It’s snowing and blowing, temps plummeting North Dakota-style when I wheel into Jeff Pelayo’s driveway during the 2020-2021 North American Waterfowl Tour. North Dakota duck hunting usually conjures mental imagery of mallards and Canadas pouring into dry fields, but I’m meeting Jeff to experience a lesser-seen-side of this cowboy state: diver ducks. Bluebills, canvasbacks, redheads, buffleheads, ring-necked ducks, occasional goldeneyes are Pelayo’s obsession. The way he hunts them harkens a bygone era. I get my first inkling of this after entering his prairie lakeside home. At first glimpse it resembles a waterfowl decoy museum – until I notice that most of his decoys are rigged for action. What are Pelayo’s duck hunting origins? How’d he go from banding Stellar’s eiders in Alaska to owning a collectible waterfowl gallery along Maryland’s Eastern Shore? Why’d he “swear off plastics” in the pursuit of diver ducks, and why do old school methods mean so much to him? Like a bluebill ripping off open water into a protected cove of soaking wood duck decoys, this fascinating episode speaks genuine American Dreaming.
In the final episode of Warren Coco series, Ramsey Russell and Warren Coco shift gears and discuss Louisiana Gulf Coastal restoration. There have been significant habitat changes in Louisiana during time span that this 8-part series took place, not the least of which are the “sinking lands” in the Lower Mississippi River Delta, especially, and parts of the entire Gulf Coast. Disappearing at an estimated rate of a football size field of area per hour, advocacy groups have declared it a Vanishing Paradise. Of what value is this habitat resource to humanity and wildlife? Why is the land sinking, disappearing? What solutions exist for it’s restoration? How does Coco use his understanding of these processes to protect his marsh area near Hackberry? What are government agencies doing – or not doing? Coco will likely be back in the future, but gives us plenty to think about until then.
The 2020 North American Waterfowl Tour continue as Ramsey Russell wheels into Wisconsin during an October snow storm and shares a couple great Wisconsin honker hunts with “TJ Ten Yards.” TJ describes his earliest goose hunting influences, why giant Canada geese are his favorite. TJ came by his nickname the old-fashioned way – he earned it. Like a talkative 9-pack of longnecks sailing towards the spread on locked wings, his proven Canada goose hunting game plan philosophy is worth paying close attention.
Throughout the United States a sub-gauge movement seems underway as more waterfowlers are shouldering 20- and 28-gauge small-bores instead of 12-gauge shotguns. Which is why Ramsey Russell found it so surprising that legendary duck hunter Warren Coco oftentimes shoots the tried-and-true 10-gauge shotgun at ducks. Why did Coco begin shooting a Big Ten? How have shotshells changed since the “good old days?” What are Coco’s thoughts on non-toxic shotshells versus lead? This episode packs a real wallop as these and other topics are discussed.
Years ago, Ramsey stopped by Joe Briscoe’s backyard shop to visit very briefly and buy a couple blue-winged teal calls. The pair swapped stories, shared a quart jar of peach moonshine and pored over Joe’s treasure trove of collectible waterfowl calls. Several hours later, they had become friends. And despite a round of caramel ‘shine the following year, the two have since remained friends. How’d Briscoe get into duck call making and what were his earliest influences? How’d he stumble across the idea for his incredible blue-winged teal call? How’s calling for blue-winged teal different than for other ducks, such as mallards? What are Briscoe’s thoughts on competition calling for mallards versus specklebellies, and on calling for competition versus hunting? This episode is just a laid back yarn between a couple hunting buddies following a great teal hunt.
From his Go-Devil Manufacturing office near Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Warren Coco describes to Ramsey Russell the origins of waterfowl mounts adorning the sunken cypress walls of his office to Ramsey. On the heels of an especially busy hurricane season – which has not yet ended – they talk about what is like to live in an area heavily impacted by hurricanes. The conversation turns to Coco’s having recently squirrel hunting. Quicker than a cat squirrel scurrying up a loblolly pine, the conversation quickly pivots to duck camp cooking and favored recipes. What are some of Coco’s favorite waterfowl mounts? Where’d he find his “sunken cypress’? What’s it like dealing with hurricanes as a way of life, and how do they affect waterfowl habitat? How’d Coco evolve from canned stew to camp chef and what are his favorite duck recipes? It’s a great episode about life south if the I-10 corridor in southern Louisiana and many duck recipes.
Halfway across the world and 6,850 miles from central Mississippi, the small country of Azerbaijan nestles between the Caspian Sea and Iran. Preceding release of Life’s Short GetDucks about Azerbaijan duck hunting (scheduled for release on October 28), outdoor cameraman Jake Latendresse describes what struck him most about the unique duck hunting destination as seen through the camera lens. What lead Ramsey Russell to this off-the-beaten-path duck hunting destination? What waterfowl species are hunted in this part of the world? How does waterfowl hunting differ from the United States and elsewhere? What are the similarities? And do they really sell flying carpets?! This episode demonstrates that by Duck Season Somewhere we mean absolutely EVERYWHERE that real duck hunting adventures exist! Watch Life’s Short GetDucks: Azerbaijan.
In follow up to yesterday’s special Lynyrd Skynyrd Remembered episode, Lynyrd Skynyrd Monument Board Member, Mike Rounsaville, and Ramsey briefly discuss the monument that’s recently been built near the crash site. The monument can be visited by exiting I-55 at Exit 8, driving 8 miles west towards Gillsburg on Highway 568. Follow the signs.
On October 19, 1977, Lynyrd Skynyrd was inarguably the greatest rock band touring the USA and played what was their final concert in Greenville, South Carolina. While enroute to Baton Rouge on October 20th, their plane crashed in the remote woodlands of southwest Mississippi, killing 6 passengers to include frontman Ronny Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, and backup vocalist Cassie Gaines. Forty-three years later, their classic southern rock ballads are remembered worldwide – everyone has a favorite Skynyrd song! The episode begins with Lee Kjos describing why Skynyrd remains his all-time favorite band. We then visit personally with Ronnie Van Zant’s childhood friend and bodyguard, Gene Odom, and several Amite County, Mississippi locals who first responded to the crash. What was growing up in Jacksonville like for Ronnie Van Zant? How’d they develop their band name, what events inspired their lyrics, and what was it like touring with them? What kind of guy was Ronnie Van Zant and how would he likely have wanted to be remembered? What do first responders most remember about that day? What compelled them to privately fund and to recently construct a beautiful Lynyrd Skynyrd Monument nearby? Having met these guests and heard their stories, what’s Ramsey’s final take on it? All of these questions and more, to include some incredible never-before-told anecdotes, in today’s very special episode of Duck Season Somewhere.
Seventy-three years young, Gene Campbell is a two-time Purple Heart recipient that has been hunting fabled Chambers County, Texas, since he was a precocious child armed only with a pellet rifle. He humbly describes a legendary half-century of waterfowl guiding – on some of the same coveted properties he’s hunted since forever – as, “not a career, but a lifetime love.” Among his most cherished possessions are the now-faded-by-time photos of clients that became life-long friends that adorn many camp house walls. Most were lost during Hurricane Ike. What are some of Gene’s earliest recollections growing up in this part of Texas? What was the hunting like back then? How’d he get into the waterfowl guiding business, begin Oyster Bayou Hunting Club? What’s his secret for developing a reputation revered by most? How have the landscape, the birds and hunters themselves changed? From an experienced perspective, Gene Campbell speaks of past, present and future duck hunting in a region once considered foremost in Texas, and remains pretty darned good regardless.