Waterfowler.com Journal - Issue 22

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waterfowler.com JOURNAL






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waterfowler.com JOURNAL

Publishing & Design Darin M S akas

Writers & Photographers Luke C lark S teve Davis J eff Gudenkauf S cott H ummel George Kustin Dan M allia Bradley Ramsey D arin S akas Kevin S akas Dan Z immer

Advertising Info W aterfowler .com PO Box 886 Woodstock, IL 60098 815.337.8300 Š 2014 All Rights Reserved

C over Photo: J eff Gudenkauf

two-thousand and fourteen volume six, issue number twenty-two P hoto


S teve D avis page info


two-thousand and fourteen volume six, issue number twenty-two






For Dan Mallia, taming the wilds of California extends beyond the world of waterfowl hunting. As a Forest Service Firefighter, drought conditions in California have impacted both his passion for hunting and his day job — in unimaginable ways.

For avid waterfowl hunter and photo enthusiast, Jeff Gudenkauf, getting the perfect shot is more than birds on a laynard. In this issue Jeff shares his passion, tips and tricks to help you get that perfect digital photo of your trusty retriever.

For Luke Schmidt, the waterfowl season is a chance to visit old freinds and make new ones.. In this issue we join Luke for an old fashioned honker hunt in Wisconsin’s Dairyland — where he’s living the dream and working in the great outdoors for Rig’em Right.

During the first snow, even the smartest geese are dumb for a day — at least that’s the hope of Kevin Sakas and his Illinois Goose crew. In this issue we join Kevin as he chases an opportunity to hunt geese during that famed, first snowfall of the year.

12 18 32 40 dePartmentS 26 WILD CUISINE

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Argentina Duck Hunting and

World-Wide Wingshooting

Ramsey Russell | GetDucks.com | P.O. Box 873 | Brandon, MS 39043 866.438.3897 | ramsey@getducks.com

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two-thousand and fourteen volume six, issue number twenty-two



Jeff Gudenkauf

Bradely Ramsey

Kevin Sakas

Luke Clark

is a hunter and proud owner of a trusted retriever. In recent years his passion for the outdoors merged with his interest in photography — a medium where his talents continue to flourish.

shares his unique perspective of waterfowl hunting in our regular column, “One More Swing.” He‘s a seasoned wordsmith, certified duck hunting addict and habitat specialist.

is an 18-year old duck hunter who has been chasing waterfowl for a decade. In this issue we join Kevin on Frozen Ground as he tries to stack the odds in his favor during the first snow of the season.

has a passion for all things duck and goose hunting. As the chief Marketing and Communications person at Rig’em Right Waterfowl, Luke lives and breaths duck hunting all year long.

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two-thousand and fourteen volume six, issue number twenty-two


Scott Hummel

Dan Mallia

George Kustin

Darin M Sakas

is an accomplished outdoorsman and Chef. His love for the outdoors and the bounty it provides is celebrated in the meals he prepares for family, friends and now, our readers.

is a forest service fight fighter, waterfowl hunting enthusiat and family man. In this issue he shares the story of his passions and adventures in taming the wilds of California.

is a talented photographer, writer and self-proclaimed scotch connoisseur. Actually his only proclamation is that he never met a single-malt that wasn’t worthy of sampling.

spends the majority of his duck seasons passing on the tradition to his two teenage boys. His passion for design, photography and ducks are echoed in pages and website of Waterfowler.com.


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fRom THE deSK Of For many, duck hunting is 305-days of waiting for the 60-day season to come around. If you have a few gray hairs on your head (as I do) you’ll remember when the 60-day season was a restrictive 30-days and the daily bag limit was only three ducks. While some hunters travel to extend their season, ice and weather can do a great job of making one shorter. For the better part of the year we are not hunting ducks – yet, first and foremost, we call ourselves duck hunters. That’s passion. If our participation in the sport is a love affair, then I think it’s fair to say duck hunting has many mistresses. We hunt other species, fish, golf, twist wrenches on hobby cars, play organized sports or garden. Waterfowl hunters participate in a diverse world of interests, yet even during the peak of the off-season, a few ducks sitting on a pond will turn your head as you drive down the road. In this issue of Waterfowler.com Journal we celebrate the passion of waterfowl hunting and how it influences our lives the other three hundred days of the year. Each duck season the fruits of the hunt are more than a fine meal for me because they provide a myriad of materials for fly tying. Each trout, steelhead, salmon or warm water fish I take can be attributed to the feathers I collect during the hunting season. For other hunters, such as long time WFC member Scott Hummel, his passion for duck hunting is deeply woven into his passion for fine cuisine. His passion for waterfowl is only comparable to his pursuit of the perfect meal. In this issue he shares that passion and a few recipes to inspire our readers to greater culinary heights. Also in this issue, we discuss the importance and technical aspects of capturing that perfect duck dog photo with photographer Jeff Gudenkauf and we visit with a number of folks in the waterfowl industry who’s lives are influenced by duck hunting throughout the year. Readers will also note that our digital publishing service, ISSUU, has introduced a new clipping service to share and discuss portions of the magazine on top social media outlets. We encourage our readers to give it a try and provide feedback about the service on the WFC forums. We hope you enjoy this issue and consider submitting your waterfowl hunting stories for the next Waterfowler.com Journal.






The 4oz. Patent Pending “Duck Egg” Decoy Weight

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For more information and get a free sample please visit: www.blackwinghunting.com

w a t e r f o w l e r. c o m

{ letters from you } G o t s o m e t h i n g o n y o u r m i n d ? D r o p u s a n e m a i l t o d a y. Not sure if you would be able to use

Dear Waterfowler.com,

sippi Flyways, how do I submit an

this picture for any of the magazine

Hat’s off to Bradley Ramsey. His

article about us guys in the Pacific

covers or anything, but this is our

last article had me in tears laughing

Flyway? Did you forget about us

10 month old lab, Tank.

and I nearly choked on my lunch

out here?

while reading it at my desk. I’ve

- 870Charlie


enjoyed his articles since the paper

-Anthony Hakey



-Mark P.

Waterfowler.com is deadicated to covering the world of waterfowl


hunting from coast to coast. In

Thanks for the kind note — we

this issue we cover three of the

have always enjoyed Bradley’s

four flyways -- including the Pa-

wrtiing as well. We’re confident

cific Flyway.

you’ll enjoy his ramblings in this issue as well. While the Surgeon

As always, Waterfowler.com is

General does not require us to

open to submissions to hunting

post a warning at the header in

around the globe. Have a story

his articles, we do advise that

you’d like to tell or picture you’d


you refrain from eating or drinking

like to share? Simply send your

Thanks for sending in your picture

while reading it.

story idea or article to editor@

of Tank. We can always find a use



for dog pictures from enthusiastic retreiver owners. We hope you and Tank had a great season and

Dear Editor,

that you enjoy our photo tips in

I’ve noticed that most of your ar-

this issue. Keep ‘em coming.

ticles cover the Central and Missis-



Our staff is happy to help out with getting your story published.

ROUGE series high quality gunning dEcoys

Relying on the quality design and manufacturing process that rocketed our full-bodied decoys to popularity amongst hard-core goose hunters, DOA DECOYS introduces our new ROUGE SERIES floating decoys. These gunning decoys feature a recessed hexagonal keel,which provides maximum movement in the slightest wind or current, have movable heads and boast our exclusive, durable paint process that provides unrivaled realism.

For more information,

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volume six, issue twenty-two



waterfowl passion fueled by fire My name is Dan Mallia. I’m a U.S. Forest Service Hotshot Crew Superintendent. I’m a second generation waterfowl hunter in California. My father Fred emigrated here from Malta in 1958. He began hunting waterfowl that year with his brother-in-law and others



in his large, extended family, spending almost every weekend at the Gray Lodge Wildlife Area near Gridley. I was introduced to waterfowl hunting at a very young age. My father and his hunting partner, Pete Lew, carried me out on their shoulders to one of the

w a t e r f o w l e r. c o m — S I T K A T R I B E




island pit blinds at Sacramento NWR when I was nine years old. I remember them shooting a bunch of ducks and snow geese. After that hunt I was forever hooked. I continued to join my dad on hunts as a spectator until I successfully passed my hunter safety certification two years later.






That day was also significant as my father gave me a brand new Faulk’s WA-22 duck call and informed me that if I was going to be a good duck hunter, I need to learn to operate that duck call. I practiced for hours daily and drove my mother nuts. I’m sure but it gave me foundation of becoming



volume six, issue twenty-two

the caller I am today. I can still vividly remember my first hunt at the Sutter NWR. It was opening day and the ducks were as thick as the mosquitos we were dodging. My first bird was a green-wing teal that unluckily flew into the flight path of my H&R 20 gauge single shot. I collected my first greenhead a few shots later. My father still tells a sto-



ry of the two of us hunting later that year. It was pouring rain and cold with not a bird in the sky. My dad asked me if I wanted to pick up the decoys and head in. I vehemently replied, “no”. He knew right there that he had a duck hunter although I’m not certain he ever thought I’d be as passionate a waterfowler as I am. Growing up in the San

Francisco Bay Area, we primarily hunted the Sacramento Valley and the Grasslands region of the San Joaquin valley. I have fond memories of my father loading up the truck and the two of us making the drives through the Bay Area traffic on Friday nights, myself fraught with anticipation for the weekend of hunting that

w a t e r f o w l e r. c o m — S I T K A T R I B E

we’d be engaged in. When I graduated high school, I chose where I attended college (California State University, Chico) based on the availability of quality waterfowling nearby. When I wasn’t in class, I was on one of the numerous public land spots chasing ducks. Nowadays, I primarily spend most of my waterfowl

season hunting public land in Southern Oregon/Northeast California and in the Sacramento Valley. I currently live in Redding, CA and it puts me in the middle of both of my favorite locations to chase waterfowl. I can be hunting in a couple of hours in any direction I decide to go. The Sacramento Valley will always have a special

place in my waterfowling heart. I’ve had some of the best hunts of my life there with family and friends. The valley has changed over the years. Bird distribution has changed due to rice straw decomposition practices. Mega closed zones have been popping up all over — but it can still produce good hunting to those willing to do the work.






w a t e r f o w l e r. c o m — S I T K A T R I B E

I like the variety of Southern Oregon/Northeast California although it too is a shell of its former self, mostly due to drought and political issues. I like being able to hunt Canada Geese in grain fields one day and switching it up the next day with a water hunt for mallards (my absolute favorite) in the marsh. Waterfowl season never really ends, just the time we are actually allowed to har-

vest waterfowl ends. That’s been my thought process for a long time. I’m always planning for next season, whether its tinkering with a new decoy setup idea, looking at other opportunities in new hunting areas, scouting those potential areas, making certain my gear is in top condition, etc. There’s always something I’m doing, no matter the time of year that relates to my passion of waterfowling. I feel

that doing that keeps my fire going and helps me be successful. My career keeps me extremely busy in the summer but the fall, winter and spring give me ample down time to spend in the field. I don’t think I’ll leave the current position I’m in because it does offer me the latitude to hunt whenever conditions warrant or I just feel like going.



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volume six, issue twenty-two



Duck dog owners have a lot in common. Most consider their canine companion part of the family and most have a great story or two about an epic retrieve their dog has made during their outdoor career. Sadly, the other thing they have in common is that most duck dog owners don’t have a great portrait of their dog doing what they do best – hunting. Truth be told, I fall in that category too – which makes no sense at all. In the past twenty years I have owned two great hunting dogs. During that time, I have spent the last fifteen years shooting pictures for Waterfowler.com and other outdoor companies and never got around to photographing my own dog properly. In my mind I can come up with several reason’s how this inexcusable fact unfolded but they all lead me back to that



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tale about the shoemaker’s kids

neglect my dogs have. Obviously,

going barefoot.

I’m not in touch with my visual

Since the dawn of cave paintings, humans have felt the yearn-



yearnings as a should be. Unlike the rest of us, Jeff

ings to visually document our life,

Gudenkauf breaks the mold of

passions and those who are part

the slacker dog owner – and he’s

of it. Thankfully, in my case, the

clearly in touch with his visual

schools have force fed me “picture

yearnings. In recent years his

day” for the last 18-years or my

enthusiasm for digital photography

kids might have suffered the same

has merged with his pursuits in the


great outdoors and the results are an envious collection of images celebrating the greatest moments of the hunt. His portraits of his dog, Roxie, capture the heart and spirit of the working dog. For him, the perfect shot is more than birds on a lanyard – it’s the culmination of light, action, focus and composition. His images depict those moments that most hunters only have painted in memory and stories. As any photographer would attest, the path to taking good photographs is no less difficult than becoming an accomplished waterfowl hunter. There is a lot to learn. What is evident in Jeff’s photographs is that the rewards are worthwhile – even if they simply convinced you to hire a photographer for the day to get that “wall hanger.” If you want to give it a try on your own, or simply improve the photographs you are currently taking with a camera phone, the following will tips will help improve your images and, hopefully, spark those visual yearnings provided by our ancestors. EQUIPMENT: When it comes to great photography, a digital SLR (single lens reflex) is essential.



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Used cameras, such as the Canon

good news is, you don’t have to

10D, Canon Rebel XT and the

drop $5000 on a 70-200mm, f3.5,

Nikon 50D can be purchased used

image stabilization lens to create

(with an starter lens) around the

great photographs. SLR lenses

$150 mark – so you don’t have to

can be purchased as a fixed focal

break the bank to get in the game.

length (in millimeters) or in telepho-

The advantage to advanced SLR

to lenses that can zoom in and out.

cameras is that they offer both

Most SLR cameras are paired with

automatic and advanced controls

a fixed lens in the 55/60mm range

to grow with your skills. Most

and these are great starter lenses.

importantly, what you see in the

If you want greater flexibility, at a

view finder is what the lens actu-

fair price, consider spending a little

ally sees, and eventually records to

more on a telephoto lens in the 18-

your digital file.

135mm range. No matter what lens

LENSES: The advantage to a quality SLR is that they offer

and free of dust or water droplets is

interchangeable lenses. Lens qual-

essential to picture sharpness.

ity and cost can vary greatly. The



you choose, keeping them clean

EXPOSURE: The amount of


light that reaches the digital sen-

if the automatic setting selects a

sors in the camera determines

wide-open aperture for ½ second,

what the picture looks like. There

you can theoretically achieve the

are two primary controls for this

same results by closing the ap-

function; the aperture (the opening

erture half way and doubling the

in the lens measured in f-stops)

shutter speed to a full second. To

and shutter speed (measured

make the complex simple, what the

in fractions of a second). When

beginner needs to keep in mind

a digital SLR camera is set to

is that for action photography (a

automatic, an internal light meter

dog leaping in water) faster shut-

reads the amount of light pass-

ter speeds prevent the action from

ing through the lens and selects

becoming blurred on the image.

the aperture and shutter speed for

Most digital cameras have multiple

you to properly expose/record the

automatic settings – use the sports

picture. What important to under-

setting to inform the camera you

stand is that exposure settings are

are shooting a fast moving object

subjective to an extent – as there

(as it will calculate exposure on the

is more than one “correct setting”

assumption that you need a fast

to capture a picture. For example,

shutter speed to stop action). If



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you are stepping up to intermedi-

beginning photographer the most

ate controls, use the shutter priority

important thing to observe is the

setting to manually select your

direction of light and awareness of

shutter speed and let the camera

shadows. Contrast is the differ-

choose the aperture setting auto-

ence between the darkest darks,


and the lightest bright colors. On




bright sunny days, you have high

or lack there of, is the defining

contrast conditions and on gray

variable in photography. For the

days or in low light you have low


a dog to hold a bird and sit perfectly for a picture is an uphill battle at best. Even when done well, they lack the emotion and excitement a dog exhibits when “doing it’s job.” Tossing an bird and staging a retrieve is far easier than getting a dog excited about sitting still with a bird in it’s mouth. When setting up a staged retrieve, make sure the dog is returning on a path that provides proper lighting and get down low to take the shot. Standing tall and taking a photograph from above the dog rarely yields great results. Get eye level with the dog and zoom in or get close to the action – fill the frame with the dog not the landscape. Like any endeavor, getting a good photograph of your dog requires commitment to the task. Putting down the gun and picking up the camera is essential. Let the others do the hunting and concentrate on following your dog with contrast conditions. Because light

nating your subject from the side

the camera. With any luck, you’ll

meters in cameras calculate expo-

or front, instead of behind. Partly

capture that perfect image for the

sure using an average from por-

cloudy days, or shooting in shaded

wall and honor your retriever with a

tions of the frame, on bright days,

areas on bright sunny days often

timeless image that celebrates their

or back light photo’s detail is lost in

yield the best results. On cloudy

memory for years to come.

the shadows – meaning your black

days, take extra caution not to un-

lab turns into a big black blob with

der expose your images because

no detail. As such, it is important

that will make it flat and lifeless.

to make sure the sunlight is illumi-




w a t e r f o w l e r. c o m





volume six, issue twenty-two


I live a passionate life. Whether I’m chasing mallards during a violent Alberta Clipper or preparing a gourmet meal for family and friends, I approach life with enthusiasm and spirit of adventure. For me, wild game is more than the result of a successful day in the outdoors. Wild meats

chowder and even finding the blind was a small miracle in itself. When we finally settled into the silence of the morning with guns at the ready, I could hear wings and splashes that were shrouded in the safety of the fog. My eyes strained in and out of focus on the gray curtain

and forage are savory ingredients that ignite my passion for gourmet cooking the culinary arts. I am a carnivore, herbivore and, by definition, a hyper-locavore because my dietary lifestyle supports the use and collection of locally grown meats and vegetables. In short, I’m addicted to flavor and all things wild and tasty. The very first time I went duck hunting, I was just 16 years old. I was invited to hunt ducks with a friend from work on Pistake Lake, in northern Illinois. Like any first-time hunter I had expectations of burning up the shotgun barrel and returning home with a well-earned limit of ducks. The morning of my first hunt I was welcomed into the sport by a fog that was thicker than overcooked

before us – searching for the dark silhouette of my quarry. With each passing whistle of wings my heart rate would increase and my grip on the gun tightened with anticipation. Minutes passed and then hours. By the time the fog had begun to lift, the sounds of passing birds had evaporated. The long hours of silence ended when my friend Teddy retrieved a cooler from the boat and sparked an aging Coleman stove to life. The hiss of the propane flame licked the bottom of the pan and I watched as he prepared some teal breasts from a previous hunt and eggs. The aroma of simmering peppers, onions and white wine rose from the pan and mixed with the fog and peaty smell of the



w a t e r f o w l e r. c o m

marsh. I sat on the weather worn bench in the blind and salivated like a Labrador retriever staring down a glazed donut. Looking back, I realize how influential that one moment was in my life. Decades later I can still taste the meal that was served and recall how those moments in the great outdoors my senses. If there are pivotal moments in



life that change you forever, this was one of them. When you think of metropolitan Chicago, the average sportsman does not consider the depth of duck hunting tradition woven into the city’s history. From the Chain-of-Lakes where I first hunted to the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers, the Chicago Stockyards provided the gateway to market hunt-

ers who shipped wild duck to the finest restaurants in New York and other eastern cities. The end of market hunting did more than give birth to the sport of waterfowl hunting it also escalated wild duck from a grocery staple to rare culinary treat. As the great chefs of the early 1900s turned their focus to domestic livestock, and wild game disappeared from menus.

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Culinary advancement and recipe creation for wild meats declined rapidly. While my father didn’t hunt we did fish together often and in my young and impressionable years in the suburbs of Chicago he often took me a variety of local restaurants that did wonders

most, my pursuit of upland game, love for fly fishing and fishing on the Great Lakes takes me many environments and keeps me in fresh supply of a variety of meats and other local wild herbs and edible forage. From the morel mushrooms I gather in the spring to the wild berries

to educate my taste buds and expand my culinary horizons. Chicago, being a melting pot of immigrants and ethnic neighborhoods that have spilled from the city to the suburbs, offers the everyday inhabitant access to global variety of cuisine unlike any place on the planet. From Armenian and Greek to Thai and Italian, if it exists, you can find it there. From spaetzle to haggis and eggplant and couscous, if you can dream it, pronounce it or think it, you can find the best of the best in Chicago. While it’s been some time since I left the Chicago area, I will always remember the influence it has had on my desire to explore and create fine food. While I consider myself a duck hunter first and fore-

of the summer there is no shortage of wild ingredients in my home state of Ohio for the creative chef. In addition to four-seasons of game for the hunter and angler there are three-seasons of harvest for the gatherer. Ohio’s state lands offer a plethora of wild ingredients and I try to incorporate those unique flavors into my recipes. I highly recommend Lee Peterson’s, “Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants” as a great resource for beginner gatherers. Gathering is not only a way to enhance the quality of your cooking but also increase the quality of your outdoor experience. An unproductive day of hunting or fishing can be salvaged if you return with a gallon of walnuts or a quart of wild


7-12 pound goose (with neck and giblets; reserve liver for another use) • 3 onions • 2 celery ribs • 3 bread slices (any type) • 2 carrots • 1 cup boiling water • 1 cup dry white wine • 1/4 cup Tawny Port • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour • 3 cups chicken broth See Page 31 for detailed cooking notes and tips.



w a t e r f o w l e r. c o m

berries – simply because you had the wherewithal to toss a few Ziploc baggies or plastic containers in your day pack and looked around you while you were walking. When you spend enough years duck hunting you realize that the taste of wild game can vary greatly. Much the

with a date, species and location it was harvested so you clearly know what you will be cooking. This will insure you use early season, grass fed geese for jerky and those late-season, corn-fed fatties for finer recipes. When cooking it is important to understand waterfowl

way wild forage can influence the flavor in cooking it can also greatly influence the flavor of the game itself. A young hunter is often just interested in getting their ducks. As the years pass by and you become increasingly better at getting ducks, your interest in harvesting great table fare may eventually exceed the need to fill a limit. When it does, you may find yourself stalking a secretive, flooded acorn stand for a few savory wood ducks that have been getting fat there (instead of those minnow eating mallards on the big lake). In any event, it is clear to understand that a bird’s diet can influence the flavor of your meat before you begin cooking it. If you freeze game, mark the bag clearly

come in many sizes and that allows a chef a large variety of options. I find teal to be perfect for an appetizer portion or accent in a recipe and larger puddle ducks are great entrees. Geese are always a favorite during the holidays (and often the only time I’d consider roasting one whole). Geese provide an abundance of meat throughout the hunting season and I make as much goose jerky as I can. I honestly believe it to be better than venison or other game meats for jerky, and each batch offers another chance to explore a variety of seasoning options. There are some who cook because they have hunted and others hunt in order to cook. Either way, when you reap the benefits of a wild

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page info CUISINE

WILD ACCENTS • 3 TLB. olive oil • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar • 2 cups of sliced morel mushrooms • 1/4 stick of butter • 2 tsp. salt • 2 tsp. diced garlic • 2 slices of raw bacon/diced • 5 cups of dandelion greens, torn in halves • 1/2 cup of dried cranberries • 1/2 red onion diced • 1 tomato diced • 1/2 cup of grated Fontana cheese In a hot pan heat the oil. When HOT, add the bacon, stir for 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic, salt, butter, red wine vinegar, mushrooms and reduce the heat to med/low, cover and let simmer for 5 min. Mix dandelion in a large bowl with the onion and tomato. Take the hot ingredients off the stove and put in freezer for 10 min. Pour the cooled dressing over the spinach, add the dried cranberries and grated cheese.

volume six, issue twenty-one

America and all the gifts that nature can provide, you can be rewarded with a culinary delight that cannot be purchased in any restaurant, anywhere. As the fall season approaches and we embark on another season of harvest, you can celebrate the rewards of the hunt with your friends and family using the following recipes. I encourage you to personalize the recipes and experiment with your own culinary flair. Bon Appetit!

COOKING NOTES MAIN COURSE Preheat oven to 425°F. Discard loose fat from goose. With a cleaver or heavy knife, cut goose kneck into 2-inch pieces. Quarter 1 onion then quarter celery crosswise. Rinse goose inside and out and pat dry. Pierce skin of goose all over with a fork to allow the fat to drain and help skin to become crisp. Season goose with salt and pepper and loosely pack neck cavity with enough bread to fill out cavity (this will prevent cavity skin from collapsing during roasting). Fold neck skin under body and fasten with a small skewer. Fill body cavity with quartered onion and celery, then tie legs together loosely with kitchen string (or insert legs through slit in lower skin flap if possible). Cut remaining 2 onions and carrots into 2-inch pieces. Transfer goose, breast side up, to a rack set in a deep flame-proof roasting pan and scatter onion and carrot pieces, neck pieces, and giblets in pan. Roast goose in middle of oven 30 minutes. Reduce temperature to 325°F. and carefully pour boiling water over goose (juices may splatter). Roast goose for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, skimming off fat (save for later use). Baste with pan juices using a metal bulb baster every 20 minutes until a meat thermometer inserted in fleshy part of thigh registers 175°F. -- Juices should run clear when thigh is pierced with a skewer. Transfer goose to a heated platter. Remove skewer and discard string. Keep goose warm, loosely covered with foil. With a slotted spoon discard vegetables, neck pieces, and giblets from pan. Spoon off fat from pan juices and reserve. On top of stove, deglaze pan with white wine and Port over moderately high heat, scraping up brown bits, and boil mixture until reduced by about half. In a 2 1/2- 3-quart heavy saucepan whisk together 1/4 cup reserved fat (save remainder for another use) and flour and cook roux over moderately low heat, whisking, 3 minutes. Add Port mixture and broth in a stream, whisking to prevent lumps, and bring gravy to a boil, whisking constantly. Simmer gravy, whisking frequently, 5 minutes, or until thickened. Season gravy with salt and pepper. Transfer gravy to a heated sauceboat. Garnish plate with fresh parsley.

BEER PAIRINGS While any quality red wine is suitable for a wild goose dinner, a good, full-bodied craft beer is highly recommended. Of course, Goose Island’s Honkers Ale tops our list – not only for the immensely perfect name but the balance of fruity hops with a rich, malted middle. Cheers! • Goose Island, Honker’s Ale • Spanish Peaks, Black Dog Ale • Flying Dog, Flying Dog IPA • Karl Strauss, Pintail Ale • Rushing Duck, Dog’s Bollocks • Dancing Duck, Dark Drake

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w a t e r f o w l e r. c o m







As I loaded the last of my Rig’Em Right gear into the truck I couldn’t help but think back on all the hunting trips I’ve ventured on. I’m 21 years old and have been able to travel to Canada twice, Missouri and Arkansas more times than I can count and even over to South Dakota for the coldest snow goose hunt I’ve ever experienced. Yet, for some reason this short trip to Wisconsin felt like I had never ventured from my little bubble in Illinois before. Maybe it was because I haven’t had an opportunity to

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page info LONGNECKS






chase Canada geese in a few years. Or maybe it was because I was meeting up with a new friend to do some hunting together. Or it could have been a combination of both. Regardless, I was anxious and excited to get out and chase the infamous Canada goose. My roots run deep into the sport of goose hunting. I have shared a blind with my dad for close to 14 years now. I can remember lying in bean fields under oversized goose shells watching my dad call geese in and knock out his

limit in two quick blasts of his shotgun. Once I was old enough to carry a gun in the field with him, I hit the ground running. I shot my first Canada goose when I was nine years-old and didn’t slow down a bit. I am from Central Illinois, which is typically an area known for large amounts of geese migrating through every winter. I have been fortunate enough to experience some phenomenal goose hunting with my close friends and family over the years. Once I graduated

high school, I chose to go to Southern Illinois University to study communications and marketing, and quickly learned my goose hunting would be very limited. Southern Illinois was once known as the goose hunting capital of the world, but today it is known for rarely seeing a goose all year. With Chicagoland opening more and more hot-water lakes for power plants, the geese have no reason to push further south each winter. Even in Central Illinois we noticed a change in the migratory patterns.

We would only see geese if either power plants up north shut down for the winter, or Northern Illinois was buried in snow. This past winter seemed to spark some life back into the goose-deprived region of Southern Illinois when small groups of migrating geese finally made their way down to Crab Orchard Wildlife Refuge. Unfortunately for me, I was so busy with my school work and part-time job I rarely hunted. Now, in my senior year of college with a small class load and flexible work sched-



w a t e r f o w l e r. c o m

ule, I have finally been freed to hunt more often. So naturally, I called up Aaron Eberle in Wisconsin and take him up on an offer to hunt geese. I headed to the small town of Pardeeville, Wisconsin to hunt with new friend and fellow guide Aaron Eberle. We met last spring when Aaron



was guiding snow geese for the same service I was helping out at. We hit it off after a few days of chasing snow geese and decided to try to sync up to do some hunting in the fall together. Aaron is an accomplished goose caller with 3 Wisconsin State titles and numerous top

five finishes all over the Midwest. He has actually won the Wisconsin state championship the maximum amount of times and has been required to ‘retire’. When I entered his basement, there was no mistaking his love for waterfowl hunting and his past in competition goose calling. The

winter 2014


walls were filled with mounted ducks and geese and his plaques and trophies were displayed proudly at the base of the stairs. He has been involved in the waterfowl industry for quite some time, working with people like Bill Saunders and Scott Threinen and making friends along the way with other accomplished goose whisperers like Wade Walling. There is no mistaking Aar-

on’s passion for goose hunting. After one conversation with his wife, Jenny, I was convinced Aaron takes his hunting seriously. Jenny told me that Aaron spends almost every night behind the wheel scouting for birds in the fall. He constantly thinks about his next move and what he should do to be successful in the field. But don’t let this confuse you; he appreciates the little things about hunting

as well. Our first morning out, We hunted a cut cornfield that had standing corner bordering one end of the field. Aaron was very picky with the first bunch of geese that worked our decoys. Instead of taking a shot that most hunters would take, his patience and experience kicked in and we waited two more passes until the flock of four was touching down directly in the middle



of our decoy spread. I knew right then that Aaron wasn’t after just the kill, he was there for the hunt. This is something I too can relate with. I have always been known for passing up certain shots on birds because they didn’t finish quite ‘right’ in my mind. There is a lot that can be taken from this, with a sport that has grown in popularity, there seems to be a growing number of hunters who rush to kill a large pile of waterfowl so they can post their pictures to their preferred social media website. Now there is nothing wrong with harvesting a large amount of fowl, I must



say though, there is something more impressive to me when you can finish a goose at ten yards or even closer. Just knowing I have fooled the bird gives me a great amount of satisfaction. I felt right at home hunting with Aaron and his friends. It was extremely refreshing to hunt with a group of people who all appreciated birds landing in decoys. My second and final morning in Wisconsin we decided to hunt another cut corn field that had standing corn bordering one side of the field. We had the wind to our back and a great hide in the uncut corn. After

close to an hour of waiting, anticipating and hearing the occasional honk from the roost, a group of ten decided to come out to the field. With a few sharp clucks from mine and Aaron’s goose calls we had the group directly in front of us at ten yards. Our shotguns roared and we had our limit just like that. We were excited but a little disappointed at the same time. We all had hoped to watch more flocks work our decoys. Since this day happened to be the last day of the first half of the Wisconsin season, Aaron asked all of us if we would like to stay out and try

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to snap some photos of birds trying to land in. Since they would not be hunting these birds for another week, it was unlikely they would still be using the same field anyways. Naturally I was on board with this plan. Not long after getting back into our hide we had another group come, then another and another. Hundreds of geese came pouring out of all directions. It seemed as if the gates to Heaven opened and every goose wanted in our field. I snapped as many photos as I could while the rest of the



group sat on their stools in wonder as the birds dropped down all over the field. Some in our decoys, others scattered out across the field, we estimated there had to be close to one-thousand geese on the ground at one point. This trip was everything I had hoped it would be and more. Sure we shot our limit of birds each day, but that’s not what I took home with me. I took home the visions

of geese being fooled by our calls and decoys, the friendship that has grown between Aaron and me and more fuel for the fire to an old passion of mine; goose hunting. I am already looking forward to the next time Aaron and I can sync up and try to trick a few more geese.

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spring 2014 w a t e r f o w l e r. c o m

tales fr om young hunters

CHASING THE CLIPPER I’ve been going on hunting

that fuel the migration and bring the

was glued to the Weather chan-

trips as far back as I can remem-

ducks and geese down the flyway

nel each evening until the reporter

ber. When I was a toddler, my dad

in record numbers. As bad luck

finally uttered those magical words,

would pack me in my snowsuit and

would have it, every year the clipper

“… a clipper system will descend

drag me, (and a pile of decoys) into

seemed to come midweek when I

from Canada this week, fall across

the corn stubble. From the time I

was in school, had football, family

the Great Plains and slam into the

passed my hunt-

Great Lakes this

er safety class


at 8 ½ years of

Wait? Did

age until now, my

she say week-

autumn seasons

end? For real?

have been spent

Now, don’t get

chasing ducks

me wrong, I was

and geese in

thrilled the system

Wisconsin and

was coming but

Illinois. It’s hard

the irony of the

to believe that

situation just had

10-years can

a certain sting to

pass so quickly.

it. I’m finally at the

If there is

age where I’m in

one thing I have

control of my own

learned over

schedule (where

the years, the

I can buck a few

absolute best day to hunt geese

wedding or some other seemingly

responsibilities to go hunting) and

right after the first snow. On the first

unimportant event.

the famed Alberta Clipper decides to

snow, even the smartest geese are

Before this season began, I’d

dumb for a day. Snow changes the

decided, come hell or high water,

that moment I decided my adven-

visual terrain. Storm fronts trigger an

this I was hunting the first snow.

ture would not be undone by Father

internal need to feed. Most impor-

Despite my busy class and work

Winter and I informed my boss the

tantly, crappy weather ignites hope

schedule, I had warned my boss

next day that’s I’d be taking the fol-

in waterfowl hunters.

about my eventual sick day and was

lowing Monday off.

For years my dad talked about Alberta Clippers – those arctic winds

willing to make up any classwork I’d miss. Throughout November I

show up on the weekend. It was in

By the time Friday evening rolled around, gear guns and my



on frozen ground - continued

group of friends were ready. In

birds to set in decoys just minutes

exchange for the use of all my dad’s

after they have decided to take flight

decoys and spare layout blinds, I

and stretch their wings is iffy pros-

the snowbrush from my truck into

only had to agree to take photos

pecting – especially in a well tilled

the layout blind to clean off decoys

and my little brother along – a fair

field where food has been limited for

throughout the day. When the last

and easy trade.

some time. If the snow did confuse

decoys were set we moved our

them enough, we’d surely have an

trucks to the far edge of the field.

ing I found that most geese were

epic morning. If it didn’t, we would

On the walk back to the decoys I

feeding well east of fields we had

see a ton of geese flying all day with

could only here the crunch of snow

access to. Many were feeding in

no interest in us at all. The worst

under my boots and the distance

fields that were inside township bor-

part was, as the “planner,” what

cackles of geese in the predawn

ders or on large corporate farms that

ever happened would be my fault.

skies. Whether it was wishful think-

nobody ever hunts. Our best bet

No risk, no reward right?

ing or reality, there sure sounded

During my pre-weekend scout-

was going to be a field nearly adja-

The snow arrived overnight as

cent to the quarry where a couple

predicted. When our small convoy

thousand birds were roosting.

of diesel trucks rolled into the virgin

Running traffic on geese is dif-

like a lot more geese roosting in the quarry than there were before. Geese are fickle birds. Unlike

snow that blanketed the field my

ducks that really like to get up and

ficult. It’s even more difficult right

hopes were high. Snow continued to

fly at first light, geese can sit around

next to a roost. Trying to convince

fall and I even remembered to toss

until mid morning or late afternoon



winter 2014 w a t e r f o w l e r. c o m

before they finally decide to get up

tales fr om young hunters

Gunshots create an eerie

light-headed I had to take a break

and fly. Today, I was prepared to

silence in the outdoors. In the mo-

and breathe. The first pair of

wait them out, even if they decided

ments after a shot, it seems every

geese over the decoys was folded

to wait until evening to fly.

noise-making critter in the outdoors

as other approached and others

takes a deep breath and holds it.

flared. Guns were emptied, loaded

from the time we all slid into the

As the echo of the shots on the

and calls blown until reeds and

layout blinds until the morning sky

mallards subsided, the vacuum of

caller nearly gave out. When the

was bright enough to see a distant

silence seemed to compress inward

last of the flights disappeared on

horizon. I think we were all concen-

and then explode with the thunder

the horizon, we were one bird short

trating on the distant sound of geese

of wings and honks from the nearby

of a 5-man limit on geese – with

when two, low flying mallards came

quarry. This is not what I’d planned.

a handful of bonus ducks. Had I

over the tree line behind us and un-

Having kicked the proverbial

not taken time to photograph the

Snowflakes continued to fall

leashed a volley of shots. The bird

beehive, the sky was soon filled

chaos, I’d have had my limit as well.

I was swinging on tumbled before

with geese flying in every direc-

While I had these visions of classic

I fired, so I corrected my swing on

tion. No matter where you spun

full day hunt, there is something to

the second bird. The muzzle flash

your head there were geese flying

be said for chaos and Chinese fire

barked in front of the gun and as my

towards or away form us, in loud,

drills – they can be darn fun and

eyes re-adjusted I saw the drake

mind-boggling numbers. Each of


bounce on the snow.

us hammered our calls,. I was so



w a t e r f o w l e r. c o m





volume six, issue twenty-two

It has been my great good fortune to hunt waterfowl in every flyway in these here United States. And I have called more than one of those states home from time to time, for a time. In each and every one, opening day of waterfowl season comes with its own unique rituals, charms, sights, sounds and surprises. During my days out on the upper left coast Opening Day usually meant came with the return of the rainy season and that meant fresh wild mushrooms to go along with a mixed bag of waterfowl and the ever present nuts and squirrels of the two legged liberal leaning who glared at me as I stomped around the somewhat less sodden ground around the marsh in my camouflage rain gear, shotgun slung over my shoulder. Folks from all walks of life tend to look at ya a bit cockeyed when you tell them you are mushroom hunting if you are toting iron and decked out in camo. I mean after all it ain’t like ya gotta sneak up on a fungus and blast it with BBs before you can safely reduce it to possession. And up in the strange little stretch of the world I called home in those days most of my neighbors and fellow fungus fantaics tended to be of the patchouli and dreadlock sort. So getting groceries with guns was about as foreign to them as regular grooming. But for the most part my hazy-eyed neighbors were “chill” with my animal slaughter once they heard me out and understood that so far as an organic diet went my meat consumption was about as good as it got. During my days as a denizen of the Upper Midwest opening day had its own peculiarities. For reasons yet clear to me folks of that region had decided at some point in time to open waterfowl season at noon. And in the small towns around the local lakes and marshes they let you know when the official hour had arrived by blasting the town’s tornado sirens, at which point my fellow, native duck hunters would commence to blasting away at every duck and goose within a sight. After a few years I came to appreciate the spectacle. The once tranquil marsh would erupt in waterfowl and the echoes of



bradley ramsey

shotguns was truly a sensory expeiance. And had I been aware of its history and storied past of church bells versus sirens I might not have spent the first few openers cowered in the bottom of my boat afraid that World War III had commenced at the same fateful moment an F-5 twister had decided to plunk down on my head outa nowhere. I can not claim to have had the luck to have opened the season on the hallowed ground of our Atlantic Flyway but I am guessing it has its own traditions particular to that region. Until I do I will just imagine it having something to do with a grand seafood feast, funny accents, black ducks and talk of tides. Back in my home hunting haunts of the Lower Mississippi Flyway, our opening day tends to come much later in the year, usually within a week or so of Thanksgiving. And while the calendrer calls it fall, the weather is often not near as cold as one might wish. And with that warmth, opening day tends to find me and my fellow fowlers swatting mosquitos and participating in a few of our own opening day rituals. Traditions that (though perhaps not as formal) as sirens and clam bakes are no less a fabric of the cloth from which memories of the start of the season are swen. The one particular tradition my fellow waterfowlers seem to have adopted is an impromtu, free form, interpretive dance I now refer to as The No-Shoulder Shuffle. For the uninitiated a No-Shoulder is a snake. And while I am not overly afraid of snakes and am well versed in the identification of an enourmous variety of venomous and non-venemous snakes that also call my little corner of this country home, I can assure you that ALL snakes that are discovered, unexpectedly, in the dark, RIGHT THERE, are not only venomous, but also nine and a half feet long, as big around as an oil can, angry, coiled to strike and hissing. But in fairness the same may also be said of siphon hoses, braided bow lines and any long, curvy sticks that might just happen to jump into the beam of your headlamp when you reach for your blind bag for a refresher of coffee or second spray of mosquito dope.



one more swing — continued

As I mentioned, The No-Shoulder Shuffle has no formal steps or choreographed moves. Rather it is an ever evolving dance that is never done the same way twice and grows ever more elaborate and embarrassing when re-enacted by your fellow hunters in the hours, days, weeks and seasons ahead. In some version the dance is also accompanied by vocals. Usually a semi-primal, free style, semi-jazz scat verse made up on the spot, also available in the extended dance mix to be release upon the retelling of the tail. Reason and rational might say that the primal fear of serpents should be quelled in such moments by the unavoidable fact that when one sets about conducting the No-Shoulder Shuffle they, and in most cases, everyone they are with, are armed with a shotgun fully capable of dispatching a snake in short order? But in that moment of adrenalin fuel fight or flight survival the discharging of a firearm is in most cases the furthest thing from the dancer’s mind. And that is generally for the best considering the close quarters and ricochet potential of most duck blinds. Far better to flail around and wail like a sissy than send shrapnel bouncing among your buddies or put holes in the boat that is the principal piece of equipment keeping you out of the water where the snake most likely came from and is probably eager to return to, if for no other reason than to tell all his reptilian friends about how he just made an armed man climb on top of a boat motor or soil his waders. I think however that something would be lost in the translation. After all with no shoulders that snake would have a heck of a time immolating the dance it had just witnessed and The No-Shoulder Shuffle, when done properly has a vast array of hand gestures.



More movement, more birds in the bag. [ i t ’s j u s t t h a t s i m p l e ]


w a t e r f o w l e r. c o m J O U R N A L

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