken with my head cut off and the camera, what’s going on? What have y’all done? All this fried, and all this, and all that, and gravy, and potatoes, and fried.

Chad Sylvestre: I thought I’d stepped into the Confederacy.

Tonya Sylvestre: I’m flattered that you like my recipe and you’re making your own.

Ramsey Russell: Oh absolutely. When I see that much, we had a spectacular day yesterday. Plus, we had a great day the day before shooting pheasants, and these grouse, and this different stuff, and you know, that sharp tail has got a dark meat. And I had eaten them before, but the last time I was in Montana, my host said, hey, there’s always some sharp tails around this old abandoned home with a little orchard behind it. And I had Coop dog with me – Chicken dog, women, those two guys, father and son went off that way. And I stepped right here, here comes the flock, bam, bam, bam. I tripled on sharp tails. And we peeled them out, left the wing attached, took them home. Think it’s dark meat, I don’t know if it’s dark, you know, and I’ve had some spruce grouse, and some of those birds that are just not as good maybe. The way I cooked squirrel dumplings and the way I cook those birds, I make like a chicken and dumplings with a whole chicken, make everything and then add the meat on top of it. So, it’s extra meat. But I really – we decided we’re going to eat the fried pheasants last night with Jezebel sauce, if I had some. We found enough recipes to make do, enough ingredients to make do. But fried them up, I just got to try this bird fried. I thought that bird was fine. I mean, I would eat them like that regularly.

Chad Sylvestre: Oh yeah, well I’m going to eat them regularly now because I found out about the Ramsey Russell’s special fried bird.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah. Nothing but chicken fried man, and nothing but – y’all even got a cast iron skillet, some Southern roots coming out again. I was really surprised. Y’all had a cast iron normally. When you’re up close to the Canadian border, there ain’t no such thing as a cast iron skillet.

Tonya Sylvestre: No, we travel without, we try to travel light because —

Ramsey Russell: Let alone well-seasoned one like that one.

Tonya Sylvestre: Well, thank you. We worked hard on that.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah.

Chad Sylvestre: Look at her just beaming over.

Ramsey Russell: Oh yeah that that’s a lot take pride in and I can’t stand to come up and see a cast iron skillet got rust in the bottom round.

Chad Sylvestre: Oh God no.

Ramsey Russell: It’s not seasoned, tell this man, you don’t know how to use a cast iron skillet.

Chad Sylvestre: Well she does most of the cooking around here.

Tonya Sylvestre: Yeah.

Ramsey Russell: But that was, that turned out really good. We had the chicken fried pheasants and grouse, and still got some left over. Could have put in biscuits this morning, and with the gravy and the mashed potatoes, and that just, that worked out well. But you didn’t grow up, you said you didn’t grow up eating like that. I mean you can count on one hand number times you were eating Southern fried anything.

Chad Sylvestre: Correct.

Ramsey Russell: Because your mother was Nova Scotian.

Chad Sylvestre: My mother’s Canadian. So, we ate some potatoes. We had a lot of potato soup.

Tonya Sylvestre: Yeah, well she had to make it spread. You’re the oldest of seven.

Chad Sylvestre: There were seven of us.

Ramsey Russell: Oh yeah,

Chad Sylvestre: So, she was always trying to spread out the food amongst a large, basically, a hockey team.

Ramsey Russell: I think the further west you go, the further South you go, the better food becomes. I’m biased.

Chad Sylvestre: So, like New Mexico and Arizona are going to have the best food.

Ramsey Russell: California’s got some good spicy food because of the Mexican influence. They’ve got good food. You get off into the food and wine country. They start leaning more towards them casseroles. Like some guy one time was telling me how they make crawfish out there and they sauté them in olive oil. I’m like what?

Chad Sylvestre: I’ve never heard of that.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah, you got Cajun country, buddy. That’s the epicenter of flavor to me is when you get down south of I10 in Louisiana. And I really won’t eat Mexican food back home because I spent enough time in south Texas, Arizona, California, Mexico. I just don’t even want Mexican food generally back home.

Chad Sylvestre: Right?

Tonya Sylvestre: It’s not the same.

Chad Sylvestre: Well, we don’t have Mexican or Chinese food here.

Tonya Sylvestre: We have nothing. I mean we don’t have nothing. But yeah, the eating out opportunities here are very limited, but the places you go to, it’s all the same. So, you get resourceful and you experiment and play at home with recipes and things, and I think I told you Ramsey already, that growing up in southeast Georgia, you’d expect me to be a pretty decent Southern cook. However, I spent all my time outdoors growing up. As hard as my granny and my great grandma tried it, just the cooking didn’t stick. But I do love good food.

Ramsey Russell: That pot roast surprised me, most people that read a recipe like that go by the recipe, and then somebody else has got a heart for cooking will start ad libbing it until it’s right. And I learned a few things from you. So, I’ll start cooking like that. So, I think the next time I see y’all, I just envision the next time I pull up, coming down this driveway in the middle of nowhere, you’re probably going to have a 5 or 10 dog runs. Kennel with all kinds of bird dogs and Labs and a couple of Brittany’s. You know, it’s like our guide that really does a big upland bird over in Africa. He’s got a German short hair that work, and he’s got English Pointers that work. So he can cover a lot of ground as quick as you walk, Chad. That English Pointer won’t be a problem.

Chad Sylvestre: Okay.

Ramsey Russell: I need a saddle horse. I’m going to try to keep up with them in a big country like this.

Chad Sylvestre: I got to chase that guy. He turns on the nose and he can’t stop.

Tonya Sylvestre: Well his handles this dog hunts for a reason. He doesn’t stop hunting. I mean for real.

Chad Sylvestre: I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve limited out and been walking back to the truck and he keeps putting up birds that I’m like, dude, I’m done, I can’t go any further.

Tonya Sylvestre: But we’re not, I mean you envision us having this big thing going, but really, we just.

Chad Sylvestre: I just like to hunt with my friends. I like hunting, I like to share it with my friends.

Tonya Sylvestre: Yeah, I mean since we have been out here this year, we’ve had several good friends come out and visit us and which is what we’ve hoped for. Just to have somebody to share this with is it’s awesome. I mean we don’t want to keep it to ourselves, but we kind of do want to keep it to ourselves, you know.

Ramsey Russell: Of course. Where did the name Labrador Lodge come from? That sign out front by the door is the sign in here. Char Dawg just moved in and made herself home.

Tonya Sylvestre: She did, yeah. So the property owner here – it’s funny this this the house that we’re renting right now – they’ve had it on the property for a couple of decades now but they rent it out to hunters to come out and hunt. And we got the opportunity to make it kind of a long term thing for ourselves and there was this sign, it was actually over the fireplace, but we’ve kind of rearranged and spruced things up a little bit, but this sign it says Labrador Lodge. You can’t with the big dogs, they stay on the porch, and Jerry, our landlord, he just, he loves that sign. He’s always hunted over Black Labs and anytime you bring it up, he pops out that phrase, he just, he beams because he’s in his eighties and he grew up hunting out here, hunting and farming and that’s just a representation of his glory days. And so, we’ve taken that and embraced it. And so, the sign that was over the fireplace is a place of honor now in the house. It’s one of the first things you see when you walk in and we decided to build on that and added the sign out front. Now we kind of banded it around as a little joke. We’ve got our little scoreboard for all of our little guests that come out.

Ramsey Russell: Pass all that.

Tonya Sylvestre: Yeah, to throw up the brother. Yeah, it’s just a little bragging right, just kind of reflect and see how great our season has been. 

Ramsey Russell: That’s the great thing about having a resource like this, having somewhere to hunt. It’s a great thing about waterfowl and bird hunting in general is, it kind of is a social thing a friend thing.


Social Aspects of Waterfowl Hunting

It just, it fills us up with good stuff.


Tonya Sylvestre: It really is I mean you can’t chit chat with your buddy while you’re stalking a deer or sitting in a deer stand. I like the social aspect of waterfowl hunting. I don’t have to be real still until we know the birds are coming in, I can have a conversation, and stretch my legs, and waterfowl and upland really gives us that opportunity. I mean, as much as it’s just Chad and I all the time, I mean we love our friends, we love meeting new people and getting to know all of the different types of people and personalities, and hearing their stories. It just, it fills us up with good stuff.

Chad Sylvestre: I love the stories. My favorite part is talking to other duck hunters and I got this one buddy in Maine, he almost died on a sea duck hunt because somebody shot the bottom out of the boat.

Ramsey Russell: Oh my God.

Chad Sylvestre: Like dude, you have to tell that story. He used to hunt golf courses back in Massachusetts and there were 15 bird limits on Canada geese and then they washed the blood off the golf course. I just love stories like that, like weird stuff, good stuff.

Tonya Sylvestre: Yeah, I mean we’ve got a few, but you hear anybody else, you’ve got some pretty good stories.

Chad Sylvestre: I guess, I don’t know.

Tonya Sylvestre: I’m still collecting stories for myself.

Ramsey Russell: Well, here we are in the middle of nowhere, Wild West and I was sure was proud you were in the medical profession because Char, I noticed when we got here had got a pretty good cut on her leg running through barbed wire. Every time we’re out West, last year in Montana, this year was North Dakota, and we’re not out of the West yet, boy, she’s cut herself on barbed wire. You know, tangled up with something, either running up on birds, or having to pass a fence to get a bird, or something like that. And man, you showed up with a little medical kit, Dr. Chad, Nurse Chad got her stapled up and going good. That’s a good skill to have out here.

Chad Sylvestre: It is. I’m grateful that I got the training and the experience to handle it. The biggest thing with her is just going to be watching that, make sure it doesn’t get infected.

Tonya Sylvestre: Keep it clean. She’s doing a good job too though.

Chad Sylvestre: I think keeping her out of the water this week has been key and not getting any infection.


Getting Ramsey Russell & Char Dawg to Labrador Lodge

That’s a whole season’s worth of walking for a duck hunter like me.


Tonya Sylvestre: We’ve given her a few days rest here. I mean, you mentioned swan, I mean when we first invited you out it was because we were like, hey, get your Montana swan tag. I mean they’re pretty easy to get. So that’s kind of how it started. And we’ve had this mindset for what, a couple of months now? It’s been on the books and we’re going to get Ramsey Russell a swan and so that’s been our key focus, and just the weather and everything else just kind of changed things, but I’m so glad.

Ramsey Russell: Where y’all had seen swans froze.

Tonya Sylvestre: Yeah.

Ramsey Russell: Awesome swans over here and but they weren’t really settled in just one little flock, but to me, all the upland birds, I mean you’re right around the evening looking at ducks and they’re freaking pheasants, going Lord, thousands of them lying in the road, I’m like, maybe we ought to go walk up on pheasants for a couple of days.

Tonya Sylvestre: Well that’s what is so magical.

Ramsey Russell: I don’t want to be rude and say, you know, I get a swan later. I want to chase these pheasants. This will be my only like big upland bird hunt of the year.

Tonya Sylvestre: Well that’s what’s so magical about this place is because we had that back up, we didn’t have to go, well, waterfowl’s dried up, so let’s just go sit on the couch. I mean we had the opportunity to chase birds and let Char Dawg stay out of the water, and rest and heal, and to give you something different than what you’ve been doing on this great waterfowl tour. Just a change of pace that feels like a vacation.

Ramsey Russell: I sure didn’t mind sitting on the couch after that first day. And I’m thinking, gosh, how long? Six or seven miles.

Tonya Sylvestre: Yeah, it was. I think it was about 6.5 or so miles that we did that first day and I’m sure.

Ramsey Russell: That’s a lot for a duck hunter. That’s a whole season’s worth of walking for a duck hunter like me.

Tonya Sylvestre: I don’t know. I mean, we walked to some pretty deep holes, I mean deep off the road places. So, I mean, I feel like we run that many miles pretty much every time we go. 

Ramsey Russell: Wow, note to self.

Chad Sylvestre: If you want to hunt with the big dogs…

Ramsey Russell: Yeah, at the Labrador Lodge of Montana.

Tonya Sylvestre: Right.


Chasing the Dream

But it’s like the more I travel, the more I bring little pieces of the rest of the world home…And that’s what to me, it’s all about.


Ramsey Russell: Thank you all for your hospitality. Thank y’all for having me and Char. We’ve had a great time. It has really, really been a beautiful stop on this North American tour. I know folks can get in touch with you all on social media @thisguyhunts @thisgirlhunts. I’m sitting here looking at my notes when I said that. No, but anyway, it’s thank you all for having me and I’ve really enjoyed it. You know, you asked the other day why? Why did you come out here? It’s a longer stop. Because I like authentic people. I like hunting with real people. I like getting it real, so much of my professional life is those guides and outfitters. That’s my business, and I do it, and I like to work with guides and outfitters that do a really good job, but it’s no substitute for going somewhere you’ve never been and getting a very close and personal glimpse of that environment. Whether it’s a people’s backyard, 10 acre beaver pond in New England, or a creek, or a river, or just some little niche. That’s one thing about America, we’re so blessed with such a diversity of waterfowl and game birds and then within each species are such a variety of techniques and habitats. Mallards, for example, you know, from the Atlantic coast, clear out to California and all parts in between. There’s mallard hunting, but all the little different nuances of how they’re hunted. It really adds a little something to it. Every time we topped the hill out here, I just couldn’t – it almost takes your breath.

Tonya Sylvestre: It really does.

Chad Sylvestre: It’s glorious.

Ramsey Russell: Without a mountain in sight. It almost just takes your breath. I’m thinking, man, what must it look like 150 years ago when somebody on horseback from back a little covered wagon top that hill and they stopped, how many times they just stop and take it in. Probably looking for water.

Chad Sylvestre: Right? Good water. Not saltwater.

Tonya Sylvestre: Yeah, there’s a lot of saltwater out here, but there’s good water too.

Chad Sylvestre: Yeah, well we appreciated having you. We’re just a couple of people that work full time jobs and hunt as much as we can, and you know –

Ramsey Russell: Chasing the dream.

Chad Sylvestre: I’m chasing the dream. I’m not living it like you are but we’re getting close.

Ramsey Russell: That’s just it. I mean, you know, we’re not really, truly stuck in our own little corner of the world. Tonya and I were talking the other day while we rode around scouting about travel, just getting out of your backyard and going and seeing somewhere else, everywhere else, as many places you can. I mean, right here in America, there’s so much within a day’s drive of wherever you’re sitting listening to this podcast. That’ll just open your eyes, and I guarantee you once you experience that, then you’re going to be willing to drive just a little bit further.

Tonya Sylvestre: I’m a firm believer that everyone needs to get out of their own little town, experience different people, different areas. I mean, not just for the beauty of it, but just as I know that the way you do it isn’t the only way that it can be done and it’s still right.

Ramsey Russell: Right.

Tonya Sylvestre: And then if you’ve done all of that and you decide that, you know, your little tiny hometown, which is beautiful is where you want to be, then that’s all well and good. But for us, I mean, I don’t know, I just grew up with a yearning to go and see.

Ramsey Russell: That’s where it all started and I just can’t get enough of it. It’s addictive.

Tonya Sylvestre: It really is.

Ramsey Russell: And I can sleep and rest in the grave – and don’t get me wrong, I love to come home. But it’s like the more I travel, the more I bring little pieces of the rest of the world home.

Tonya Sylvestre: Absolutely, exactly.

Ramsey Russell: Just right there in my heart, in my head. And that’s what to me, it’s all about. Folks, thank you all for listening this episode of Duck season, somewhere from Eastern Montana. See you next time.


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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