Ramsey Russell joins me from Parris Island, South Carolina. We talk about Duncan’s graduation from US Marine Corps Basics Training for a few minutes. Then, we visit about old times and gentlemen ways in duck hunting. In the end, Ramsey tells a great story of hunting over live decoys in The Netherlands.
The Lifestyle of a Military Man
When a kid goes off to college, you see him at Christmas, you see him on holidays, see him when he come home for dirty clothes, see him during hunting season but when he’s in the military, you don’t know when you’re going to see him next. And that’s a very humbling experience for a parent.
Rocky Leflore: Welcome to The End of The Line podcast, I’m Rocky Leflore sitting in the Duck South Studios with you today on the other end of the line, all the way out in South Carolina. Double R too, Mr. Ramsey Russell. Ramsey, so tell me what is being on bases like?
Ramsey Russell: Well, I’m going to tell you Rocky, going to pick up Duncan, he graduates tomorrow DVIDS visitation. First time we ever got to talk to him and everything, really talk to him and visit him in 13 weeks. I’m going to tell you, a day and a half walking around Parris Island Marine Corps base recruit depot is maybe one of the most patriotic things I’ve ever done. I’m telling you, man, to see your son in formation and see hundreds of kids from all over the United States that have committed years of their life, gone through the last 13 weeks, they have committed years of their life to serving their country. Buddy I’m going to tell you what, I have never felt like I bleed red, white and blue like I did today. One of the funny things I’m telling you, I’m a simple guy. Well, the biggest shocker to me was driving onto the base, and there were these nice barracks, and nice buildings, and I don’t know why, but I swear I expected the barracks to be metal Quonset huts like Gomer Pyle. I had no idea they run up and down three flights of stairs in a concrete building, steel stairs, I had no idea. But it has been a heck of an experience.
Rocky Leflore: I got to ask you this – you had a visitation with Duncan today – Duncan’s coming home with you tomorrow but from Duncan leaving till seeing Duncan today, what’s it like? What’s changed in him?
Ramsey Russell: He walks tall. He walks straight. He sounds the same but he speaks with confidence, and he’s soft spoken, and it’s just a seriousness is what I’ve seen. It’s like, you just transformed and grew up, it is a notable change, it has been a very notable change. I tell you as a parent, all of our kids grow up and leave, but kid goes out to go to college, it’s like, he’s not going to be around, your kid’s moving out, pack up all the stuff to take him out of Mississippi State. Two or 3 weeks later he got in 2 or 3 weeks into being adult, he shows back home, raiding his mom’s refrigerator and has two or three weeks’ worth of dirty clothes. Duncan left 13 weeks ago and he’ll be home for 10 days. He gets one day of travel which is Friday, he’ll get home 10 or 11 o’clock Friday night, he’ll stop in Dreamland, Tuscaloosa, said he’s been craving it. He’ll be home for a week that following Monday. He and Forrest and I are going to join several friends over Commander’s Corner; we’re going to duck hunt that weekend Saturday and Sunday for Duncan. He wants to come back Sunday night, spend another night in bed, get his stuff sorted, he’s got to fly back out that Monday. He’ll fly to North Carolina for his job, trying after a period of time, he will then go to Oklahoma to continue training and that’ll be his duty station unless he gets deployed somewhere. We don’t know elsewhere. When a kid goes off to college, you see him at Christmas, you see him on holidays, see him when he come home for dirty clothes, see him during hunting season but when he’s in the military, you don’t know when you’re going to see him next. And that’s a very humbling experience for a parent.
Rocky Leflore: I’m sitting here thinking – you’re saying that you’re thinking about holidays because you just don’t get the holiday off in the military.
Ramsey Russell: No, they don’t get out like college kids. They’re on service call now. What we really don’t know 100% what is what his exact schedule will be. There’s a chance that his recruiter back home will bring him in for a week to do some work, which will give him a few extra days leave time he can earn before he has to transfer off to North Carolina. But it’s different. You don’t know. They’ve got to apply for leave. Depends on what their duty schedule is, a lot of different things on when he can come and go. But he’s happy, and he’s confident, and he’s grown a lot. Now, walking around that base, you see the guys in the sandpit, you see them doing the pushups, or what they call IT. I can’t tell you what it stands for getting in the sandpit and doing push-ups and crunches and a lot of other things till you drop. There was one of his DI’s that put him in the sand pit a lot. He told us at lunch today, he chose that DI to give him his pin, his marine pin. And somebody asked him why? He said, because I owe him my discipline. That’s a pretty profound statement for an 18 year-old. Somebody to realize at 18 years old that he saw something in you, and what I learned watching these guys this morning, for example, we had about two hours wait time and I just couldn’t stand that long. I walked outside of the building, watching out there on the one PT yards going through drills. Look, these kids were laying down, and then when they got called, they jumped up and sprinted out of sight. I couldn’t see him around the building, I don’t know how far they went, could have been 100 yards, could have been a half mile. Next time I saw them, they had a grown man on their back, they were running, they slid him off and grabbed 230 pound ammo cans, started running again. It’s an exercise they’ve got. They’ve got a low crawl, high crawl run with ammo boxes, run with somebody on their back, run period. It wasn’t until I watched that I realized there were three or four lines. There’s 70 people in that platoon, let’s say, 3 or 4 DI’s (drill instructors) and every time somebody was running, that drill instructor was right there with him, which means the recruits run 10 miles a day, DI probably ran 20 or 30. I did not appreciate that with a commitment to leadership and the molding young people like Duncan that assignment like that is. It was very rewarding for me. Very rewarding, very informative visit over here to pick Duncan up.
Rocky Leflore: Is it during boot camp that they try to find your strengths that later on they try to push you into specializing in the military? Is that where they try to find those strengths in you?
Ramsey Russell: It could be Rocky, I would think it is. But the initial phase is to strip them with the word I. That’s the initial phase, to strip them of their individuality. To convert the individual to a cog team, cog on the wheel, and that’s what they really focus on. Strengthen them physically and spiritually and mentally. We watched a little video somewhere along the way today with graphic art, battlefield scenes, and flashes, and things going on. That kind of transformed into just pictures and they said battles aren’t won on the battleground, it’s a mental, it’s one in your head. I think a lot of what Duncan was telling us at lunch, a lot of things he notices now about himself. The way they ate, he said, I can’t slouch. He said, I’m uncomfortable if I slouch. I don’t have a slouch anymore. Well, you all see him sitting straight up at the dinner table. It’s all the little things. How they hold the cooking utensils, how they eat with utensils, how they hold their cups, how they do this, how they do that, it’s all building to make them a finer soldier. I guess that’s where they’ve got their job assignments, and I don’t really know how people get assigned what job, but they’ve got their job assignments. He’ll be doing artillery, is what he’ll be doing. He’ll be doing artillery support, I believe. There’s a commercial I saw the other day watching football, it was just like an army commercial had this little hub of soldiers – he’s a marine not a soldier – but had this hub of soldiers hubbed around a cannon with all the different jobs and hustling, everything else. Tha’st will be what he’s doing on the marine side.
Rocky Leflore: Ramsey, I hope that you all are really careful coming back home tomorrow. I know that Duncan will, you can actually just let out a breath and just relax for a minute. That would be good for him. My dad, if you carried on the conversation with my dad, and you talked about the greatest times of his life, when he was around before he passed, he always goes back to boot camp when he was in the army. Before he went to boot camp he was a very undisciplined broken family and it changed who he was. It made him a man and change him into the successful person that he was later on in life; all those attributes come from that.
Rocky Leflore: I have heard that same story from so many people in the past year since Duncan signed up. I’ve heard that story so many times because I support the military. I believe in the military. I believe in America. I believe in our free market system and everything that I know, we owe our armed forces. As a parent, I didn’t want my son, okay for your son, I didn’t want my son. Call it selfish. I really didn’t want my son going to military just because I don’t trust politicians. I didn’t want my son in harm’s way but Duncan felt it in his heart. He knew that’s what he wanted to do and he did. He plotted his own future, his own course, and he knew he didn’t want to go to college first and then come in. He knew he wanted to enlist and start from the bottom up and do that kind of stuff. There are so many people that I know that I didn’t know were marines or military, it came up in conversation. One day, in Idaho, we met a couple of older gentlemen say in their late 70s and 80s, apparently very prosperous. They had done well in their careers and we were just sitting at the boat ramp, beautiful sunshine, we’re counting ducks, we’re talking and one of them started talking about Vietnam or something and I said, “Yeah my son just joined the Marines,” and this guy who I barely knew, I talked to for 10 minutes, he put his hand on my shoulder. He had started with Caldwell bankers where there was a single office, and just a dozen or fewer people in the office, going all the way through his career and had done very well for himself, and been very successful. He put his hand on my shoulder, and kind of gripped it tight, and he looked at me and he said, “Son, that’s the best decision that young man ever made.” He said, “Habits I developed in boot camp projected me all the way through my career.” And I heard so many stories like that. Ask me now and I say every able bodied person in America ought to go to boot camp when they get out of high school. There’s a lot of countries that do that, I think maybe we should. I think it really changed the fabric of America and of who we are, getting back to making America great again. But I heard so many stories like that. Every Veteran, every single person Samuel and I were talking at Ducks Unlimited in Hinds County. He did some active duty and hearing him talk about his experience was just the same thing I’ve heard over and over again. It’s one of the defining moments of a young man’s life that has gone in the military. I couldn’t be prouder. I’ll tell you, I was so proud this morning watching that formation come up, I was having to fight back tears a little bit, I was so proud. He put his mind to it, he came and he did it, he’s prepared, and he was looking forward to the next several years of his life serving and I couldn’t possibly be prouder.
Rocky Leflore: How long are you initially – you’re in there for 4 years, Ramsey?
Ramsey Russell: I think he’s in for 4 years, some jobs are 5. I think he’s looking at 4 years and we don’t know, he don’t know. He could make a career out of it, we have no idea. But at this point I believe he made a good decision for himself, and he’s done well, and I think it will carry him through a lot of tough spots in life. At this point, I support whatever decision he makes for his future. For 4 years he’s in right now, whether he re-enlists or does something, we don’t know.
Rocky Leflore: Well, I appreciate it. I appreciate him choosing to serve our great country and Duncan, he’s something else, anyway.
Ramsey Russell: The Duncan-ader, it was so hard. When we wrote letters to him, it was so hard not to just rip him and give him a hard time. Like I just wanted to address something to Duncan-ader so bad. But I couldn’t, there’s no telling where that had gone with the DI or anybody else, so I just left it alone. I so bad wanted to write on the outside of the envelope. We were all kidding up at L’Anguille Lounge years ago, some of the members just the teach were calling him Lulu Belle. We teased before he went to boot camp that we were going to perfume up a pink envelope and address it to Lulu Belle Russell, and that probably would have hollered him for a while. But we didn’t, and we behaved, and he was thankful for it.
The Spoonzilla Drawing
It’s going to be a lot of fun just watching this thing continue to evolve.
Rocky Leflore: Well, tomorrow is the big day. I know I tried to bring Duncan home, we’re drawing together jointly – Duck South and Get Ducks – for a Spoonzilla tomorrow. We’ve close to 600 people joined, signed up for that drawing tomorrow. Ramsey is going to be drawing a random number. He’s going to pull up on his phone and if it’s 587 people he’s going to put the number 1 through 587 in the random number generator, and pull it up for us, and tell us who on the list is the winner. So, that is pretty exciting. That thing has caught fire, Ramsey. Look the main marketing has gone nuts. But looking at it from a secondary marketing standpoint, what people personally are just putting out there on their own, it’s nuts.
Ramsey Russell: It’s unbelievable. The number of texts in Instagram and Facebook inboxes I get, or people tag me in their post, or hashtag Spoonzilla, or something to that affect, it’s just nuts. It’s crazy. And there’s not a ton of them, I don’t know how many they got but it wasn’t –
Rocky Leflore: I would say that everybody that did buy one or were able to buy one, they posted a video or a picture of the one that they got.
Ramsey Russell: I bet they did it. It’s going great. To clarify, tomorrow Duncan graduates – the ceremony starts at 10. We feel like we’ll clear out about 11, 11:30. We got a long drive home. We’ll probably get home too late to draw. The first thing Saturday, we’ll get that number drawn and post something up. I’ll make a video of us drawing it. So, I’ll get to mail on Monday to some lucky winner a Spoonzilla. I think, when it’s really going to be fun with a lot of posts, is going to be as hunting seasons start to open and people start posting hunting videos, and then the duck blind, it’s really no telling. Mojo put a video out about it popping up everywhere and I think that’s what’s going to catch on as people start posting their Spoonzilla in lots of different places besides a duck blind. That’s what’s going to be fun is when people get these things and start just posting them up in random places and doing random things. In fact, I told him, maybe we were just about halfway here, and I said, “Snap. I can’t believe I didn’t bring a Spoonzilla post under Marines sign here at Parris Island.” That would’ve been fun to do. It’s going to be a lot of fun just watching this thing continue to evolve. This whole energy of a shoveler decoy. It’s going to be fun. It’s going to be fun to play with.
Rocky Leflore: I want to spend a couple of minutes on something before you got to go. You have to go real quick.
Ramsey Russell: Oh yeah, I’m good. We’re good.
Is the Gentlemen-ness of Duck Hunting Gone?
It’s that simple, it’s not rocket science, we try to make it rocket science, it’s not. It’s all fundamentals.
Rocky Leflore: Okay. I want to spend a couple of minutes on something. Something that’s near and dear to your heart, surprise you with something because we did not talk about this in the pre-production before we started recording this. Look, let me just say this, I’m not trying to make this a left or right issue, moral or immoral issue. Ramsey, I know that the old ways of duck hunting is near and dear to your heart. It’s something that you treat with great respect, in the sense that you honor those that taught you. What you know today about duck hunting, you don’t joke and kid about it, and you kind of see where I’m going with this. There was a post on Duck South that’s celebrating drinking in a duck blind. And I don’t want to get into that part of it or whether right or wrong, blah-blah. It’s not my point to tell anybody what’s right and wrong in life. I think that the point that I try to get across, and I want to see what your opinion on this is. Looking back – every time I think about this, I think about my grandfather and his white shirt, khaki pants, his hip boots, his top hat and old A5 across his shoulder with a stringer full of ducks. His world of duck hunting was so different than what it is today. I know as well as anybody, my grandfather probably took a little nip out of a flask, sitting in the duck bling in those days. It wasn’t something that he ran out, and ran to the local diner there in Chula, Mississippi and celebrated, hey, all I drank in the duck blind today. Just unspoken rules. It’s just something you didn’t talk about, you did, but you didn’t talk about it. These times are just so different. That’s the point that I’m trying to get across. The gentlemen-ness of duck hunting is gone in a lot of ways now.
Ramsey Russell: I don’t know, Rocky. I think maybe it is. I hunt around a lot of hunters in a year. I’m around a lot of duck camps, a lot of hunting camps around the world, and a lot of hunters, and I wouldn’t say it’s much different. Maybe it appears much different because we’re looking at color photo instead of black and white photo. But yeah, I guess sometimes when I look at a change, I’m not talking about drinking habit, I’m talking about just a general change between then and now. I do describe a little bit of the old school because having hunted all over the world, and lots of different kinds of species. Hunting itself of ducks all comes back to fundamentals. It all comes back to fundamentals. Name a species of duck, it all comes back to its fundamentals. Whether you’re hunting over black pieces of lumber, or cork decoys, or phone decoys, or the best fully fuzzed decoys money can buy, still duck hunting boils down to just fundamentals. If you stick to the fundamentals, and you get good at the fundamentals, you kill ducks fundamentally, just boom. It’s that simple, it’s not rocket science, we try to make it rocket science, it’s not. It’s all fundamentals. I do like the simpler elements, I do like a little bit of handicap, I really like to earn my ducks. I’ll tell you the story, we’re going to tell this story with Jake Latendresse, I believe, kind of sort of, when he comes down to Mississippi this year work on this project we’re working on. I was hunting at Willow Break one time. Willow Break is not a great duck club, it’s a good duck club at times, but it’s not a great. I wouldn’t call it the best clubs in the state of Mississippi by a long shot, but it’s a good club solid. But you got to play by the rules. One day I was out hunting, speaking of drinking, I’ve got an old beat up Nissan thermos with a handle on it, it was about 16oz. There are times now I set it up, piping hot, get thermals going good, fill it up with some coffee, and then cap it off with something like Bailey’s Irish Cream. Now for me, that comes after I’ve unloaded my gun, and I’m waiting on so and so to shoot, or waiting on everybody else to shoot or when I’m just done. That’s just me, boom. When I open that lid and I start drinking my Irish Bailey Cream type coffee, I’m done shooting. I don’t shoot well and I don’t think it goes good publicly. I think we hunted whether we want it or not, whether we invited or not, whether we’re apologizing for what we do such as hunting or not. I think we kind of owe it to the public because there are a lot of public hunters and anti-hunters alike that would like to paint us as just a bunch of drunken slobs out there blasting nature. I’m not going to give them any ammo. I’m going to tell you all, heck yeah, I will sit in a duck blind after the morning hunt, while the hunt still going on, and I will drink or sit by the flask. But I don’t carry a flask. I’m either going to just fill up that little old thermos with a hot toddy and I’m done, that’s just me. But anyway, we’re sitting there at that camp and I was duck hunting. It’s one of these great mornings, I knew it was magic. There wasn’t a lot of members to draw against, I’m going to hunt with another member and I knew just where I wanted to go. Northeast wind, cold enough there was skim ice on this little pot hole we chose. We get out and as I’m pushing my sled out, just kind of pushing ice out of the way, just kind of sliding out away as I pushed it, ducks were just falling in. Gadwalls just falling in, and I’m throwing my decoys, just like how I want them, just how I want to hunt that little pothole. I know the tree I want to stand by. I know where I want the guns placed, and I know just how one should set those decoys for that particular pothole. No conditions, I know just how I want that game to play. As I was setting up, there were ducks literally landing 10, 15 yards from me. But I mean landed on the ice, and walking before they notice me, and fly away when I get back to the trees man, you saw them duck. Yeah, of course I did load up, and just like that Rocky, I’m going to say, like 7 or 8 shots and I was done. They were right in my face was a gadwall, beautiful. Hung my gun up and opened up my thermos, took a seat on the mud chair. Thought it was going to go quick but it didn’t, it took him a little bit longer. We had time to visit because once the sun came up, the birds had to go rally in a big circle. They come back every 15, 20 minutes, he’d get a shot or two. Somewhere during that hunt, he said to me, he says, Ramsey, I got a question for you and I don’t want to offend you. Well won’t be the first time I’ve been offended with a question, what is it? He goes, you can hunt anywhere in the world, you got all these friends around the country, you can hunt just probably anywhere you want to and you do, he said, but why do you hunt here? Because this is ain’t easy hunting. Willow Break is not easy hunting. We don’t just walk out to a pit blind, crawl in with the decoys already put out, we sled out our decoys every morning. We got to draw to get to where we’re going to go in the first place. You got just have a quick knowledge of how the ducks are working and adjust. You know what I’m saying? It’s just high stakes poker-type playing. It’s mental, it’s physical, and you just got to – we got a few fancy blinds, I say fancy blinds, we got a few blinds out of water, I should say. But most places we hunt, you’re standing in knee deep to belt deep water, hanging your guns up with a little bit of natural coverage. It’s just how I grew up, it’s how I like it. We have to bring in the platform stands for the dog to climb up out of the water, and I love it. I’m immersed in it. I’ve done it practically my whole life and it’s just how I like to hunt anyway. And he said, you could hunt anywhere you want to, why do you hunt here? Because this is mediocre hunting. I say yeah, my camp is, I wouldn’t call it mediocre hunting, I’d call it honest hunting, and that’s what I explained to him. I said, if I want to go down to Argentina and shoot ducks over bait, I do. If I want to go over here and go to some of these places like Sweden where we’re jump-shooting ducks, and shooting a bunch of them – that’s just shooting not hunting. But to me there’s a supreme amount of satisfaction in earning it – let me put this way – sometimes earning just 3, not 6. You know I’m saying? But you earn them, that’s me. I said, to me, I really like to come here – it’s a hunting camp, so there’s drama at times but it’s my drama. I’ve been a member there for 17 years and it is manageable. It’s not your drama, it’s not that club drama, it’s our drama. Its members are duck hunters, and it’s fine, and we draw cards, and we’re going to go through the night to hunt. You’re not thinking, well I’m going here, I’m going to do that. No, you don’t know until 5:30 in the morning where you’re go. 5:35 and you better have plan A, B, C, D, E, F, G, in mind, how you’re going to hunt in those conditions, and I like that Rocky. When I think about have hunters changed, I’m just going in the long, long overdrawn depth about fundamentals. One thing about hunters changing and I think about kids changing, I think about a lot of stuff changing, Rocky. I don’t want to be one of the guys like my granddaddy who listen to Lawrence Well, yammering at me about listening to that new fan of rock and roll music. People evolve, people change, duck hunters change. People change. I just respectfully don’t think maybe the whole world has changed and there’s no gentleman, because what I see Rocky – and I tell clients all the time because a lot of our hunters say Obregon is a big hunt. That’s one of my number one hunts: Obregon, Mexico. There will be 11 or 12 people in camp and there may be 6-8 of those people especially during the hosted week. They are single hunters, which means that you, and you who didn’t know each other until we showed up here at this lodge are going to hunt together. And sometimes personalities clash and we move them around. But most times – I’ve seen this everywhere in the world that I hunt. I mean 95-99% of the time, duck hunters, me, and 2 strangers, or 3 strangers in a blind, they get together with new people no matter the money and all the different variables, where they come from and how they speak, they’re duck hunters in the moment. They get along, they’re polite. There is the odd individual that tried to kill every freaking duck on every single play, but I would say from that experience with hunting with all these different personalities, and different types around the world, I would say that most times, most people are polite to the point of sometimes not even shooting. In other words, “No, you shoot.” Boom, the duck’s gone, nobody shot.
The Three Types of Hunters on Social Media
The majority of people, you’re right, they’re a silent majority, and you’ve got the loud minority.
Rocky Leflore: All right. Let’s stop it right there. I want to say this, let’s look at it from the perspective of looking at it through social media. Those guys that are going hunt with you, and usually the people you never really see or hear a lot from on social media still follow those weights. All right. There’s three breeds of hunters when it comes to social media: those that don’t say very much. They usually post their kill shots after the seasons over with. There’s those in the middle that are the loudest, and then there’s the lower end of the spectrum, those that are being influenced. They don’t have somebody teaching them the right ways of hunting, and they’re being influenced by these loud talkers. That was the point that I was trying to get across in what I was trying to say. The guys that you’re talking about on that end of the spectrum don’t usually say much, and they’re not going to say much, unless asked for an opinion. Then you’ve got these guys that are in the middle that are quick offer an opinion, trying to be funny. And the guys on the far left don’t even know that they’re trying to be funny and they just follow their lead. Does that make sense?
Ramsey Russell: It could be. That could be happening. The majority is usually silent, that’s why they’re called the silent majority. The majority of people, you’re right, they’re a silent majority, and you’ve got the loud minority. I think I saw that thread you’re talking about. Our camp, for example, our personal camp – and really I dare say any camp I’ve ever been a part of since I was a teenager – you’re welcome to drink, but not when you hunt. Our camp is right there buddy, you better not walk around at noon with a cold beer, somebody going to tell you to just sit at home. And you’re not welcome to evening go hunting that evening if you’ve been drinking beer midday. And if you’re that guy that just drinks a couple of Coors Lights at lunch, and you can’t go hunt at 3:00pm, that sounds a little extreme. But it don’t take one mistake and I’ll bet you’re off. So, I guess if I had to flip a coin – I like to drink man, I mean, boy – I’ve got a nice collection of bottles for evening. I’m not a day drinker but I’ve got a nice collection of bottles in the evening cocktail time, around supper. But if I had to flip a coin, say yes or no? No, don’t do it. I would lean on that side. I hate that you drank a couple of Miller Lights and didn’t get to go hunting three hours later but that’s just the rules, that’s the way out. So, if we got to flip a coin, I’m going to stick with rules. I think they’re are on extreme side.
Rocky Leflore: Let’s go to the second part of your story. Let’s go to the second part that you point that you made that you didn’t even know you made. Number one throughout the history of duck hunting, men have killed ducks and at the end of a hunt, I can think of many ways that they celebrate after a successful hunt. Whether that be a cigar, whether that be a nip of whiskey from a flask, whether it be chewable tobacco. Whatever it may have been, that’s always been a part of duck hunting, but it’s been an unspoken part of duck hunting. You didn’t have social media around 20 years ago to show you with a stringer of duck sipping on your flask, getting to swallow whiskey. Hey, look at me, I’m drinking at the end of the duck hunt. It wasn’t talked about. It was just an understood rule of duck hunting. A gentleman rule. You didn’t go like some high school kids bragging about what you did. You just did it because you were a man celebrating a victory. You defeated wildlife. You made ducks do what they’re not supposed to do.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah. Social media is what’s changed since now and then, boy, you’re not lying.
Who Gets to Influence Future Hunters of the World?
I think I see what you’re saying and I’ve got faith in people, I really do. I’m not a pessimist when it comes to humanity.
Rocky Leflore: So, at the end of the day for me, as a group owner of Duck South, do you allow the loud middle people that probably go to the blind drunk influence the crowd on the left end? Or do you hope that the people to the right side – like the Ramsey Russells of the world, and Justin Martin, and Ryan Bassham (I made that list up),blah-blah, Pat Pits of the world – do you allow them to be the influence on that left side? I would rather you all be the influence to the younger left side.
Ramsey Russell: I think I see what you’re saying and I’ve got faith in people, I really do. I’m not a pessimist when it comes to humanity. I don’t think it’s the end of the world. What I’m saying is, I believe if those two sides you’re describing were perfectly speaking and participating like they do on your podcast and online, I believe most people are going to be influenced positively. And I really think that some behaviors that may be unbecoming, or obnoxious, or however you want to describe it, I believe it’s really going to exacerbate the influence that the more positive quieter voice has. Don’t you?
Rocky Leflore: Oh, I agree.
Ramsey Russell: To me it’s easy to marginalize what a lot of people – I believe everybody hears everything but I believe the influence is probably – the positive influence is always going to be the positive influence. I believe more people, most people are going to bend towards the more positive and gentlemanly – or whatever qualifier you want to call it – influence, which I believe they are, I really do. I think the younger crowd especially, I believe they’re going to go through it because at the end of the day, I believe they kill more ducks, that positive influence, and I think that’s the real numbers. A lot of people you just described, man, that’s a long list of duck killers right there, son. And I don’t mean a little duck, I mean, a lot of ducks. That’s a heavy hitting list of dead duck bodies at the end of the day, and I ain’t saying nobody else ain’t killing that amount of duck, I’m sure a lot of people, but I’m just saying that’s some serious duck hunters. One thing all those boys you’re describing got in common is that year round commitment, and intelligent thought, and that goes into killing ducks the right way, the honorable way.
Rocky Leflore: One thing that I hope to accomplish through Duck South, I’ll shut up after I say this, just to call the bull shit out like I’m talking about, and then to give a voice to those silent majority people. Why have I drug out the Ramsey Russell story podcast series forever? Because Ramsey Russell needs to be heard in the duck hunting world. There’s a lot of wisdom sitting on this podcast right now that otherwise you wouldn’t hear it. You wouldn’t hear a lot of it like you do every week, you’re very lucky, you’re very blessed. Ramsey’s not going to say anything but the numbers show it, why people want to hear it. They want to hear what he has to say and that influence, to me, it’s more important than anything. Because a lot of these people that are getting into duck hunting that are listening to this podcast don’t have a father, or uncle, or whoever to influence them. They jump in the boat, we’re going duck hunting, blah-blah, I don’t know what the rules are. Well, each week they’re getting a dose of the Pat Pitts of the world, the Ramsey Russells of the world, the Justin Martins, the Ryan Bassham. The list goes on and on that tell them in a story-type fashion. This is the right way, this is how I grew up doing it. That’s what I hope at the end of the day that people will say about Duck South and about this podcast.
Live Decoy Spreads in the Netherlands?!
What happens if you drop a bird and she’s got to swim or run past live mallard decoys?
Ramsey Russell: I think, they are Rocky. Man, I tell you what, you all have become an influential format yourselves. I can just remember 10-15 years ago, we were all mostly Mississippi, and this time of year, those from out of state is within driving distance to Mississippi. We’re all crowded around on MS ducks in those old chat room days, and man, it’s the whole world is coming on the Duck South, plus the podcast, and I know that line of your guests influence me. I really enjoy listening to the podcast. The one I don’t listen to is my own. I really enjoy listening to those guys, practically everybody you’ve had on there, I love to listen to because you don’t learn how to be a duck hunter. It’s not like I learned how to be a duck hunter – let me put it this way – it’s like you go to school, you go to college, you get a degree, you learned something. No. During that 4 years, you learned more than you knew but you armed yourself to learn forever. To me, duck hunting is a learning process. I mean, every single new group I hunt with, every new place I go to, every new outfitter I visit, every new country, I learned something and that’s what’s so fabulous about it to me. Right about the time I think I’ve seen and done it all. I’ve shot ducks at 16,000ft, 400ft below sea level, on 5ft waves jumping like James Bond in a speedboat. I’ve shot them by spotlight, I’ve shot them by moonlight, I’ve shot them in pitch black dark. Every time I think I’ve seen and done it all, I go on another hunt, something else happens. And it’s like, wow, this is unbelievable. Speaking of which, did I ever tell you the time we hunted over live mallard decoys. I heard one of your podcasts, I think it was Spencer talking about – not telling people to be quiet and some of the ducks you hear the loudest are the loudest sounding ducks you’ve ever heard. So, we go to Netherlands one day – that is a podcast on another subject that one day I’m going to talk about. Everybody’s got haters, and man, there ain’t nothing that they can hate on me, like the time I went to Netherlands and cross threaded with the anti-hunters. Now that is a story in and of itself. But we’ll go to Netherlands and they can use live mallard decoys over there. And I was looking forward to it. The first time I went was in June and we weren’t duck hunting, because the duck season doesn’t open till August 15th so we went back in October, and he was very proud to pull out his mallard ducks. Now, they don’t work over there as effectively as they would work over here because over there you’ve got a lot of resident mallards at times and they’re real keened into these long ditches, not just big body of water, to these long ditches. You’ve got these resident birds, let’s say, it’s kind of like model ducks down in Louisiana. A model duck lives on that marsh, he knows exactly where he’s going and you sometimes can get them to detour. You can sometimes kind of get where they want to be, but a lot of times, if you’ve ever been down the coast of Louisiana in mid-January, you can blow your lungs out at a pair of model ducks and they’re just tailing death. They’re going exactly where in that marsh they want to go. They know exactly where they’re going. They’re not going to detour a blade of grass to come see you. And sometimes those birds over in Netherlands will be that way. When there’s wild birds, of course they’re going to decoy to the live mallards out there swimming, doing their thing. So anyway, let me tell you the story. We get out one day and there’s a kind of place where two ditches make a T, and we’re going to hunt a little corner of it. We’re going to shoot geese, we’re going to shoot ducks. And my outfitter brings these little chicken cages, and I must say he had 30 or 40 mallards, mostly hens and he’s going to stake them in pairs all over the decoys spread. Well, I’ve got Cooper, so I walk around with her in the dark on a leash, thinking boy, this is going to be interesting. How in the heck is this going? What happens if you drop a bird and she’s got to swim or run past live mallard decoys? I can imagine a million things, and none of them good, about hunting her with live decoys. But the outfitter assured me, he said, no problem, Ramsey, your dog is smart, I can tell, she’ll know the difference. I mean, like just imagine, like you send a dog out to retrieve multiple falling birds and she’s got a line on one, this is over here flinches, boom, she leaves and she goes on that one. I can just imagine the scenarios. So, I’m walking around and he got these sticks and each one’s got its own tether. Actually there’s one stick and two tethers per stick, she got pair of mallard hens, her stick stuck in the ground. I’m just walking around the spread of her own leash and she’s kind of sniffing, and looking, and thinking, and we start hunting. Sure enough, she run right around those mallards, man, boom. She got a mark on a goose, she’d run clear around those mallard just a little bit. Until we dropped the one they wanted to the last geese we shot that day – a big gray lag and she took a line. By then we had 40 birds in the blind. I knew she was going to mess with those duck. That pair of ducks didn’t know it. They saw that dog coming, they took off, pulled the stake up. The last I saw them, they were flying about 3ft apart with a stake in between them, flying. They were gone. I wasn’t going to say anything to the outfitter, and he knew, he goes, “Where are my mallard ducks?” I go, “Man, I last I saw them was about a half mile down that ditch, swimming for their lives. They went and landed over in that ditch.” We went and found them, we drove out there, and found them, and of course stick had gotten caught up in some grass. We walked down and picked them up, and put them back in the cage. But here’s what I’m getting at about those mallard ducks, Rocky, is we would sit there and every duck sounded different. Some of them had 3 notes call, someone had 10 note call. Some of them sounded like the worst novice duck hunter you’ve ever heard. And some of them sounded like the most beautiful, rich beautiful duck you’ve ever heard. But they’re all just calling, it’s kind of like a pack of Beagles. On a regular pack of rabid dogs, one jump, and on a good pack of rabid dog, one jump, and they all bait, boom, they all pack up and they all start barking. That’s the way those mallards are. That’s what I just got as I watched them that morning. One bird would quack, if they’d see a goose, when they see something flying. There were times I know that what caught their eye was a jet coming off at Schiphol airport. And one time I said, you all watch this, I threw my cap like a Frisbee out over them ducks, one of them saw that, they all jumped in for a rally. I just realized Rachel’s right, who am I to criticize a duck? Because some of these duck sound lousy, but that’s how they work. I really don’t know about a hard and fast rule. None of them sound like they were calling on main street stud guard, I can tell you that. They were all just quacking like ducks, at times bringing ducks in.
A Little Wisdom from an Experienced Duck Hunter
You never have it figured out, because right when you’re as good as you’ve ever been at every single facet of duck hunting, a bird with a brain the size of a black-eyed pea just decides he don’t want to come in, or makes up different rules, and that’s what just keeps it great.
Rocky Leflore: After going through all those names of people man and Spencer every time we record one of these episodes of Spencer’s, I don’t know what you all want to record me for. Because I guarantee you at the end of the episode we’re going to look back and say, that was pretty good. That was really good. You’re talking about Spencer giving that call advice, don’t ever talk down to somebody that’s trying to call.
Ramsey Russell: No, don’t do it. And I’m a lousy caller. I can say this for a fact. I can call, but I don’t consider myself a skillful anything in duck hunting. I’m a decent shot. I’m a decent caller. I’m a decent everything, but I’m not good at anything. And again it goes back to the fundamentals. Duck hunting is a very, very fundamental sport and that’s why it’s good for everybody, Rocky. That’s why I really and truly – with a handful of decoys and any call on the shelves and a shot gun and some bullets – any kid can get into it. Anybody can get into it. I mean, there’s places in the world that a 92 year olds, and I don’t mean 92 years young with them guys. Mr. Atlas, pulling a car behind him in a weight lifting, like just a 92 year old guy can get into duck hunting. It’s somewhere for them to go and do, it’s such a fundamental sport. But every aspect of it, decoys, and calling, and camo, and concealment, and shooting all the little facets that make up duck hunting, there’s always room for improvement. You can always strive to be more and more, and that to me is fundamentally why I love our country. You never have it figured out, because right when you’re as good as you’ve ever been at every single facet of duck hunting, a bird with a brain the size of a black-eyed pea just decides he don’t want to come in, or makes up different rules, and that’s what just keeps it great. You have to earn it.
Rocky Leflore: Well, Ramsey, thank you for taking time out of your busy day over in South Carolina as you spend time with family and celebrate Duncan graduating from boot camp. I just appreciate you spending time. What an awesome episode. I know that you get into these and think of yeah, another day of a podcast. Man, some good stuff. I just appreciate you taking the time to do it each week because it’s really good. Have a good influence on a lot of people and I appreciate you talking about this. All these different things on the podcast.
Ramsey Russell: Thanks for having me Rocky. Hey, I got to say this one last thing, speaking of boot camp, somebody on Facebook suggested with every duck that Duncan misses in Arkansas, he needs to give me 10 push-ups. I’m going to try that.
Rocky Leflore: All right, well look, we’re going to plan as you’re listening to this today – we’re going to draw on Saturday morning. Ramsey will be posting the number, I will be posting the name that goes along with that number on Saturday morning for the Spoonzilla. Ramsey will get it mailed out to you on Monday. Ramsey, thank you again. We want to thank all of you that listened to this edition of The End of The Line podcast power by ducksouth.com.