Still rubbing off the weathered face paint from your tired face, you make your way through the doors of work. Running late, but still find time to grab coffee and a quick chat with a co-worker in the break room. You talk about the family, weekend plans, the weather and the stale work place politics. As you both head different directions your co-worker might think they know you pretty well....but do they know who you are at 5:00 am?
It seems as waterfowl hunters we live two lifestyles. Almost like a childhood super hero, gaining extra powers as the sun sets after a day of being the average joe. As the sun peaks the horizon we are in a different world, at home and completely content. They say only WE are crazy enough to spend morning after morning "just shooting birds". What they don't know is there really is no price you can pay to spend time with guys and gals that will be the only ones to ever understand you. Only us, and us only will ever understand it.
From coast to coast theres guys, and girls that share this deep rooted passion. I'm really not sure what's more unique, the sport of waterfowl hunting, or the people that thrive in it. I have never seen a sport with more dedicated hunters, not only to the game but the conservation and future. There is a true love for our sport that in a crazy way connects each and everyone of us. From state to state each morning there is a gathering in a field, on a pond, a lake, or maybe a river. A gathering where good friends and family come together and where hard work really pays off. It's these mornings that unite us and builds the values in each of our lives.
I believe that so many people truely care about this sport so much because of the bonds and strong friendships they build. There are some things in life that you will only learn in a lay out blind or tucked into the bank of a river. When you get to hear a story from another group you can't help but grin, you've been there before, and been there with some of your best friends. Those are the people that know you at 5:00 am.
They know what it's like to put out 80 plus decoys every morning. The familar sting of 20 mph winds in 10 degree weather on your face. The feel of soaking wet clothes that weigh you down. These are also the people that know the reward. The unforgettable sunrises and beauty of each morning. The amazing flight of geese as they work around your decoys. It can be as simple as seeing that smile on young kids face that never had the chance to feel that adrenaline. These are the good friends and family that know your second life (or should I say first life) at 5:00 am, the life that is lived by many from coast to coast.
We are different. No doubt about that. The one thing that is certain though, is the passion we share, is shared across the nation. WE are the ones that build friendships with every sunrise. WE get to throw decoys out as we laugh about family gatherings. WE are the ones that don't forget how the simple things in life can't be replaced, by anything. The one thing WE can't forget is, no matter where we go there is someone just like us. Someone who you happen to run into and strike up a conversation with might just be, a good friend you've never met.
Danny McLennan Marsh Outdoors Pro-Staff
11-11-11 Brings Good Luck
Have you ever received a phone call from a buddy telling you something you haven’t heard in a couple weeks? Have you ever received a phone call from a buddy, and you could tell the excitement in his voice even though he was trying to keep his composure or be serious? On Thursday November 10, 2011 that was the case for me.
As I was driving through traffic on my way home from the airport Thursday evening, Jordan called me saying, “Would you rather shoot ducks out of a field, or on the water?” Right then and there I already knew the news was going to get better. Our conversation took up my 25-minute drive home, with arranging times and items needed for the hunt.
Grabbing some quick subway before heading to the house, my brother Riley called Mike (Marsh Outdoors Camera Crew) and said to be at our house when we get home.
We found ourselves in the middle of a Wisconsin, Chizzle-plowed, Cornfield Friday morning. With a south wind and overcast skies, we knew we would be in for a good morning of waterfowling. The one thing against us was the overcast skies, for it made it harder to pick out drakes. I am not sure how to describe that morning except for using the word, “incredible”. Shooting ducks out of a field in Wisconsin or Minnesota is not something that happens very often. Watching flock after flock of mallards “carry luggage”, or “maple leaf” into 10 yards or less, was a site that me, my brother Riley, Jordan, Brett Tyler, and Camera-Man Mike, will never forget.
The one thing that made this hunt quite unique was that 4 out of the 5 of us are still teenagers. This hunt was what you could call a young guys hunt. Mike and I do not have classes on Fridays, Riley had school off for Veterans Day, and Brett was able to get out of the first couple classes of the day. The camaraderie and hard work are just a couple factors that will make me remember this hunt for the rest of my life. Hunting with close friends and family are really what make those memories that last a lifetime. To capture it all through the lens of an HD camera is something that we at Marsh Outdoors strive to achieve, day in and day out.
Writing Contribution-Holt Watson-Marsh Outdoors Pro Staff
Rain or Shine Honkers
The early part of the 2010 waterfowl season in Wisconsin was a wet one. Several days in September were rainy, and it seemed like it carried on through a majority of the season. When some people would decided to sleep in that morning and wait for a dry day to hunt, we were out there enjoying the every minute of the waterfowl season that we were given.
We as waterfowlers are always hunting through some of the toughest conditions mother nature can throw at us, and the ones who fight through it, and get out there and hunt in it can reap the rewards. Now I won’t lie, I don’t mind sitting out there in September with a cool crisp air, a little wind, and no precipitation coming down so I am dry and comfortable. But no matter what the conditions are, I will be out there hunting if I have the opportunity to hunt.
We had some excellent hunts this year where we shot several birds, and some decent size flocks, within 10 yards during a heavy rain. I had a field scouted out for my dad, brother, and I one morning, and our cameraman was lined up to come and film it for us. When I got home and looked at the weather, it was calling for a 90% chance of rain, and a stiff wind. Rain is hard on the cameras, but I knew we would have a knockout hunt with the conditions they were calling for. We arrived at the field in the morning, and sure enough we got soaked, but my dad and brother will not forget the hunt that I put them on. The first two flocks we shot at were stair stepping down with some birds on the ground and some following them right down. When you can drop 6-7 birds out of one flock with 3 shooters, we must have been doing something right! We got our 15 birds, picked up and the birds dropped right back in and we hunted them 2 days later with great success.
Two weeks later, I was sitting in college class and my brother was out scouting back home and shot me a text saying we had a field loaded up with several hundred birds, and it looks like we should be able to get in there and get after them. I loaded up my decoys and blinds and headed back home that night to hunt them in the morning. Once again, the forecast was rain. The field was cut very short, so we opted to shift hunt, as we put three hunters in ground blinds, let them shoot their birds, and then shifted another set of hunters in. It worked great! We shot our limit of birds, and ended up leaving everything in the field because we had piles of geese that were still coming in and we wanted to let them feed. We got back in there the next morning and had another successful hunt!
One tip we do to help our success on the rainy mornings, were to use a lot of sleepers. I like to have about 25% or so sleepers when we hunt in the rain. I put most of the sleepers in small family groups behind the blinds 10-15 yards to give the geese in the air an impression that those geese are relaxed, have already feed, and the feeding flock is right around the blind where we want them to land.
No matter if it is raining, clear skies, snowing, windy, or whatever else mother nature throws at us, we have to take advantage of our given right to get out there and hunt. Some of the most successful days afield are in harsh, non-desirable conditions. Success is not measured on how many birds you harvest, more so it is time spent outside with friends and family, and enjoying the hunt all together. But if you can do all that, and add a pile of birds on top, it makes it all the better. Get out there and enjoy the hunting seasons while you can, rain or shine!
Remember, introduce someone new to the outdoors, they will appreciate it for a lifetime. I’m Jordan Marsh, with Marsh Outdoors, and thanks for reading.
Writing Contribution- Jordan Marsh
Never Give Up!
The Wisconsin duck and goose season is now officially closed for the fall of 2009. The year started off great with many limits of geese harvested. September was a great month and part way into October as we had an awesome corn field that was harvested before any other around our area and it was loaded with geese many days for us. October was a very rainy month and this led to the farmers not being able to take the corn off for the most part into late November with some even extending into December.
The bad weather put a hurt on the goose hunting and with minimal feed in the area and around the state made hunts get a little frustrating. The birds were around all year; many mornings consisted of shooting a couple of geese instead of a full limit. Not letting up I kept scouting to my full extent and hunting as many mornings that I could always going to bed and waking up thinking that the season was finally going to turn the corner and the geese and ducks would cooperate. Never the less the season continued to be a heart breaker.
Granted there were those mornings such as a duck hunt were we shot a 10 man limit of 60 ducks, and a few earlier hunts that posed a few goose bands for us, the other days were just plain hard work without many results. Finally December rolled around and the weatherman was starting to work towards our favor. The month looked like we would receive some snow and wind to help us out.
I am a late season hunter myself, I will fight to find geese till the last day of season and hunt no matter the conditions. Snow and wind only create a recipe for success in my book, combined with less hunting pressure and many times a good amount of geese using the same field.
As December rolled on we were still getting similar results. The heart ache was still growing. But as any hard core goose hunter you just have to keep plugging away until the end of the season no matter what curve balls have been thrown at you.
Finally it looked like we were getting a perfect day to goose hunt. With snow already on the ground, the weather man was calling for blizzard warnings and anywhere from 8-15 inches of snow, wind gusts up to 45 mph, and temps around 25 degrees, a guy couldn’t ask for anything more except for the birds to fly in the morning. As we woke up in the morning to cloudy skies we knew the geese would fly early and we headed out around 7 a.m. to set up. On our drive to the field we got a phone call saying that all of the state agencies were shut down for the day which meant college classes were also cancelled. With us determined to sit all day until the geese fly, the news of school being cancelled couldn’t have been any better.
As we set up the finisher and ground force blinds, and covered them with snow covers we were ready to go. The decoy spread looked great with FFD sleeper shells set out and a big feeding group in front of us it was going to be a great day. The first lone goose came and locked onto the spread. What seemed like forever for the goose to get within shooting range due to the 40-45 mph winds finally turned into a goose dead on the snow. The second flock of 10 birds came in just as perfect and centered us 5 guys up and we popped out to shoot 6 birds. With 7 of our 10 birds on the ground we knew we wouldn’t have a problem dropping our last 3 geese. Soon after picking up the dead geese we had another flock coming towards us. A nice flock of about 20 birds came right down the pipe and like it was meant to be, 3 birds dropped so low and close to us I could have grabbed one out of the air. We shot our 3 last birds and cleaned up for the morning.
The geese did what we expected with the strong north wind and they headed south that day. The next day consisted of driving around trying to find where a new group of geese were. As 600 were located about an hour south of us, we got permission and set up plans for the next morning. The same 5 guys headed out with great weather for the morning. A balmy December day with 30 degree temps and clouds which meant the geese should fly earlier in the day. At 10 a.m. the geese showed up at a fast pace. Small flocks worked into the spread and we piled up our 5 man limit of 10 birds for our last hunt of the season.
Even though the season was a tough season and did not go the way any hunter would want an entire hunting season to go, we had to keep fighting no matter what came our way. Even though you put in all kinds of work scouting, stubbling, calling, and flagging, some days and seasons will be less than amazing. The thing is, we have the right to hunt and all should be grateful that we are able to enjoy the ducks and geese no matter what. I personally know that I would rather head out in the morning and get skunked than sleep in. We are only given so many days to hunt in a season, take advantage of the great opportunity, no matter good or bad, and just remember, no matter what, NEVER GIVE UP!
Writing Contribution- Jordan Marsh
Here are some stories written by the Marsh Outdoors Staff that includes tips and tricks, and also stories of past hunts.