Ramsey Russell meets with Bob Keeney, a 5th-generation Barnegat Bay duck hunter from Tuckerton, New Jersey. It was supposedly here, in what was formerly one of America’s largest waterfowl market hubs, that the earliest incarnations of hand-carved waterfowl decoys originated. It was here, for sure, that the deadly Barnegat Bay sneakbox hunting tradition began. What is a Barnegat Bay sneakbox, how’s it used, and how’d Keeney learn to make them at a very young age? What’s the traditional Barnegat Bay decoy rig, how important are black ducks to local hunters, and why is practicing these traditions important to young Keeney? What ever became of the hundreds of famous old duck clubs once occupying a nearby 30-mile stretch? What kind of coat did Babe Ruth once wear duck hunting and what became of it? Like a black duck form emerging slowly out of dense marsh fog, the past comes clearly into the present in today’s episode of Duck Season Somewhere.
New Jersey decoy carver Mike Braun tells ramsey Russell about learning duck hunting and decoy carving the old-fashioned way. He was taught by his dad at a very young age. A self-described contemporary artist, he competes at the highest levels but also builds one-of-a-kind traditional gunners distinctly reflecting his New Jersey heritage. How old was Braun when his dad starting taking him duck hunting and what was his first duck? What unique bird species at the World Show inspired him start carving, when did it become a full-time vocation, and how long does it take him to carve each decoy? What does duck hunting over his own decoys mean to him personally? Today’s Duck Season Somewhere episode takes place among saw dust piles, where wooden blocks and nail-scratched feathering become gunning rigs, meaningfully connecting people to past generations. And to waterfowl.
Dave Faith is a New Jersey Game Warden for NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife. He previously conducted waterfowl-related field biology. He’s also an avid duck hunter. How’d he get started duck hunting in New Jersey, what motivates him, and what species does he most like to chase? How much hunting opportunity even exists in a state with over 9 million citizens (3x times the population of, say, Mississippi)? What are some of the waterfowl projects he worked on? What are some of the wildlife law enforcement challenges in New Jersey, what is “buck week,” and why’s it keep him so busy? The 2020 North American Waterfowl Tour has brought Ramsey Russell to the outskirts of Atlantic City, New Jersey, where mass civilization interfaces with incredible marsh wilderness and rich waterfowling tradition.
Following a frosty morning duck hunt along a heavily wooded, trout stream-sized river – and full to the gills from mountains of home-cooked eats – Ramsey visits with buddies Dave Beck and Tyler Coleman of Kanati’s Elite Taxidermy. They talk about Pennsylvania duck hunting, especially black ducks, but then wade chest deep into the everything-you-need-know waters of professional waterfowl taxidermy. What are typical Pennsylvania duck hunting set-ups, what species are usually targeted and how consistent is the hunting? Are black duck bands usually worn from age, or are there other reasons? What are the distinguishing hallmarks of a professionals versus a hobbyist, and what kind of customer service should really be expected? What is a “trophy”? What do you need to know about handling, storing and shipping your bird of a lifetime? Whether you’re just hanging a couple memories around your office or building a museum worthy waterfowl collection, here’s everything you should know and expect about getting your hard-earned dollar’s worth.
Right about the time you think you’ve seen and done it all, you walk into a Western New York duck hunting blind. Eleven long finger-shaped lakes were carved into the Appalachian foothills by retreating glaciers, and every square foot of their perimeter is now occupied by summer cottages. Following a diver duck hunt within skipped stone distance of a home (and while waiting on pizza and buffalo wings), Ramsey discusses waterfowling with today’s guests, Keith Crowell and Louie Scafetta. How does western New York differ from the city and what do other New Yorkers think about duck hunting? Why did Louie describe a recent goose hunt with his grandfather as coming full circle? What ducks species are hunted on the finger lakes, and elsewhere in New York? And finally, what’s the proper way to eat real Buffalo wings?! Pay close attention, folks, like a bufflehead flying with gusty tailwind just inches off the water, this episode might catch you by surprise.
For father-son championship waterfowl decoy carvers, Mark and Luke Costilow, duck hunting is a year-round hands-on tradition. Following a huge supper of Canada goose Italian soup and freshly harvested, pan-seared mallards at their Coffee Creek Marsh Hunting Club, Ramsey and they settle in front of wood burning stove, visiting about Ohio duck hunting. What are their duck hunting origins? How’d they get into decoy carving and what were their influences? Do they ever hunt over plastics, and what’s the difference? How’d they turn a neglected stretch of creek into a nice hunting area, is it true that if you build it they’ll come, and why are family camp traditions important to them? As this episode demonstrates, hand-on anything makes it personal.
As the 2020 North America Waterfowl Tour resumes, Ramsey’s first stop is Arkansas, where he falls in with a group of passionate full-time, all-specklebelly-nothing-but-specklebelly D-I-Y hunters headed by today’s guest, Aaron Carter. Arkansas specklebelly goose hunting is their thing. How’d this small circle of Mississippi friends become specialized in Arkansas white-fronted geese? In a region predominated by affluent clubs and expensive leases, how’d they develop their hunting areas? And what creepy event lead them to their present housing situation? What are their secrets for consistently killing specklebellies, and why do they choose to hunt with 20-gauge shotguns only? Like a warm bowl of momma’s chicken soup, this episode is just what you need.
The traveling waterfowler’s life is full of surprises. Who even knew there was sandhill crane hunting in New Mexico?! Somewhere south of Roswell, New Mexico, Ramsey has an open-mic, roundtable discussion with hosts David Maestas, The Finisher, Josh Darnell, Caleb and Matt Brewer. How’d Ramsey and Maestas’s duck hunt on the Rio Grande River compare to normal? What’s the distinction between Spanish, Mexican and New Mexican foods? How’d the boys get into sandhill crane hunting, how are they hunted, and what are some favorite ways to cook them? And did Darnell really have a close encounter with a UFO?! The morning’s epic sandhill crane hunt was the grand finale to the westwardly stretch of the 2020 North American Waterfowl Tour. Like a big ol’ 6-foot wingspan sandhill crane being nixed from air at the trigger pull, this episode hits home with a resounding thud!
Waders shucked and air-drying on side of the truck, a pair beautiful Mexican Mallards rest on the tailgate. Closer to Mexico than to Pheonix, Ramsey Russell meets with local hunter Colin Shepherd, recounting the days’ events and discussing Arizona duck hunting while endless miles of train boxcars keep rolling past. What characterizes typical Arizona duck hunting, how’d Shepherd get started duck hunting in the state where 4 deserts converge, and what really hooked him on it? What other wingshooting opportunities exist in Arizona? How’s the local cuisine and what’s Shepherd’s favorite duck recipe? What D-I-Y non-resident hunting opportunities exist in Arizona?
Like 44 slugs whizzing by in old-day Tombstone, this episode potentially packs real wallop. Arizona’s Migratory Game Bird Coordinator, John Odell, and Ramsey have hung their waders to dry and continue building on last week’s fascinating episode, exploring a variety of topics. Their conversation eventually stumbles into the kitchen, where the grease gets hot. Whether squirrels or green-winged teal, what’s small game hunting’s significance in the great scheme of things? Has the grocery supply chain affected American taste buds, our interest or abilities in cooking wild game? How might 9/11 have cultivated a strong cooking ethic among newer hunters? In managing migratory game birds such as waterfowl, what makes the Pacific Flyway unique among US Flyways? And are the guiding hands of migratory bird management scientific or political? Odell is a great storyteller, and his perspectives are highly informed and interesting. Pull up a chair, tuck a napkin in your collar and get ready to sink your teeth into another great episode on Duck Season Somewhere as the 2020 North American Tour winds through Arizona.