Facts and Principles of Waterfowl Hunting Canada


Ramsey Russell joins the show to talk waterfowl hunting in Canada. We talk facts and principles you should know if going duck hunting in Canada, help you make a better decision of where to go in Canada, and some surprises for Ramsey this week while he was in the field.

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The Best Waterfowl Hunting in Alberta Canada

The secret to me, of working or hunting with the right outfitter in Canada, is finding an outfitter that is resourceful and spent a lot of time researching, and putting it together.


Rocky Leflore: Welcome to The End of The Line Podcast, I’m Rocky Leflore in the mobile Duck South Studios today. And I know Ramzilla, you better be sitting in a stable place this week, maybe not in a truck sitting on top of the hill overlooking the prairie of Canada. I have got Ramsey Russell with us.

Ramsey Russell: What’s up Rocky? 

Rocky Leflore: How are you, man?

Ramsey Russell: I’m good. I’m kind of tired. You get after, you have been on the road for 15 days and been duck hunting every day. It’s just kind of getting in that groove. You get up at 3:00 AM whether the alarm clock goes off or not, you feed the dogs, you fix a cup of coffee, and relax and you go set up decoys, and watch the sunrise and duck shoot stuff. 

Rocky Leflore: The brown water is less at night and the coffee stronger in the mornings, right?

Ramsey Russell: That’s right, that’s exactly right. That’s a good way of putting it. My old dog today – it was funny – Cooper, we had a great shoot this morning. I’m with some friends, I’m with my buddy Ben Webster up here in Saskatchewan, he invited me to stay over a couple days. I joined him in a blind, and we had just piled ducks and geese and stayed a little bit late, trying to finish out the last couple of stubborn birds. A couple still needed a bird from the strap. Cooper was just really stressed out, eased out of the blind, laid out in the sun, was just soaking it up. We started calling, she didn’t care, she didn’t wag her tail, she was done. And so she’s tired too. But we had a great shoot, but I’ll tell you what was crazy. I got to tell you about the last three days because I went down and I hunted with Brandon Hudson at Alberta Waterfowl Outfitters. I’m going to tell you right now, first class in all respects. First off, you pull up, and they’ve got this magnificent huge log cabin, just a big log cabin. And it’s overlooking just this ocean of prairie. As far as you can see – right way on down below it, and you can see where a couple of rivers converge, and it looks like something you would see in a cowboy and Indian movie or something. It’s just your Little House on the Prairie, wild West. He’s got a couple of people, Pete and Debbie, that are kind of like his hospitality center that run that cabin and cook. Now I’m going to tell you something, they cook unlike anything I may have ever had. It was unbelievable. One night they cooked a pork loin with some kind of wild berry sauce, and some green beans with a bunch of melon sauce, they called it. Some kind of salad and I just said to myself, if I get a last meal request, this is it. It was that good. And we shot some geese and duck, it was awesome. It’s so crazy, we talked about this in the past Rocky, how it really works when you hunt with some old buddies or people you’ve hunted with a long time, everybody knows everybody. Well, I just show up at a camp, I don’t know a soul and a few people knew us, but I didn’t know the host. I didn’t know the staff, I knew Brennan but I didn’t know his guides, I didn’t know the scouts, I didn’t know any of the people that joined. He holds back weeks, and it’s important if you want to go to Canada, if you don’t have 4-6 folks roll with, you need to contact people like Brennan and also the guys in Saskatchewan I work with. You need to contact people like that because they hold back a few weeks for spares, and pairs, and that way, you and your buddy can come and join 2 other people, or 3 other people, and you’ll make a group go out and have a great time. So I didn’t know a soul. We put some of these A-frames together out there on the ag, we crowded up in there, and it was awesome. It’s like, for people I have never met, the urge to set up when you come in. Boom, it just started raining. They shot their zone, everybody killed their birds, we all had a great time. It just goes back to a lot of things that I have said in the past, but also that practically every single person on your podcast has ever said it’s all about the people. And that was just a prime example of showing up, and not knowing a living soul, and hunting with these people for three days, and leaving with a rolodex full of new names and numbers, and all kinds of friends and social media. Just good friends I know that I’ll share a blind with again. But I got to tell you all this, I have been very fortunate to travel and see a lot of world, and it’s like right by the time I think I have seen and done it all in a duck blind, right about that time, I have been fortunate enough to hunt birds at 16,000ft elevation in the Andes mountains. I have shot 400ft below sea level in the Netherlands. I have shot them early in the morning, late at night on sea, and ocean, and land, and pea fields, and down rivers. One of the craziest things was like James Bond hanging on the side of the speedboat, shooting out of one hand, running over waves on the black sea of Russia, shot them with spotlight in parts of the world. Right about the time I think I have seen and done it all – yesterday, there was just a young couple from Louisiana. I mean, young 23, 22 really nice couple and she weren’t one of these women that was just hunting with her boyfriend just because. I mean she’s a hunter – that changes everything man – she’s a good hunter and he’s a good hunter. She grew up hunting with her Papa and then they met, he got her into duck hunting and she just was in hook line and sinker. I just made a comment kind of off the cuff to Brennan, I said, “Boy needs to marry that girl because they’re two peas in a pod, she loved the duck hunt like he does.” And he goes, “That’s funny you say that, he’s going to propose to her tomorrow morning.” Oh, you’re kidding? He said, “No. He’s going to propose to her in the blind.” And that was the craziest thing because the part of the world that Brennan is in there’s a lot of outfitters up here shooting speckle bellies. I’m going to tell you really and truly 3 days in a row, 8 or 9 of us in the blind and we just very quickly limited on specks. We’re shooting bar bellies and some days we got into the snows and Canada’s too. Speckle bellies central right there, right off the bat. It’s got a dark goose limit. In Canada the dark goose limit is 8, 5 of which can be speckle bellies. 5 specks and it’s fantastic. I mean, look, Brennan and his staff, they’re not Canadians. Brennan’s from Mississippi and they are from the Midwest, and them boys know how to call speckle belly, and Canada geese, and snows. It’s really pretty impressive to listen to a real speck caller call. Because I don’t know, just little old 2 or 3 no call man, these guys get down, start talking to specks and those birds were just breaking down. And then we went to a real high hilltop yesterday and almost immediately we were covered up. Just covered up with them birds. I mean, just a little family cohort, 2 or 3 or big flocks coming rolling in, maybe the left side of blind would shoot, maybe the right side, maybe we would all shoot. About the 3rd or 4th volley kind of played off the left into the blind, I’m sitting down the right near an opening for Cooper, and 5 of them just locked up 20 yards high and pulled up right over left into the blind. Everybody started shooting; one of them just kind of falls back into the wind, he’s like, oh crap. Evacuate, and he just opened his wings, started retreating through the back, come into my zone, bam, I fold it. That’s the one Cooper marked. The rest of them fell behind the blind and fell out front, boom off she goes, brings back a brant. Well that’s a nice start to the morning. Next volley came in and it’s right in the thick of things. I mean those birds just – everywhere you look, there’s freaking birds looking around for somewhere to come land. I got one it sunk down that way and boom, off goes Brennan, I mean there goes Brennan at a trot and when he comes back up he said, “Ally you need to come see this. I think you’re going to appreciate this bird.” And she goes, “Is it banded?” Oh she comes out of blind quick, when she come around the backside, her boyfriend jumped up by the front and she was zoned in on that speckle belly. Brennan held its foot and she walked up to it and he said, “Mason, I’m going to give you this,” and he handed it off to Mason and boy, Mason took a knee – and just to see something like that. Good Lord. And so there were 2 brants killed yesterday, only made it a lot more special. But that was just by the time you think you have seen and done it all. So we had a great hunt, great three days up there in that part of Alberta with Brennan. It’s just you’ve got a real neat part of the world. When you think from Mississippi or down South, you think of Canada, you think just kind of whatever you’ve seen a picture of on TV of Canada. Good gosh Rocky, I started in Ontario, and I went through parts of Manitoba, and parts of Saskatchewan, then down to Alberta, and then back up to Saskatchewan and it’s just incredible change. Like right now we’re hunting a part of Canada described as the Parkland, so it’s a lot of agriculture but in between the big agricultural fields are little coolies, and drains, and trees, and forest clumps. There’s big old mule deer buck, we get down way down south, the pronghorn and mule deer, big white tails, and it’s just change everywhere you go. Even the crop patterns, like up here where we’re hunting, it’s just tons of pea fields, and the birds that are starting to migrate through, they’re hitting these pea fields pretty hard. It’s like some days they’ll pile up into the wheat or barley, you get that carbohydrate load and then they want to find my pea field, start really getting the protein and get some energy into them before they start migrating south but it’s just interesting watching the whole thing unfold up here. It was 92° when I was in Ontario. That’s a good question. I hadn’t really looked at the whole map zoomed out. I guess, I’m in what they call North Central Saskatchewan, we’re not too far from the Alberta border. So, we’re kind of over, and I guess we’re really North, and then it’s kind of over to the West side but it’s incredible. We went scouting yesterday when I got there. We’re good away from it. The secret, like I say, and I ain’t going to pinpoint nothing on the map for the sake of anybody I work with up here, you can’t because Yankee boys with big white trailers. It was about 6-10 hours away and they were like, jump in come on. The secret to me, of working or hunting with the right outfitter in Canada, is finding an outfitter that is resourceful and spent a lot of time researching and putting it together. He’s found somewhere that there’s no hotels or amenities within an hour or two, that’s the secret. And it’s a big country up here but when you get around places like North Battleford, every restaurant and every hotel you drive by is another outfitter’s turf. Literally, it’s about noon right now, you drive down from North Battleford, every restaurant you look at is going to have a white trailer with a different logo on it. Every hotel you drive by and boom, another outfitter – it is his turf. And that’s just crazy. So sometimes when you get around some real heavy areas what happens is, Rocky, several outfitters will find the same feed and it becomes kind of a competition. So what you got to do is – all these boys up here we work with, they’ve just been fortunate enough to either lock up, through good relationships, some good land or just find an area that still unbelievably in the middle of nowhere, which nobody found yet.


Top Outfitters & Locations for Duck Hunting in Canada


Rocky Leflore: Well, I was talking to – I guess 4 or 5 different outfitters for working with our migration report back a few months ago and they got their’s down to about 3 people. Because 3 of those outfitters were like no, I’m not giving away any new information for Canada because Canada is so different, your ability or your access to land up there. 

Ramsey Russell: Well, it’s really a pretty noble way the Canadian government treats wildlife. And as far as that goes right now hunting down, get to talk with some of these guys. Locals 18, 19 years old that waited for two years to get a gun permit, just lying on the shotgun. You realize how blessed we are at times in America. But in Saskatchewan, Alberta for example, it is unlawful for a landowner to take money for access to go shoot at birds. It’s unlawful. So, you can’t jump in and pay him and lock it up, like you could a lease down in Mississippi, you can’t do that. Because they look at it – it has been explained to me several times in many provinces, by a lot of different people. They look at it like it’s a public resource. Waterfowl belongs to everybody and it’s just not right that because of a crop pattern on your farm that you benefit from it, number 1. Number 2, they know or they believe, I guarantee if it ever goes that system, then you’re going to have some 15 or 16 year old kid out here in the middle of nowhere that wants to go shoot geese and he had nowhere to go because he has got no money to get on to lease. I mean Rocky, it’s just so amazing to me. I have been tearing around, I don’t know how many thousands of miles I have driven in the last little bit, but it’s just amazing going through these little towns. We get to Saskatoon, it’s just a big old dirty town, it’s like every other big city. We got here in the country these little communities like Mayberry. I’m serious, like Mayberry or something out here. Everybody knows everybody, everybody looks after everybody, and it’s just a real sense of community and pride in that community and it’s just kind of open. You knock on doors. But sometimes, a lot of these outfitters are very good at building a network and just because you can’t accept money to let people come and hunt, it doesn’t mean you can’t tell somebody no. So, you can tell somebody no. If somebody comes on your property that doesn’t have your permission, you can call law enforcement and they’re trespassing. So without exchanging money, you can build relationship to where people will not let other outfitters come in and shoot those birds. First come first serve. That’s kind of a good thing, if you’re a guy like Brennan, or Matt Shower, or Chris Wuji, that’s a very good thing that you’ve got those relationships. What’s crazy: these birds are dry feeding. Like in the afternoon, you might go out and shoot a tiny pothole, but the last thing anybody in this business up here is going to do is shoot a roost ever. Never is anybody going to shoot roost. Not everybody, anybody that’s listening that freelance hunts – it’s really – a lot of the outfitters I have known and worked with up here in Canada, if they are going to try to lock up a protective property, it’s usually not going to be a feed because the geese will just jump and jump all over these fields. It’ll get into a field for a few days, and go another one, that’s just millions of square miles of agricultural fields up here. What they want to protect are the roosts because time and time again, you hear these stories about the guys that drive up here and hunt for the freelance week of the year or two. They get down the last day, and just to make a pile and look cool on the internet, they go burn out a roost, man. Once you shoot that roost it’s over, for the year and forever. Once you go shoot an area that the birds are resting on – they’re overnighting, and they will get up and go sit back on a midday – once you burn it out, once you shoot there, once you blow them out, they ain’t coming back. It’s kind of curious to the whole area.  A pretty salty body of water.

Rocky Leflore: Body of water, correct. That’s what I was going to say.

Ramsey Russell: Chris Wuji pointed this out to me one time, and I never really gave any thought, and I don’t know that I have pieced it together. Say if I’m hunting Willow Break, how the birds a lot of times will roost in a big slew, especially the ducks. That’s what he’s pointing out was like to be a big slew and those ducks’ roost. And the first thing they do when they come off the roost is go find these tiny little water bodies and drink, and then they fly off, and feed, and then they go back and drink water somewhere, and then they go back and lay up somewhere. So, it’s those roosts for them that are holding those birds. Every major water body I saw – I drove about 4 and 1/2 hours yesterday – every major water body I saw yesterday just is covered with birds. A lot of snow geese, lots of specks, lot of Canada’s, and what’s crazy, I have been up here now, we have shot a bunch of white geese, a bunch of Ross, speckle bellies, Canada’s big and that’s crazy how few juvenile birds are this year. I’ll say we have shot a 100 white geese, 2 or 3 of them have been juvis, ghetto for the specks. I recall seeing one juvenile speckle belly and all the birds we shot, and all the limits we know have been brought down, I have seen one juvenile. So, it must have been at least the birds that are here right now are coming through, it must have been a pretty poor hatch for those geese this year. And maybe it’s making it more difficult to hunt, I don’t know. But its –


Changes in Waterfowl Numbers and Patterns

Just everywhere you look, left, right, up, and down there’s geese and ducks. It ain’t man. It’s like needles in a haystack. 


Rocky Leflore: What have you seen duck wise? Are the ducks moving around –

Ramsey Russell: Yeah. A lot of mallards and pintails and it’s hard for me to say it, I don’t know that they know yet. I kind of think that because the weather has been so mild, I would say lows in the 40s, highs in the 50s, 60s, it seems it’s probably local hatch birds, maybe the birds from further North hadn’t come down yet. But I know that Friday, Saturday, it’s supposed to drop down. This morning it was 33 degrees when we got in the field and of course it’s 55-60 degrees outside by now. But I know Friday, Saturday are supposed to get a little 30-40% chance of frozen precipitation. And it’s going to be interesting everybody’s saying. Everybody I have met through this stretch right now are saying it seems early. It seems like some of the geese, it seems like a little early for them. Some of the numbers, some of the pattern they’re seeing. But like Peace River, which is like the first little major ag cord – or at least in Alberta that the birds passed and it’s kind of, it’s birds come through the arctic, they can come through Peace Valley, Peace River country and then they kind of span out through other parts of Saskatchewan and Alberta. Man, it’s so wet up there I heard at least one outfitter that has started calling his October bookings and giving them a heads up that there’s a good chance they’re going to be canceled. That he’s probably going to cancel their hunt because there’s not enough fields cut, and a lot of geese and birds are either over flying them, or have left. What fields have been cut just are getting pounded. Just like a drought year in Mississippi, if there was water last year in Mississippi, somebody was standing and shooting ducks. Kind of hearing the same thing up in that part of the world right now. So, it seems to be going again. I think the duck numbers look normal to me, especially yesterday, every single pothole I drove by had ducks on it. Here’s what’s interesting, it’s like the big bodies, bigger bodies of water, you see mallards, pintails, geese, things of that nature. You get these little bitty potholes, just little bitty acre, quarter acre, small tiny mucky cattail little potholes, and that’s where you have tons of gadwalls. Hey, we’re going to do good on gadwall this year there’s tons of them. I didn’t see nothing hardly but gadwalls yesterday. It was a little bit of afternoon in potholes that were just covered with gadwalls. I saw a few green wings, saw a quite a few green wings, did not see any blue wings. Yesterday I saw some redheads. But I think it’s looking pretty good in the projections. Canada has been, the last week or two, has been fairly wet, and has been wetter than I thought there would be. It’s looking pretty decent. 

Rocky Leflore: Ramsey, a lot of time – let’s talk about this for a minute, in terms of Canada hunting. A lot of time in the afternoon is just spent on scouting. I know those outfitters determine where they’re going to set up the next morning as it pertains to scouting that afternoon before? 


The Art of Duck Scouting in Canada

It’s just trying to put together these patterns and figure out which feed is going to produce.


Ramsey Russell: That’s a good question. I’ll tell you what, you would think if you have never been here, you would think that you come to Canada, there’s the headwaters of migration. Just everywhere you look, left, right, up, and down there’s geese and ducks. It ain’t man. It’s like needles in a haystack. When you find them with a bunch, all over everywhere, and then you get a period of time you don’t see a duck or goose, and it’s crazy like that. Man, they get out and they beat the bushes, and they look for real active busy feed. That’s the name of the game is catching the feed. It’s like, you can’t just drive by and see a bunch of birds. That’s where I’m going to – you can’t do that, you have got to sit on them. You see what I’m saying? It’s like, we would look at the field yesterday afternoon, they had been watching for a couple of days, and all the birds are going to come back in there yesterday evening. They didn’t. There’s probably 10,000 ducks and geese in here, been here for a couple of days, so they thought it was a slam dunk. And we drove out in the field, and man Rocky, it looked like somebody had a picking shed out there, there’s so many feathers and stuff out there in that field. Somebody sat on it last night just to see what came in, and nothing came in, not a duck, not a goose. And they drove by this morning, there they are, about 10,000 ducks and geese sitting in that field. So, what I understand they’re looking forward is just to find an area that the birds have been on. I think it’s like, if you’ve seen some birds on it for a few days, all of a sudden it starts to build and that’s when you want to hit it. It helps if it’s a location that’s got some strategic advantage from the lease side, or some flat spots, or visibility, or bird trafficking around, you can see it too. But then it’s just good old educated guesses. Don’t think these outfitters or good outfitters don’t sweat. Don’t think because they are calm and cool in the blind that they can’t sweat because they do. Because we’re hunting migratory birds and it’s unbelievable how much fuel these guys burn, and how many miles they put on their vehicles. It’s just unbelievable because that’s all they do is drive. They’re scouting sort of when they’re driving to ground, or the fields, and they’ve got scouts running always. Always when the clients are in the blind, the rest of the staff is out, watching the roost and following those birds, seeing where they’re going or sitting in the evening on a flock of birds, and picking up, following them to see where they’re roosting. It’s just trying to put together these patterns and figure out which feed is going to produce. Like this morning, some of us went to a pea field and shot – we had one big bunch of Canada’s come over and we capitalized on it a little bit and we shot bunch of dark geese, bunch of Canada’s, Big Canada’s, and we had a great duck shoot. There’s one of those little drinking ponds, I’d call it because you saw it, I don’t know about 5, 10 minutes, first 20 minutes of shooting light. Lot of birds were coming out of the east and weren’t even paying attention to the decoys. They were hitting the lake down below us, and after they’ve gotten drunk, then they came up the hill and paid us a visit, paid rent for that matter. But then the geese came on and then the other bunch we had driven scouted last night. There had been a field he wanted to check on and it was probably a section of snow geese. Quite a few little cacatua mixed in with them, but a bunch of snows and those guys went out and just had a great time shooting snows this morning.

Rocky Leflore: Ramsey, at any point up there, is there a point that you’re not sitting in a dry field but you’re hunting over water? 

Ramsey Russell: Yeah, sometimes Chris Wuji over in Manitoba, he actually does diver hunts. He got some big bodies of water to hold a lot of divers and he’s got clients that are into that kind of stuff. I mean, they’re into it. And sometimes you’ll go out and hunt near or on a small body of water. That can be pretty effective in the afternoons, especially to go shoot little potholes where birds come to drink on their way to feed in the afternoons or on the way back. That works good. Here in Canada, you can shoot 30 minutes after sunset, not 30 minutes before, 30 minutes after sunset. And that makes a huge difference. 

Rocky Leflore: Well, you have one more week in Canada? 

Ramsey Russell: I don’t know Rocky, I have started to lose count, I’ll be honest with you. I leave here in a few days, what’s today? Wednesday? Thursday, Friday, probably leave here Friday, head over to Manitoba. Their opener for non-residents is on the 24th and I’m going to join some friends and clients over there with Chris Wuji, we’re going to get after it for four or five days. I’m going to stop buy in North Dakota on the way home and pick up – I have never duck hunted in North Dakota – I’m going to pick up a few days there and then I’m ready to come home. And let me change the subject, I recalled, I picked up a puppy on the way up here. She’s growing leaps and bounds and she’s probably 10 or 11 weeks old. I forgot how much work a puppy works. 

Rocky Leflore: We have worked too much together lately because I swear you’re reading my mind today. Everything that I’m just about to ask you about, you got right into it. 


Waterfowl Migration through Canada

It’s a major stage area where the bird stopover, coming and going.


Ramsey Russell: I completely forgot, my wife told me after she goes – she actually takes care of it for me. And she has such a little fireball personality, I love her to death. But boy, these puppies are a lot of – they have got to be fed three times, you got to let them out all the time and run with them. She’s smart, she’s doing little a sit, she’s already – she would walk around the block on the leash and she’s got that together. Whereas I might just roll out 20 minutes before we leave, if it was just me by myself with something like that, having that dog. I don’t know, I got to get up now because she’s got to be aired out, and taking care of them, fed again, and everything else, which is fine. But it’s really, on the flip side of it is, I spent a lot of mid-daytime and morning afternoons with her. Her getting to crawl all over all these birds and just get, that’s the thing about a puppy, they just need to see and experience everything. So, we have a good little break-in period together. 

Rocky Leflore: Is that the wintering grounds? You were talking about divers earlier and should I ask you this before we left that topic.

Ramsey Russell: Hunting grounds are down south. But my understanding is a lot of birds breed, a lot of diverse species breed further north, like up in the Boreal. But on some of the big deep water bodies, stuff like that, those birds will breed up here. It may be just they’re localized around big bodies of water. But Chris, just because of the part of the world he’s in where he set up, he just got some good big lakes around there that hold – that a lot of the divers, canvasbacks and redhead stops will stage, and I don’t know where they’re coming from. They could be coming from here. It’s not like the birds just fly only through Saskatchewan, or only through Alberta, only through Manitoba. I know a lot of goose migration kind of starts spreading around over in the northeast quadrant of Saskatchewan that has got this mountain formation called the Riding Mountains and those birds are kind of – like a lot of birds we’re seeing up here there like geese – they will kind of drift southeast and hook right around those mountains and on their way to Devil’s Lake, which is way southeast of here. That’s kind of how they flow through there. And some of them may just kind of flow more southerly towards Texas. But a lot of our birds come right through Chris and Devil’s Lake. Devil’s Lake – it’s in North Dakota – is a big staging area coming in, going for snow geese. It’s a major stage area where the bird stopover, coming and going. It’s a big hold over and so that catches a lot of that traffic too. 

Rocky Leflore: I totally screwed that up. But I have to tell you that Ramsey, I have got that fall –

Ramsey Russell: I know what you were saying.

Rocky Leflore: I’m totally backwards today. 

Ramsey Russell: Well, I’m just in a fall from being on the road and getting up at 3AM, and not paying attention. I can’t even tell you hardly what day it is. I look at my phone to tell you what date it is, but that’s a good way to be, I like it when you forget what day it is. That’s a good way to be and I just know that tomorrow I need to go duck hunting.

Collector and Custom Calls 

Well, I appreciate you Rocky, it means a lot to me that it’s a 100% custom made. I like that idea. That has becoming a lost art in social media.


Rocky Leflore: I got some good news for you before I let you go.

Ramsey Russell: You’re serious? 

Rocky Leflore: Today. I met and ate lunch with Tyler Steen of Backland Game Calls and guess what I just picked up? 

Ramsey Russell: What?

Rocky Leflore: The Double R2. 

Ramsey Russell: The Double R2, Yeah. I can’t wait to hear it man.

Rocky Leflore: It is the first official – it’s a kind of a Duck South brand duck call from Backland Game Calls – Tyler works with our migration reports in northwest Tennessee and North Mississippi. But anyway he made up a group of collectors calls, like totally 100% custom calls, and I asked him if we could utilize. He’s making two calls and then Adam Liar Lee over at refuge is going to make some. And I asked those guys, hey do you mind if we memorialize these calls? Because I think that for the people that contributed the most to MS Ducks, which turned into Duck South later on, to commemorate those people. And man, they loved the idea. And anyway, I picked up the Gulf Coast additions today and the Double R2. 

Ramsey Russell: I’ll be damned. Well, I appreciate you Rocky, it means a lot to me that it’s a 100% custom made. I like that idea. That has becoming a lost art in social media. I don’t know what triggered it. But here lately, I have been traveling through and only passed through an area. Yeah, I want to see these guys. I mean, if look at these catalogue today, maybe the original prototype from which the dye was cut was handmade. But now, so many of the CNC machines they do sound good and do good and you like them boy, knock yourself out. But boy, it just means a lot to me that there’s no two calls, and I’m going to turn by hand, there’s no two calls exactly alike. It means a lot to me.

Rocky Leflore: You know it’s crazy that you say that Ramsey. 

He had opened the box and he said, “What do you like? What do you prefer blowing?” I said, “I like blowing double reed.” I’m not a single reed guy, ever since I started blowing, I just think a double reed turns more ducks, but of course, you can get down on a single reed and when you’re working traffic, you can pull one out of the sky. But to me, get them in close and I can get them in there with the double reed. I can make a double reed sound just like old mallard hen. But anyway, that’s the thing that he pointed out, Ramsey. When he pulled those calls out, he said, I hope you don’t mind. He said, but every one of these calls now is just a little different. They’re 100% custom made. You can see that the belly is just a little different on them. I said, man what so great about custom calls. 

Ramsey Russell: Some of the first calls I got into, and today maybe it’s just sentimentality, I still like, Albert Taylor’s, called Tailor Made Gaston Call. Sounds like – I’m not going to tell you. I went and saw David not too long ago. Forrest and I drove down there to see him and he makes a great call too, turned a lot of them my hand. But when I’m back in college, I drive over to Clarendon, Arkansas when I have nothing else to do and spend some time riding over to Albert Taylor, watching make a few calls and do stuff like that. But when you wanted one of his calls, you had to blow a bunch of, because they all sounded different and they’re all handmade. Some of my buddies back at State said, “I’m going to call him up and order,” I said, “You better go blow it.” Why? Well, you better go blow it before you buy one. Because he didn’t know you, maybe he’ll give you that call that 50 people have blown, didn’t want. You know what I’m saying? And they got rid of it and so it’s just to me, it’s just kind of personal to do and I do like a single reed, I ain’t going to lie to you, I like a single reed and Josh Raggio, I went to his shop. I don’t know how we got to talking but I went out to Raymond’s shop a couple weeks ago, and let me tell you this, I have had woodworking shop before and let me tell you what, it looks like a woodworking shop. It was dusty, and moldy, and spider webs, and that’s just how I process. Walking into Josh’s shop is like walking into an art studio. I looked for a fleck of dust but couldn’t find it. But man, when you get a call from him, you just picked wood. You got those little blocks of wood when you pick one you like and sit there and BS with him for about an hour and a half, and he turns it. I mean right there before your eyes, and you want this ring, or that ring or this or that, how do you want this thing done. Then you sit at the bench with him and start trimming and you have got millions of reeds so you can cut 1-2 short. Start again, with just your will and trim and narrow and until it’s just what you want man. I have got such an experience. But he kind of showed me and much as I have blown a duck call, I learned something when he showed me how to trim, kind of trimmed the edges, the taper at the end of the other reed to give it that buzz you want, wider is one way, narrower is a little more buzz, and you can play with it like that. So, I guarantee you, a guy like Josh, or a guy like Tyler, Rocky, they can take a single reed and trim that single reed to get the sound you’re looking for, and it’s just, I guarantee you that they’re good. 

Rocky Leflore: I’m actually lucky enough, I’m going to spend the day with Josh Raggio next Wednesday. Josh Raggio is donating a traveling duck call that’s going to travel around the Duck South group and I’m going to go down there and film in the process. We’re going to spend the day, spend the afternoon with him while we make that call. It should be an interesting process that I’ll be able to take pictures of and put video, on the Duck South group, of making a call. 

Ramsey Russell: Now, it’s really nice the way he does that, it really is. And he’s a very interesting guy anyway, but he got a little curio room up front with a lot of heritage, a lot of collectible type stuff, I mean it’s just very interesting. I go back and sit around and shoot bullshit, it’s just very interesting to watch that process, but you’re going to enjoy that. I guarantee you, you ask Josh, I guarantee he’d show how you make a single reed sounds like a double. I think you can make both too but I’m a single reed guy. And Double R2 is a single reed Rocky, and I’m about to go back and see Tyler about getting to make one. 

Rocky Leflore: No, it is a double reed, of course, with the double R.

Ramsey Russell: Well Double R, double reed too. All right Tyler, I’ll come see you and get one custom done for single reed. But anyway, Rocky, I appreciate the thought but I really do it. I’m humbled by that, that’s pretty cool. 

Rocky Leflore: Yeah. A lot of guys have told me, they said look, some of the older guys that grew up on the site, or grew up around the site or were part of the site, they want them just to put on the shelf. Because each year, we’re going to put out 4 or 5 of these calls we’re going to commemorate, like I said, the greatest people that contributed the most to the site. I mean there’s an endless number of people that made MS Ducks the powerhouse that it was. It’s a very big exciting deal, I feel that it’s owed to those guys.


Duck Hunting in Every Language

He starts showing his family, and his home, and different things like that, and you communicate, just without words but with pictures.


Ramsey Russell: It was a community, when it started, MS Ducks was a community like none other that I have ever seen. I mean, it really was about 100 people, but very personal to me. Because over time I bet I know 90% of everybody that ever post on that phone now. No personal handshake recognized in the crowd. And that was so fascinating and I really like the way the Facebook is going, it’s a lot wider audience, but it does have a lot of familiarity to it, and I appreciate it. I hear lot of people like I just remind, we’ve been doing this podcast, and I don’t know what podcast was a year and a half ago. Well let me tell you what, like we’ve been driving since September 4th or 5th, I have been listening to a lot of podcast, and it’s just real pretty entertaining. Like, I’ll tell you what, driving somewhere I was only going to drive about 6-7 hours, my daily average and catch up the next day, anyway then I was driving till about 1 in the morning. Now I’m supposed to quit around 8. I ended up driving till 1AM just listening to the podcasts. At the first hotel stop it was sold out, so I had to drive another hour. But that that worked out good and between that, what modern, what great days we’re living in, with these iPhones. I mean kids, a lot these younger guys that may or may not listen, but that are participating on your site. They couldn’t imagine, they probably don’t know what a cassette is. Back in those days you just listened to the same old song while you’re driving, or having to push the button until you found a radio station in between this part of the world. You might be a long time without radio stations picking up. But now you just have to download on your music, I can drive for a year over here and sing the songs that I like. We were riding in the truck the other day with some new friends, and my phone picked up on their system and started playing. They all like the music. But it’s crazy how it goes sometimes from T-hall to Iron Maiden, to somebody else. Just jump around there like good gosh, it’s a playlist. I said, well I like them all, don’t you? I got to tell them the story we were talking about, wait a minute, we’re talking about the crazy music and I just had this thought the other day as we were talking about music and what I was listening to all over the dial. You go to a lot of these foreign countries Rocky, Canada is not really a foreign country. But you go to Russia, Argentina and Europe, and all these different countries, and the best piece of advice I have ever given anybody – to clients that are going into cultures where there’s no speaking of language. I tell them, put two things on their phone: music and pictures. Because of those two things right there, you can speak to a Russian without speaking any English but want to communicate to an Azerbaijani, to a Romanian that speaks absolutely no English, but all of a sudden you start showing pictures of your home or how you hunt, a bird you hunt. Even though you don’t speak a common language, a bond, you know what I’m saying, you just connect it and then he pulls out his phone. He starts showing his family, and his home, and different things like that, and you communicate, just without words but with pictures. I have seen the same thing using music, and there’s 4 bands I have found almost universally that I connect with people, probably. It is not Jason Aldean, nobody’s listening to him but frankly Jane suburbanites. What do you think those 4 bands would be if I told you I’m in Russia, or Argentina, or Romania, or Azerbaijan? If I told you 4 bands I could turn on and immediately everybody would know who they are? I’d surprise you. You got any guesses? It is not Jason Aldean– 

Rocky Leflore: Bands or just in general singers?

Ramsey Russell: I will tell you the 4 bands that I got on my phone that I would say nearly everybody will recognize one or all of them where I have been in the world – not counting the Mid-East, that’s a little far flung – but everywhere else? AC DC, Guns and Roses, Metallica, and A band of Iron Maiden. You turn on one in 4 bands, and I would say everybody, everywhere I have been in the world recognizes and relates to some, if not all of them. That’s crazy, isn’t it?

Rocky Leflore: Well, I was going to take Guns and Roses and AC DC. And that was two of them –

Ramsey Russell: Guns and Roses, hands down. Guns and Roses, and AC DC but I didn’t think many people listen to Iron Maiden like I did when I was in 9th grade but everybody does. All of these folks. I listened to a podcast of the day with the lead singer of Metallica. They played the largest audience they ever played, was over a half million people at one time in Russia, and it freaked the Russian government out. You go to that part of world – and I am not just crazy about Metallica not all the Metallica all the time – but when you turn it on, you just connect with somebody because they get it. They listen to it. Anyway, I thought that would be interesting to talk about.

Rocky Leflore: All right Ramsey. Well, in your travels be careful. Enjoyed it again this week. We will talk again next week. Man, talk earlier, one day earlier next week. That’s okay. But we’ll talk about that later on after this. I enjoyed it. We want to thank all of you that listened to this edition of The End of the Line podcast powered by Ducksouth.com.