Rocky Leflore is joined by Ramsey Russell and Bradley Ramsey to discuss change. Both men have spent most of their lives chasing ducks in the Mississippi Delta. What has changed in the Delta to make ducks appear so sparse as compared to “the good ol’ days” of grand dad? What can we do to make our duck hunting better, but not take away from somebody else to do it?
What Skills Do You Need for Turkey Hunting?
But you notice little things about turkey hunters and Forrest is real easy in his movements and you’ve got to be that way in turkey hunting.
Rocky Leflore: Welcome to The End of The Line podcast, I’m Rocky Leflore in Duck South Studios in Oxford, Mississippi. I’m watching the Masters right now as we record this, joining me on the other end of line Ramsey Russell and another Ramsey, Bradley Ramsey. Guys, how are you all?
Ramsey Russell: Doing good, Rocky.
Bradley Ramsey: I’m surviving. At least I’m not watching golf.
Ramsey Russell: Oh God dog, I’m glad I ain’t watching golf. Man, life’s good because I ain’t watching golf.
Bradley Ramsey: Yeah, exactly.
Rocky Leflore: Ramsey, I got to ask you if you’ve talked to Forrest yet?
Ramsey Russell: No, I haven’t talked to him, yet he’s probably driving and thankfully that I know of, he doesn’t text too much when he drives. But how’d your turkey hunt go this morning?
Rocky Leflore: Forrest told me this. He said, listen, the only for sure thing in turkey hunting is when you think you’ve got it for sure, it’ll never happen. We set up on some turkeys – I don’t like hunting turkeys like this – but we set up on some turkeys that are kind of patterned. They’re doing the same thing every single day and this was the perfect day, windy, they love sitting up in the corner of a field. There’s two gobblers. It was the only place that I thought Forrest and I – which is Ramsey’s son for those that don’t know – we could double up and kill two turkeys at once. Anyway, it didn’t work out that way. I said, “Come on, this wind blowing this hard, we’ll find some sitting in the edge of the field because they’re not going to sit in the woods on a windy day. They got to get out in the field because they can’t hear anything in the woods when it’s just windy; they’ve got to get out and be able to see.” Especially with leaves on the trees now it even pushes them out there more. Sure enough we come around the corner and it is a flock sitting in another spot. Now, imagine this in your mind, we’re coming to say these turkeys are at 1 o’clock, you can come in from one side of them and get up on them and come on from the other side. They’re down in the bottom straight in front of us at 1 o’clock and both ways going around, its 45 minutes walking. It’s a long ways. I said, “Forrest,” with small chance, there’s some woods that kind of fell off towards them. I said, “Let’s just walk to the edge of those woods, that point we’ll call to them.” There are three gobblers – usually there’s one boss gobbler, kind of like elk. You got the herd bulls and then you’ve got those satellite bulls that kind of just roam around trying to pick off a cow as she comes off the herd, and that’s the same way with turkeys. Sure enough man, I’ll tell you this and Forrest is going to hear this, but I didn’t think there was any chance. I just kind of leaned back and I said, “Forrest, go to town.” I’m going to tell you something, Forrest is a heck of a hunter, Ramsey. A heck of a hunter. He pulls at his late call, he called twice, he called these turkeys 400 yards across a wide open field to us. Didn’t kill them, they disappeared – we were on the right edge of the point and they disappeared on the left side of it and Forrest kind of eased up after we haven’t seen them and they just kept walking past us. I guess that the wind was blowing so hard that they walked up to us within 20 yards of us, and we didn’t even know it, and they just went the opposite way. It was done. I mean we should have killed them.
Bradley Ramsey: That’s turkey hunt.
Ramsey Russell: Well, that’s turkey hunting. Yeah, that’s just hunting. I’ll tell you this about him calling and doing his turkey hunting thing, that’s something he did not learn from his daddy. That’s just something he poured his heart into and figured out on his own, so I’m proud of him. And that’s good to hear. Well, at least you’ll have some action that sure beats not hearing a turkey or watching turkeys 400 yards away.
Rocky Leflore: I’ll say this, and I’m not saying this just because Forrest is probably going to listen to this and just because you’re on the line, Ramsey, he’s a woodsman. He’s got it. I turkey hunt with a lot of people just because I love going, not the best turkey hunter in the world. Man, I love going and doing it. But you notice little things about turkey hunters and Forrest is real easy in his movements and you’ve got to be that way in turkey hunting. You can’t be herky jerky turkey – Forrest and I we’re talking about this morning – a turkey when they see it’s almost like them looking through a set of binoculars, that’s how they see. Their eyes are set on the sides of their heads of course, but that’s how good and clear and crisp they see, so you got to be slow in your movements, really slow. I was just noticing that about him. He was really careful. So like I said, he’s a woodsman. I give him that, he was taught well.
Ramsey Russell: Well, I ain’t going to let it go to his head, I’ll keep him humble next time I see him.
Rocky Leflore: We’re going back Tuesday, we’re going to kill these suckers man. We’re going get out there in the dark, dark.
Ramsey Russell: You all almost got the shot today, but when he was playing little league baseball, I used to tell him, you know what almost means? Because they’d ‘almost’ win or he’d ‘almost’ hit a home run or he’d ‘almost’ steal bases. And I said, “Well, you know what almost means, don’t you? It means you didn’t.” That reminds me you’re talking about getting so close and not killing it, and I’m not a turkey hunter, but my old buddy Justin Harrison – everybody knows Gator. I told him one time, I said, “I just can’t get mad at those turkey.” He says, “That’s because you hadn’t hunted the right turkey yet, Ramsey. I promise you will ever get on the right turkey, you’ll be mad as a hornet.” And there may be some truth to that. So, I know Forrest was probably mad at that turkey, he didn’t get a shot at it today.
Rocky Leflore: That is a true statement. Leave it to the old Justin to bring out a lot of wisdom. All right, so when we left the podcast last week, I said we were going to bring some good information. Ramsey and I kind of talked in a podcast last week, but we talked about something totally different. Ramsey, usually before we start recording, we’ll talk 30 or 45 minutes and I say, “Yeah, that’s kind of the direction we need to go in today, that’ll be good. That’s what we need to do.” Well, we kind of found a direction last week and then Ramsey said, “A couple of months ago, I was sitting in the Kroger parking lot waiting on Anita to come out of Kroger and I wrote this list.” I said, “What’s on this list, Ramsey?” He said, “Changes.”
Ramsey Russell: Always just changes in general, it keeps going.
Rocky Leflore: Changes in general that have happened in this part of the world. Listen, this isn’t a outside of corn, sitting in a Flyway Federation bang-them-away podcast, this isn’t.
Habitat Quality, Habitat Quantity, Climate and Hunting Pressure = Migratory Changes in the South
We shoot our five snow geese and it really kicked off my idea that its duck season somewhere.
Ramsey Russell: Rocky, we started talking last week and I don’t know how we ended up on that subject about hunting pressure and stuff like it. You hear corn, baby, there ain’t going to be corn this year because the Midwest is flooded. Corn take 120-130 days to get right, they ain’t going to get it this year. The Corn Belt is – what they call it, a bomb cyclone. But corn in the Midwest does play a role in the timing of the migration and the fact that Big Canadas and mallards hold up longer even if it does. I’ve said, I think it’s a lot of different reasons and I’m glad Bradley’s on here too because Bradley knows a lot of this stuff. He’s been hunting long time but I’d say to list of all the changes and all the reasons that may have affected migratory birds coming to the Deep South especially in a warm winter. Boy, Pat Pitt, Bill Cooksey, any of your guests in the past could add items to this list. I’m not saying my list because all you see – somebody could be talking about a new pair of camo crocs on Duck South and it somehow turns to corn in the Midwest. I was just sitting there just kind of minding my own business one day and Anita run in to get something at the grocery. I just started topping the list in notes and it is what I call free streaming. Just everything that popped in my mind and connected that way I’ve got it. I kind of broke it into habitat quality, habitat quantity, hunting pressure and we talked a lot about it last week, climate changes. I’m not saying the word global warming, but for the last several years you can’t deny some fact of climate change. Look what’s going on in Alaska, look what’s going on around the world and breeding trends and how all these factors with land use practices have affected the breeding grounds in the Dakotas up in Canada. Just remember folks, Canada doesn’t have the US Department of Agriculture via commodity prices and controls manipulating how and what where and when they plant. Buddy, it is nothing but the railroads and the farmer and God, up there farming. It’s like farming back in the 1800s. Forrest and I were eating lunch. I tell you what they had – my favorite day at the reservoir up in Shuckers the other day – they had 50 cent oysters three times a year and they got good oysters. Really good. I don’t know how they manage them or where they get them but they got good oysters and I ate about 6 dozen. Forrest got to tell me about a class he had up at State, I don’t know what the class was he was talking about. But they got to talking and he said, did you know that in the last 25 years that half” – based on reef surveys in the ocean, the whole ocean not the Pacific ocean, the Atlantic ocean, the Indian ocean but the whole ocean body of water – that the fish had declined 50%. I’m like, wow. I listened to a lady on – an attractive lady that does a lot of scuba diving around the world – I listened to her on Joe Rogan and she was talking about some of these cultures over in Italy and Greece that their whole culture is fishing. As far as those boats can sail now, that’s just the local fishing they can go, they’ve absolutely depleted the fishery resource. So just in preparation for this trip with this conversation with Bradley, I just looked it up, and I graduated college in 1994, 25 years ago. Again I saw somebody post up the other day, one of the old Duck South members posted up that 50% of atmospheric carbon had created just in the last 25 years. So, I said okay, in the last 25 years half the ocean has been depleted. There’s all this atmospheric carbon now that I don’t know nothing about nothing except just to quote them numbers. But I did go look this up. So, I graduated college 25 years ago, the world population has increased 27%. There’s now 7.7 billion people on mother Earth with a hungry mouth to feed. And the US population has increased 20% since I graduated college. It’s now 328.6 million people just in the continental United States. And you just got to ask yourself, how has that affected? How much more asphalt and concrete? Now, that as a trend for people to start moving to cities but there’s still neighborhoods. You all know this and we’ll talk about this in another podcast, but I’ll just say this and I’m going to shut up and let you all talk for a minute. But for example, my first ever away from Mississippi duck hunt, that really was the hunt that started it all. My path of worldwide travel and all was had always read and some folks call it study hall, some folks call it detention. But I’d always looked through those magazines and seen those pictures of snow goose hunting down the Katy prairie. A friend of a friend type-recommendation, I went down there back in ‘92 or ‘93 and did a snow goose hunt in the fall. The limit was 5 snow geese. Just about every time I went, I went for several years, we could have shot way more than 5, but we shoot our specs. We shoot our five snow geese and it really kicked off my idea that its duck season somewhere. But I wrote a blog, back when blog were a big thing, about this hunt and how times have changed since I started doing that. At the time you would see those snow goose roost down on that prairie, numbers in the fifties to hundreds of thousands of snow geese rolling around. Somebody from Texas, a young man wrote me up and said, “Mr. Russell, I’d love for you and your son to come down snow goose hunt with us.” This was just 3 or 4 or 5 years ago, Forrest was just in high school. He said, “Come down and hunt with us. We got a good hunt, we are old school, we put out the sticks and rags and the mouth call and blow, we don’t use electronic calls and all this and we’ve got a pretty dang good roost.” And I went on down there, the geese rolled off that roof one day and there were 5000 or 6000 geese. I mean, it was a fraction of the number it had been. What I talked about in that blog was how water rights – and Bradley probably knows a lot more about this than me – but the lower Mississippi, Colorado River associate or somebody, the way they manage water, the way they can farm rice down there, and how they farm rice, if they can farm rice, if they can irrigate it has all changed. The most historic fabled goose roost on the Katy prairie years ago is now paved over and it’s one of these mega shopping malls in the Houston community. Not just a little shopping mall, but a mega shopping mall.
Rocky Leflore: That’s a huge change down there.
Changes in Hunting Since the Good Old Days
Look at how people have changed, just the hunting pressure, the amount we hunt, the culture, the religion of duck hunting versus my granddaddy’s days.
Ramsey Russell: My whole point of this tirade is, you know what? My granddaddy and my daddy and uncle when they were little boys hunted with my granddaddy back in the 50s and 60s, the good old days. Times change and why we aren’t killing birds in any given blind that our granddaddy’s or our ancestors killed birds could be for a whole lot more reasons than farming practices in any given state or geography, especially with corn. I’ve got my own thoughts on that. You know what I’m saying? I think it’s for a lot of different reasons. Because humanity’s first priority is to feed itself. Humanity has to eat. And the truth of matter is not everybody eats wild game but even if they did, there wouldn’t be enough wild game to feed folks. But things have changed. You’re sitting in the parking lot about 30-40 minutes one day I just started making a little old list of things of reasons I think have changed the other things. The things that have changed. So, I thought it would be a good discussion.
Bradley Ramsey: I’ve seen the same. This coming year will be 40 seasons for me and I’m fortunate to have my dad’s records going back, and he too went to Katy prairie, and I remember him telling me stories about it and the goose roost down there. Having worked in the oil and gas industry, I’ve traveled to that area a lot. And you’re right, it is changed. It’s not the giant rice prairie that it used to be, it’s a suburb basically now. That’s a huge change. I can remember being in there – I remember seeing the first group of snow geese I ever saw in Mississippi Delta was right outside of Holly Bluff, Mississippi. One farmer up there at the time grew rice and it wasn’t massive geese, it was maybe between 500 and a 1000. This was back in the early 80’s and my dad pointed them out to me because they were unusual for the Mississippi Delta at that time, they didn’t come that far south. That’s a huge change we’ve seen in our lifetime just in our local area. The landscape scale changes that we’ve seen, not only in agriculture but industrialization, and like I said with water rights, farming practices have got to have an impact on what we see in our local area.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah, we started this conversation off, or ended our last discussion, Rocky, talking about hunting pressure. I’ve said this: that duck hunting was going to a blind, it had a people component to it. Every duck hunt, it’s not just shooting the ducks, there’s a people component to it and I love that component of it. But when we talk about hunting pressure, like we wrapped up last week’s conversation, we’re talking about a people component. One thing that I thought of after we talked last time – and I made a note. Look at how people have changed, just the hunting pressure, the amount we hunt, the culture, the religion of duck hunting versus my granddaddy’s days. and I thought of another thing about that, it’s just going to lead into it. I remember listening to one of your podcasts talking about shooting squirrels going back and forth to school and he picked up pop bottles to go buy a few shotgun shells. Back in those days, most folks just loaded a few shells or bought a few shells and went duck hunting. The limit was 3-10 ducks, and you’re shooting lead back in the good old days. During the point system it probably lasted three ducks – how many shells did you really need? I even asked myself, how many times do I go to the duck blind even though I’m just shooting 6 ducks? How many times do I go to a duck blind with less than a full belt, 25? How many guys go to duck blind with 2 or 3 boxes? Because it’s just ammo. And all these 3.5 inch shells we’re shooting day back in the day, we shot two and three quarter inch led Mohawk man, 7.5 that would kill a squirrel and a rabbit heartbeat. But the range was kind of limited. Now, marketing has convinced people that you could knock a duck off the dang moon if you get the lead right, and kill it. So people have changed, but boy, when you start looking at the change of landscape, like what has changed, I don’t know acres, I don’t know quantified. But if you start talking habitat quantity, just the amount of habitat, more people, even though hunters have declined, the remaining hunters are now hunting in a more focused geography than we used be hunting in.
Bradley Ramsey: Ramsey, you mentioned the number of shells but I also say, you know who my father was and he was known – him and his clan were known as some of the most diehard duck hunters in the South Delta of Mississippi. When I looked back through his notes, they went whenever they could, but there was not the whole “I hunted 60 days out of the season.”
Ramsey Russell: That’s exactly right. It wasn’t a religion then.
Bradley Ramsey: They hunted the weekends maybe a long weekend over the holiday somewhere. My father principally hunted Friday but rarely Saturday and Sunday. The expectation now is becoming they only hunt weekends, well just a weekend war. You’re not a duck hunter, you’re not a die hard, but –
Ramsey Russell: You ain’t serious about it.
Bradley Ramsey: That multiplies the pressure. There wasn’t many people that were more die hard about it than my father, Howard Miller, Gerald Braddock, those guys had some of the best duck land in the South Delta. They didn’t try to hunt 60 days because they also knew that they couldn’t sustain that kind of pressure.
Traveling to Hunt Waterfowl & Habitat Changes in the Delta
I wonder what he would say about me jumping on a plane, flying halfway across the world, go shoot ducks or to drive to Canada to go shoot ducks or drive to Oklahoma and burning three tanks of gas to go shoot ducks.
Ramsey Russell: But even if a man does just hunt weekends in Mississippi, chances are he already goes to Canada for a week, he might take his kids out to Kansas, he might freelance in Oklahoma. It’s not just me traveling around the US and burning miles, there’s a lot of folks hunting a lot of different areas, hunting different flyways, hunting different species and cumulatively. Now, we’re chasing snow geese all the way back up into Canada. We’re talking white geese, not the other ones, but how can we do that without disturbing other birds.
Bradley Ramsey: Even back as far as the 2004-2005, when I was running that magazine, we talked about the fact that the number one thing short stopping ducks was steel shot. Because people became mobile hunters. Back in my father’s day, it was rare for them to travel to hunt. They might go for a day or two up to Illinois to try to goose hunt. They might go out – if they travel, they are ready to something different – they go feather hunting in Kansas. But the majority of people you see, at least on social media, even the majority people in my circle, travel every year to duck hunt to get a few extra days in. And I guess that came in with a 60 day season, these birds are shot from the time they get shell off their beat until the time they turned back. So, that pressure has got to have an effect on what we see.
Ramsey Russell: Well, my granddaddy’s era and generation were a lot more practical people. Rocky it’s funny, I listened to Jeff Falls and three times now at least I’ve heard him say that was back when the dollar was a dollar. It’s funny he used to say that because I’m that guy that might be watching them Cowboys show, or something or watching Pablo Escobar series, they start talking money numbers in 1970 and I wonder how much it would be worth in today’s time based. I look at my little inflation calculator and it’s amazing. What I’m saying, back my granddaddy’s day, I just wonder what the man would say. I just wonder what he’d say back with his mindset and those mindsets back in the Depression Era all the way up through the 70’s. I wonder what he would say about me jumping on a plane, flying halfway across the world, go shoot ducks or to drive to Canada to go shoot ducks or drive to Oklahoma and burning three tanks of gas to go shoot ducks. I know what he’d say, “You’re a fool.” He wasn’t that mindset, son. But look, times have changed, the dollar ain’t really a dollar no more. That’s back in the days, you could buy an Orange Crush for five cents, now it’s a $1.50. I mean, everything has changed and the whole mindset has changed and it has increased the amount of pressure on the resource. I really don’t know how they, the biologists and the experts and scientists, decides 360 ducks – 6 ducks, times 60 days – 360 ducks for the state of Mississippi if you hunted every day. Like Fall said yesterday, they probably don’t expect you to really do that, there probably ain’t enough ducks for everybody to go out and do that. Man, when you look at the toll, the cumulative toll on the resource young birds, if you’re going up North to hunt and across the flyways, it is significantly higher today than it was then. At the same time, to transition into another bullet point of what things may have changed, is habitat quantity. And here’s just some bullet points. They just free string, no random order everything else, was fewer acres across the landscape, you’ve got clumped distribution. In the state of Mississippi, Delta Wildlife looked at some data and by their numbers based on the past 10 years, it’s shocking. I was like what? They said there’s actually more duck in the state of Mississippi now than there were 10 years ago, not including last year folks, I’m talking about regular year. But what they’re seeing by the numbers is, it’s a lot more clumped distribution. Parts of this county or that county where there’s a lot more water on the landscape. Other parts of the Delta are not as much water and no particular order here. Consider how Ag economics and the global agricultural economic factor has changed. For example, I can just think of one county or one parish, they call it up in Northeast Louisiana, they pulled 66 pit blinds out two or three years ago because these farmers have realized the economics of it. Hey, when I put water on my fields in the fall for duck hunters, it creates a fragile pan that I’ve got to go into disk the spring, which all things equal delays me. I get my next year’s crop in by 6 to 8 weeks, which means I make less money on the return of that.
Bradley Ramsey: One of my farmers up in – actually just North of where you’re talking about, broke down economics-wise for me and he said it cost him $100 an acre to leave water standing on the field. Not just the cost of pumping it, a $100 an acre, he said, “I can’t lease my pits for that average field 80-100 acres. I’ll never get that money back, I’ll never recoup it.” And he pulled 14 pits 2 years ago.
Ramsey Russell: It’s simple economics. Farmers are the hardest working people, they’ve got very big job to go out and feed the world’s mouth, but its simple economics. We’ve always talked about the commodity value of waterfowl as it affects the future of hunting, there you go. Talking about competing with agriculture commodity, this brings up my other little bullet point somewhere on here. Look at how the commodity value of agriculture affected CRP up in the plains, now down here in the Deep South, CRP means hardwood trees. Up on the prairie pothole read its grasslands, that’s where a lot of birds have been nesting, a lot of our ducks have been nesting when the Dakotas are wet. And the commodity value got corn and things of that nature got so high, they said, you know what? I’m going to buy out of my CRP contract because I can make more money planting agriculture than I can’t let this sit here foul it for 15 or 20 years. You follow what I’m saying? How do we compete with that?
Factors that Affect Current & Future Populations of Waterfowl
I guarantee you it affects how ducks are behaving and where ducks are going, where ducks and geese are eating and doing things.
Bradley Ramsey: And that’s one of the big ones that we have staring down at us right now, is the loss of CRP acreage and the associated dense nesting cover as far as future populations of waterfowl go. We’ve lost a lot of that of that cover.
Ramsey Russell: And take that up to Canada where they don’t have USDA offsets, they’ve just got what I can produce in a good year and get to the depot to get to the elevator on the railroad and that’s how I make my living. Heck yeah. When they hit a drought, they’re going to get further down the slope and they’re going to take in some of those potholes because there’s a few more acres and you can’t blame a man for trying to make a living. These people ain’t retiring rich, they’re making livings. But it just bears to think how things have changed in the last quarter century. I really thought the boy from Delta Waterfowl talking about what one of the factors that affected us last year was a decrease in juvenile birds. Productivity, total number of birds up on the prairie, potholes in Canada less young birds, cumulatively how it affects what we’re seeing down here in the Deep South. The other things about habitat quantity would be – they’ve tiled a lot of fields. Look at the river gauge on Greenville, Mississippi, on Vicksburg, Mississippi and all up and down the Mississippi flyway right now. That’s all got to do with the tiling of field and that big match of watershed that covers 40% of the continental US that lets him get in there and do more agriculture. But on the backside of this, look at the increased channelization, going on up and down the Corps of Engineers and the backwater flooding, it’s changed not only the total drainage – back in Nash Buckingham or even further back, Mark Twain’s day when they talked about the Mississippi river being a big bad gnarly river, it was still a wild river. There was near the volume coming down, it is right now. It is a big dangerous, deep, massive pipe of water volume coming down through there right now. It’s spreading out in between those levees, the amount of habit. Yeah, there’s still some habitat at times, but not the habitat quality that it was. Look how it is beginning to affect with backwater flooding in the South Delta with flooding all the way up. The main Mississippi corridor right now, how that’s all starting to back up and affect crops and moist-soil quality habitat. You know what, when it floods during duck season, you got 6 or 10 or 15 or 20ft of water sitting on the field, ain’t no ducks feeding, they need inches or feet. It’s cumulative is what I’m pointing out. I’m not saying this is the main reason, I’m saying it’s a reason. We already talked about increased civilization, I talked about water use, talking about Texas water rights and things of that nature. I read a book a client gave me and I can’t quote the title that book it’s like “100 Years of Texas Duck Hunting.” I can’t quote the title or the author because it’s sitting by my bed over at camp right now. That book was talking about – and I had no idea – over on the east side of Galveston Bay, up against the Louisiana line in southeast Texas, what an incredible rice agricultural history used to be there in duck hunting tradition that’s gone forever, folks. Now, how would having tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of acres of rice right down there across the border from Lake Arthur, Lake Charles, how would that affect that part of Louisiana? I guarantee you it affects how ducks are behaving and where ducks are going, where ducks and geese are eating and doing things. And finally, increased sedimentation. You start looking at the way drainage is being done and I’m thinking Deep South, floodplain development. You’ve got cypress breaks and you start going on up the slope, you got good old cotton land, it used to be in cane breaks back in the historic delta and the low lying places are heavy clay and especially in face of agriculture and urbanization, you’ve got sedimentation runoff that’s going to collect in the lowest place. That’s going to be a lot of these cypress breaks, a lot of these low lying areas that we think of as breaks down here in the Deep South. How increased sedimentation affects the vegetation communities, how it affects water quality. Nash Buckingham used to talk about going for around Swan Lake in some of those areas, anybody that has ever hunted up in that lake beaver dam they used to hunt. It’s a big old cypress break, it’s beautiful, it’s gorgeous, you still kill ducks up there. Back in his day, all that understory was all button bush. And it would cover out of the elements out of the wind if they could swim up in and not worry about hawks and eagles eating them. Now it’s primarily cypress. There’s a lot of public lands, cypress break type areas around the state of Mississippi that are the same conditions as cypress sitting there, very little other woody component there, that’s because of sedimentation, all because of sedimentation. When they go and build a dam for a major reservoir, there’s a lot of sediment coming down that waterway that’s setting into these breaks down river. Increased quantity, but also quality.
Bradley Ramsey: It’s hard for people that haven’t hunted these areas and as I said, I have 40 years into it, but I’ve watched breaks that I’ve hunted them all my life changed not only from the woody vegetation perspective, but when you’re dealing with runoff of fertilizers and things like that, the water quality changes, the water clarity changes, your plant based changes. I’ve seen places changed from mallard holes to gadwall holes just because of the food base in there.
Ramsey Russell: The gar hole.
Bradley Ramsey: Yeah, the gar hole. One of the things I tell clients when I’m dealing with habitat is there’s no such thing anymore as a walk away wetland because we have changed the runoff and the landscape so much that you can’t just put water on it and it’s a duck hole. It is an instrument that will sit there and degrade over time. We have changed so much in agriculture, and in civilization, and water runoff, and all of these things and farming practices around these areas used to hold birds. Like I said, we fragmented our habitat so much that you’re putting the same or greater number ducks in a smaller area, which increases pressure. Your overall food base has reduced in our area in the delta because of the change in genetics of crops, so they’re getting harvested earlier, the fields are getting dried or they’re getting leveled off and they’re not holding water and swag and swells anymore. So, you concentrated these birds in the areas where they can be pressured.
Ramsey Russell: There you go. And the last item I’ve got in terms of quantity, I’ve also got this under quality is that Louisiana marsh down there, down river to the lower Mississippi Delta. Bill Cooksey could talk, I bet he could talk for 10 podcasts. All about science and the numbers, and quality, and that is a massive resource. It really doesn’t matter that you’re on the Western side of the state and Venice Delta down here on this side of state, it doesn’t matter that I’m 4.5-5 hours North, hunting the South Delta Mississippi and that’s 5 hours South of them. We don’t know how the tremendous loss of quality and quantity of coastal marsh is affecting the entire flyway. I do know this, I do know that in places I’ve hunted in Mississippi and Arkansas in a normal year, towards the end of the season, you get a major back flux of green-wings and gadwalls and pin tails. If those birds aren’t going down there, they’re holding back up and it’s scary how fragile that resource is that there’s been such a loss of marsh to lay down tidal surge, miles out from this habitat now that a good hard south wind – it doesn’t take a hurricane – it takes just a big saltwater serge coming in to knock out lots of good duck food and duck habitat. For whatever reason they’re also combating a weevil now that is destroying a lot of Roseau cane that is holding what soil there is right now. Again it goes back to the Corps of Engineers, a lot of different practices that they’ve changed the direction of the river, it’s not going through the Atchafalaya Basin but there’s really not what needs to be in place to keep replenishing that soil down there, to let the marsh just hold, let alone expand like it used to. Well, I’ll tell you what back when I was in college, all the hippies talking about saving the rainforest. That’s what I call that Louisiana marsh, but probably the lower Delta is a very, very fragile global resource that really is not on very many people’s attention, it’s really not on many people’s radar. Boy I haven’t even got started with my list right now, Rocky, but just throw all that together and why has things changed in the last 25 years? Why has duck hunting changed in the last 25 years? When you throw that together as a piece of a puzzle, how could it not have changed?
Rocky Leflore: But you got a few more interesting ones that I had on my list.
Green Tree Reservoirs for Ducks & Flooded Timber Hunting
Habitat quality has declined in those green tree reservoirs.
Ramsey Russell: Well, we’ll get into that. I’m just going to free stream habitat quality, no particular area. Maybe this one came up first and foremost because my background is bottomland hardwood civil culturalist, that was my major, that’s what I did for the government starting off. Well, I wrote a lot of scientific presentations and papers and research and things that nature on. But a big hot issue last year had to be around green tree reservoirs and out of state hunters and things that nature. What I’m getting into is, another issue when – and I’m not well read on – it’s only so much a man can read on social media and stuff like that, but it’s a big major issue. Just in the state of Arkansas when they started talking about drying up some of these public green tree reservoirs for a period of time, going in and doing some timber tannins and beginning to let those soils oxidize for a good period of time. The important thing is, it’s way past due to ensure quality beyond my lifetime, beyond my son’s lifetime for future generations, for the ducks and themselves, it’s way past time, but at the same time boy, you get into that human element. I’ll never forget one post, the guy said, “Great, I understand that this needs to be done for habitat, but I need somewhere to raise my kids to hunt right now.” Now, that punches me in the stomach, you know I’m saying? Because heck yeah, we need children out there to have opportunities and places to hunt boy, I mean, acres, you take away and do right. Here’s what’s going on for folks that don’t quite understand, it’s all got to do with soil hydrology and unfortunately I ain’t bragging on this, but I just have to take enough soil class to get a Minor in soils when I was at Mississippi State. It is very important to hardwood civil culture management. And think about this, in an average green tree reservoir on an average hardwood bottom, you’ve got oak trees, but you’ve got good oak trees and bad oak trees when it comes to ducks eating. You got a little Cherry Bark Oak, Water Oak and Willow Oak acorns, you’ve got some great big old gnarly acorns that ducks don’t eat. Deer and bear eat them, ducks don’t eat them. They’re going choke one down if they tried to. Across the spectrum of the floodplain, and we’re talking inches or feet in water difference and clay differences, soil saturation difference, soil hydrology, let’s call it. You got the acorns that have wet feet and you’ve got the Cherry Bark and the Water Oaks and the Willow Oaks, no desirable species, they’ve got relatively dry feet. So, as you go further and deeper down the floodplain, looking at the graph from left to right, you get into more core species. Well, then you’ve also got this whole dynamic of forest management oaks aren’t a climax species, they’re mid-climax. They come in when the light – they come in right behind the Willows and Cottonwoods and let little filtered light in. Then they begin to transition well behind them are bitter pecans and pecan and species, tree species that have no food value really for waterfowl other than the leaf cover, which generates your invertebrate. It’s a scientific fact that after 30-45 days of water sitting on the site, your invertebrate quality goes down. So, if you look at the best duck hunting, flooded timber hunting in Arkansas, for every public land and it ain’t available every year because that river’s got to jump up natural, got to jump up and spread out and then it goes back down. That’s what keeps that green tree reservoir to keep those trees healthy, to ensure that the desirable species replace as those trees die of old age, as they’re logged, as a tornado, ice storms come through. To ensure that Red Oak comes back up in the canopy for a lot of different reasons, you’ve got to pull that water down and mimic Cypress. The Corps of Engineers will not let you build a green tree reservoir and flooded more than one out of three years. And some of the best hunting area I’m aware of natural ebb and flow of river systems, they may not flood for five years. So, you’ve got this healthy forest ecosystem out there for waterfowl. My whole point that whole subject is just to say, that a lot of green tree reservoirs, not only in the state of Arkansas, but also Mississippi and Louisiana quality has declined in the past 25 years because they need to flood it for public use. They need to impound it. There’s been political pressure to do things. There’s been political – boy, you want to talk about a civil war breaking out at the prospect of them taking places that have been hunted for 2 or 3 generations out of rotation and drying them up so they can go in there and do some forest maintenance on them. Habitat quality has declined in those green tree reservoirs. I’m going to throw out – it’s habitat quality again. That south Louisiana marsh, I don’t know how important it is to the entire Mississippi Flyway, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say personally speaking, I have a whole lot of bias going into it. I think it’s very important. It’s like the crown jewel of the Southern part of the flyway is that Louisiana marsh down there. And what has changed since the 1970s in the Mississippi Delta and Arkansas and all this part of the world, I live in zero grade fields. Okay, it’s more water out there if its farmer decided to pump it. But is it quality water? Let’s get into this, let’s get into clean farming practices because most efficient and better farming, higher yields per acre, less weed, higher grade at the elevator, less weed seed, less noxious weed seed, more roundup ready, look at what’s going on with the cultivars of rice, of beans, of any crop we’ve got. Boy, they say that wheat today is causing a lot of human elements, I ain’t going to get into that, I don’t know enough about it but we do know that the genetic structure of wheat to produce more yield is not the wheat that the ancient Romans ate. It’s a whole lot different than what we ate just back in the 70s. The nutritive value maybe has changed. Soybeans, boy, I’ll tell you what, I hunt all over the earth for ducks and I never hunt soybeans unless I’m in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and it’s terrible. These soybeans today rot 30 days in the water, they sprout on the vine after a couple of good heavy rains if they’re left out there. And at best even the good old soybeans of yesteryear, there’s something about that soybean that unless you heat it and break down its chemical structure, there’s relatively little nutritive value. I mean, it’s ideally suited for making dashboards and Chevrolet pickup trucks. It’s like feeding ducks slim fast, but because they really aren’t getting a lot of protein and fat out of it unless it’s been heated and something called tofu. We ain’t feeding ducks tofu, we’re feeding them 3rd, 4th, 5th generation soybeans. Good for farming, good for what the world needs, not too good for ducks. And are more efficient harvest. I mean, how much? I don’t know, I’m not a farmer guy, but I guarantee you, there’s a whole lot more grain being gleaned with these $2 million cultivators and were back in the good old days. I saw somewhere not too long ago, a picture of the first dead gum cotton picker, mechanical cotton picker, and I can’t believe it in my lifetime. It was tiny and it was old school and I can remember seeing them little old things, a little brown and white was sitting out there in the fields and you still see one every now and again sitting on the edge of the field that just died there, and they moved over the edge of field and buried it, so to speak. Clean farming practices where they’ve come up more efficient harvest. You know I’m sitting here thinking of all these snow geese that has to be an impact not only to the food consumption or the food availability, quality availability for ducks out there, but just I mean running the ducks off, you ain’t going to like that. The list goes on and on man. Quality and quantity, what has changed technologically in the last quarter century, since my grandfather was duck hunting is just immense.
Hunting Technology Changes Over the Years
We have more ability now to get to anywhere a duck can be than my starting career or my father’s generation had any vision of.
Bradley Ramsey: Talking to Rocky before this, one of the things that he and I talked about, he didn’t want to give me too much on insight of your list, but one of them I can put on my own was, the technology that we as hunters have access to now that my dad didn’t have, that my grandfather didn’t have and that kind of rolls into an economics perspective of the free credit availability. People say, oh well there’s been marsh boats forever. Well yeah, there has, but everybody didn’t have one. In my father’s day, very few people had amphibious ATV. If you didn’t have something that would swim and go through mud, you didn’t hunt where we hunted, a four wheeler wouldn’t get there. Now, and very few people had those types of machines, people walked hunting. People ran an outboard. The majority of duck hunters now have greater access to a reduced amount of habitat, so pressure again becomes another factor just in how we access the limited habitat we have. We have more ability now to get to anywhere a duck can be than my starting career or my father’s generation had any vision of. I’ve joked on the podcast before about, when we’ve seen these old swaged out in the middle of a cut up bean field, there’d be ducks all in it and we just looked at him and go, well you can’t hunt those because you could not get to them. There was not a machine made that could reliably get you in there and back out in the 1980s. Today with what we have from ATV’s to surface drives, it’s amazing the access we have to a reduced amount of habitat. There again that pressure has got to have an effect on what we see, not only a distribution, but in bird behavior down here.
Ramsey Russell: It’s got to. And I tell you what, I just added something to my list, you just said, you articulated credit availability, how that has changed and what that has given access to the modern hunter credit availability. Anybody can run a credit card and go get that mud boat or take out a little note to go do this or – you’re right man on how it all started changing like that and here’s the deal, it’s not going to stop changing. Do you all know, the World Bird Dog Championships used to be held up in North Mississippi? The World Champion Bird Dog Championships were held up there in North Mississippi not too far out of Memphis. At one time quail hunting was a massive thing in the Deep South, I mean, the state of Mississippi. Back in Nash Buckingham day, which we ain’t talking back in the 1700s, we’re talking about in the 1940s and 50s. It was massive. I can remember my wife’s grandparents lived up in Webster County had 40 acres and they got a little bit more than that, but really, they farmed back in the two mule and a plough days, you know what I’m saying? And me mamaw and papaw they say, well you want to eat some quail tonight for dinner? And they say yeah and they go walk around the property and shoot a few quail for dinner every time they wanted to. It wasn’t clean farming like it is today. It was a lot of broken up habitat. That’s that generation that made America great with a hoe. Not with a $2 jug roundup they made it with a hoe buddy. And I just remember in school because quail was kind of an interest of mine, when I went through the Wildlife program and we had some brilliant quail folks down there when I was going through that I got to know. They talked about how historically the state of Mississippi for example was a longleaf pine grasslands type community because longleaf pine evolves in fire. Both the light and hit where the Indians light it off, it burned everything but that don’t bother long enough time they needed to kind of to regenerate. I heard a guy tell me one time, he’s done a lot of research on this, but he was saying that it would have been nothing back in the day. A guy could gallop through some of the more longleaf pine forest them historic virgin longleaf pine forest, you could ride a full gallop and your biggest worry was stumbling off in a gopher tortoise hole or something. But then as civilization moved into Mississippi the first cut and they began to cut timber as the railroad came through the Delta, they started accessing that Delta and it came through the hills and started accessing pine timber. So you had really, if you look at historically from time Christopher Columbus landed in America to now, you had just this really little short window of time between the time that first cut in Mississippi to industrialized timber. Combined with what was then dirty farming 40 acres here and kind of a lifestyle farming practice, and small farms and non-industrial farms back and then, to where you had this massive boom in bobwhite quail. I know from having worked for you at Department of Agriculture for 15 years there in central Mississippi, that you take Philadelphia, Mississippi up in that area right there, the district conservation told me one time that in his career they had re-farmed 90% of all the agriculture in that county, Neshoba county, 90% have gone back in the trees via USDA call share programs, and throughout the whole state of Mississippi now through reforestation. But when I look back, I’m in a little old camp down in South Delta Wetland Reserve Program, it was very marginal land. My grandfather Russell, who introduced me to hunting, killed his last mallard duck on that property when it was just buckshot farming land. That’s something Rocky, me and Bradley Ramsey have in common. His family used to own that farm.
Bradley Ramsey: My first duck was on that farm.
Habitat Changes and Farming Practices in the Delta
But when you look at the scale of change from South Louisiana all the way up to the breeding grounds that’s happened, it’s got to have an impact on waterfowl distribution, on local hunting and on our own perception.
Ramsey Russell: We’ll now back when he was there, it was milo and soybeans. Now, it’s a 25 acre hardwood plantation. I know from having worked with the federal government, I haven’t seen these numbers in 20 years, but I know we bought that piece of property that just in the state of Mississippi from where that camp is located in the South Delta, there was nearly 300,000 acres of restored habitat. That used to be marginal farmland back in the 60s and 70s that is now 10- to 30- year old hardwood plantations. A lot of buck fine go across the river, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, we’re talking a million acres restored hardwoods that used to be that low lying flood prone, flood heavy habitat back in the 50s, 60s, 70s. So just like the bobwhite quail, it could just be that those good old days back when my granddaddy hunted that farm, it really was a big window of opportunity. I’m going to tell you what, a million acres left of habitat, that’s a slug baby. That’s a lot of less habitat, just to be put back into hardwood trees in my lifetime. It’s been cleared. It’s been farmed and it’s been put back in hardwoods just in my lifetime. And why have things changed in the past 25 years? Why am I farming up in Iowa or corn farming up in Nebraska not have quite the role on amount of ducks we’re seeing as compared to what granddaddy saw? I’m just throwing it out there, it could be for a lot of different reasons.
Bradley Ramsey: Yeah. Ramsey, it’s the places you talk about and the places that are common between us. I hadn’t really thought about the fact that in my lifetime and yours, we saw them go from clear cut timber to farm then back to trees again. The number of acres that I know of just personally in my own small range without traveling the Mississippi Delta that are – I won’t see inalterably changed because it has been changed before – but are so vastly different than the days when people called it the heyday of waterfowl down in the Delta. I mean, you’re right there’s a possibility that we were looking at a Goldilocks moment. They talk about the Goldilocks Zone for planets where life can be sustained where the earth sits. We may have been seeing one of those times when the habitat and the conditions were perfect for us down here for whatever period of time you want to call it. But when you look at the scale of change from South Louisiana all the way up to the breeding grounds that’s happened, it’s got to have an impact on waterfowl distribution, on local hunting and on our own perception. People that have come in and only have the knowledge of the past 10-15 years are going to see things completely differently than somebody who’s seen it for 40 years, 50 years, 60 years or has the access to the knowledge of some of our ancestors to know what it was like here down here in the Delta long before the last 10, 15 years where people have – social media has gotten everybody talking about these things. We talked to people now from all over the United States, whereas in my day before social media it became the thing you talked to your local buck hunters. You didn’t know what was happening somewhere else. So, I think perception is also another large change that we face that just because of communication.
How Do Hunters Make the Changes We Need? Converting Discussion into Action as a Collaborative Group
It’s incumbent on all of us, not only to find the opportunity to take young people hunting but to dig in our pockets.
Ramsey Russell: It is. And I will say this, I do not – I’m vehemently opposed to a group that comes across as divisive and finger pointing and I’m vehemently opposed to it. At the same time, I do believe a lot of the discussions that are going on need to happen. We need to have this discussion collectively, but beyond the discussion we need to act on it. You know what I’m saying? Now, I’m going to say this and I’m just going to throw it out there, who is fixing for helping us with some of the habitat issues that need tackling right now. Who’s taking it upon themselves at all? Tackle that restoration of the lower Delta down there in the coastal marsh, who? National Wildlife Federation? Ducks Unlimited. Who is restoring, who is putting any wintering habitat in perpetual easements to protect them, besides our federal government, who locks them up and says you can’t hunt them. Who’s doing that down here in the Deep South? Ducks Unlimited. And I’m going to tell you, I’m just going to share this with you. Ducks Unlimited, the organization, the banquet, the steak dinners, buying the prints . Ducks Unlimited habitat experts that are satisfying life cycle requirements from the breeding grounds to the wintering grounds. When I was with the federal government, the Ducks Unlimited Southern regional office was putting habitat on the ground. They were the best non-government office, non-GO, best partner I’ve ever seen. They bring knowledge, they bring skill set, they bring interest and they bring all them banquet dollars cost-share to the table to put habitats. To people out there criticizing, “Well that’s just some rich guy’s place.” BS. Buddy, they are putting quality habitat on the ground in the South. They’re leveraging dollars to get the most out of the dollars that are bought on prints or whatever have you else. They’re locking up land or putting land into conservation used for perpetuity under easements. The best way I can put it, it’s kind of like you got the American Postal Service, delivering mail, delivering junk mail in my office for a $5 billion dollar deficit per year. Then you got FedEx making money and doing it right. To me that’s Ducks Unlimited. And I really think that we, that any hunter in America and I’m trying to give Ducks Unlimited credit, because I’ve seen what they do as a biologist on the ground working hand in hand with them for the good of everybody. I love and respect what they do. But I’m talking to hunters, you know what, our $25 stamp, duck stamp and our $150 license, that ain’t enough. It’s incumbent on all of us, not only to find the opportunity to take young people hunting but to dig in our pockets. It’s going to take a whole lot more than $25 stamp, which is going into nesting habitat. It’s going to take a whole lot more than that to fix a lot of problems and to suspend some of the changes that are continuing to go on around us if we want to continue hunting. It’s going to take some sacrifice on everybody’s part. And that’s why I am just so Bradley, I am so vehemently opposed two person or persons as a group that come out with all this divisive rhetoric. I hate them, I despise them. They’re worse than anti-hunters.
Bradley Ramsey: When you hear anyone say, “Well we’ve got enough habitat, we don’t need to focus on that,” I can’t talk to that person. Because I don’t understand how anyone can say that, look at the number of the amount of habitat loss and say, “Well we’ve got plenty of habitat, the habitat is fine”? It’s not a popular opinion but I’ve read a survey recently that among groups of hunters, waterfowlers are the most likely to belong to a conservation organization. 47% of duck hunters belong to one conservation organization or another. That’s not enough in my book. Any duck hunter out there that doesn’t belong to DU or Delta or one of their state or local conservation organization and actively letting their dollars put something back, really needs to rethink where they are. Because your license, you have to buy, your stamp, you have to buy and it does give something back. But we all need to go into our own pockets and help, like you said, at least stem some of the loss, if not replace some of what we’re losing.
Ramsey Russell: If not money, time.
Bradley Ramsey: Yeah, absolutely.
Ramsey Russell: Because most of these National Wildlife refuges, they have refuge groups comprised of local citizens that become active at least vocal that show up to meetings and talk or write your congressman a letter and ask for funding for something important that benefits the waterfowl. I mean, there’s a lot of different ways but become active, you don’t have tons of money, become active in a conservation group.
Bradley Ramsey: Well, I was going to say, I heard the excuse before and I’m not saying everybody has a huge disposable income but a $25 or $30 membership to a conservation organization, that’s a couple of boxes of shells, let’s be real about it. An extra duck, that’s a couple of boxes of shells. It’s not like they’re asking you to spend thousands of dollars. If you can’t say, I’m going to shoot two less shells per hunt and give $30 to a conservation organization, I don’t understand that logic. We have all got to do something and like you said, pointing fingers and pointing blame and trying to find the easy excuse isn’t going to make duck hunting better for anybody.
Ramsey Russell: No. And I always say the world’s a lot bigger than our backyard and duck hunting – especially in North America where we have a continental migration and those waterfowl from the Arctic or prairie Canada all the way down to the gulf coast have lifecycle requirements that must be met. It’s much bigger than our backyard. That’s much bigger than our hunting area, it’s much bigger than our duck blind. And I hear it just in the last 6 months, hunting in Uruguay has been shut down. New Zealand is under attack right now. They’re fighting liberals tooth and nail to keep hunting. If you don’t think that politically, that hunting is hanging by a thread right here in the United States of America, you’ve got a sad reality coming up buddy. I’m telling you, there are entities that want to shut down hunting right now. Now it’s the time that – I don’t care if you’re an Arkansas public land hunter, out of the state of Mississippi, I don’t care who you are – we have got to close the rank and pull together and hang in this thing together. You know what I’m saying? If it’s important to you that your kids and grandkids continue to hunt like you do it right now, we better start building team instead of fractional out of our own self-interest. I’m seeing it all over the world. This thing we do is under attack and it’s struggling to find its economic and political relevance. All this infighting and pointing fingers, it’s got to decrease or we’re all going to sink with the boat, we’re all on the same boat together. You know what I’m saying? I’m not to preach and be like that but I feel very strong about it. I ask myself, what are my kids going to be if – I’ve raised them to be hunters – where are they going to be if hunting doesn’t exist? Where am I going to be if I can’t go out and hunt? I mean, we need this thing. And I believe – not to sound stupid, but I believe wildlife needs us to give them commodity value and to manage them collectively and that they continue to persist beyond just an observation of value, besides just being able to go out to the edge of a pier and look at duck behind the clothes on and say, yeah, there’s a few ducks. Yeah, that’s a gadwall. If we want to enjoy this thing and see skies full of ducks, we’ve got to work together because time, the population ain’t ceasing to grow. Another 25 years, 15 billion people on earth that need feeding.
Shared Conversations on Changes in Hunting, Hunters as Conservations, and More
I’d like to hear other people weigh in on what’s changed and what can be done collectively us working together.
Bradley Ramsey: Well, one of the things that were going out to me once as far as is what we as hunters need to realize on the conservation element is yeah, there are people that aren’t hunters that say they appreciate wildlife, but a birdwatcher looks for rarity, whereas hunters look for abundance. So, people want to appreciate wildlife, they want to see the rarest one. They want to see the unique animal. We as sportsmen want to see an abundance, we want to see the population of wild game that we take from thrive, that’s our goal. That goal cannot be met if we’re fighting against each other.
Ramsey Russell: I mean, we want to build a big bank account and draw from the interest. It’s very rare that we have anti-hunters come into our social media platforms, but we just had one, just a couple of days ago. I think she’s a lady, of course she’s just another anonymous entity out there that comes onto our page and snipes. But my message is, hey, you get the luxury of enjoying all this wildlife because we hunters footing the bill. Through our time and through our money and through our interest in the commodity value and everything else. So either join us – and doesn’t mean you have to go kill them – either join us in it or sit quietly on the sidelines. That’s what I tell anybody, any other little loudmouth on the internet, that has kind of divisive agenda, go back to the sidelines and sit quietly or join us in building something better and making this world a better place. That’s just sounds ugly, but that’s just what my thoughts are. But you’re right, we do want to see an abundance of it.
Rocky Leflore: Guys, what a great show. I don’t think it could have been broken down any better by two people. It was a great conversation.
Bradley Ramsey: Well, I enjoyed it. It’s a topic that’s clearly very dear to my heart, dear to Ramsey’s and anybody that’s in the water fowling and in the outdoor world. I think it’s worth talking about and people may say we’ve heard this stuff before, but it’s worth hearing again until people start listening and paying attention.
Ramsey Russell: Rocky, I’d like to hear other people weigh in on what’s changed and what can be done collectively us working together. I didn’t get all the answers but I’d love to hear some of these other old salts weigh in on this subject because I think it’s very important. Somebody said one time, “If you don’t like the topic, change the discussion.” Well, you know what with all that happened with that group down there, all that hatred and divisive rhetoric coming out of that part of the world, it’s up to us to change the subject.
Rocky Leflore: That’s right.
Ramsey Russell: And you’ve had a lot of very knowledgeable and well-informed and well-traveled and experienced people on this podcast already. I guarantee you they could take any list that was put together and add to it and give in depth. So, I think it’s a topic we need to keep up or you’ll need to keep up.
Rocky Leflore: Well, just in 22 years, I had 3 or 4 different groups that hunted from day one to the very end at Mossy Oak Outfitters. And I remember them saying every year that they came in, “Man, this place has changed.” It went from tons of habitat in the mid to late 90s to looking like the surface of the moon right there around Morgan City where I was. That’s a big change in 22 years, 21 years. If you can’t look up and see the changes in your area and you still think that hot cropping is the number one thing that’s changing the migration of waterfowl? But I enjoyed it today guys, thank you again for being here. We want to thank all of you that listened to this edition of The End of The Line podcast powered by ducksouth.com.