At the 26:00 mark, Fred Ramsey and Mark Tobin go in-depth with famous duck guide and worldwide waterfowl aficionado Ramsey Russell from getducks.com about his various journeys to different countries to hunt ducks.
Tales from the Greatest Fisherman in the Midwest
Fred Ramsay: Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to another edition of The Midwest Outdoors. Tickled to death to be with you this Saturday, and every Saturday in the studio. The greatest fishermen to walk the face of the earth, Mark Tobin is here in present.
Mark Tobin: I didn’t drop this week.
Fred Ramsay: No, I had scouts out watching you. You will blow the dam at Truman.
Mark Tobin: I was.
Fred Ramsay: I heard of the whole report and people were watching you from far with binoculars and they were impressed that you really stacked them up. Is that true?
Mark Tobin: It’s true. Yeah, Good. Unfortunately, it’s no secret. And I didn’t go, there’s a lot of people in the slack water area. They’re dumping a lot of water out of treatment right now. The slack water area is a very popular area right now and you can have it. Yesterday morning at 9:30 in the morning there was 55 boats there and that was at 9:30 in the morning. There’s probably going to be 150 out there today and there’s just too many people down there. A lot of people are spider rigging and people are getting pissed off because you get too close to their boat and there’s a lot of yelling going on, to me that’s just no fun. You are going to catch fish. But I would rather go somewhere else where there’s not anybody or very few people and catch less fish and I’ll be a lot happier.
Fred Ramsay: Well, here’s a report I got on you. There was a guy in a boat watching, him and his wife were watching and he said we were all right with Mark being there, they put on his white robe and walked across the top of the water. Was there any validity to this?
Mark Tobin: No, it was not me.
Fred Ramsay: Did you part the water at all or anything to see where the fish were?
Mark Tobin: We lowered the level a little bit, but –
Fred Ramsay: So you kept peeing over the side.
Mark Tobin: That was not me. No, in fact I had a lady in the boat with me.
Fred Ramsay: And?
Mark Tobin: Well, so I didn’t pee over the side. But it was fun. This was the former biologist for Lake of the Ozarks, Kevin Richard and his wife Donna. He sent Donna fishing with me, he stayed home. They from a week and a half in New York with their grandkids and he was tired. He writes for Muskie mag and he just felt like he had too much to get caught up on to go out fishing. So he sent Donna and so Donna and I went fishing, and we just had a ball. She caught a lot of fish, caught a lot of crappie and a lot of white bass. I thought that she was – according to Kevin – she wanted to catch white bass, so that’s what I was doing. I figured our best chance to catch white bass would be down below the dam. She got there and she had her crappie rod and all she cared about doing was crappie fishing.
Fred Ramsay: Like you.
Mark Tobin: Yeah. That’s the only reason I was up there below the dam. But it turned out it was really good because we got a lot of white bass that we caught a lot of crappie. We were fishing deeper, and I’m fishing 10 to 12ft deep, and anywhere where there’s a cove or a current break, a little pocket along the bluff or whatever, where there’s a current break, those fish are lined up inside those current breaks. We were catching them again, 10 to 12ft deep was the magic number and we would just vertical dig. Didn’t even have to cast and you didn’t know if you’re going to catch a crappie or white bass.
A lot of people were getting up on the coast and fishing. In the Lake of the Ozarks, the fish, they are starting to spawn. I had a couple of crappie that were oozing eggs already. A lot different upon Truman and they’re not up on the banks like that yet. The guys that are fishing the banks are having a pretty hard time. But then I was talking to Richard Bowing this morning, our guide extraordinaire on Truman, and he went up on the lake yesterday and he’s fishing in the middle of these coves and creeks 14ft down, 14ft water and they hammered them. They’re catching a lot of them, but he watched the guys up on the bank, they’re not getting a bite. So, they’re still staged out a little bit. The lake is still a little high, they’re dumping water and the fish haven’t moved up on the bank yet on Truman but we had that full moon last night. I’m telling you what, if you want to get away from the crowds, go fishing at night with a bright moon like that. A lot of spawning activity occurs during a full moon. So, to heck with us during the day. At least below the dam, there’s just so many people down there.
Fred Ramsay: You know the next question I’m going to ask you, don’t you?
Mark Tobin: No.
Walleye and Spawning Habits
Fred Ramsay: Any walleye?
Mark Tobin: No walleye. I did hear from Richard that there are still a few stragglers being caught here and there. But the spawn is over and they are recuperating and within the next couple of weeks, 2-3 weeks they’ll start biting again. That’s the best time of the year in my opinion to catch walleye, that’s after they’ve spawned. They go on a feeding rampage and they are a lot more predictable, and they’re very aggressive. To me that’s the best time of year to catch them. So, that’s something to look forward to in the next 2 or 3 weeks.
Fred Ramsay: And then move out on the flats. Is that where you would go?
Mark Tobin: Yeah, main lake flats. I mean, they’ll find up to as shallow as 4-5ft but as deep as up to 20ft. So, trolling crank baits is a very popular way to catch him at that time. But for some reason in the Kansas lakes, they’re starting to wake up, but they are a couple of weeks behind.
Fred Ramsay: It’s cold.
Mark Tobin: Yeah, Right.
Fred Ramsay: 39 , I left St. Joe this morning.
Mark Tobin: A couple of weeks behind though, the Missouri lakes. But it’s good everywhere. Most every lake where they catch a lot of fish are on the banks and that’s just a wonderful time. I’m hearing reports of a lot of mushrooms getting found.
Fred Ramsay: Yes, sacks and sacks of them.
Mark Tobin: I hate that when I don’t have them.
Fred Ramsay: Yeah. Me too. Crappie filet and mushrooms should go down good, don’t they?
Mark Tobin: If you had a last meal would that be a mushroom?
Fred Ramsay: A lot of people on Death Row. That’s what they want, morales and crappie.
Mark Tobin: That’d have to be on my menu. I didn’t think I would have a hard time picking one thing, but that would be it right there.
Fred Ramsay: Well, interesting time, end of the spring.
Mark Tobin: Oh gosh, isn’t that a great time to be us. And this year we’re having some spring. Last 2 years it just went from winter –
Fred Ramsay: Winter to summer.
Mark Tobin: And a couple of days of spring and then summer. So this has just been a very enjoyable spring and everything that’s blooming and is blooming really good and it’s pretty.
Fred Ramsay: Yeah.
Mark Tobin: Hell yeah.
Midwest Turkey Hunting Tales
They are gobbling a little bit earlier than the norm, seems to me like, but be very careful out there.
Fred Ramsay: We ran out after the wild and sometimes invasive wild turkey.
Mark Tobin: I saw that you –
Fred Ramsay: It’s such a nice picture of me and my boy, we doubled up birds coming in and got 2 gobblers out of the deal, but I’m hearing a lot of Jakes in the woods and that’s a very good sign for next year. There’s been an awful lot of birds around. My good friend Kelly Kowalski, he shot one at 5 yards with the bow and arrow. He’s out there listening right now and he’s out there waiting for him to start – can’t hunt legally until Monday. Which is kind of bizarre to me. Most states you can harvest two birds, they don’t care if you’re shooting both same day or Monday, Tuesday or whatever. But Missouri is different, you shoot 1 on Monday, you got to wait until next Monday.
Mark Tobin: What in the world?
Fred Ramsay: I don’t know, it’s just part of the deal.
Mark Tobin: That makes no sense.
Fred Ramsay: But I have kind of kept me here on the ground. I have not heard of a shooting or hunting accident yet.
Mark Tobin: No, I haven’t either.
Fred Ramsay: So, I’m tickled to death on the deal. I did get a lot of feedback, we talked last week in regards to using this fan, that the guys are hunting with a turkey fan. They put them up and they crawl up on the bird and all that stuff. The stupidest thing, I thought it would become outlawed. But what the hell, I have got a good friend that manufactures those. You muzzle, put a target on your back at the same time on the deal. Maybe there has been an incident, but I’m not aware of it. Since it’s not as greened up as usual, been colder at night, and I think you get visibility a little bit farther away, so you can identify the target a little bit better and that kind of thing. For you guys who are just now getting ready to go, you probably should have been in the woods by now. They are gobbling a little bit earlier than the norm, seems to me like, but be very careful out there. You can only pull the trigger when you see the beard on the front of the wild turkey and always remember that there’s nothing worse. I did an interview with a gentleman who shot and killed a guy. It was the most emotional thing I have ever done in my entire life. I cried, he cried, his family cried and everybody in the room cried and it was pretty dramatic for him. This young fella probably was about 20 years old when he shot and killed a barber of all places, all people. But it can happen to you. Please be careful. More than likely when we’re going to have an accident is getting in and out of the car, crossing the fence, unloading, loading the gun, but please take a little bit of time and take it easy out there. We got 2 weeks left basically and you can still get into them. It’s pockets of birds, some places, shoot plethora of turkeys in some places. It’s just pretty darn tough, Hope County is very tough. Gentry County – went up there opening day. I think I heard 3 different birds. Had to move, had to drive about 80 miles the other way just to get into some birds but it was worth it on the deal. But it’s just a weird deal. Take your time, have some fun out there, and enjoy it and be very careful. People do get shot. I guess I got to talk to you about hybrids. Was there any hybrids below the dam?
Catching Hybrids and White Bass on Truman Lake
If you find those current breaks, just a lot of bait fish get in, were out of that current and the game fish will follow soon.
Mark Tobin: Yes, there is a few being caught and the best place to catch them right now, if you are familiar with below the dam in Truman, there is the slack water area, and then where the water that is being released from the dam meets that slack water. There’s a current break right there, right along the edge of that current is where they’re catching hybrids and whites. I guess according to Richard Bowing, he was fishing there yesterday and they just had to leave because they were trying to catch crappie and they could not keep the hybrids and the white bass off of their rods.
Fred Ramsay: Oh no.
Mark Tobin: Isn’t that a heck of a problem?
Fred Ramsay: That’s a terrible problem, terrible. Bluecat, Channel cat, flathead.
Mark Tobin: Not much no. There are few being caught down below the dam and there’s a lot of guys that have jug lines out and they’re catching a few but it’s not on fire right yet. But it should be getting really good.
Fred Ramsay: Getting close.
Mark Tobin: Yeah, right. Now, I have caught a lot off of my dock the last couple of weeks. But mostly channels of smaller blue here and there but I’ll tell you this, it’s just amazing how much of a difference there is between Lake of the Ozarks and Truman though. And it was interesting to me that I was able to catch so many fish 10-12ft deep but then I could go up on the banks over. Now, I have got a little cabin, I’m at the 66 mile marker on Lake of the Ozarks and to come back to my place and catch fish in a foot of water, foot and a half of water –
Fred Ramsay: Makes a lot of difference.
Mark Tobin: It’s like a completely different lake. But when they’re running water like that, it’s just a completely different thing. You can sure use that current to your advantage. If you find those current breaks, just a lot of bait fish get in, were out of that current and the game fish will follow soon. But again, up there by the dam, it’s no secret. If there’s any spot like that, you’ll see 1 or 2 or 3 boats on a spot. And so it makes it kind of hard. But like I said, get out there, that full moon in the next couple of nights is to be a good time to get out there, and beat the crowd and do it at night and you’ll catch just as many at night.
Fred Ramsay: You have got your name on the side of your boat and Midwest Outdoors and all the stuff, should we do that part and get it out of the way?
Mark Tobin: Yeah, no. Now that wouldn’t be a bad idea. I know, right.
Fred Ramsay: I went up to Dr. Smith and went through his facilities.
Mark Tobin: Oh yeah, you told me that you said you were really impressed.
Fred Ramsay: I was impressed. That guy might be the best veterinarian, in the United States of America. His facilities – you would like this – they got a room in there with a TV and a chandelier for your dog if you want to babysit it.
Mark Tobin: Really?
Fred Ramsay: Seriously, I saw it.
Mark Tobin: Seems a little excessive.
Fred Ramsay: Yes, people were kind of excessive. There was a lady brought a dog in there while I was standing there and they were going to do something, doing maintenance or whatever. And it was like emotional parting.
Mark Tobin: Oh my god.
Fred Ramsay: She didn’t want to leave the poor little dog for a little bit on the deal. But we got to go back, turned me through the whole thing. I know he was busy and he’s such a nice guy. My dog, I took my lab up there to have him checked for heartworms and stuff, immediately walked in the door and left a deposit right on the floor. My wife says she’s never been so embarrassed in my entire life. I said it’s another lab and that’s the way they are. I got a lab back there, he has a scan where you go inside the tube. You know where the X-ray or whatever they call those things? $750,000 worth. Dang, and the place and the staff is so polite and nice and professional. I was so impressed.
Mark Tobin: Where is this at?
Fred Ramsay: You would ask. It’s up by Riverside.
Mark Tobin: Oh, that’s right. What’s the name of it?
Fred Ramsay: Animal-
Mark Tobin: I hate to hit you with these hard questions.
Fred Ramsay: I was just looking for his card because I forgot. But there’s nobody like him. I mean, the facilities have been fantastic. Would you like to take your Beagle up there and put him in the chandelier with the TV on?
Mark Tobin: I don’t know that the chandelier is really necessary but –
Fred Ramsay: I don’t know.
Mark Tobin: If there was a squirrel there, the dog would be happy.
Fred Ramsay: It was very impressive. We got to get him back on.
Mark Tobin: Oh yeah, he is great guest.
Fred Ramsay: Now, that I know more about the facilities. It’s something.
Mark Tobin: He knows his craft.
Fred Ramsay: Unbelievable. And got 40 people on staff.
Mark Tobin: Oh my gosh.
Fred Ramsay: That’s how big it is. It’s an amazing facility, unbelievable. Hey, we are brought to you by my favorite sponsor. Well, I don’t know if he’s my favorite but I sure like the guy an awful lot, that’s Highway Trailer. My goodness, what a good guy. Terry Lee. I can’t say enough good things about this human. Shook his hand, felt like I met him 20 years ago. For you guys that are looking for a trailer that goes behind a rig for an 18 wheeler, this is the store, they got them on sale. Also if you need maintenance on them, which they seem like they are always broke, all the time. If your tail lights are out, if your brakes are not working, or your leaf springs are bad, there’s no finer people. They take it very professionally and they know that time is money. So when you come in there, they drop what you’re doing. There’s 10 big garages. There’s no facilities that are any better than these guys and they care about you as a customer as Highway Trailer sales. My good friend Terry Lee can’t say enough good things about this guy and that whole facility up there is located at 18/50 Southern Road. That’s just West in front of 435. If you have to be looking around for one, this is the guy. Professionalism is the name of the game and they will take care of you. If you have got a bump in your trailer, they will fix it. A bump, you ever have a bump?
Mark Tobin: I have had the bump –
Fred Ramsay: A bump?
Mark Tobin: Yes, they were the bump.
Fred Ramsay: Go by and see Terry Lee tell him that Clueso sent you, Inspector Clueso, Highway Trailer sales. Terry Lee, the finest human to walk upright, 18/5O Southern road Kansas City, Missouri. I don’t think people understand how lucky they are to have these kind of facilities in here in North Kansas City. Great people. You’re listening to the Midwest outdoors, going to take a little break. We’ll be right back with you.
Introducing Scott Bethel, Former American Outdoorsman
Mark Tobin: We got to say good morning to our in studio guest here. He’s unusually quiet. That’s Scott Bethel, he’s the former producer of the American Outdoorsman television show and radio show. Good Morning Scott. Say good morning Scott.
Scott Bethel: Good morning, Scott.
Fred Ramsay: Hey, we are brought to you by King City Lumber Company with another one of my great sponsors. I just love these humans for you guys that have lost everything like most of us have, you need to rebuild, well these are the guys. They will rebuild y your cabin in the woods, your hay barn out back, your loafing shed, whatever you want done, they’re professionals, they do it, and they do it right. First class guys, first class lumber, first class master carpenters about as good humans as you’ll ever see walk the face of the earth. Kingcitylumber.com. Go to their website, you’ll be on there about 20 minutes and if you don’t see what you like, they will help you design and build whatever you want. These are the best when they come to your residence and when they leave, you will be the happiest human other than Mark Tobin. Mark, you smile too much. You ever think about that?
Mark Tobin: It’s because you make me smile.
Fred Ramsay: I understand. Yeah.
Mark Tobin: I mean look at you, how can I look at you and that smile? Fred Ramsay: I never thought of that before. This thought never went through my brain as they say. Kingcitylumber.com, Marty Tunks, great people. The whole family have been doing this for generations now. Give them a call 660-535-4337 but better yet go to kingcitylumber.com and take a look at what they’ve got to offer. It’s absolutely unbelievable. Hey, we got Ramsey Russell.
Mark Tobin: That’s big medicine.
Ramsey Russell – The Pope of Duckaholics – Joins the Conversation
Not only does he have the duck hunting, he’s got the wing shooting, whether you want to shoot white wing ducks or things like that.
Fred Ramsay: It is for a Duckaholics. This is about me, like us calling the Pope. I stumbled into Ramsey Russell – honestly I read about him, knew about him – I’m in Perkins in St. Joe Missouri, having a cup of coffee, and I see 2 guys in camo. Blabby like I am, I go talk to everybody wearing camo. So, I walk across there and said hello to them, “How you doing? Where are you going to?” “Out on the Platte River so I’m going to duck hunt.” So as I walk out the door and I see his truck there and it says getducks.com. And I knew who I was talking to. Then I turned around, went right back and I said, “Man, I got to get you on the radio show. Here’s the deal, I’m out of mallards, I’m out of teal. We’ve eaten them all up. They were down to eating coots. They were at the bottom of the barrel.”
Mark Tobin: Time to go fishing.
Fred Ramsay: Yes, so you’re right, but Duckaholics are a strange group of people.
Mark Tobin: Yes, you are.
Fred Ramsay: Yes we are. May and June all of a sudden the hair starts standing up on the back of your neck. You want to go kill something and fly by. I’m one of the few people left in America that makes a living doing weird things with small animals. I don’t know why I said that but anyway –
Mark Tobin: Rewind that part.
Fred Ramsay: Rewind that part, bleep it out. But it is just weird that I ran into this guy, because I was the biggest fan. I have read everything and knew about him and all this kind of stuff. And here I am having a cup of coffee and Perkins in St. Joe Missouri and there he is. It’s just weird. It’s maybe the planets and the stars lined up on the deal. So, that’s going to be it, if you’ve got a Duckaholics in the family you might want to listen because I think opening day is like next week.
Mark Tobin: Somewhere.
Fred Ramsay: Somewhere. It might be in Argentina, it might be in Australia, it might be wherever.
Mark Tobin: And that’s something. He had some year round.
Fred Ramsay: Yeah. I think if we talked briefly but I think he starts like May 1st. I don’t think he’s got another day off until probably about April next year.
Mark Tobin: That’s a tough job right there.
Fred Ramsay: Not only does he have the duck hunting, he’s got the wing shooting, whether you want to shoot white wing ducks or things like that. We’ll talk to him, we’ll have him on at 6:30. Yeah, who we got next weekend?
Mark Tobin: We have a representative from Garmin. You would have seen me say his name. I don’t remember his name, but we’re going to be talking about the hottest –
Fred Ramsay: Are you getting old?
Mark Tobin Well, heck yeah, we’re going to talk about the hottest electronic going on right now and that’s the live scope, Garmin’s live scope. Did you just see on Facebook somebody showed a picture on the live scope, a guy who was fishing in one of the Kansas lakes and came across an image of a car, a vehicle, it was a van and you can see it clear as day. You can see the windows on it, the wheels and they sent some divers down there and they recovered it. It was a van that was reported stolen last year. I mean that live scope, it’s just amazing. It’s a live video is what you see. You see the fish swimming, you can see your lure going down to the fish, you can see the fish come up and hit your line. So, we’re going to talk about that and whatever else is new and exciting with Garmin. So, we’re really looking forward to that.
Fred Ramsay: Based here in Kansas City?
Mark Tobin: Yep.
Fred Ramsay: Is he going to be in the studio?
Mark Tobin: He’s out of town.
Fred Ramsay: Oh, I wish you would come in sometime.
Mark Tobin: Yeah, I know. Well, we will get him in.
Fred Ramsay: That would be good.
Are Fishing Kayaks Getting Popular?
But anyway, you can get these kayaks on these small city and county lakes and it just opens up a whole new world of fishing opportunities for you.
Mark Tobin: But another thing, if you don’t have the fishing fever right now, you just are not going to get it. And one thing that you might consider, have you seen these Jackson kayaks, fishing kayaks?
Fred Ramsay: I got a story about it. Go ahead.
Mark Tobin: Well, Joe Falco Sports Outfitter Marine, they’ve got these fishing kayaks and they’re just unbelievable. A lot of these things you can pedal so that leaves your hands free to do your fishing. But the thing is about these kayaks and these are starting to get really popular. I saw some down in the slack water area, down there below Truman.
Fred Ramsay: Really?
Mark Tobin: The thing is, there’s a lot of city and county lakes here in Kansas and Missouri that you can’t put a big boat on. But there’s lots of fish in there and we have talked before about the bluegill that are available in some of these lakes.
Fred Ramsay: Hybrids?
Mark Tobin: Oh my God, as far as fighting, you can’t beat them.
Fred Ramsay: As far as eating you can’t beat them.
Mark Tobin: They are the best. In my opinion, that’s the best eating fish there is, hybrid bluegill. But anyway, you can get these kayaks on these small city and county lakes and it just opens up a whole new world of fishing opportunities for you. So get out there and check out those kayaks and we’re going to have Joe on in the next couple of weeks. I think it’s in May. He’s got a big tournament going on a kayak tournament. So, we’re going to get the information on that. But go check those out man.
Fred Ramsay: Being the Duckaholic I am, I saw the guys on Bob Brown with kayaks with Jackson Kayak.
Mark Tobin: Is that right?
Fred Ramsay: One easy to hide, easy to maneuver. They pile a big sack of decoys up on the front of it and away they go. It was just amazing. Now, it was a jack, there were 3 kayaks laying on after the flood on the levee system down there. The Jackson kayak is gone and you see the mud tracks where they walk. It was in the middle of night or the owner got it back. But boy, I thought, darn there’s 2 other ones there, they didn’t go back and get those, but they got the Jack Kayak. And it looked to me like it was almost brand new. I would be ashamed to buy one and have helped take it away on the deal. Boy, and Dick, my brother, Dick guides down the white river. It’s the rage down there, the kayak on the trout. You can find places, there’s little holes where you can stop and fish, and they would get into them, get out of them and all that kind of stuff. Like they’ve got a motorized one now.
Mark Tobin: Yeah, they do. In fact, these ones that have the pedals that’s got like a trolling motor that can replace the pedals.
Fred Ramsay: Wow, that’s my kind of deal.
Mark Tobin: You got that.
Fred Ramsay: Peddling stuff would get old real quick. Well, I’ll tell you what, I’m fired up this morning. I’ve really been wanting to do this interview. We’re going to have Ramsey Russell on and what a great human. And I think if you’re a Duckaholic, if you’ve got family members that maybe want to get away someplace unique, maybe go to Russia and hunt ducks, this is the show. Call him, get him out of bed. That’s why I had them play that music.
Mark Tobin: Wake up.
Fred Ramsay: So, wake up at 6:15 AM. So anyway, you’re listening to the Midwest Outdoors. We’re going to take a little bit of a break, we’ll be right back with you.
Fred Ramsay: Welcome back Ladies and gentlemen, you’re listening to the Midwest Outdoors by the magic of the telephone. I have been really looking forward to this interview all week. One of my favorite humans. I’m a big fan of this gentleman: Ramsey Russell. Ramsay, how are you doing this morning?
Ramsey Russell: I’m good this morning. How are you all?
Fred Ramsay: Doing just great. Are you any relation to me, you think of that name Ramsey?
Ramsey Russell: No, I don’t think there’s any relationship. You got an A in your last name, you got A in Ramsay and I have got an E Ramsey.
Fred Ramsay: Yeah, I think we’re the same clan.
Mark Tobin: Well that is his first name also.
Fred Ramsay: All right, well don’t confuse the fact. What’s the matter with you? That’s my co-host. Don’t pay attention to him. He’s just here.
Mark Tobin: Getducks.com.
Fred Ramsay: Unbelievable.
Ramsey Russell: That’s us.
The Start of Get Ducks
Every single morning you get up, brush your teeth, you can think to yourself, it’s duck season somewhere today on earth. And it is.
Fred Ramsay: Tell us what is that? Getducks.com.
Ramsey Russell: We’re a travel service. We are 17 years now. We’ve been traveling all over the world. It started humbly enough in Alberta. An outfitter asked me to start bringing a few guests up there to hunt with him. I was still a federal government employee and that’s how it started. Never dreamed it would get out of hand and we would end up on 6 continents chasing ducks.
Mark Tobin: 6 continents. How did that happen?
Ramsey Russell: One hunt at a time. In the age of the internet, anybody can find anything on the internet. I mean just try it. You can find anything in the world you want to find. What you find out, though is ducks migrate, a lot of different species around the world to get into that. So we hunters end up wanting to kind of migrate and anybody that traveled to ducks realized that even though you can find anything on the internet, some people can be anything on the internet.
Mark Tobin: So true.
Ramsey Russell: It’s just not quite the hunt you want. So people started relying on us or asking us to find different hunts and that’s kind of how it evolved. As a duck hunter, I started off just wanting to really just increase my opportunities to duck hunt and that’s how I ended up going to Canada. I just wanted to go to Canada and get an early shot at them and see what that was all about. I just realized one day that it’s duck season somewhere. Every single morning you get up, brush your teeth, you can think to yourself, it’s duck season somewhere today on earth. And it is.
Fred Ramsay: It really is. I can believe. I got a lot of dumb questions, I’m notorious for dumb questions but something really sticks out in your mind are some of the most favorite places to go right now.
Where in the World is the Best Duck Hunting?
Just how all of us duck hunters worldwide, no matter what language we speak, or what we eat, or the God we worship, at the end of the day, we’re just duck hunters.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah, it really does now, I’m going to tell you, Argentina and Mexico. Those are our two big hunts. I mean that consumes a lot of our time with clients. We sell out lodges down in Argentina, we sell out lodges down in Mexico. It’s just a good fun trigger-pulling vacation. Especially for a duck hunter coming out of this last duck season. It’s fun to go somewhere and just shoot a bunch of ducks. Right now, it’s one of my favorite locations and understand, I love the duck hunt. I like the sport of calling and figuring the ducks out, taking the fundamentals of hunting just like a daddy teaches his little boy the fundamentals of baseball. It doesn’t matter how far up in the big leagues you get, it really kind of all balls down to the fundamentals. I really like that fundamental element of duck hunting. But I like seeing new places. I like unexplored, uncharted types. A few years ago we found an area called Azerbaijan and I was looking in that part of the world, really kind of up in Russia for the Volga River Delta. A lot of Eurasian species coming through there when they come through Russia, it’s kind of like a flyway state. It’s kind of like they’re coming through the Dakotas in our part of the world and their pin-feathered and it’s very early and I just one day got to wondering “Where the heck does the Volga River go?” Well, it goes into the Caspian Sea. I started doing my research and started digging around and one time somebody asked me, “How do you find all these hunts?” The truth of the matter is, guys, a lot of these hunts find me through the phone call or email. I don’t know how people will find us. I posted a picture – here’s an example that the internet is an amazing place. I posted a picture on Instagram the other day of myself down in Argentina and I was telling a story because we’re doing a video series. Every 2 months we turn out these little short stories, and a couple of days ago we just aired an Argentina story I’m doing a lead in. I posted a picture on the internet and in 8 minutes after I posted that picture, somebody from Libya sent the picture to an outfitter in Argentina, one of my partners who doesn’t speak English, who sent it to my interpreter in Argentina, who sent it back to me. So we just boomerang around the world.
Mark Tobin: What in the world?!
Ramsey Russell: This picture I have posted.
Mark Tobin: That is insane.
Ramsey Russell: Very small world. But that’s kind of how we ended up in this country called Azerbaijan. It’s an amazing country. I mean, it goes. We’re hunting literally 10, 12 miles from the Iranian border on a massive wetland. Must be 100,000 acres at average pool. It’s ephemeral wetland, so it dries up. It’s got a lot of moist soils, got some deep waters, it’s got some little quiet backwater surrounded by grass area, little potholes. We shoot a lot of Eurasian green wings, mallards, pintails, gadwalls. Then we get into some real crazy stuff like red crested poachers, common shell ducks and it’s just a very interesting place. You go to somewhere so remote, so different that speaks such a different language and there’s no common barrier. Like if you’re in a country that speaks Spanish, you can kind of wing it. I don’t have to speak Spanish to communicate with my guide. We can figure things out, but you go to Azerbaijan and you step off on these little P row boats, the guy stands up and push poles you. You dare not move too far to the left or right because you’re going to tip the canoe and you’re going just for miles up through the swamp, through the grass. They set up decoys perfectly and they call ducks a lot with their mouths. I bring my own calls and there’s absolutely no common denominator in our language. But as duck hunters, we communicate after a day or 2. You become pretty good friends with this guy. Just like, have we all gone duck hunting together and got to talk stories. You become friends with these people. I so enjoy that. Just how all of us duck hunters worldwide, no matter what language we speak, or what we eat, or the God we worship, at the end of the day, we’re just duck hunters. I have told this story to an editor one time in a magazine and he ended up quoting it and putting it in his little editor notes there up in the front of the catalog. I told him you could put a Pakistani feudal lord, a redneck from Mississippi, an NBA player, and a guy that works at Firestone all together in a duck blind, put any 4 people in the world in a duck blind. In that moment while that duck hunts going on, we’re all just duck hunters, nothing else matters. That to me is, it’s just very interesting. I really enjoy the people component of duck hunting.
Mark Tobin: This is Ramsey Russell from Getducks.com. What time of year do you fish there Ramsey?
Fred Ramsay: Fish?
Mark Tobin: I’m sorry hunt there. You know what I got on my mind.
Fred Ramsay: Yeah, I am getting your mind.
Ramsey Russell: We should be catching brim at camp site right now. We went to a crawfish boil last night, we’re talking about how we have got a pond with some big old bluegills in it. We should be frying brim-full of it.
Mark Tobin: Nothing better than that.
Ramsey Russell: We think it’s because we’re getting so much rain, we’re getting real big rainstorms once or twice or 3 or 4 times a week. It just won’t quit raining. We think it’s got the fish off right now. Either water is a little too deep or probably just a little too cool.
Mark Tobin: You’re right, yeah.
Ramsey Russell: Start picking up right now.
All About King Eiders
The king eider is the cat daddy king of all.
Fred Ramsay: One of the guys asked me, he says, “Ask him about king eiders.”
Ramsey Russell: Absolutely. The king eider, there’s a lot of people in the world or a lot of people in America especially that are chasing the North American species. And you travel all over the world to shoot ducks but let me tell you, a man could really travel all over the United States and encounter all the different species. Hunting types, and hunting communities, and hunting cultures, and hunting styles, just right here in the United States. It’s amazing how diverse we are because of our different species. Depending on how you count them, some people say 41, I think that’s a little short when you count subspecies of ducks. You’ve got close to 60 subspecies of ducks and geese right here in North America. The king eider is the cat daddy king of all. It really is. You’ve got to go further, you’ve got to go remote and we’ve looked for these birds and we’ve scouted these birds all over the world now, other continents too. Practically the best place on earth to shoot king eider is on a 40 square mile piece of volcanic rock, 800 miles from Anchorage in the middle of the Bering Sea in January. You may remember that show back in the day, Deadliest Catch? During the season, they always had that episode where they were catching the Opilio crabs and all of a sudden the ice floes were coming in and their boats were turning to ice. They were having to beat the bow to break off the ice off the boat, and pull the traps, and then they would come into this plant and drop off their Opilio crabs. Where that fleet is coming in to sell the snow crabs is where we hunt king eider. It’s a heck of an adventure. I’ll tell you this, you’ve never felt so insignificant relevant to the universe as sitting on a rock looking at 20ft breakers, waiting on the king eider to come by close enough to shoot. No matter how big the boat is, it’s a duck boat on the Bering Sea. Floating and drifting with king eider decoys, waiting to shoot one of those birds. It’s a very incredible species. It’s called the king because he’s the deepest diving duck. Like for example, they come down with that ice floe, they come down with that arctic front that’s pushing the Opilio crabs on the bottom of the ocean. That’s what these birds are doing, they’re diving down and eating small crabs and crustaceans down the bottom. Supposedly they’re the deepest diving duck in the world but they have no affinity for land. They’ll come up on land and have to do their thing but really and truly they’re aquatic birds. They want to be off in the ocean doing their living. They’ve just got to come out long enough to oil themselves a little bit but that’s it. This rock just happens to be, this island just happens to be in a major flight corridor where they’re just kind of coming by, close enough sometimes, ripping those protected water to hunt. But you feel like you’ve gone halfway across the world to get that part of Alaska.
Fred Ramsay: I look at that species, I have never harvested one of course, never been up in that area, but they’re so darn pretty. I mean they’re just the most unique bird I have ever looked at. They had a special on outdoor channels “To Kill a King” was the name of it. And Toni Van Dammar from here in Missouri went up there and I think the Benelli sponsored him. Those guys, I sit there watching them and they’re covered with ice, they’re covered with snow, the waves are hitting them, and they were having a ball. I mean they were just grinning from ear to ear and it had to be almost miserable.
Ramsey Russell: It is the challenge, and it’s a sport, and you’re digging deep to earn. Whereas, we’re shooting mallards in Mississippi, Missouri or Arkansas, whatever we’re hunting, you’re out there in a few 4 to 6 birds. Really and truly when somebody were to walk into my boat and ask about king eider. They say, “I have got every species in North America, but one.” They’re holding up their index finger. “I just want to go up there to get this one bird.” You’re going for the limits for non-residents, but you’re going that far really just to put your hands on that one trophy, one bird. If you’re not a duck hunter, a lot of people think we’re all crazy getting out there and around water and cold weather anyway. Go to Alaska on the Bering Sea where the ambient temperature, because of the Pacific current, might only be 25 to 30-33 degrees. Let me tell you, it is a brutal environment because of the wind and the splash in the water coming in. It’s a very brutal environment and at times it will get much colder or feel much colder than that. I was up there for 8 days one year, myself and a writer, and we were able to get out on the water. That’s where the magic happens is in the boat on the water, when you’re trolling decoys, which means you can’t hunt those birds under motorized power. You’ve got to string the decoys out, you’ve got the wind pushing you and you’re up and down, rocking. You’re stripped and looking a foot off the water for that king to come out of nowhere over those decoys. We were able to get out for half a day. Just one morning. We were able to get out in a day. Everybody in camp was limited.
Mark Tobin: Wow, isn’t that something.
Ramsey Russell: That’s where the magic happens. It’s just the patience and the perseverance of just waiting and being in that humbling environment, and then it all comes together. I think that show did a very good job of capturing it, and it sure made our phones blow up too. We’ve got king eiders for the upcoming season. We only take 40 hunters a year, that hunt has been sold out. It’s been sold out since January. In fact, during Convention in January this year we started booking hunts for 2020 and 2021 for that.
Mark Tobin: That’s unbelievable.
Fred Ramsay: Duck hunters are nuts.
Mark Tobin: Hey, Ramsey –
Ramsey Russell: Duck hunters are crazy and we are dedicated a lot, that’s true.
All About Life’s Short, Get Ducks
Mark Tobin: This is Ramsey Russell Getducks.com. If you want more information on that look at that site. Ramsey, I have a note here, do you have a podcast coming up here in June?
Ramsey Russell: I do not. There’s a podcast that a friend of mine, Rocky Leflore, called the End of the Line Podcast.
Mark Tobin: Right.
Ramsey Russell: I actually meet with him weekly. I have known Rocky a long time just as an acquaintance, or kind of online, and things of that nature. He lives across the state from me. Well, I’ll tell you where he lives, he lives in Oxford Mississippi, which is where Ole’ Miss is and I’m a State graduate. But we still get along. He called me up last year, they knew a little bit about my personal history and he called me up and said, “Ramsey, a lot of people know you because of Getducks.com. They know what you do, they know you travel, they know you shoot these ducks, have a lot of clients. But we would like to tell your personal story, we would like to hear despite what happened to you as a child, how you became Getducks.com.” It’s something, one of those kind of things, like our granddaddy’s generation when they came back from World War 2, no matter what horrors they had seen over in the European or Asian theater, they just came home and forgot about it. They locked it up in a box and just went on with their lives, the world’s greatest generation. I guess maybe that’s how I was raised. I just put my past in the past, and move forward, and tried to ignore it. It ended up being about a 3 part series just on that part, about how I was involved in a home explosion when I was two weeks before my 16th birthday. I was out there playing with some paintbrushes, and flame on the water heater ignited the gasoline fumes. It was just like an internal combustion of carburetor, BAM, it blew up. I died that night and they told my parents your son’s got an 8% chance of living, and he’s going to lose his right arm and both his legs if he makes it. I ended up spending 6 months down in the Galveston Burn Center. I’ll tell you this, while I was there and I was deep down the rabbit hole crazy land or something. It wasn’t because of medication. They wouldn’t give me that kind of stuff because they needed my skin to heal quick, so they could do a skin graft. I was just in a place they were worried about for a long time. Two months I was in that burn unit down in Galveston, the Shriners Burn Unit. I came out and I never will forget sitting there watching the TV in the hospital room and realizing it was opening day of dove season. For the first time that I remember since I was 5 or 6 years old, I wasn’t out in the dove field with my grandfather. I was sitting in a hospital room. I just made a vow, if I ever got out of that place, I’ll never miss another day of opening dove season. Those kind of little promises get you from point A to point B, another point C, and that’s kind of how it all started. I told that story on that podcast, and no matter where in the world I’m sitting every Wednesday or Thursday morning, Rocky calls on the telephone and we record a podcast about somewhere I’m at, or some aspect of duck hunting, or my thoughts or opinions on something, and we end up doing a podcast every week. End of The Line podcast. It’s called Life’s Short, Get Ducks.
Fred Ramsay: Life’s Short, Get Ducks. Sounds cool.
Ramsey Russell: Life’s Short Get Ducks. I have worked with a photographer out of Colorado named Jake Latendresse. A very capable videographer and photographer, and I started taking him around the world with me, not everywhere. I can’t afford him but I try to take these destinations and we’re telling these little 7-8 minute video stories, little short films. For example, the one we just did in Argentina is called “The Path.” We’re in that particular place, one of my favorite places on earth to hunt. One of my singular favorite places on earth to duck hunt is in Argentina. I had been for 17 years in a row, scouting and working, and I don’t just go down there to the same lodge. Every year I go, regroup with my outfitters. I have got four down there and then I meet new outfitters. If I think they’ve got something better, or something I need to look at. I had gone to this place, it was early in our spring, it was mid-April, it had just opened – it’s 6 months opposite season down there. We’re hunting 130 square mile marsh, the second biggest natural wetland in Argentina. You can’t hardly get there from here. It is in Buenos Aires and it’s a 10 hour drive. I don’t mean 9.5 hours with traffic, I mean 10 hours on a good day, the last hours down a dirt road, unless it’s been raining, then you’re locked into four wheel drive spinning the whole way.
Mark Tobin: Good God.
Ramsey Russell: But once you get there, it is unbelievable, wild, pure duck hunting paradise. I realized the first time I hunted it that I wanted my ashes scattered there. We told our story. It’s just the kind of story we tell, about the outfitter I met, how he ended up guiding there and finding that he had a past very similar to mine in terms of a tragic event when he was younger. So we just made a little story out of that. It’s not just about that kind of stuff about duck hunting.
Fred Ramsay: Ramsey, we are out of radio time, we’ve only got a couple more minutes here on the darn thing, but there’s one question I have got to ask you and I have only got about a minute here, but is a mallard shooting as good as I hear in Russia? Are those stories that are not accurate?
Ramsey Russell: No, it’s good. Mallards are throughout the whole Northern Hemisphere and the mallard hunting is good in Europe. It’s good in Russia. One of the most interesting and best mountain hunts I have ever been on was at about 10,000 ft elevation in a massive farming environment in Mongolia.
Fred Ramsay: Mongolia.
Ramsey Russell: Hunting mallard ducks that had never ever seen a decoy or Mojo or heard a duck call.
Fred Ramsay: What’s the limit?
Ramsey Russell: There was no limit.
Fred Ramsay: Tobin’s on his way.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah, it was good. It was a good hunt.
Fred Ramsay: Thank you for getting up. I know your schedule, you’re gone more than you’re home, so we’ll try to hook up with you again, get you back on here real quick. I appreciate you probably more than you’ll ever know.
Mark Tobin: What a delight, if we could just get you to talk though.
Fred Ramsay: Yeah, we’re doing great. Ramsey, thank you.
Mark Tobin: Thank you, so much.
Ramsey Russell: Yes sir.
Mark Tobin: Getducks.com, is that right?
Fred Ramsay: That’s it. Yeah, Getducks.com.
Mark Tobin: Yeah, check out his website.
Fred Ramsay: Tobin it would be good for you to go kill a king eider – you’re tough.
Mark Tobin: I want to get that. Those are really beautiful ducks – I mean rather cool looking.
Fred Ramsay: Oh, it’s unbelievable and that’s the ultimate goal for the waterfowler. Kind of like tarpon on a fly rod. That’s worth it, to add on that thing. Well, that wraps up boy. Yeah, he was a good guest.
Mark Tobin: He was great.
Fred Ramsay: I got to go this week. The next time we see, I hope we see the great outdoors.
Mark Tobin: Happy Easter. Have a great week. So long, everybody.