Following 2 years of crazy pandemic-related border closures, Ramsey and long-time friend and indispensable GetDucks team-member Martha Ciaffoni are reunited at conventions. They recall memorable times working together and with clients in Argentina during the past decade-plus, discuss what Argentina hunting at Rio Salado and La Paz might be like after nearly 3 years of ducks not hearing shotguns, making plans for the upcoming season–and beyond. Ramsey also mentions a couple huge upcoming celebratory giveaways as GetDucks enters its 20th year in business.
Argentina: Open for Hunting!
Ramsey Russell: Welcome back to Duck Season Somewhere. I’m on the floor with one of my favorite Argentines that the world knows as Martha. Now here’s the deal: We get asked all the time about going down to Argentina. They speak Spanish down there. I do not speak. I’m getting better, but I do not speak, and I tell everybody you only need to know two words. It doesn’t matter if you want a different bird boy, if you want to go do something else, if you lost your passport, or whatever, you need to know two words. And those two words are Martha and Martha. I’ll tell you what Martin has done since the last time we were here at S. C. I. The world sure slid off the rails temporarily. Didn’t it?
Martha: No kidding.
Ramsey Russell: I’m glad to see, I can’t believe I’m saying this, I can’t believe how glad I was to see you after two years.
Martha: Me too.
Ramsey Russell: We have had some good times. Did you expect I didn’t know what to expect going to Dallas and now Vegas for the convention. I didn’t know what to expect. But it’s been crazy, hasn’t it? It feels kind of normal again since the last time I saw you all, like on the tallest mountain in the world. It was, “Holy cow, this is incredible.” And two months later, boom, COVID came.
Martha: That was crazy. Yeah, I remember we were talking on the phone, and you said, “Martha, what are we going to do with all this COVID thing going on?” And I was like, “It’s going to be fine; it’s March, and we still have three months before the season; it’s going to be over by then.” And then it was May and June, and COVID kept going up, and then they shut down.
Ramsey Russell: It’s like one of my favorite memes going around right now is we’re on day 655 of 15 days to flatten the curve.
Martha: Oh, yeah.
Ramsey Russell: But hey, then we got the big news: the office is finally open. Argentina is open.
Ramsey Russell: And I can’t personally wait to get back down there.
Martha: I couldn’t wait to get away from there too.
Ramsey Russell: When did we meet Martha?
Martha: I guess that was back in 2008, probably 2009.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah, no wonder you look so much older now.
Martha: What about you?
Ramsey Russell: I haven’t aged a bit since 2008.
Martha: I have all this gray hair thanks to you.
Hunting Rio Salado with the Dynamic Duo
It was a match made in heaven when you and I met. And I think it’s got a lot to do with our success down in Argentina.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah, right. We have come a long way since then. And I just wanted to introduce my audience and the folks listening to my boots on the ground down in Argentina at our most famous hunt, Rio Salado. And the best combo hunt is down there, in La Paz. And that’s where we started with La Paz.
Martha: Yeah, well, I was planning to do something different. And you called me one day, and I was like, “Who’s this guy?” I couldn’t understand what you were saying, but I knew that there was something about you and how much you care about clients. That was exactly why I was worried. Because I see all these outfitters and they could care less about clients, and I was like, “Okay, I’m going to meet this guy.” I’ll pick you up at the airport. We talk, and Anita was a key part of this too. She was on the phone that same day, and I thought it was interesting to finally meet someone who would care about clients. And that’s how we started, and then I wanted to take you to some special place, and you were like, “No, I don’t want to go back to Santa Fe; there are no ducks there.” And finally, we ended up there in this magical place.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah.
Martha: And I remember it being March, and it was hot. and it was fantastic. I didn’t have my waders, but you came back from the field. And you were like, “I want my ashes scattered there.”
Ramsey Russell: And I still do.
Martha: It was kind of stressful trip.
Ramsey Russell: Before we get too far down the road on this subject, right here I want you to bring up a good point because, in 2023, Getducks.com will be 20 years old. I’ve been doing this for 20 years, and it’s so crazy to me. In this time and age, the information age, anybody with a smartphone and internet connectivity can find anything at their fingertips, from the capital of Moines, Iowa, to anybody selling anything. It’s all right there on the internet. Why does my business continue to grow? I’m humbled and thankful, but I do. 20 years ago, I went on a really bad hunt. My first trip to Argentina, which I thought was good, was terrible. and I knew I had to find something better. And as I started kind of exploring working through people on that shitty Argentina Hunt all those years ago, I bumped into that outfitter on the elevator last night, and we nodded each other and didn’t say a word. His hunt stinks, and he knows it. And the guy who put that hunt together, a taxidermist, knows it did. But as I started seeing this, my bad trip in Canada, these places in Argentina, I was like, “There are some good hunts in this world, I know.” And the standard business model is to just take the money and run. Do you honestly see that a lot in Argentina? We have talked about this a lot off the record; what I mean is that it’s like one of the outfitters here at the show. He used to be a driver; he used to drive people to lodges, and it’s like he woke up and said, “Oh, there’s a lot of money in the land of milk and honey; I’m going to be a part of it.” He doesn’t know anything about duck hunting. He’s never duck hunted a day in his life. But now he’s an outfitter.
Martha: Unfortunately, my country is full of people like that. They are running right after the money, and they could care less about clients or how they make it there. Oh, we will wait for you here. How do I get there? So I don’t care if I have to go the extra mile and pick them up at the airport and stay with them while they are in Buenos Aires because I’ve seen people get screwed at leather stores. How do I get there? So I don’t care if I have to go the extra effort and pick them up at the airport and stay with them while they are in Buenos Aires because I’ve seen people get screw at leather store.
Ramsey Russell: I kind of introduced you to you through somebody else in America. It was a very stressful time because he was an asphalt contractor that didn’t give a ** about quality. And I remember after that phone call, I hung up and told Anita, “If this lady is half as sincere and half the person she made out to be, and I’m going to find out this summer, I’m going to make her an offer she can’t refuse.” This is what we have been looking for. Because of the massive disconnect I saw, I cannot be in Argentina all the time. And even if I could, I don’t speak the language. I don’t; the driving, the logistics, and the hotels require a lot of boots on the ground. like a kindergarten teacher to take care of clients. You know what I’m saying? And then get them to the right lodge to have the right experience. And sometimes people do lose their passports, they lose their gun permits, they become ill, they have special requests, and they need somebody who really speaks the language. I’m good, but I’m not God. And I will get lost in the cultural noise down there because it is a different culture that I don’t completely understand.
Ramsey Russell: And to me, it was like the old advertisement of peanut butter and chocolate put together to make Reese’s cups, boom. It was a match made in heaven when you and I met. And I think it’s got a lot to do with our success down in Argentina.
Martha: That’s the key and we love what we do. Under stressful situations, we work very well as a team. And I thought you were going to get rid of me after going to Rio Salado. but because it was a disaster at the beginning until we got there. And I thought you were going to get rid of me after going to Rio Salado. But because it was a disaster at the beginning until we got there.
Ramsey Russell: But it wasn’t. It had been a planned trip, but it really wasn’t.
Martha: But Ramsey, you remember?
Ramsey Russell: We were down there, it was going to be just me, and I was going to explore spring hunting opportunities. That kind of era is right there and a couple of clients wanted to go. They were up for the adventure, thank goodness, because we went playing A B C D E F G. It was the year. It was at that moment that Argentina changed its gun laws. So there are wrinkles, and only because plan A, B, C, D, E, F, and G. You finally said now is a good chance to go see this place in Santa Fe. I did not want to go to Santa Fe. Half the vendors on this floor are from Santa Fe. And they’re all in San Javier; they’re hunting the Paraná River and rice fields—the same rice fields as everybody else—and they’re delivering a cookie-cutter, mediocre experience, in my humble opinion. And it be like, I compare it to, if I were from Argentina and wanted to go to America to hunt like I see on television instead of going to stuck guard Arkansas, Nebraska, or Wyoming and up in North Georgia or South Florida to duck hunt, And I realized, “Well, this isn’t really what I saw and what it could be in America, and Argentina is kind of the same way.” And I realized, well this isn’t really what I saw and what it could be in America, and Argentina is kind of the same way.
Martha: But I remember; I can picture your face in the kitchen when I said Ramsey, we need to go to Santa Fe, and you were like, “No, no, Martha, there are no ducks there.” and I was like, “No.” I’m telling you, we have to go to this place. and it took us a long drive. We got stuck in the mud several times. We got stuck in the mud several times.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah.
Martha: But I broke my leg.
Ramsey Russell: That was the time we got stuck coming out in the rain, but it didn’t matter. I knew I wanted to go back, and it’s just like I realized I’ve been going to the wrong places in Santa Fe. There are 15 or 20 operators working there in that San Javier area, but that’s just the wrong place. That’s the wrong part of Santa Fe, Argentina, to go to. And we found this wild, beautiful, remote lodge, Rio Salado, which has become our most famous hunt. I describe it not as a place on the map, but as a place on the timeline. It’s like going back to the 1850s in America. It’s just the most amazing place I’ve ever been. But I’ve learned a lot about you since 2008, Martha, like you’re scared of spiders. You know, last time we were in the Rio Salado, we got in the car, and number one, I could not believe, you were getting up and going duck hunting, but you were going to go sit in a duck blind with our McCauley and film them and do some stuff. And we were sitting in the truck, and the motor was running whatever, and this tiny little spider And we were sitting in the truck and the motor’s running whatever, and this tiny little spider —
Martha: It was huge. It was huge.
Ramsey Russell: It was one of the big-
Martha : It was big.
Ramsey Russell: About the size of a quarter. and I just flicked it on you.
Martha: Yeah, inside my waders.
Ramsey Russell: And since 2008, I’ve never seen you move that fast.
Martha: At 4:00 in the morning.
Ramsey Russell: You look like Flash from the comic book.
Martha: I was like, I wanted to get my waders off and all my clothes off if I could.
Ramsey Russell: I could not believe how scared you were of this tiny little spider.
Martha Martha: Because Ramsey, people think you’re nice, and you’re always smiling and shooting at people, you could be mean.
Ramsey Russell: Well, I am a big brother by nature.
Martha: Yeah, but well, you’re a big pain in my neck. but I can trust you. And do you remember that time an outfitter was like, “We were having a disagreement, and he was raising his voice?” And you jump into the conversation and start causing him trouble, and he doesn’t speak the language, and you don’t speak Spanish. But you were there defending me, and I know you have my back. But you were there defending me or I know you have my back.
Ramsey Russell: But what he didn’t understand, and I don’t know anything about your culture, was the whole machismo thing. But what he didn’t understand and I don’t know something about your culture the whole machismo thing.
Martha Martha: Oh yeah.
Ramsey Russell: But he did not understand what I tried to explain to him. No, she’s speaking for me because I don’t speak your language, and now we’re all great friends.
Martha: Yeah, absolutely. They know me, and they know I have a temper. I could be very sweet and nice and also say really bad things to you, just by smiling at you, and you wouldn’t even notice but they know me. And they finally understood that all I wanted was for our clients to be happy and come back and choose us because, like you said, we have 20 to 30 different companies here and they still pick us.
Ramsey Russell: Oh yeah. They chose us. And it’s like I do have people coming; I’m not, you know, Dizzy Dean, a famous baseball player from Mississippi back in the day, who used to say it’s not bragging if it’s true, but it’s true. We have had people come in and out of the booth all day today, and they say, “Yeah, I’ve been to Argentina.” Who would you hunt with? And they’ll say, “Well, so and so.” And every single outfit that they mentioned, I can think of a dozen clients we now have that go to Las Flores, Rio Salado; they used to hunt with those people until they found religion and saw what real Argentina duck hunting can be. And I tell people, if you want the fanciest Crystal Palace five-star experience and the most exquisite food, take your wife to Italy or go somewhere else. If you want to shoot the F-bomb out of ducks, call me because that’s what we specialize in: real duck hunts for real duck hunters. And I believe that over the past 20 years, we have cultivated that market. If you’re the guy that just hunts two or three days a year and wants to lie around to die, go with somebody else. And I’ll tell them real quick, “Look, this is a real duck hunt.” For Reese Lotto, for example, I cannot believe the demand we have for that hunt. It is 12 freaking hours on a van if you choose to go that route with a van to get to this place, Chris Gore’s. You remember him; he was on a podcast recently talking about Mississippi hospitality. He is a good friend of mine now. And the last time he slid off, all he could say was thank goodness the truck slid off with the front looking up, so I could lean back like a recliner because they were there for five hours. And I’m like, “Well, Chris, we’re going back.”
Remembering the Early Days & Difficult Clients
Well, I think I’ve been doing this for 20 years too, and I’ve learned to read people. because of this job because I deal with all kinds of different tempers and characters.
Ramsey Russell: He said, Ramsey, I walked down the mud road. If I have to say it, I’m going back.
Martha: He showed me all the pictures, and I showed him pictures; it was actually fun. This guy, John, was also in the truck with us, and he had to pee. I’m glad it was pitch dark because he peed in the truck. I’m glad it was pitch dark because he peed from the truck.
Ramsey Russell: He wants to get out of the truck?
Martha : No, I mean he has his fancy shoes on.
Ramsey Russell: He told me the story; he said the outfitter David, whom I respect tremendously, said the minute they slid off and got stuck, he got out and was cussing and like, kicked the tire and slipped and busted his buttocks. and his whole back was muddy. And then he stood up and looked around to make sure nobody saw it. But everybody was looking at him, and he goes, “Oh guys,” he said. He turned, and he felt about that big.
Martha: We were looking at him and I had to talk, I had to say, “Oh, did you fall?”
Ramsey Russell: No, you did?
Martha: It was hilarious. It was like, “Oh my God,” for David.
Ramsey Russell: They‘re good people. They finally get a break from real life, and they’re on the absolute trip of a lifetime, a lot of people. Whether they come back every year or once a year, it’s their dream. They’re living the dream; it’s Christmas morning in adult time. But sometimes they’re just people. People are people, and some people stink. So sometimes you have to deal with people who stink. And what I’ve always respected about you is that some people will get stressed; they lost their bag, they lost their gun, or they’re just cruddy people. But unlike yourself, I can’t really deal with people; I’m just a little needy all the time. I’m just too blunt, but I never will forget. We had this literally as a billionaire that showed up. Rio Salado was the sixth hunt we sent him on, and the five preceding outfitters said do not ever send this person back.
Martha: I know who you’re talking about.
Ramsey Russell: Because he showed up and he was demanding. No, I don’t want to go into it, no, I don’t want it.
Martha: Okay, dinner’s going to be at 6 or 6.30. He will change everything.
Ramsey Russell: A man in a lodge full of hunters
Martha Martha: Oh, yeah.
Ramsey Russell: He just commands the world. How do you deal with someone like that? How do you deal with somebody like that?
Martha: Well, I think I’ve been doing this for 20 years too, and I’ve learned to read people. because of this job because I deal with all kinds of different tempers and characters. And he was difficult, but I knew it from the very beginning and until it got to the point that he would change our plans. So I will go to him and say, “I understand this because you’ve been an only child, right?” and everybody was laughing.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah, the center table because he was acting like an only child.
Martha: He was, he was so spoiled.
Ramsey Russell: What did he say?
Martha: I’m like, “I can tell.” It’s like I have to take very special care of you all the time. and he never tried to change.
Ramsey Russell: And he told you that, and you said, “Oh, let me guess, you’re the-
Martha: Yeah, it was funny.
Ramsey Russell: Did he take the hint?
Martha: He didn’t like it.
Ramsey Russell: I’m pretty sure he didn’t.
Martha: He didn’t like a lot of things, and his bird boy—oh my God, I was so sorry for that boy. But we’ve got to learn to deal with everybody. It’s like I can deal with them. I don’t care. I just read them. He was a client, okay? So we’re going to make him happy. We didn’t like him. We didn’t like his attitude, actually. But we all work to please. like he would even change the menu. And the chef, oh my God, bless his heart, but he will go like, “Never mind Martha.” I’m going to cook something different for him. So we tried to make him happy anyway, and he wanted to come back.
Ramsey Russell: No. He didn’t come back?
Ramsey Russell: We’ve got too many good clients.
Martha: Yeah, absolutely.
Ramsey Russell: Do you ever get tired of me out fishing you at La Paz?
Ramsey Russell: Because I always catch the most and the biggest when you and I are fishing.
Martha: I think that you get tired of me videoing you when you miss the birds.
Ramsey Russell: I videotape very often.
Martha: Like, give me that. Remember that? I was videoing you. I have a video of you. You were shooting and you missed twice, or maybe three times, and suddenly you turned around and you looked at me videoing. And you’re like, “Give me that.” I was like, “No way.”
Ramsey Russell: That’s what I’d tell anybody.
Duck Calling in Argentina
Martha: Also, when you call the birds, the-
Ramsey Russell: Are you saying my bird calling in Argentina is kind of like my Spanish?
Martha: You don’t know if you’re calling ducks or cats?
Ramsey Russell: Yeah. The ringtail does sound like a cat when they “meow, meow.” That’s how they call them.
Martha: That was hilarious. and I have it on video. We’re going to show that.
Ramsey Russell: I have never seen anything like this. We were drifting down the bank of the Paranoia River, casting towards the bank with this great big old ball of weight, this huge live bait. And we were catching golden dorado for as long as we could. Well, I was catching them as long as anything and all of a sudden we drifted up, and there was this big piece of like this tree that had fallen in the water. There’s about a 14 ft, what a python or anaconda? There’s about a 14 ft, what a python or anaconda?
Ramsey Russell: Big old snake. I’m like, “Holy cow.” It was cold outside. So he wanted the sun; he didn’t want to get back in that water. and I got the guide to start backing up. I want to get up close to them and take pictures. And I looked, and you were as far away as I was like, “I thought you were going to fall in.” You were like on the tip of the boat, hanging on.
Martha: I was planning to jump in the water.
Ramsey Russell: Oh my god.
Martha: And you were like, “No closer, closer.” I want a better picture.
Ramsey Russell: Well, he was just lying there, but I’ve never seen a snake that big in the wild.
Martha: I’ve seen them moving. He got a dog once. One of them had a dog. So I don’t want to get any closer to them.
Ramsey Russell: It was Pepe, wasn’t it?
Ramsey Russell: And Pepe did not like women.
Martha: Oh, no.
Ramsey Russell: She loved me, and she loved Osvaldo.
Martha: She hated me.
Ramsey Russell: She hated you and I was there for two weeks. And it’s one of those kinds of birds that can make noises and imitate things.
Ramsey Russell: So every morning, all day long, every time I was in the lodge, I would sit in front of this case, and I would whistle Dixie. I said I was going to teach the bird to whistle Dixie.
Martha: She was eager to learn.
Ramsey Russell: And the next year I showed up, and there was no more. I’m like, “Where’s Pepe gone?” She hated you, and they couldn’t get her to stop. She kept trying to whistle for Dixie. making all that racket. They finally got rid of her, and I’m like Pepe.
Martha: Yeah, I’m glad we should pair her kids.
Ramsey Russell: I was at risk a lot of the time duck hunting with guide Diego. His wife had their first baby, and he went back to the city to run his family grocery store. But I really had a good time hunting with him all those years. He was one of my first guides down there. and one day we were hunting. And you know, you throw out a few decoys, you put out the Mojo, it’s really dark, and birds are coming in. And I was shooting a few ducks, and then as it got light, there were dead ducks out there that we used as decoys, and there were the ibis standing, one of black opposite standing, and apparently in the melee; maybe he’d been behind some ducks or somebody called Straight BB. And he was standing among the decoys. and we named him Pepe. and we kept carrying on. It was so amazing because, like, a bird comes in, boom, boom, we shoot. And Pepe just stood there, couldn’t fly, had a broke wing apparently. And I kind of got the feeling bad. But I don’t speak Spanish, and he didn’t speak English. But we began to communicate and decided what we were going to do—if we were going to bring Pepe home back to the lodge. And while you were in there entertaining the clients, I was going to put it in your shower behind the shower curtain. And he was all on board with that game plan. And so later in the morning we had a bunch of dead ducks, and he had gone behind the blind to pick up birds out of the material graph, and out of nowhere I’ve been blind by myself in a 130-square-mile marsh where those ibises fly in flocks. And out of nowhere, from way up high, I thought I saw a single person start to circle and spin and get lower and lower, and he landed right next to Pepe.
Ramsey Russell: I’m sitting there just witnessing this; there are no ducks flying because it’s late. And I’m out of ammo anyway, or maybe I had a few shells left. I did have shells left. And I’m telling the story of why I knew I had a few shells left. And they’re sitting there, bobbing their heads and looking at each other, and I’m sitting there thinking, “My gosh, this is like the Wild Kingdom.” I mean, here I am in this marsh, and I mean, I felt so bad because I’d accidentally hit this bird now. I mean, who knew that they would make it for life or something? because I don’t know where this single ibis found Pepe. And we’re sitting there, bobbing her head, communicating, and kind of jumping up and carrying on. I’m like, my gosh, fly, Pepe. Yeah, I’m like, the things you get to see in a blind-
Martha: Yeah, it’s great.
Ramsey Russell: About that time, the new bird jumped up, stood on top of Pepe, and went like a woodpecker and killed him. I stood up like a custom, like you were the son of a bitch, and he jumped up, and I shot him. Diego comes back and goes; he’s kind of like, “Well, what happened?”
Martha: Well, he was being merciful may be.
Ramsey Russell: Maybe. And we’re like, we walked out and looked at Pepe, and there he would have been for four hours just standing guard. He’s dead.
Martha: Poor Pepe.
Ramsey Russell: Poor Pepe. Cruel. Nature is cruel.
Martha: And I don’t know how you managed to communicate with Diego. You know Ramsey, and at large, everybody likes you. And they are like, “No, they pretend or they make you believe that they understand when you are talking to them in Spanish.”
Ramsey Russell: I like new sentences or nothing. But I know, like ice, that yellow cab.
Martha: And they look at you like, “Yeah,” and they nod at you, and five seconds later they come to me and say, “What is he saying?” We don’t want to hurt his feelings. But we didn’t get a word of what you were saying.
Ramsey Russell: That’s why I got Martha Martha.
Memories of Duck Hunting in Argentina
The only time I get in trouble is in the yellow cab.
Martha: Do you remember that, in Buenos Aires, I would never silence my phone because I knew you were going to be in trouble? I remember the time we didn’t have Uber. Do you remember that, in Buenos Aires, I will never silence my phone because I knew you were going to be in trouble.
Ramsey Russell: Oh Lord.
Martha: Every time I was there and I got a call from you it was from a taxi driver trying to screw you.
Ramsey Russell: That’s one thing I can say I’m thankful for; number one is Uber in Argentina. And I tell everybody to never get in a yellow cab.
Martha: Oh, no.
Ramsey Russell: Thank God for Uber. But I’ve been thankful that you always answer your phone when I’m in Buenos Aires. But I’ve been thankful that you always answer your phone when I’m in Buenos Aires.
Martha: Well, I was scared.
Ramsey Russell: The only time I get in trouble is in the yellow cab. They’re like more money. I am like, no more money. Hell no. and Martha will get on the phone. I don’t know what she said, but it’s something. All I know is that the last time I called you, that guy was pointing a block away to where I wanted to go. And he was trying to reach into my billfold, and I’m punching him and punching his hand, and I just dialed the phone, called Martha, and handed the phone to him. He let me out of the cabin and didn’t even charge me. I don’t know what you told him, but he just wanted to get rid of me all of a sudden, like I was a bomb waiting to go off.
Martha: He has your license number. I’m going to call the police or whatever. Yeah, because they always try to screw Americans, so that’s another point. We take care of our clients. We take care of them in the big cities in Argentina. But I’m glad Uber is now in business. We take care of them in big cities in Argentina. But I’m glad Uber is now on business.
Resuming Argentina Duck Hunting After COVID
I’m going to hug everybody and imagine the very first morning we’re going to go into that marshland. After two years, nobody shot those birds.
Ramsey Russell: What did you miss most during the pandemic? I mean, you know, business wasn’t happening. The clients weren’t coming down. You weren’t coming up here for a convention. What about that did you miss the most? What about that did you miss the most?
Martha: I missed all of it. I’m not sure about the most. I missed all of it.
Ramsey Russell: That’s a big part of who you are.
Martha: Because I’m 44. I don’t know for how much longer I’m going to do this. I wish I could do it for maybe 10 more years, but I’m not sure. Who knows?
Ramsey Russell: I thought you weren’t too much older.
Martha: But I missed everything. I missed people being a pain too. I missed everything about it. I missed the guides. I missed the chef and the cleaning lady. The jokes are working, but it’s a pleasure to do them. So I missed everything. I was like, “I’m going to get up every single day I’m there.” I’m going to go to the marshland every day because I missed it. I even miss the mud. I was like I’m going to get up every single day I’m there. I’m going to go to the marshland every day because I missed, I even miss the mud.
Ramsey Russell: I mean, I’ll be down there in late April, May, June, and July, and I can’t wait. It’s just like I’ve missed virtually three years. I’ve been to Argentina, and I did not realize just how emotionally and spiritually important my room, my lodge, my friends, Buenos Aires, the food, the marsh, and the birds were. I mean, it is really important to me. I mean, it’s kind of like my home away from home. It’s almost like Mississippi.
Martha: I’m going to hug everybody and imagine the very first morning we’re going to go into that marshland. After two years, nobody shot those birds.
Ramsey Russell: Almost three years.
Martha: I cannot wait.
Ramsey Russell: The average life span of Mallard ducks in America is about a year. and ducks will live to be a decade old.
Ramsey Russell: But for three years, they haven’t heard a shotgun go off. It’s been wet, but the climate has been good. Even the small outfitters are going to have a pretty good season.
Martha: So imagine as they are.
Ramsey Russell: But to go to places like Las Flores or Rio Salado, it’s going to be like going to the best hunts on earth for the first time.
Martha: I think I’m going to cry. Exactly, I can’t wait. I think I’m going to cry.
Ramsey Russell: It’s going to generations of ducks that have never seen a hunter or heard a gunshot.
Martha: I cannot imagine that. And I been thinking about it so much, especially since I’m here at the show, talking about ducks and the place we go hunting. I cannot picture that moment because I think it’s going to be wonderful.
What to Expect from Hunting in 2023
Ramsey Russell: And for those of you all listening, I’m going to go ahead and tell you something: we’re going to be in the year 2023. The upcoming season 2022 the following year to celebrate our 20th year in business. We’re going to give away two all-inclusive trips. Stay tuned for details on that later. That’s months down the road. But just know that it’s coming and that getducks.comis going to invite you to be my personal guest. You must be 21 years old and possess a US passport. Other than that, you’re going to be my guest, all inclusive. That’s two. One is Rio Salado and one is Las Flores; that’s going to be a big giveaway coming down the road to celebrate our 20th anniversary. And man, we have so many clients. I mean, it’s just like being here at the show. Wow, I’m with my people again. I’m seeing people for the first time. I’ve seen it for two or three years, and it’s just… I’m getting chills just thinking about it right now. Have you noticed anything different since you’ve been in America? I mean, like I knew when I went to Target the other day at Dallas Safari Club, it’s kind of hard to find a case of water. Some of the shelves are bare. Do you notice any obvious differences coming to America since COVID, since Biden, since all that bullshit, since the last time you were here? Is it noticeable to somebody from the outside?
Martha: Something that doesn’t happen in Argentina. Everybody wears a mask. Everybody keeps their distance. And the first day I arrived at the show, you looked at me and said, “Why are you wearing a mask?” and I was the weird one. And the first day I arrived at the show, you look at me and said why are you wearing a mask? And I was the weird one.
Ramsey Russell: We were in Texas, baby.
Martha: Some places are kind of empty, too, but it feels like going back to normal here. That’s what I like. Places are kind of empty, also some places, but it feels like going back to normal here. That’s what I like.
Ramsey Russell: We went to the Dallas Safari Club a couple of weeks ago here in Vegas. I did not know what to expect. I expected it to be empty. I expected it to be void. I didn’t expect what happened. I did not expect there to be throngs of people coming to our booth. I just did not. It was a little overwhelming. Dallas was a tad overwhelming. There were a tremendous number of people coming to the booth. There was a tremendous amount of people coming to the booth.
Martha: I mean, we were not born to be isolated. So I think we all want to go back to what’s normal and feel like human beings again. I mean we were not born to be isolated. So I think we all want to go back to what’s normal, make us feel human beings again.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah. What I’ve also noticed is after two years of sitting at home, you know, virtually, I think a lot of people have realized, holy shit, I mean, what if it had been permanent, what if it had been 5 or 10 years that you couldn’t travel and do this, what if never again I could go.
Martha :You never know.
Ramsey Russell: Life is short.
Martha: Well, exactly. And nobody wants to miss a chance.
Ramsey Russell: We have had a few clients fall out of the lineup in just three years, between 2019 and Rio Salado. And in the upcoming year 2022, their health and their age failed them. They just can’t travel anymore. There they were, riding out their golden years and their powers of enjoyment, and now they can’t go. It just eclipsed it in that short amount of time. and I hate it.
Martha: Yeah. It’s very important for me to feel normal again. I cannot wait to go to the lodge and show them that we can have good times. If we used to have good times, well, we’re going to have the best time now. It’s very important for me to feel normal again. I cannot wait to go to the lodge and show them that we can have, if we used to have good times, well we’re going to have the best time now.
Ramsey Russell: That’s right. Everybody’s talking about normal; heck, normal is, I mean, this is normal. After 9-11, which was a long time ago, the world changed, and you just forget that T.S.A. and customs and everything changed after 9-11, but it’s okay.
Ramsey Russell: This disease is not the black plague. It kind of took an evolutionary turn. It’s becoming the flu. It’s becoming cold. It’s becoming the cold.
Martha: I had it 10 days ago, and it was nothing. I just felt like I went to the gym for three hours. That was weird. That’s what I felt. That’s all I had. and a little cough, and that was it. So it’s good that it’s not killing people anymore, like it did at the beginning.
Ramsey Russell: Or, like they said, it did. I don’t know.
Martha: Yeah. They still do. Well in Argentina things are like pretty easy now, like you hear about all these cases or whatever because they will try to scare us.
Ramsey Russell: World governments are kind of ruled by fear.
Martha: Oh yeah.
Ramsey Russell: So, they’re making mountains out of molehills. but it’s really nothing.
Martha Martha: It’s no, it’s yeah.
And I’m doing all the gun paperwork. What I’ve noticed with this new government is that they want us to disarm.
Ramsey Russell: I got a note about a gun permit. I was going to ask you about it. There’s something going on with the gun permit down there. I mean, we get gun permits. If you want to bring guns to Rio Salado of La Paz, no problem, if you’re willing to just suffer through the hassle of TSA, customs, and stuff like that. But have there been any major rule changes down there regarding the gun permit? Like you were, I knew it was you telling me because, during the COVID break, my company pivoted and we started a podcast. We have some other things going on. But man, you and your brother kind of started a big deal down there. You’ve got a big sporting goods store right now. I’ve heard people here at the convention talking about you all. You’ve got a big business down there now doing firearms and hunting gear. And it’s somebody who’s been to Argentina and Uruguay and walked into hunting stores pretty unimpressively. But man, you always got like the real deal. How’s that going? How’s that going?
Martha: I mean, it’s a family business. It’s been in business for 52 years. But my uncles are all old now. And so my brother and I are taking care of it. And I’m doing all the gun paperwork. What I’ve noticed with this new government is that they want us to disarm.
Ramsey Russell: That’s what. Tell me, you were telling me something the other day; can you talk about that? About people you sold firearms to getting letters or phone calls from the government saying no, you can’t have a gun.
Martha: Yeah, in Argentina to have a gun. You have go to through certain tests.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah.
Martha: And they will all sign a file saying that you are able or unable to have a gun. And it seems there was a lady psychologist. And she will make you draw, like, “Okay, draw someone.” Draw a figure, a human figure with an umbrella. You cannot ask a 70-year-old guy to do that. I mean, I’m not even able to draw that. And if you cannot draw the thing, you’re not able. I mean, I’m not even able to draw that.
Ramsey Russell: Stick a man with an umbrella.
Martha: So, I had some clients at the store who took their permits off. They said, “Okay, you can no longer have a gun.” and it stinks. And it sucks.
Ramsey Russell: And there are protected species down there.” A lot of people ask us about bringing ducks back from Argentina. And way back when, 12 or 13 years ago, some legislation was passed in Argentina, And it did not say you couldn’t bring ducks back. It said that you cannot bring or export indigenous wildlife, which is everything.
Martha: I know.
Ramsey Russell: And somebody was saying that at Dallas Safari Club there were American gringo-type operatives going around to a lot of the argentine outfitters that deal with big game and engaging them about pumas. What was that about? The best you know?
Martha: There’s this lady, she keeps talking about the puma and how we have got to protect him and a lot of B.As.
Ramsey Russell: That’s one of your government officials?
Martha: But you cannot export.
Ramsey Russell: Right.
Martha: So now she is trying to get like a lot of project or something to protect puma and not hunted anymore.
Ramsey Russell: Like California or something.
Martha: Yeah, but it’s a cat. We know how cats reproduce.
Ramsey Russell: We have similar issues in America, where in California you can’t hunt pumas. I mean, they’re trying to go after those iconic species. So that’s where this is coming from. So that’s where this is coming from.
Martha: But okay, you cannot export pumas. She talked yesterday on a radio program, and she said, “Well, puma hunting is not forbidden.” You can hunt pumas, but you cannot export them. So, whoever is investigating all these companies, the investigation is not going to have a good end for them. Because you can, it’s completely legal to hunt pumas in Argentina.
Ramsey Russell: Right.
Martha: But you cannot export.
Ramsey Russell: So they’re looking for people who are crossing lines, doing bad things, or misrepresenting them. They’re using it as ammo to further their call, which is to protect cats or something.
Martha: Because pumas may hurt, they may damage the population and not eat the whole thing. Because puma they may hurt, they may damage the population and not eat the whole thing.
Ramsey Russell: So, yeah. They just kill.
Martha: And the only way to control it is killing puma.
South American Delicacies
Ramsey Russell: Have you ever eaten an armadillo?
Martha: No, I had a pet.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah, pet armadillo?
Martha: Yeah, when I was a little kid.
Ramsey Russell: How did I not know this?
Martha: I didn’t never told you.
Ramsey Russell: Let me guess. It ran away from home.
Martha: Well, that’s what they told me.
Ramsey Russell: That you ate it then.
Martha: No, I never ate it.
Ramsey Russell: They raised it to feed, and then they just told you it ran away?
Ramsey Russell: You probably snickered at each other while you were eating it. I’ve eaten it in South America. It’s delicious.
Martha: It was a pet for me. But people eat, and bird boys do. But people eat and bird boys do.
Ramsey Russell: I’ve eaten it down there, and there are three species of armadillo. There’s the small, which is tiny.
Ramsey Russell: There’s the medium, which is like our armadillo up here. And then I was up in Salta one time, and they said this one was endangered. And when I told you that, that thing was 6.5 or 7 feet long and had claws or hands the size of a catcher’s mitt. I’m not exaggerating. I need to post a picture of that. It was the most outstanding thing I’ve ever seen. And they said that was the one they wanted because you could feed it; you could feed a village with it; it would take gauchos with a real quick lasso. They said the minute it saw you start to dig, it could dig quicker. They said it would take two horses and two lassos to back that thing out of the hole. so you could kill it. And I’m like, “I call bullshit.” I said there’s no way this thing is that big. They went and brought It wasn’t like taxidermy; it was like the shell mounted on a board, and I couldn’t believe it. I never dreamed of my—I mean, this thing was John Norman. It was almost as big as a V.W. bug.
Martha: I’ve never seen one of those but I’ve heard about them.
Ramsey Russell: I think they ate them into extinction.
Ramsey Russell: But you’ve never eaten armadillo?
Martha: No, I had one when I was a little girl and I cannot eat my pet.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah. I believe they fed it out and told you it ran away. I’m going to ask Mama Martha the next time I see her.
Martha: I got to know this when I was like 20 years old, when my dad told one of my former boyfriends that he had some kind of mouse and it was poison. So he died. I fed him with a syringe.
Ramsey Russell: What did they eat?
Martha: I gave him milk and then he ate grass, lettuce.
Ramsey Russell: They eat bugs.
Martha: He was eating lettuce.
Ramsey Russell: No wonder he died; they had no protein. What do you think you’ll eat for dessert? When do you think you’ll start eating desserts again, just to celebrate and get back into normal mode?
Martha: I’m on Keto.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah, right.
Martha: I promise you”
Ramsey Russell: Should I tell the story about the time you were eating dessert and I heard something and my head start ricocheting on the table, and it was your button?
Ramsey Russell: Am I lying?
Martha: No, you’re not.
Ramsey Russell: Do we have five more minutes?
Ramsey Russell: Thank the Lord. Does it require vaccination? Argentina is open.
Martha: Two shots.
Ramsey Russell: You’ve got to take a PCR test before you go?
Martha: 24 hours
Ramsey Russell: Yeah, go take the COVID test before we go back to the United States. That’s no problem. and we’re going to have people come to the lodges.
Martha: Testing everybody
Ramsey Russell: You aren’t going to get stuck, but in case you do, otherwise it’s open. It’s ready to go.
Martha Martha: We’re ready.
How Has Teaming with GetDucks Changed Life?
It’s in my skin. I don’t know; it’s under my skin. I just love doing this.
Ramsey Russell: This man is literally the Steven Spielberg of the outdoor industry. He has traveled. He has hunted big game birds, fish, and other animals. It provided such insights on how hunting has changed people, wildlife, conservation, and communities worldwide. We kind of had that conversation. How has working for Get Ducks, being in the hunting industry, and coming to the show affected you? How has it personally affected you, changed you, made your life better or worse, or whatever? I mean what I’m saying, I mean, me personally, I’ll say it man, getducks.com has been kind of like my salvation has become my life mission has become in some resorts with what we’ve got going on the back end to get ducks. The web page itself has become kind of like my legacy. It’s who I am. I can’t be anything but this. But what about you? How has it changed your life that way?
Martha: I was asked a couple of months ago, “What would you do if you won the lottery?” And I was there with my husband, and he said, “See you.” I’ll be traveling all around the world. And I looked at him and said, “Yeah, we can do that.” But I’ll be back for duck season.
Ramsey Russell: Absolutely.
Martha: I love to do it. It’s in my skin. I don’t know; it’s under my skin. I just love doing this.
Ramsey Russell: Well, Martha, I’m looking forward to it. We have a couple more days of convention, then you’re heading back home.
Ramsey Russell: And we have a full calendar of folks coming this year. We still have some dates left, but we have a full roster of people coming.
Martha: We’re going to post that everywhere. I can’t wait for that first morning.
Ramsey Russell: I appreciate you taking time after a busy day at the convention. We have been busy. I’m tired of talking, I’m tired of standing, and I’m ready to go eat and drink and be merry and really go to sleep. Start again tomorrow. But thank you very much for being on the podcast. Folks, thank you all for listening to this episode of Duck Season Somewhere. You’ve been listening to the world’s greatest hostess, Mrs. Martha Ciaffoni, or as everybody who knows her affectionately calls her, Martha Martha. see you next time. See you next time.