Somewhere Special

Life is all about balance. This statement holds true for most and it certainly resonates with me as well. I try my best to juggle my studies while allowing myself to enjoy the things I love. This became a little harder as I transitioned into a collegiate setting at Whitman College, located amongst the Blue Mountains in Walla Walla, Washington. This small liberal arts college tested my intellectual abilities with it rigorous coursework and intense competition in the classroom. It also allowed me to enjoy some great hunting opportunities in Eastern Washington while still acquiring an education. It was my first year hunting on the east side of the Cascade Mountains and it certainly not what I was expecting. It provided me with a new insight on public hunting as I got to experience it firsthand. After hunting the McNary Wildlife Refuge nestled in the Tri-Cities, I was able to better appreciate the hunting opportunities that I have back home on San Juan Island, a small island off the coast of Northwest Washington..

pic2Toes nestled in a warm sand beach, a lounge chair kicked back, a martini with a neon umbrella on the side, and Bob Marley playing on the radio. That’s what most people think when they envision an island vacation. Well, that’s not San Juan Island. Tourists flock here every summer to witness Orca Whale pods migrating through the small channels of the some 400 islands. Kayaking, fishing, and wine tasting are some other hot trends to keep one busy on a nice summer day. But when the days turn cold and the sun grows tired, for me, I think hunting is right around the corner. On this small 10 mile wide island lies some of the best waterfowl hunting in the Northwest.

Many differences arise when assessing hunting the public land in Eastern Washington and the small private oat fields in Friday Harbor. The island obviously has limited placespic1 to hunt. There are in fact no public land offered and all hunters must rely on family or friends for permission to hunt on their land, unless they operate a farm on their own. It is also not much work involved hunting the “island way”. A normal morning consists waking up to an alarm around 5:00 am, loading the truck and driving no more than ten minutes to our hunting location. We would then put out no more than five-dozen decoys before shooting light approaches us. The variety of species is outstanding considering the restrained area. I remember a few years ago that in one pass, a specklebelly, snow, and a greater fell to the ground after they finished 20 yards from our layout blinds.

pic4Chasing waterfowl usually occurs in the field setting with occasional marsh morning hunts for puddle ducks if one is lucky enough to get permission from the landowner. Competition is scarce on the island and if there are others wanting to hunt the same spot, we usually end up sharing the hunt. Not having much pressure means birds are not as weary and little calling and decoys are needed to coax in these confident birds. Nonetheless, this means that birds find safe-havens where they stay for days and sometimes weeks without any pressure from hunters. Island hunters also face a predicament that is uncommon on the mainland. When it snows, you better head out to go deer hunting because the birds congregate in False Bay where they feed on shellfish and small bait balls.

Transitioning into the Eastern Washington hunting scene was a whole new experience for me. Hearing about the great opportunities to chase waterfowl in the Tri-Cities, I called up Mark Purser, a veteran Pacific Calls Pro Staffer who has hunted Millet Pond before. He suggested that I get to the refuge the day before and camp the night so I packed up the bags and left Whitman after classes. I scouted the area before it closed and made a quick trip to Sportsman’s Warehouse. Then parking my car as first in line at 4:00 pm, I then made “bed” before breaking out the newest issue of “Field and Stream”. I also made sure to call my roommate to inform him where I was and when I would be back in case anything bad happened out “in the middle of nowhere”. I woke up at 4:00 am to about a dozen cars packed in line behind me.pic3

“Knock knock knock…” I was a little startled by a camo-covered figure outside my window. “Where are ‘ya hunting?”… “Blind four,” I responded. His eyes lit up and at that moment, I knew that I made a good decision of where I would be hunting. After some talk and persuasion, I agreed to let him and his friends hunt with me. They seemed both competent and to be veteran hunters. With collaborated efforts, my three new friends and I trekked about a mile with 12 dozen decoys before setting up. Nine dozen floats, a dozen field mallards, and two-dozen new Dakota Decoy floaters were the final product of our endeavor. The sight of a drake mallard dropping in with its bright orange feet was the target of the first shot right at hunting light. . “Looks like the Northerners are in!” The wind was making it very difficult for birds to close in. At 50 mph (no exaggeration), this was going to be a tough day. There were a plethora of migrating ducks in the area and they were working the spread well but the gusts of bone-chilling wind made it hard for them to finish their final descent. We decided to change up the decoy spread to make a larger landing hole and set up on the side for pass shots. Our efforts paid off and we had our limit within the next few hours. My band of friends and I then packed up and hauled our gear back to the rigs where we exchanged phone numbers and said our farewells, promising to be in touch with one another next time we went out.unnamed (1)

I learned a lot from my first experience on public land. The competition is fierce, so aggressive calling is necessary. I made sure to “plead” with the ducks with a whiny and “come over here” kind of tone with my Pacific Call single reed ITF. It is also important to be better than the guy next to you. What I mean, is that you need to make sure there is something unique and different than every other spread and setup. This might include, using motion decoys or maybe adding in some Black Duck decoys to add some contrast to the spread. This also might mean that more work needs to be put in to perfecting your setup but more birds will be the reward in the end. It is also frustrating to note that guides and outfitters have private land locked up and it can be very difficult for weekend hunters to gain access to private farmland. This is quite contrary to the island-way of hunting since close connections lead to great hunting opportunities through just a phone call or encounter in the grocery store.

There are certainly some things that just don’t change no matter how far you are away from home. Sharing the passion for the outdoors with family and friends are always something every hunter should enjoy no matter where. You also should utilize the same general tactics when chasing waterfowl. Birds are birds, and no matter where you go, waterfowl will usually react to the same stimulus (sometimes not in all cases). This includes good concealment, sufficient scouting, and smart calling. But most importantly, with birds or no birds, us hunters are the ambassadors for the outdoors, the stewards of the land, and are responsible for passing on the hunting tradition to others.

pic6Each marsh, field, or pond offers a unique twist. To be honest, I don’t care where I am as long as I get away to enjoy the outdoors. It is honoring to be able to witness the world wake up, attend to every whistling wing, and find peace in tranquil silence. However, it is a special experience to be able to hunt this island. Its accessibility, bewildering geography, and exclusiveness are sure-tell signs that I live somewhere special. Take a moment to reflect where your somewhere special is.

 

Written by: Gavin Guard

Pacific Calls Pro Staff

Sitka Gear Pro Staff

Rain, Great for Nesting Ducks

pic_newsWell-Timed Spring Rains Great for Nesting Ducks

The off-season if full of activity, including the filling of many different bodies of water within the Prairie Pothole Region.

Delta Waterfowl’s Associate Editor, Tyler Shoberg published a news article shedding more light on the benefit of this rainy Spring season up North.

 

 

 

Click here for Delta Waterfowl’s article: http://www.deltawaterfowl.org/news/article/2014/05/12/well-timed-spring-rains-great-for-nesting-ducks

Brant Decoy Carving Contest

The 2014 Puget Sound Open Decoy Contest in Burlington, WA is being held by the Washington Brant Foundation.  The WBF supports the history along with the art form of waterfowl decoy carving.  Each year the foundation sponsors a festival and decoy carving contest with cash prizes from $200 to the grand prize of $500.

Click here for more information and available divisions: http://www.wabrant.org/decoy-carving-competition/

A Brief History of Waterfowl Decoys

Waterfowl Hunting is a sport steeped in history and rich tradition, and men have been hunting for waterfowl for centuries, as the sport dates back 2,000 years ago. Hunters and gatherers from centuries back would shoot at geese, ducks, and waterfowl with bows and arrows, but soon discovered that they couldn’t hit the target. These people soon discovered that it made more sense to build some sort of decoy to attract fowl within shooting range. So, someone came up with the ingenious idea to create an ancient version of a duck decoy.

Envision a hunter crouched amidst the tule marsh (a type of grass) of centuries ago. As a flock of geese goes by, he discovers that his arrows don’t fly high enough to hit its prey. After several attempts, the hunter sets his handmade duck decoy, made of wood, cork, into the water, and then a few ducks fly within shooting range.

In the early days of hunting and gathering, natives were able to mock up an antique decoy made of feathers that were woven into the decoy. The decoys of yester-year were carved from either wood or cork, and the waterfowl’s feathers were woven onto the decoy with hemp strings. The hunters were able to paint the decoy’s head and neck for a closer resemblance of a duck or goose.

With a lot of effort and craftsmanship, these hunters were able to fabricate a simplistic, yet realistic decoy, and various types of waterfowl would fly into shallow marsh areas and land within shooting range. At any rate, the replica was good enough to “fool” ducks and geese into believing it was part of the flock.

Today, Native hunters still use tule duck decoys, especially in the Stillwater Marsh area of western Nevada. Located within Nevada’s wetlands, the marshy areas of Stillwater provide excellent grounds for hunting.

Of course the tools of hunting are more sophisticated today, but the concept is basically the same. Hunters use rifles and shotguns to kill their prey instead of bows and arrows, and modern decoys consist of canvas, plastic and paint. Decoys are able to create very good replicas of waterfowl using elaborate painting techniques.

Man’s passion for hunting wildfowl has never changed, but the tools and weapons used to hunt game has evolved, and the art of making decoys has been passed down from generation to generation. New techniques are being used and duck skins from earlier kills are often stretched over the decoys to make them more lifelike.

The Indians in North America are given most of the credit for being the pioneers of duck decoys. The Cree Indians from the Great Lakes area make standing goose decoys from flexible tamarack sticks, while the Chippewa Indians make floating toy decoys, only a few inches in length, from single cattail leaves for their children.

As you can imagine, the world of duck decoys has evolved rapidly, and today’s decoys are ultra-realistic, and include a variety of different types of waterfowl, including, ducks, geese, turkeys, owls, and pheasants.

DOA Decoys has taken full advantage of the waterfowl decoy market by employing some of the best wood decoy carvers in the world, and creating a beautiful line of gunning decoys. They’ve taken on the challenge to create a great line of decoys, and are proud to work with the best artists in the business.

Justin Sieverding has spent most of his life hunting waterfowl in South Dakota and throughout North America. Justin has a true passion and vast experience in everything related to waterfowl hunting including decoy spreads, bird patterns, scouting, and calling.

A Pike and A Coot

With more and more hunters, fisherman and outdoor enthusiasts carrying a camera on them, odd events become a little less rare.

This video recently shared on Facebook shows a few baby Coots strolling around some shade grass and a pike directly below and precisely strikes one of the coots.  The person behind the camera follows as the pike devours the baby Coot.

Now it won’t be unusual if you have not heard of a fish snapping up a bird for supper, but there have been many occurrences caught on video and photo.  View below!

 

Scot Storm – DU’s Artist of the Year

There are many wildlife and more specific, waterfowl artists that submit their work to Ducks Unlimited with hopes of grasping the title of the newest Artist of the Year.  However, for Scot Storm this is the second Artist of the Year.

Photo Courtesy: Ducks Unlimited

Photo Courtesy: Ducks Unlimited
MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Jan. 2, 2014 – Wildlife artist Scot Storm, of Freeport, Minn., has been named as the Ducks Unlimited (DU) 2014 Artist of the Year. Storm’s painting Tranquil Waters catapulted him into his second Artist of the Year title for DU

A full-time wildlife artist since 1999, Storm won the 2004-2005 Federal Duck Stamp Contest and was also named DU’s Artist of the Year in 2005. His Tranquil Waters painting, which depicts a trio of wood ducks, took top honors in this year’s DU art contest.

“That painting actually came from a pond on our homestead,” Storm said. “I spend a lot of time out there taking photographs with my friend Tom Martin, especially in the spring. We had some cool morning sun coming through, which created the glow reflecting off the ducks.”

Storm’s passion for waterfowl, however, stretches far beyond his canvas. For the past seven years, Storm and his brother have mentored young hunters by coordinating an annual waterfowl hunting trip to North Dakota.

Ducks Unlimited’s art program has raised more than $300 million for the organization’s wetlands conservation mission over 40 years, $36 million of which has come from the Artist of the Year program.

“Scot’s commitment to passing on the waterfowling heritage is rivaled only by his ability as an artist,” said Jane Lawson, DU’s art and merchandise marketing manager. “Thanks to artists like Scot, DU can provide event attendees with unique artwork all while adding dollars for on-the-ground conservation work.”

Tranquil Waters limited-edition prints and canvases will be available exclusively at Ducks Unlimited events beginning this month.

For more information about Storm, visit www.stormwildlifeart.com.

Dead Mallards found under power line

AltaLink, one of Canada’s largest transmission companies is investigating reports of dozens and possibly hundreds of dead Mallards under a newly-built transmission line.

A retired scientist was the one to raise the concerns after noticing many carcasses. David McIntyre estimates the deaths may be in the hundreds based on a 10-minute walk along the line he took on Dec. 31. Judging from the damage to ducks, he thinks they may be hitting the line in bad weather when they can’t see it. Falcons and Eagles were seen gorging on the ducks, leaving just their wings.img-wings

The company is sending workers to an area near Pincher Creek and might install “flappers” to help make the lines more visible. The company also says this is common, “Whether it’s a phone line or a telephone tower or a house, birds have collisions with those aerial facilities.”

Though the only picture available from McIntyre only shows a few wings, I am not too sure just what kind of impact this is really doing, if noticeable at all.

Realtree MAX-5™

Waterfowl Concealment Redefined

Realtree Outdoors is off to what some would call, “an extraordinary start” to 2014.  Just yesterday (Jan. 2. 2014) Realtree released a press released announcing and showing off the all-new MAX-5 waterfowl camo pattern.

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Click to enlarge. Courtesy of Realtree.

“Columbus, GA (January 3, 2014) – Introducing newRealtree MAX-5™ – the hardest working camo for the hardest working hunters.

“New Realtree MAX-5 is the perfect multi-use camo for marshes, mud flats, agricultural fields, flooded timber, grasslands, prairie and other open habitat,” said Realtree Designer and President Bill Jordan. “Never before has a pattern offered so many natural elements and such a wide array of natural tones, shadows and colors.”

Built with waterfowlers in mind, new Realtree MAX-5 is filled with cattails, reeds, cane and grasses to blend into flooded marshes. Plus corn, wheat, oats and sunflowers to hide you in open fields. It has branches, twigs and leaves that work in flooded timber. And with open areas that mimic mud, water, bark and shadows, MAX-5 literally adds another layer of invisibility to camo – no matter where or how you use it.

Click to enlarge.  Courtesy of Realtree.

Click to enlarge. Courtesy of Realtree.

Of course, all MAX-5 pattern elements are strategically placed to create super-realistic tone, contrast and shadow. Viewed up close, MAX-5 offers incredible detail. At a distance, the pattern obliterates the human outline completely. The result? Maximum effectiveness for your waterfowl success.

About Realtree:

Realtree is the world’s leading camouflage designer, marketer, and licensor with over 1,500 licensees utilizing the Realtree camouflage brand. Thousands of outdoor and lifestyle products are available in Realtree camouflage patterns. In addition, Realtree is committed to supporting individuals and groups that work to ensure our outdoor heritage, the conservation of natural places, and the wildlife that resides there. Realtree promotes its products and relationships widely on television, as well as through http://www.realtree.com and many other outlets.

Hunting in the Public Eye – D.W.

THE UNEXPECTED SWATCH of camouflage caught my eye, standing out as it did from its corrugated display board at the end of the salad dressing aisle in my neighborhood grocery store. The pitch, of course, was for “Duck Dynasty” schwag — T-shirts, DVDs, braided bracelets, beer coozies, iced-tea cups. You know the deal. Your non-duck hunting friends have asked you about it.

The astonishing, omnipresent popularity of “Duck Dynasty” has been a frequent topic of conversation within the waterfowl hunting community, normally a reserved, low-profile bunch who prefer the quiet of marshes to the bluster of red-carpet celebrity.

Duck hunters can be forgiven for uneasiness about the show’s treatment of duck hunting. Understandably, some hunters have voiced concerns about the trivialization of the duck hunting experience and its association with certain stereotypes. But with all due respect, this is nitpicking. We should be encouraged to see duck hunting gaining such attention, particularly associated with such a harmless brand.

By contrast, consider public campaigns attacking duck hunting. In 2001, the Humane Society of the United States funded a “study” that was used to mount a campaign against duck hunting patterned on similar campaigns that successfully curtailed duck hunting in some Australian states. With a relatively small constituency, duck hunting is seen amongst animal-rights advocates as a vulnerable activity amongst the spectrum of hunting and trapping activities.

The presentation of duck hunting in “Duck Dynasty” will not be to every duck hunter’s liking, but as an unintentional public relations campaign, it is pretty darned good.

Viewed through the shallow lens and short attention span of the mass media viewers, the reality show contains many of duck hunting’s most cogent sales pitches to the general public: food, family and friends. Duck hunting is presented as part of a lifestyle connecting the close-knit Robertson family to the woods. All are good messages to be associated with duck hunting.

Duck hunters who live and breathe duck hunting will wince at certain details of “Duck Dynasty,” but hard-core waterfowlers are not the intended audience. The portrayal of duck hunting to the general public as a quirky, but essentially harmless activity is not the image that duck hunters aspire to associate with their passion — perhaps it is a bit too reminiscent of Elmer Fudd chasing Daffy Duck. However, the “Duck Dynasty” image of duck hunters is certainly better than many of the alternatives. In recent debates on the abolition of the long-gun registry in Canada, duck hunters and farmers were the often-cited poster children symbolizing ordinary citizens who were inconvenienced or traumatized by gun control.

On the heels of the “Duck Dynasty” phenomenon comes the release of “Savannah,” a feature-length movie that portrays duck hunting in a manner evocative of the treatment of fly-fishing in “A River Runs Through It.” Duck hunters might frown on the romanticization of market hunting, but the general public will likely be more inclined to see a more simplistic portrayal of duck hunting as a colorful part of North American heritage. On the whole, the movie provides more positives for duck hunters.

All in all, these public depictions of duck hunting serve as an important reminder: Duck hunting ultimately depends on the tolerance of the middle majority of society who do not duck hunt, but who do vote on laws and regulations that govern duck hunters. The words used and the images shown about duck hunting to the larger community are important to foster that tolerance for duck hunting, even though they are often not the same words and images we favor within the duck hunting family.

Pass the iced tea, Uncle Si.

Original Article: http://www.deltawaterfowl.org/news/blogs.html/article/2013/12/11/hunting-in-the-public-eye

“A NEW WAY TO SEED”

Are you always looking for an opportunity to shoot your shotgun?  I know I am!  

Bird hunting, waterfowl hunting, rabbit hunting, target practice are all common uses for your shotgun but now you are able to finish those gardening chores quicker than ever…with your shotgun!

ST (Studio Total) Development, a Scandinavian company, is currently manufacturing a new gardening shotgun ammunition called Flower Shells. These 12ga. shotgun shells are loaded just like any other shotgun shell but with reduced gunpowder, a wad and the steel is replaced with flower seeds.


Studio Total is offering a variety of 12 Flower Shells: Columbine, Cornflower, Daisy, Poppy, Sunflower, Clematis, Lavender, Sweet Pea, Lupine, Carnation, Peony and a collection of meadow flowers.

You can get your hands on the new Flower Shell by contributing to their developing fund over at indiegogo (a fund raising web site).  You can get your hands on these by purchasing a “perk” for $50.  Choose between 4 shells of Peony, Poppy or Corn flower.  A Christmas Certificate is also available for $50 so you can send the Flower Shell as a gift.

Sources: http://www.flowershell.com/ and http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/flower-shell