This past weekend we had a great time at our youth duck hunt give-away! If you?ve seen the home page at all then you know that we hosted a youth duck hunt give-away this season. Youth had to submit essays about why they liked duck hunting & why conservation was important for the sport of water-fowl hunting. By the end of the weekend our 2 winners, Austin Bagwell & Luke Humanik, said that the pain of writing the essays was well worth it.
I should probably back up and say that this hunt wouldn?t have been possible without some extremely generous guys from the watershed hunting club who not only donated their hunting hole, but who also donated their cabin & even cooked 2 meals for the kids and everyone involved. A big kudos and thanks to them as well as WinnTuck who donated some really neat prizes to our winners. We should also thank Darryl & Blake Hodge for coming by and giving some calling demos & pointers to our winners.
Friday afternoon we all arrived to the cabin & hung out overlooking the lake. It was a very relaxed environment. Early in the afternoon Mr. Dale Knight did some work with his dog ?Shine? and it was really neat to watch the dog work. Shine is very trained and disciplined. It?s almost a work of art to see him listen & respond to all the calls and signals. Dale has definitely spent some long hours in training that dog.
After Shine put on his show we started building a fire in front of the cabin. It had been warm, but the temperature was starting to drop. The fire burned from the afternoon and kept it warm as the sun set. During the daylight we could see some ducks swimming around on the pond, but when the sun started to go down the ducks & geese really started coming in. We could hear the mallards just cackling on the water throughout the evening.
As it got dark Dale fired the grill up and started cooking. Some of the other members of the hunting club pitched in and helped cook as well. We had a big time eating and talking smack about duck hunting while we ate. One of our youth winners even brought a pecan pie that made for a great dessert. After we ate we went back outside to hang by the fire & Darryl & Blake Hodge stopped by. They did some calling demos and worked with Austin & Luke on their calling giving them some tips on making certain sounds with mallard, wood duck, & goose calls. I can tell you that Blake has some strong lungs with some of the notes he was holding on his competition calling demo set. Before it was over the guys were taking calls apart & looking at reeds & getting flashlights out to see more clearly than the light of the fire provided. After Blake & Darryl left the boys were practicing calling for a while.
It didn?t take long after that for everyone to wind down and get ready for bed. We would have an early morning & the quicker we went to sleep the quicker we would be in a swamp the next morning. Though, sleeping for some of us wasn?t as easy as we?d planned ;-) Let?s just say that we had multiple lumberjacks in the cabin sawing logs at different rates throughout the night! Eventually 5:30 came and it was time to roll out and get ready.
We all got up and got our gear on and headed to the swamp. It was cold, but not as cold as I thought it would be. We made our way into the swamp and Shine, the duck dog, was really anticipating the hunt. He was fired up and energetic to get out in the swamp (and we were too). I got situated to the right of where the hunters were in hopes of getting some footage & pictures of the hunt as it happened. Dale guided our youth hunters and their fathers deeper into the head of the swamp and got everyone set up in position. It was just a matter of time.
Mallards were already on the water when we arrived. We could hear them cackling as we walked in. For this reason we were as quiet as possible while entering. It was a little overcast and there were clouds in the sky which made it a little darker than normal. Though, as soon as I could barely see we had ducks flying all around us. There were 2 initial groups of ducks that got up and left the pond and then more groups started coming into the pond. I had hoped to get some footage of all this, but it was way too dark to get any of this on camera. The kids started firing shots and no one made a connection.
As it got lighter out the ducks continued to come in. Wood ducks were the majority of the early morning action then mallards & geese got into the mix. At one point one of the hunters hit a bird because we saw feathers come out, but it wasn?t good enough to bring it out of the sky! Shine was just itching to go retrieve something & would get worked up every time Dale started calling. We had a lot of mallards circling us and then they would land just on the other side of the area we were in. I bet there were 50 mallards over there just over a wood line. I watched piles of them come in there from all directions. That?s not to say that our boys didn?t pull the trigger on a few as they circled, but we only had a few come right down the pipe. One wood duck even slipped right down the middle of all of us while we were watching some other ducks circling behind us. It was ?Murphy?s Law? I guess.
Eventually we called it a day and started out of the swamp. As soon as the kids unloaded their guns, you guessed it, another group came circling in. The kids loaded up their guns, but it was too late. Everyone then re-unloaded and headed out. I got the guys to stop on the edge of the swamp for a picture & then we headed out. As we walked along the edge of the swamp we saw those coots out there again and were almost about to let them have it, but decided not to go after them as they were headed the other direction.
We then returned to the cabin for another great breakfast and more hunting stories. Nothing like having a hot breakfast waiting on you as soon as you get off the water. We all sat around for a bit and talked about the morning?s hunt. As we finished eating the youth hunters were back outside practicing their calling. We cleaned up the cabin as much as possible and then we all said our goodbyes.
Even though the youth hunters weren?t able to get any ducks it was still a great overall experience. We met some new friends and shared some great times out by the pond, by the fire, eating some good meals, and in the cabin. Dale & the guys from the watershed hunting club were kind enough to donate their resource to help put this hunt on in hopes of helping to pass on the love of the outdoors & the importance of wildlife conservation to younger generations. Hopefully these youth hunters that won the hunting trip and joined us will continue to value these principles as they grow and become adults. I also encourage you to do the same and find ways to help pass the love of the outdoors on to younger generations.
Thanks again to everyone who helped put this hunt on and to our 2 youth winners Austin & Luke!
It?s going to be like a second Christmas for the winner of the 2011 WinnTuck Waterfowl Competition! WinnTuck, Hobo Calls, & Lodge Creek Calls all donated the products that comprise a great prize package for this year?s winner so thanks to our sponsors for making the competition possible.
Thanks to all the hunters who participated and posted pics. We really had some good entries which made it tough to select the best. We had a tough time narrowing down the finalists and we decided to narrow it down to a top 5 instead of a top 3. Now the fate of the winners lies in the hands of the voters!
Voting will be live from 2/9/11 throughout 2/12/11. The winner will be announced on 2/13/11 and the prizes delivered shortly thereafter.
The top 5 pictures (in no particular order) were:
Be sure to go and cast your vote for the WinnTuck 2011 Waterfowl Competition winner!
The top 5 are below
Gavin Jackson and Justin Gainey
The Wrecking Crew
Dale Knight & Travis Johnson
We left shortly after my dad got home from work and drove straight through which was a 6 hour ride and my mom drove all the way. We checked into a hotel around 1:00 am and I don?t remember a thing after my head hit that soft hotel pillow.
I was back up around 6:45 and we went ahead and registered around 8:00 for the contests. The contests were held at Green Top Sporting Goods and they have an awesome store with a ton of great hunting and fishing gear.
After the callers meeting, which are where they go over all the rules for the contests, we started practicing in their parking lot and actually called over three different flocks of geese. Now if that don?t tell you that you sound good then nothing does. Seeing those monsters trying to light in the parking lot got me super pumped for the contest.
Once they called the contestants back it was time to get my game face on and be focused. It only takes one bad note in a 90 second routine to do you in. Remember I rode for 6 hours?..
For the goose calling competition, I used a Lodge Creek Mayhem goose call which was prepared by Mark McDowell and Joe Finny.
After several rounds in the duck and goose, the contests were over and I had won the VA State JR Goose and finished 2nd in the VA State JR Duck.
I was so excited! I know my dad was proud and all my thanks go out to him, my mom and the Lodge Creek Crew for helping me with my routine!
Once the prizes were handed out and my time was up in the Green Top sporting goods store, we drove back home to Lancaster, SC to prepare for another school week @ Buford High School.
Well keep practicing and keep hunting!
Hello everyone, I?m very excited toshare this blog with you. I was invited to come to Schofield Hardware in Florence, SC this past weekend to give a calling demo along with Phil Robertson a.k.a. the ?Duck Commander? and to help promote Drake Waterfowl and WinnTuck Waterfowl products for Schofields.
The event was great and had a lot going on all day long. We were set up at our table promoting Drake & Winntuck and there were other tables promoting various waterfowl products as well. The Duck Commander was over at his table signing autographs and somehow there was a slight difference in the size of the line at his table than the size of the line at mine!
When it came time for Phil to speak and me to call, they came and got both of us and took us behind the stage. While we were walking toward the state Schofields was introducing Phil. At that moment in time, I was asking myself was this for real? How cool is this? Shortly after Phil got on stage, they threw me a curve ball by having Phil introduce me! What?the Duck Commander introducing me???...it was too cool. I wasn?t ready for that, but I was pumped about the intro. After being introduced by the Duck Commander, he asked me to give a calling demo on my LCC Mayhem goose call. He had heard that I sounded like a whole flock of geese from everyone at Schofields.
Ok, I said????no pressure here, being in front of everyone and the Duck Commander! As you could almost hear a pin drop except for the nearby traffic, I let it rip and got a great response from Phil and everyone in the crowd. Whew?..I couldn?t believe that I just called on stage with the Duck Commander!
After I called, the program was turned back over to Phil and he gave a very inspirational speech that kept everyone glued to their seats. Once, he finished up, he went back inside to continue signing autographs and taking pictures. After the speech I got to something else that was neat.
Schofields not only had the Duck Commander, but they had Mud-Flap from Eagle 92.9 out of Florence, SC. After the calling demo I got to do a live radio broadcast with him! It was really neat. After the broadcast, I couldn?t help but smell all the great food that was being cooked by none other than ?Cooks for Christ? and I?m telling you they cooked a great chicken bog!
I continued to promote Drake and WinnTuck products until the event was over. After that I headed back home to catch up with some friends at our Buford High football game and tell them about the Schofields event.
As I?m writing this today, I?m still pumped up over it and would like to give a big Thanks to everyone at Winntuck, Drake, & Schofields Hardware in Florence, for not only having but supporting me as well.
Until next time-Happy Hunting,
The beginning of J-Duck Chronicles
The sunrise over Winyah Bay
J-Duck's setup on the coast
I went duck hunting with Marty Smith & his son Josh Smith this past weekend. I showed up with only myself and a gun and Marty outfitted me with some waiters (which had a hole in them) and some bullets to shoot. I was a little unprepared I guess you could say, but I did have both of my stamps! Marty?s property backs into a swamp which is a creek that is dammed up by some beavers. It?s been there forever and I used to hunt there with Marty a lot when I was in middle school and high school. Since college and going back and forth to Europe I hadn?t been able to go in a while, but now I?m back in the game so to speak. I arrived to the shed a little early and took some pictures of Marty?s duck hunting home base. You scan see them below. It?s an old shed that is just what you would imagine it is and is just right for duck hunting. I like the feel of that shed...maybe because it throws me back to days when I was kid going hunting with the older guys or maybe because of the antique feel to it. I've heard many stories told in this shed as we would get ready to go hunting and then talk about how we missed ducks after the hunts. I assure you that no exaggerations have ever been made in this shed before!
Soon Marty and Josh arrived and we got our gear on and headed down to the swamp. We got out there before daylight and crossed a few dams. We had to get out a time or two and pull the boat over and then get back in. Eventually we paddled up into some cattails and wedged the boat in there real tight. He?s got some old burlap type of material in the boat that we use camouflage by draping it all over the boat. We also bent the cattails over the edges of the boat too. This really helped blend us into the swamp environment which is necessary because ducks eyes are so sharp that it?s critical to be well camouflaged. The day before Marty and Josh had shot a mallard, a wood duck, and a teal. I was hopeful that we would get some similar, good action, but in the end there were only 2 ? 4 ducks that flew in that we could see, but yet they were too far away to get a good shot. So I think I?m the ultimate jinx or something. Maybe they'll be better luck next time. Even though we didn?t get a good shot on a duck, it felt good to be out there in the swamp and to see some ducks fly again. I?m sure in time we?ll have a blog entry with some ducks on it. There is just something that is unique about being out their watching steam come off the water and hearing the distant call of a wood duck or a mallard. It?s a different feel for hunting than you get in a deer stand. One of those different feelings is the feeling of a wet sock when your waiters have a hole in them! Having a wet feet in a swamp doesn?t help you stay warm! Oh the joy, but it was a good experience and a good change of pace from sitting in a tree!
Anyway, I did shoot 2 videos that are up on our YouTube Channel and I have embedded them below.
360 View of our duck blind setup
Marty Smith calling in some mallards
Some pics from the morning
Somewhere out there around the state there are some duck hunters getting prepared for this weekend! Yeah that?s right, you all know who you are. Make sure your waiters aren?t leaking and the reeds in your duck calls aren?t broken because the clock is ticking!
While I?m no pro at duck hunting, I do enjoy getting out in a swamp and watching the ducks fly in. There?s just something neat about it, just like there is something neat about watching deer come through the woods? you just have to have more licenses/stamps to hunt them legally, thus incurring more expenses!
It has been a while since I?ve gone duck hunting, but I?m excited to get back out there. When I was growing up we would go duck hunting in the morning before school. There were days when we would go hunting with our English teacher and at 6:45 we were chasing ducks for him and then at 8:45 we were taking his tests! It was quite the contrast and Justin Brooks and I have been known to get a truck ?stuck? in a swamp and show up late to school. Those were the good ole? days though.
So if you are a duck hunter, then speak it up on the site, message board, & post your images to the ?Post Your Visuals? page. I/we are interested to see what you?ve got going on and any bands that you collect. We are also thinking about having a duck calling competition on the site. If you think that is a good idea, let us know. If you are the ?Duck Commander? of South Carolina then prove it to us.
This coming weekend I will be guided by the self-proclaimed legendary duck hunter Marty Smith along with his son Josh. Marty has informed me that we may even get into some geese. Hopefully we?ll get some decent images to show you. We shall see and my future blog posts will tell the truth of what goes on!