Duck Camp 2017
As a guy who has made a good living in the fishing industry, I never complain about the countless hours spent behind my desk. Almost on a daily basis someone asks me advice on how best to find work in the outdoor industry. I always start my answer by reminding folks that nothing is impossible if you want it bad enough and are willing to work hard to get it.
In respect to our friends who are Michigan State fans, there is no green like the iridescent green of a drake mallard.
In the fishing business the individuals who rise to the top all have something in common. Each and every one of these individuals are so passionate about the outdoors, they are willing to work as hard as it takes to find success. Being a self starter and having an unwavering work ethic is a good thing for any career goal, but it’s absolutely critical for those who want to work in the outdoor industry.
Here at Fishing 411 TV our whole team works exceptionally hard at communicating the outdoor lifestyle so others can enjoy it as much as we do. In those rare times when my team has down time, I’m happy to report they play as hard as the work!
Recently Jake, Mari and myself traveled to Saskatchewan for our annual duck hunting vacation. I call it a vacation because it has nothing to do with the fishing business, but this trip is anything but relaxing. It starts with a grueling 30 hour drive to the famed Prairie Pothole Region, or what might be better described as the epicenter of duck hunting in North America.
As much as 80% of all the mallards in North America nest and migrate through this region of the Central Flyway. The staggering number of birds found in this region provides the motivation to travel so far. Once the drive is completed the real work begins.
The ability to work birds and finish them to the decoys is a skill that doesn’t come without sacrifice and commitment. Drake does his part and by the look on his face it’s easy to see he loves this mallard hunting thing as much as Mark, Jake or Mari combined!
We pride ourselves in being “freelance” waterfowl hunters. No guides or outfitters are used to help us get on birds. Instead, we jump in the truck and start the labor intensive and time consuming process of driving back roads, scouting, locating birds, patterning those birds, securing hunting permission with land owners and finally planning a hunting strategy we believe will bring success.
When the hunt is over the rig has to be picked up and stowed, the birds cleaned, knives and cutting tables cleaned, the dogs fed and watered and after all that is done, we can drive back to town, grab a bite to eat in a local diner and catch a short nap at the motel before it’s time to start the scouting process all over again.
Most of our Saskatchewan duck hunts last one or two hours. The time we spend in the truck scouting and coordinating the next hunt amounts to about three or four hours a day! Putting so much time, money and effort into what amounts to a rather brief hunting experience might seem anti-climatic, but in our minds the reward is more than worth the work.
Laying in a stubble field while watching endless flocks of mallards 20 to 100 birds strong dive bombing the decoy spread is the most exciting experience I’ve ever enjoyed in the outdoors. No matter how many times I experience the rush of these birds pitching into our decoy spread, it never gets old.
The last few seconds before calling the shot are intense to say the least. The duck call is dropped from my lips, my right hand tightens up around the shotgun pistol grip, I take a deep breath to settle my nerves, pick out a bird on my side of the flock and at the perfect moment shout “Killem”! The hours of driving, the expense of the gear, gas, vehicle maintenance, lodging and a thousand other expenses all seem trivial compared to the rush provided during those short but sweet trigger times.
Mark and Mari have been traveling to Saskatchewan to hunt ducks every fall for the past 16 years. Moments like this make the travel and expense more than worth the price of admission.
In the evenings after the scouting is done and a game plan has been made for the next morning, we make time for a couple hours of fellowship around the BBQ grill, beer cooler and watching post-season baseball games. My family and closest friends who have shared our duck camp understand the deep sense of satisfaction this annual trip provides. These brief but important hunting and fellowship opportunities are the key to my sanity and peace of mind. It’s moments like these that generate a contentment in my soul the willingness to work tirelessly for 51 weeks a year, so that the ducks of Saskatchewan can provide one priceless week every fall.