Rocky Leflore is joined by Ramsey Russell to talk about why duck meat gets a bad name and how to fix it right. We then talk about why anybody cares how or what somebody else uses in waterfowl hunting.
Rail Hunting in Georgia
It’s going to be a huge adventure and I’m really kind of looking forward to it.
Rocky Leflore: Welcome to The End of The Line podcast, I’m Rocky Leflore in the Duck South Studios in Oxford Mississippi and in the mobile Duck South Studios as usual, Mr Ramsey Russell.
Ramsey Russell: Rocky, how are we doing today?
Rocky Leflore: It is wet in Mississippi. Please tell me where you’re headed to is dry.
Ramsey Russell: It ain’t going to be dry until Saturday, unfortunately. I’m heading to coastal Georgia to join a couple of real good friends and really, really good clients. Boy, I tell you Lee is just one of those clients – he and I go just some of the craziest places in the world together. He my kind of hunter, but he’s been on me for a couple of years to come and hunt mud hens. You know like, when you fill out your question every year and it’s like how many ducks, how many geese, how many coots, and then all them other birds with long pointed beaks that nobody knows what it is, that’s what we’re going for this weekend. These guys don’t just go out and say, hey, I think we’ll go out and shoot these birds, these two boys specialize in them. I mean, that is one of their annual things like alligator hunting, and duck hunting, and all the stuff they do, this is one of their things. This weekend has been planned I think for two years. I cancelled on the last few times, and they keep it back saying, this is the tide and the fact that it’s raining doesn’t matter, it will make the fish lousy in the afternoons, tide is right to get on these birds. So we’re going to get in a ski and push pull out through the grass, and shoot Virginia rails, and King rails, and Clapper rails, and they said maybe a few Sora rails, which we see around Mississippi in our little duck holes. I think it’s going to be fun. I brought a 28 gauge. I don’t think it’s too terribly – I don’t think it’s going to be like 50 yard passing shots on a wayward duck. I think they’re kind of getting up like a quail and flying away from you kind of sort of slow. So, I brought a 28 gauge and I don’t mind missing a few shots until I get dialled in. It’s going to be a huge adventure and I’m really kind of looking forward to it. I’ve never done it and there’s not a duck season right now that I need to be doing, so I stole away this weekend, and best I can tell it’s going to rain all the way to coastal Georgia. It’s going to rain through tomorrow morning about 7 or 8 o’clock, so I brought a rain slicker.
Rocky Leflore: Well, it is really about to get busy for you though, isn’t it?
Rumsey Russell: Oh yes, sir, it’s fixing to get nuts. It’s fixing to get absolutely bizarre. Now, for those you all know me, I bet the house I’m going to hunt at our camp in Mississippi every time I get, but starting about 15 November, my schedule is wrapped tighter than Dick’s hatband put on backwards. I mean it is tight. And we’ve got a very aggressive agenda, even for me, to include hunting with some US Hunt List outfitters making the rounds. We’ve got a big thing planned over at Commander’s Corner in Arkansas, there’s going to be a lot of folks, I know Josh Raggio, Ed Wall, Wren and Ivy, Tangle Free, there’s going to be a lot of folks come over there to that event for the opening. Mojo is coming by, I think they’re filming, we got the lodge to ourselves, we’ve got three or four really nice pits. He’s got water this year and already got a pile of ducks. Right after that, we’re going to hunt down Louisiana with some friend’s right after that, the Mississippi duck opener, I wouldn’t miss it for the world, win, lose or draw. I got about two or three days before camera crew shows up for a little event they’re doing, and then I’m off to Alaska to chase a lifetime hunt for me. I’m bringing a camera guy, we’re going to do an episode on Life’s Short Get Ducks and upload it. The day I get home from it, I told Forrest, it’s going to be a great road trip for you, son. But when I get home on the 12, the truck’s got to be loaded full of gas, backed down the driveway ready to roll because I’m going to sleep 6 to 7 hours, we’re going to get up, drive to Nebraska. We’re going to meet Jake Latendresse, we’re going to do some filming, we’re going to hop over to Wyoming, and we’re going to do some filming, and whenever Jake packs up his camera and says we’re done, we’re going to jump down to hunting with Big Kansas outfitters. If everything goes right and we don’t break down or get in a bind, we should come rolling in about 3 AM Christmas Eve morning. After that is the whole big real GetDucks stuff starting. Don’t get me wrong folks, if I’ve got a telephone signal, you call it, it don’t tell them where I’m standing and doing this stuff but we’re going to start right after Christmas. Jake Latendresse is coming back down. I’ve got a real heartfelt, interesting ‘then and now’ before and after things. I guarantee you Rocky, you have not got a clue about my past 20 years ago that I was very passionate about, how I got started online in fact. We’re going to break those out. We are going to do a hunt in a very remote, and pristine, and one of the most beautiful places in Mississippi I’ve ever laid eyes on. Then we’re going to come back over to Willow Break, a kind of ‘then and now’. I’ve got a family heirloom piece I want incorporated but I’ve got a real heartfelt-type story I want to tell. Right after that comes just the absolute throw my life into a blender because I’ll leave and go to Reno. From Reno this year instead of coming home for a few weeks, we go right into Dallas Safari Club, literally leave Reno, go to Dallas set up, bam, next weekend we’re doing a show. And then I’ll have about the last 7 or 8 days of the duck season off, and then Mexico and Azerbaijan, and the real part of the business starts in terms of travel. It’s a very hectic schedule and I’m really kind of, sort of looking forward to it, to be honest with you.
Rocky Leflore: A lot of places in a small amount of time. Hey, before we jump back into a couple other things. Duncan’s in the Marine’s – for those of you that don’t know, that’s Ramsey’s youngest son and he just went through or is going through, what is it called again?
Rumsey Russell: It’s the crew. So, I’m glad you said that because I’ve had a lot of people ask me about Duncan being a recruit in the US Marine Corps and what he’s going through. Today, I’m on the highway, I’m heading all the way to Coastal George but this morning, I got up, moved everything and kind of moved my schedule up, and just ready to roll bright and early. I woke up this morning with it on my heart because at 2 o’clock my time – and I got about 4 – at 2AM my time Mississippi. Duncan was fully packed, sitting in formation, fixing to go about a 7 minute hike. For the next 52 hours they’re going through what they call the crucible. And the crucible is just a 52 hour mental, spiritual, physical emotional finishing line. They’ll have 3 or 4 MREs and a 52 hours. They’ve got, my gosh, I don’t know how many miles they will go. It’s a lot of obstacle courses, a lot of puzzle type stuff, a lot of teamwork and type stuff. Very, very physical. And I look generally at it kind of sort of how it’s laid out over this weekend, and I know that when all of that is said and done, the last 11 miles is in full pack, double pacing back to the finish line. And I’m really surprised. I’m not going to lie to you all. I am shocked and surprised that Duncan has taken the time to write as many letters as he has. Not just to myself, and Forrest, and Parker, and Anita but to a lot of folks. Lot of folks took the time to write to him. And it’d be physical letters, he would send only physical written letters, and we could send – there’s an app and I could send like this text thing and somebody would, I don’t know, type it or auto generate and go to him and he was able to get those. But what we learned, he told us, hey, don’t fold it up, tri-fold like a big sheet of paper. You need to fold them like love letters like high school love letters. Fold them up small, put all the letters in one envelope, send to him in that way. Their time and their schedule is so metered that he really don’t have time when he gets mail called, to sit there and read 5 or 10 letters, but they love them. What he would do is just stick them in his pocket and get up and go to the bathroom at night after they turn in – look they’re going to bed at 8 at night, getting up at 4 in the morning. Now, getting up at 4 in the morning means they’re ready to roll at 4 AM. Because I think he said the fire watch gives a wakeup call around 03:35, 03:45. And at 4 o’clock you’ve got about a 200 count as fast as that DI can count, to be out in formation and ready to roll. So we would send these letters to him and he would take the time to write back. I’ll tell you, I told him in the last written letter I sent to him, it’s been not just an experience for him. Nobody in my family since my granddad and my uncle back in Vietnam were in the military. What I’ve learned with Duncan being a recruit – so here’s the deal, Rocky, you don’t join the Marines. You sign up, and you become a recruit, and they make you a Marine. That’s what I’ve learned on the outside looking in. They make you a US Marine, and they have really run those boys and I’m telling you there’s a lot to being a Marine. It’s like Duncan said one time, “Had I joined any other branch I would be out, I would be home.” But he’s not, this is the toughest, and he’s doing well, and I’m so proud of him, and I’m really proud to see that he’s kept his humour. Just some of the little Duncanisms that he writes and things of that nature he writes back, we all recognize hey, it’s the same Duncan and he’s just a bona fide badass. I mean, really, this guy is going to be something one day. I told the story to people that know him personally that’s seen him since, he was a four feet tall Dunkinator there at camp. Duncan is the kid – I’m going to remind you all – Duncan is the kid that would leave at 1 o’clock in the afternoon, 115 degree heat index with a 14 single shot, and come back 20 minutes later with 150-pound hog on the back of the 4- wheeler. He was that guy. He was the guy that when I had about three squirrels – we had the annual squirrel hunting camp he and I did – I was maybe 3 or 4 into my limit and he’d be back waiting on me with all his squirrels. He’s that guy. He shot expert and he was in the top five fitness of his platoon which is telling me he’s doing good, and doing his best, and kind of found his groove in life with the US Marines. So, to get back on track, he’s going through a crucible. If he makes it, and we’re praying and we’re confident he will, I can tell you this anything could happen but Duncan ain’t a quitter. Neither Forrest, neither Parker, they’re not quitters. He’s going to make it I believe. Then we leave in a couple of weeks, and we go and spend a few days over in Parrish Island. We watch him graduate on the 9th and then we drive home. But can you know, they tell everybody don’t let these Marines drive themselves for a few days because their body had been so through the ringer, and so we’re going to pick him up. We’re going to drive him home. He has got a grocery list of things he wants to eat a mile long, and get this, it’s all steaks and potatoes and duck camp food. If everything goes right he’ll get home and he’ll join Forrest and I over in Arkansas and maybe even make the Mississippi open. We don’t know that yet. We don’t really know how long he’ll be home before he has to go back for when they call for the rear training. But that’s Duncan’s updates. He’s real close to the finish line now.
Answering the Question: What Percentage of People Eat the Waterfowl They Hunt?
Rocky Leflore: Well, he will definitely come back a different guy from when he left. Ramsey last week when we left – we actually went into it a little bit but like I said, we cut it off after we finished and come to find out, when these podcasts are killer, when I hit the record button to shut them down, I always say, that right there is going to be unbelievable, it’s going to have a lot of downloads. And that was what I said after last week’s podcast with you, and it showed in the numbers, and it showed in the shares. But I cut out that last question and where we talked about it a few minutes, you asked, me at the end of the podcast what percentage of people did I think ate the ducks or waterfowl that they shot? And I told you, as we closed that podcast (that was cut out), my thoughts were about 40 to 50 percent.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah. And I think optimistically, we could save 40 or 50%. I asked that question on another podcast appearance and one of the hosts replied, and I sure can’t argue, he replied 10%. Duck hunting is not a subsistence sport. Hunting today in America is not subsistence. You go shoot a moose, you go shoot an elk, you go shoot a few deer, I get it, you got a freezer full of meat and it’s good to eat. It’s good, it’s healthy, it’s nutritious if it’s cooked right. But really it’s a recreational activity and it’s good for conservation. But it has just dawned on me: it seems that a lot of people really don’t like to eat waterfowl. I love waterfowl. A lot of guys I hang out with like to eat waterfowl. And a lot of people are very, very good cooks. There are countless dishes in Pat Pitt’s teal pot for opening day. But let me tell you what, you think he died and gone to heaven. He got a little secret ingredient he puts in that teal pot that’s just, it’s unbelievable. Jeff cooks it; he cooks canvasbacks like his grandmother and kind of stinks up the pot, puts in the Holy Trinity, and makes the gravy, and stirring those breasts, and gets some back going good. I’ve got a few recipes I like. My buddy Ian Munn cooks the simplest recipe I’ve ever seen. Just a little olive oil, a lot of seasoning, even cooked some rare, they disappear. I love chicken fried ducks and I like all the different little dipping sauces I’ve developed, and they’ve come up with are found along the way of hunting camps, and that’s the way to get rid of a lot of meat. It’s hard to be – real hard to be smoked good. Smoked duck and these pellet smokers today make it very, very easy, so it’s not dry. We love the gumbo. Everybody’s gumbo is different but they’re all good; that’s what makes gumbo so great. I had a buddy in college, now he was that guy, let me give a little background on Andrew. Andrew and I would travel a lot. Man, me and him and his brother Terry, we jumped in the truck because we had a week to 10 days to kill, we split gas, we drive to Colorado and we tent camped out in the mountains and cooked. When we were younger and we had more time than money – but we didn’t have no money – but we had a lot of time because we were in school, we would do a lot of free range hunting. I would go out West to have springers at the time. I do a lot of pheasant hunting, knocking on doors in the Dakotas back when you could, Kansas, Illinois, not Illinois, Iowa, places like that, we could go pheasant hunt with those dogs. We went down to Cataula Lake, jumped around, we would always tent camp and Andrew’s daddy, we called him Cotton, I guess that was his name. He would go along just to be the camp cook. We bring him a hand load chowder and he would take care of us, and keep us fed and happy, and we eat duck and eat what we’ve been hunting and killing, and he might bring some other groceries to cook too. But it just seems to me if you were to do a poll or ask on an Internet forum, what’s your favorite way or what’s your favorite recipe for duck? It gets very low engagement and 90% of everybody responded would say cream cheese, jalapeno and bacon, that’s a great popper. But don’t you get kind of tired eating the same thing? I love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but I get tired of eating them every single time when I eat a sandwich. And so I think, I just wonder how many of these ducks are really being eaten anyway? I mean, and how we started on this guys, but not talking about a duck show, or duck cooking show, but talking about numbers and stages. If you’re not – go ahead Rocky.
The Best Ways to Cook Duck and the Best Duck Recipes
It’s just, you find what you like and to me, it’s just a glorious experiment as long as it’s all good.
Rocky Leflore: I don’t think that people know how to cook duck. And that’s the only recipe they know is that, and there’s so many ways, and even with that they – I’ve always said that the duck is kind of a deal meat and the way that you offset that deal is with something sweet. So many people don’t understand that concept of cooking that meat that way.
Ramsey Russell: To me, the perfect balance on a lot of the different recipes – and I like savory – but a lot of different recipes that I use for waterfowl, especially this mallard breast thing that I do, it’s like a little traveling experiment. Maybe I don’t have mallards, but I have rosy bills. Maybe I don’t have even one of those, but I have grey lag goose, something comparable, size, color, fat content, breast with skin on, and I cook it medium rare. Three minutes each side of the hot skillet, three minutes in the oven. It’s about 400°. And while they’re resting, I take that cooling skillet, put a little bourbon, but a little maybe peach schnapps, put a little – I like big pig reserve, I like orange marmalade, I like a little, something with a little bite. I got my fruity, I got my savory. Now I’ve got just a little spice to balance that. Maybe a little jalapeno, maybe a little native pepper’s they’ve got, that’s the adventure. When you’re be at Azerbaijan, Argentina, or Netherlands, good luck trying to find what you want that you use back home, that’s the adventure. That’s what I think lends itself to a little travel recipe, but I agree entirely Rocky. I think that waterfowl lends itself to that little bit of sweet and fruity. Like I took Pat Pitt’s teal pot recipe and I modified it just a little bit to my taste by putting in oranges. I like to put oranges in that teal pot, else I do it exactly like he does it just to my palette, I just want that little bit of flavor. It lends itself to fruity. I’ll take duck poppers, take the breast halves, chunk of breast, and make a little pocket with a knife and put up fig inside it, like real fig preserves, like my grandmother made with the whole figs. I’ll stick a fig inside and then wrap it in bacon or I might try something else. I’ve used those little candy cherries, I’ve used other fruits and it all kind of works. It’s just, you find what you like and to me, it’s just a glorious experiment as long as it’s all good. Now, Rocky let me say this, there is duck that I don’t like and the duck that I don’t like is poorly cooked duck. And I believe a lot of the duck I’ve eaten, I don’t blame people for not liking duck. It’s nasty. It’s got a high iron content if you overcook it, it becomes like a rust flavored hockey puck. Terrible, who would want that? I don’t, you got to kind of pay your changes like cooking a steak. I’m not going to, boy, I can’t stand to take a great steak and somebody ask for it well done. That’s just ruining it too. But traveling around the world, it’s amazing how many other countries and cultures love to eat duck. Mexico, I tell guys on all these Mexico trips we do, you want to get some of your hands on some of these species, you want to get them mounted. Okay? Take ownership. When you shoot that cinnamon teal or that blue wing teal or that Mexican mounted, that brown or whatever it is, when you shoot that bird, you want to get mounted tagging, set them aside, keeping them in a cooler or whatever because don’t assume all them birds are going back to the lodge. They’re not. Man, they’ll stop at houses, or farms, and different things, and those birds just disappear. We came up to a big rain that hit down in Mexico one time. We had launched the airboat kind of off from a little Indian village really, and gone out and hunted, and they had stuck the truck, stuck the trailer, stuck another truck and trailer trying to get it out. Stuck a piece of equipment, trying to get them out all while we’re out there hunting. They brought us into the village to pick us up and take us back to the next hunt, dove hunt that afternoon. And the airboats pulled up in this little fishing village, and Rocky, you would have thought that Santa Claus had come to town. I’ve got a video somewhere I posted it one time, just an iPhone video. There were hundreds of children, clambering around, just kind of getting in the way but wanting to help, do something so that the captains would give them those brants and those ducks we had shot. And we ended up just forming like a long line. The captain will handle from the boat to a hunter, headed to a hunter headed up to the hill, and we just had a mile of children walking off with as many ducks and brants as they could carry. They loved it. They were glad to have it. I’ve been to Azerbaijan, I’ve been to Argentina, and I’ve been to every country, I’ve been to Russia, they all like duck. And they all cook it very simply but they cook it well, not well done. They just cook it to where it’s good and it just kind of blows my mind that the most duck killing country in the world, the most duck savvy, hunting the best hunters on God’s earth are probably the poorest cooks of waterfowl. Isn’t that crazy?
Rocky Leflore: Oh it is. But you told the story even after we shut the podcast down last week, it wasn’t recording, you were telling the story about Ms. Anita, that for somebody that’s your wife, that you shoot ducks all the time, she had a bad experience with ducks long time ago.
Ramsey Russell: Yes, she did. I got to take ownership of that because as we were dating, and engaged, and all that good, and but she was forward about eating. She liked the gumbo, I put a lot of seafood in my gumbo, a lot of ducks and seafood. She liked it. She’d eat anything. It may not be her favorite because she kind of likes white chicken breast versus dark meat chicken but she would eat it. And she loved ducks, I will say that she never quit eating ducks the way we cook them. But back in college I went over to some friend’s houses, I don’t know, two or three of us and our wives, we’re going to cook out. Jim had a little carport, little charcoal briquette grill, and man, we wrapped up some different poppers and different things. One light bulb in that damn garage and we probably got to drinking a few beers while it was getting hot, while the coals were getting hot, and while we were making poppers, and we probably got off throwing bumpers to dogs or just doing whatever you do instead of paying close attention. When we served the duck what we realized is, it ranged from charcoal overdone to raw. And she got a raw piece, she got the tartar piece of duck. And I’m going to say Rocky, she quit eating duck right then. Now I took it off the plate and I made do with it, it’s better than that overdone piece I had, but it kind of broke up. There you go, poorly cooked duck. And to her, it was a stigma man, she wasn’t going to touch a duck. I was welcome to do what I wanted to with it, but she wasn’t going to touch it, period end of discussion. She didn’t make some chicken salad, she wasn’t eating a duck for a long time. And one day back when I was younger and we were doing this kind of stuff, crawling ditches, and shoot a lot of snow geese, and I know people say yes, somebody that’s no good is always the sky car. Baloney. I love them. It tastes like a duck, tastes like a goose to me, tastes better than those big 52 sky paying the giant Canada’s, I can tell you that. I’d take 10 snow for any one of those but I took it to the butcher, the deer shop was going to get a lot of sausage made, make great sausage. Hey, ducks make great sausage by the way. That’s a great way to get rid of a lot of them at church functions and things of that nature. And as I was sitting there talking to them, the back door kind of opened, and I noticed they were just fixing to take apart the tenderizer, the commercial tenderizer. I said, whoa, wait a minute. So, I took about a dozen breast pieces, breast halves and double tenderized them, put them in a bag and carried them back home. I don’t know where she’s been but when she came in with the kids, I had dinner about ready. I chicken fried it, pulled off a lot of the oil, made a dark gravy, and you know where you put milk, make a sawmill gravy, you put beef broth stock to it, so it darkens up. And then I put those pieces of geese back in it and smothered it, little sautéed onions, and just smothered it. We pulled it out, and we’re eating for dinner, and everybody was just scarfing it down, she was too. She ate two breasts and a half, a whole snow goose work that is duck, this goose. And she says, “Oh, I like that way and that’s how we ought to start cooking it more often.” I said, “Well great, that’s snow goose.” And after that, now, we’d been married a long time after she ate that raw piece of meat when this story happened. I’m going to play over a decade and she started coming back around, and now one of her favorite ways, if I cook chicken fried duck with the other belts off, she’s going to jump in like everybody else and eat it. So, I get people don’t – you like what you like, your palate is what your palate is. But I think it would behoove all of us duck hunters to just break out a recipe book. Old David Lindsey, you know David Lindsey from MS Duck, he just tried to call me a little while ago, I got to give him a shout back. But you know, I’ve got his name in my phone: David Lindsey gumbo, because that man makes a good gumbo, one of the best I’ve ever had
Rocky Leflore: Is he an awesome cook?
Rumsey Russell: Oh is he a good cook? He is a great cook. I don’t know how we got talking about that, to me it’s disheartening and it just seemed to me how this whole food segment came around with us just wandering off the beaten path about the stages of duck hunters, Rocky. Where it’s obvious a lot of people don’t know how to cook duck and “don’t like duck” because maybe they don’t know how to cook it, or it’s too much trouble to pluck them or do things with, I don’t know. But if you’re not eating them, if you just put them in your freezer until one day you go out to your fridge and you wonder what the heck that freezer-burned something in the plastic is, and you throw it away. It’s conservation because whether we’re eating it or not, we’re spending money and that’s conservation. But even if it’s not bad, it’s kind of hollow isn’t it? That you’re just out there propping up an ego with dead ducks? It’s fun and I do plenty of it but just like everybody else, but come on man. To me the whole big part of the camp experience, every camp I’ve ever been a part of, every camp I’ve ever visited in the world is the fellowship and the eating. There at Willow Break I love Saturday night because half the camp meets down at the lodge, and if 10 people show up, they all cooked for 20 and we just have a big old pilgrim-sized spread. It could be duck, and deer, and wild hogs, or beef, or corn bread, and collard greens, just a whole big smorgasbord of good stuff. That’s so much fun for everybody to learn how to cook and learn different little techniques for handling it. Learn, hey man, that’s a great idea, I can’t believe he tried that on that duck, I need to try that next time on deer or hog or whatever. And it’s just, to me it’s such a big part of it, and I think it’s personal, but I think we owe it to the resource to cook it good, that’s just my thoughts on it. I like to cook now Rocky, don’t get me wrong, I like to cook and it’s not just duck, I like to cook. I like to cook a lot of stuff, that’s how I grew up.
Duck Hunting Culture: Who Does What & Who Has What But Who Cares?
Likewise duck hunting, or shooting, or decoying, or you know, we all hunt differently and we don’t hunt wrong. It’s just we all hunt differently.
Rocky Leflore: I got a question for you, changing being off just a little bit, not much, but something that’s come in the past week. Why does it seem like it happens more in the duck hunting community than any other, whether turkey or deer or whatever? But why do so many duck hunters worry about what somebody else is doing or has, what do you think that is?
Ramsey Russell: So, I wanted to do the same thing. I read a thread, somebody saying, hey, what’s up with premium ammo loads? I’m like, well, I don’t shoot just premium. And boy, the different brands and speeds, and sizes, and rounds of ammo I go through in a year. I shoot normally, I just shoot whatever is available, and it could be some junk, or it could be great, but given a choice – man, look. I don’t care if you’re hunting public or you’re in the finest camp in the country, duck hunting is not free. It ain’t free. Unless you’re getting up, and walking into Papaw’s back 40, that’s pretty cheap. Well you start burning gas, training dogs, feeding dogs, vet bills for dogs, equipment, disposable annual expensive waders, for most of them aren’t. And if you’re the guy that had not pulled out a brand new pair of $350 waiters and they leaked before the end of that first day, well, count your blessings, just come in through, let me warn you, it’s coming if you’re that guy. But Rocky, I wondered the same thing. What brand of ammo does Rocky shoot? I don’t know, I don’t care. Nothing personal. I’m just saying I could care less. I don’t look down the – I’m hunting 5 or 10 people. I don’t look down the line and see what ammo everybody shoots. I know what works for me and I know why I shoot what I want to shoot. And to me, when I think about ammo, boy I tell you, I’ve got blue box Federal, ounce and a quarter steel 3, 1400ft per second. Steel is not what it was back in ‘90, it works. It works great. But I grew up shooting lead and I shoot a lot of lead around the world. Speeds are different, the patterns are different, chokes are different to get everything right. And I like some of these different loads, they have come out with. I do. Well, the truth of the matter is, you can shoot decoying ducks 15 yards with sand, I guess, but I don’t want to shoot them with sand. I want to shoot him with something because not every duck on the day is coming in at 20 yards, not every duck is going to be 20 yards. And what’s the average guy shoot in a year? I’m dubious of Internet questions about waders simply because the average guy duck hunts 5 or 15 times a year, okay. That’s a whole lot different than a man that’s trudging 30 times a year, 50 times a year, 100 times a year. You see what I’m saying? Likewise duck hunting, or shooting, or decoying, or you know, we all hunt differently and we don’t hunt wrong. It’s just we all hunt differently. And to me, why not take black painted pop bottles out there and hunt for decoys? Why not? They’re cheap and they work, Rocky. They may not work as well as some of the latest and greatest, but they work. Hell yeah, they work. I guarantee you they work, try it, and they move good. Go ahead and try. Go take a two liter pop bottles and paint them flat black, I guarantee you, you’ll kill ducks. Painted pop bottles. I’ve taken a block of wood, and taken a cool-aid, and cut it, painted it black. Throw it out there in your spread, guarantee them birds will decoy. I guarantee. But my point is then why do I want – I just got through listening to Bill talk about the Green Head Gear decoys man. What a revolutionary product that was. I still got tons of them. They still look good, they still work but they took it all up to a new level and where the decoy market has gone since Green Head Gear is unbelievable. Why do we need that? Because it’s a little edge. It looks a little better, it might work a little better. And if I kill 1% more ducks by taking advantage of what’s available to me, then it’s all worth it right? Because it’s such a limited time. It’s a treasured time. Just a finite amount of time that we get to go out and do what we love. Why not make an edge for yourself? And you know what, if you don’t want those edges, then do your own thing. I just want to yell at all caps on somebody’s threads sometimes. Do what works for you and the whole thing about this, the whole great thing about this duck hunting experience of ours is learning what works for you. Trial and error. There is no failure. You’re always getting better. If you live and duck hunt 75 years, you’re always getting better. You’re always figuring out more. You don’t have to be the world’s best duck caller. You don’t have to be a world champion. You don’t have to use the most expensive waders, the most expensive ammo, the most expensive gun, you don’t have to do that. Guarantee you don’t. But find what works for you and get out and enjoy it. The problem is going to be okay. I don’t know why –
The Best Hunting Clothes & Gear
So, again, find what works for you but who cares what the other guy’s using? I don’t. I wear or shoot what works for me. Find what works for you.
Rocky Leflore: The one that I take issue with is the people that – and I don’t want but a couple of Sitka things – but a lot of people take it for use from Sitka, their waders and their clothes, their gear. Here’s the thing about it. Yes, it’s more expensive. Yes, it is better. I don’t care what anybody tells you. And let me just tell you one other thing: you better be glad that Sitka is having life license Mossy Oak for any of their stuff because there wouldn’t be anything else to choose from anyway.
Ramsey Russell: That’s right, you’re right about that.
Ramsey Russell: You know the first time that I was 30ft in a tree deer hunting with 20 mile an hour wind and using the seat belt, scared I was going to get blown out, and I was warm, I was wearing cobalt blue capilene from Patagonia. And it was like, I felt like a primitive man having discovered fire for the first time because under all my layers were more walls, foam insulated walls. Man, I died to have a pair of those full cub brawls and all my clothing was cotton. But underneath all those layers like Michelin man, I had a pair of cobalt blue capilene, mountain proof long Johns, and I was toasty, I was beyond warm. And Sitka – Ryan did a great explanation a few weeks ago talking about – some of their engineers develop stuff for astronauts. My gosh, that’s just amazing that they’re doing astronaut level works and he talked about that. To me, they’ve kind of come up with the capilene, the waterfowl industry, their stuff is dry, it is warm, it is light. I don’t feel like the Michelin man when I wear it. Now Rocky, people have known me a long time, they know I’m a wax cotton guy, and I still wear a lot of wax cotton. It’s got its place. If you had to pick one color that fits in all the world habitats the best, universally OD green. Period, end of the discussion. Put that under some shadows and you are invisible. It’s just that simple. But I was on a trip, we were in Europe, a little whirlwind tour in Europe and I went to an airport to make a flight to a little country called Romania. Had one bag and I was whatever, 20 pounds over, allowed 50 pounds each bag. Two bags, 100 pounds total. But I had one bag that was 65 or 70 pounds. I tried the logic of – wait a minute – 50 plus 50 is 100, and I’ve got 60, so don’t you owe me credit for 40 pounds? I’m not carrying on this light – that didn’t last. She said you’ve got to take something out. So, I reached into my bag and I pulled out that Filson coat that I’ve travelled all over the world in and had a little wool liner in it. I took it out and threw the bag on the scale now has 5 pounds under. I said, I got to travel smarter, not harder. The following big trip I did was to Mongolia. Very cold in Mongolia. But at night we did so many covers that you couldn’t flip over on your back if you wanted to. You got cold and in the morning when you started out, it’s a lot to be 15° might warm up to 40 but weight was an issue and all that good stuff. So that particular trip I packed Sitka and it made me a believer. I was warmer, I was dryer, I was more comfortable. My baggage was less. Is Sitka for everybody? No, neither is Chevrolet for everybody, that’s why they make Ford and Dodge. So, again, find what works for you but who cares what the other guy’s using? I don’t. I wear or shoot what works for me. Find what works for you. I’ll just tell everybody man, I’m not a rich guy, far from it, but I want to be warm, I want to be dry. I do not like wet feet. I hate wet feet. Oh I’m not going to melt when I get wet but I’m sick of wet feet. I am not wearing wet feet, I’m just not going to if I can avoid it. I have absolutely – on 6 continents – I have left leaky waders and wet trash bags that I wore inside of me until I could leave them. I left a pair down in Argentina one time, told the outfitter I said, I’m going to leave these with you and he goes, what am I supposed to do with them? They’re too wet to even burn. And just wear what works for you. There’s no rules in this thing man, just wear what works for you.
Rocky Leflore: Who cares and the whole topic about the wader – talking about the wader, you were one of the testers of the Sitka wader. Now if you hunt as many days as Ramsey Russell does, Sitka waders was probably made for you, because for me it’s like, if you have any trouble with getting it back and getting it fixed. But for somebody that doesn’t hunt but 10 days a year, maybe buy waders every 3 or 4 years, may not be for you. I think for somebody that does it every day like you, the Sitka waders are the way to go.
Rumsey Russell: I’ll say my experience with waders. I don’t expect much. All I expect for a pair of waders is short of barbed wire, and thorns, and tears, and things like that. I’d like to get more than a year out of it. I cannot afford a $350 – $450 annual expense for a pair of waders. That’s ridiculous. Remember back in the days when they made waders that would last a couple of seasons if you took care of them? Then if you couldn’t afford that, you went and bought the $20 pair at Walmart that would tear at the first beaver stop you hit. Okay, I expect a pair of waders to keep my feet dry, and the year before I got those Sitka contest here, somebody has sent me 3 pairs of brand new state-of-the-art Brandx. I mean good waders, $350-$375 a piece for those waders. One for me, one for Duncan, one for Forrest, before Christmas all of them leaked. So we’re talking a month of moderate use. I might be wearing the board of my boys. Duncan’s leaked right out of the box. First hunt he had a sopping wet foot. $375, over $1000 bucks wasted. Well that’s same here. I bought another pair. He doesn’t send me three free pairs. I couldn’t ask for a third but I had to get some kids with dry feet, so I go out and buy another pair by myself. Ouch, they didn’t make it through the end of season. I myself have been four pair, any pick a brand that somebody’s going to throw out there as the best, square by them. I’ve been through four of them, all of my tribe. What really bothers me is I might actually make 40 days hunting in the US, in Mississippi, Arkansas, I might actually make this season. I hang them up, hold them off, hanging by these little clamps that clamp on the heels because if you let that old rubber bottom, kind of put them in a one little boot drivers, you hang up, they’re going to dry right? So, hang them by the heels to hang them up perfectly. There’s nothing touching them. I’ve even gone as far as to put – what’s that stuff you put on your dashboard arm roll – on the rubber before I put them up. I take them out for teal season in the next year, and I go teal hunting, and they’re not leaking into the same, they’re just osmotically – it’s like water is just coming through the fabric, and I’m soaking wet. I’m not talking a pair or a brand, Rocky. I’m talking dozens, dozens. So they sent me that pair of Sitka, they sent me that pair of Sitka, and with God as my holy witness, if I can speak about those Sitka waders in another year. After this past year, 5 continents of, I mean scrabble. I mean getting after hunting in a lot of different, rocks, rocky strings, mountains, swamps, cat tails, crawling through fences. I mean, buddy, Argentina this year we hooked it. We hooked it quite a bit because it was dry. And if I can talk about those waders in a year from now, I get it right now, I’m going to be buried in them. That’s what you’ll see me later. Those waders, not another pair of those waders. I love them. They haven’t failed me one bit and I know having talked to that company that if they do, if something does go wrong, they’re going to take care of me. They’re going to replace and they’re going to fix me. I got to tell you the story. I was listening to Ryan Bassham talking about Sitka and Sitka’s line of products. We were at Dallas Safari Club, he got trophy expeditions, and we worked together at the convention, he got his boots, I got mine. We were right across the aisle from each other and we get to visit in little flat times. And you got to understand when Ryan, he said, I got to ask you something very important. And immediately the way I answered his questions, I knew that he would have expected a different answer. Because you could tell when I said, yeah, instead of no or heck no, it just, he had all these questions and arguments ready for me to win me over, but he didn’t expect my answer. Well that was the year I had paid about $1300-$1400 out of my pocket to have dry feet for a year with this wader. He asked me a question, said, I got a question for you Ramsey: would you ever pay $900 or $1000 for a pair of waders? And my answer was, hell yeah, if my feet will stay dry. He didn’t expect that. Heck yeah, I’ll pay that kind of money. In fact, I’ll be money ahead on this past year. I’ll be $300 ahead, if it did make a year. Yeah, I want dry feet. When I’m wet, I’m cold, I don’t like being told I’m old. I want to be warm and dry, and I’m tired. I’m tired of this Rocky, disposable. I can’t stand disposable. I want something that lasts and that works and right now I think they own it. And if you can’t afford a pair you don’t want a pair, well by God, go find another pair. There are other pairs out there I will say, there are other brands that work, but I’ll say this, here’s a hint. Fishing companies have it figured out, companies that make fishing waders figured it out years ago. They figured out people that buy fishing waders are hunting cold water. If they’re wet, they’re not going to buy our product. Fishing waders, that’s me or by Sitka. I don’t care what you buy, that’s your business, but at the same time, life’s too short to be wet. Life’s too short to be wet and cold doing something I love to do, like I love to duck hunt. But what works for Ramsey may not work for you. Find what you want, to be happy and anybody out there to judge anybody else what they’re wearing, man, you all in the wrong hobby. Go into the fast show business or something like that, go back to high school. Judging everybody by their tennis shoes? We’re duck hunters. I’m saying we’re all duck hunters. I don’t care what kind of waders they got, what kind of shells they are shooting, what kind of gun they’re shooting. I meet all kinds over the course of the year doing business. I mean all kinds of folks, and end of the day they’re all duck hunters. I don’t care if they’re just getting started or they kill a bunch more than I do a year. Doesn’t matter. They’re duck hunters and they’re fun to be around. Quit judging everybody by what they’re wearing, what they shoot. Now just – that’s just Ramsey’s take on it.
Rocky Leflore: Ramsey, It is about the time I’ve enjoyed it again this week. Be careful on your way to Georgia. Hope you have a lot of fun. Hope you stay dry because it looks like you – and I’m sitting here watching the weather as we record this – it looks like it’s going to be a lot of rain down in South Georgia.
Ramsey Russell: A lot of rain coming. But the thing about it is the tide, right, and really the rain, it’s going to help. We’re going to be out there on the coastal marshes and that rain will make those birds hole right. We’ll push right up to them. I hate to be wet, but it won’t be the first time I’ve been rained on. Like, I said, I ain’t no milk, I ain’t no sugar, I’ll be fine. It’ll be fun. Rocky thanks for having me. I always enjoyed being with you for the week.
Rocky Leflore: All right, thank you again. Want to thank all of you that listened to this edition of The End of The Line podcast power by ducksouth.com.