Originally founded in 1883 as the Hennepin Duck Club, Willow Creek has a long-standing and storied history in the fabled Illinois River bottom. So does the camphouse. Preston Wagner, Pete Mangold and Adrian Erickson each describe their personal connections to this Illinois River duck hunting club. From habitat management to new and lifetime memories, their unique perspectives characterize a real sense of place.
Following an action-packed Mississippi duck hunt and with black labs dozing contentedly at our feet, long-time friend and life-long waterfowler, Dr. Bill Sullivan, discusses the health and maintenance of our beloved duck dogs. Having practiced veterinarian medicine for decades covers a lot of need-to-know topics for ensuring our best friends’ peak performance, long-term health and longevity while doing what they were born to do.
Located on the river about half-way between Chicago and St. Louis, Peoria is the oldest European settlement in Illinois. Preceding the Migratory Bird Treaty Act market hunting thrived. Its history is seeped in Mississippi Flyway waterfowl hunting history as expressed by some of the most collectible decoys on earth. Zac Zetterburg, Curator of Art and the Center for American Decoys, Peoria Riverfront Museum, discusses the region’s history and legendary carvers, explaining along the way how carvings intended for hunting became collectible folk art.
Brian Terry grew up plying his family’s fourth-generation oyster trade around Hog Island Bay, Virginia. Anything but easy work, he somehow managed to duck hunt, too, and that eventually lead to a related product development in response to his family’s tough-love company hiring policy. Describing how and why his great-great-grandfather founded H.M. Terry Company, he gives us a salty crash course in clamming and oystering, explaining once and for all why you never, ever eat oysters in months ending with the letter R!
Charlie Pierce has been among hand-sawn woodpiles, sawdust, oil paints since the day he was born, and grew up sharing duck blinds with some of the region’s most esteemed carvers. Naturally, it’s in his blood. A colorful storyteller, Pierce describes growing up in this unique environment, telling how and what they hunted, the decoys used, and how those old school influences lead him to carrying on a family tradition.
Ramsey meets with Chesapeake Bay waterfowling historian and preservationist, C. John Sullivan, at the Waterfowl Festival in Easton, Maryland to larne about this region’s fabled history. From market hunting tools-of-the-trade to legendary carvers, we gain insights into why the Chesapeake Bay’s history is so well preserved and, in a sense, who we are as duck hunters.
He’s an absolute living legend. Jim Pierce has been carving decoys and hunting ducks near Havre de Grace, Maryland for 75 years of his 88 years. In a candid then-versus-now conversation in his decoy painting room, he talks about his lifetime duck hunting the Chesapeake Bay, describing the legendary watermen that taught him to hunt and to carve, the “good old days,” old shotguns, plastic versus wooden decoys, how hunting techniques and other things have changed for better or for worse. But best I can tell, the one thing that definitely has not changed is what duck hunting really means to him!
Duck season is somewhere between hitting a fevered pitch to come and gone, depending on where you live in the US. But south of the equator, duck hunting season south is May through July. In today’s episode, hear how avid US duck hunters–that are likely duck hunting right this very minute somewhere in North America– describe their Argentina Duck hunting experiences. It’s never to soon to start dreaming about something to do after January 31 because remember, it really is duck season somewhere 365 days per year!
Through the door and out of the biting autumn wind I quickly follow Captain Reilly McCue’s past mountainous decoy rigs with countless origins and configurations used for puddlers, divers, sea ducks; past a bench of ornate hand-tied streamers underneath dangling wildfowl, catalogued feathers and patterns; past chest-high stacks of colorful moth collections painstakingly labeled. Beyond the ginormous custom-built sea duck hunting and striper fishing boat are even more decoy rigs, a taxidermy station, fishing gear, a gunsmithing bench, and countless reminders of a lifetime spent perfectly experiencing outdoors New England. Everything’s perfectly organized. Spotless. Touring the shop is like walking into a living museum, reminding me that whether collecting waterfowl species or just special experiences, nobody but nobody is a better guide than an avid collector. And Captain McCue is that guy. Bet you’ll agree after hearing today’s episode.
The North American Waterfowl Tour winds it’s way through Vermont and Maine, where Ramsey finally scratches off duck hunting these 2 new-to-him states. Thanks to host Steve Caron and friends, it was a memorable visit despite warm, Indian Summer weather. With their belts still stretching after a steamed lobsta’ and mussels dinner, Ramsey and Caron talk about waterfowl hunting Maine and Vermont, recounting memorable highlights where waterfowl were only a gateway to best experiencing this corner of the US.