Edmonton, Alberta has long been renowned as a duck and goose hunter’s paradise. For those of us raised in the states, too often familiar with playing the waiting game in small farm fields, marshes and flooded timber; the stark difference just in the number of birds seen makes this Canadian trip a rare experience indeed.
Not only did I witness unimaginable shooting opportunities, there were also hot barrels, good camaraderie, great retrievers, tasty dishes, new firearm products, cabin walls adorned with eight-man limits, and…one funny guide surely cut from the mold of Rodney Dangerfield.
I met up with Scott Grange from Browning, Jonathan Harling from Winchester Ammunition, and Kevin Howard from Mossy Oak, along with four other outdoor writers for early-October duck and goose hunting. The eight of us were guests at Dog ‘N Duck Outfitting, 80 miles northeast of Edmonton, Alberta.
The three company reps showed us a few new products for 2009 in action. I hope to talk these guys into getting some decent-sized quantities of a few of their new items for NAHC members to Field Test and report on.
Some of the product highlights included the Browning’s XPO Grand Passage Insulated Jacket in Mossy Oak Duck Blind Camouflage, Winchester’s Xpert Steel Shot, and Browning’s New Maxus Semi-Automatic Shotgun.
During the course of two-and-a-half days, we had three morning hunts and two afternoon hunts. Despite the bright clear skies and unseasonably-hot, 80-degree weather, (century-old, early-October records for warm weather were shattered while we were there), we did pretty well.
On the opening morning’s honker hunt I took my first-ever “specklebelly” goose, with the eight of us ending up with almost two dozen geese and a half-of-dozen ducks. The hunt was done in a feed-pea field using some unique “stand-up” blinds. The blinds with made of collapsible, hinged fencing that were complete brushed in and surrounded by a mix of both full-body and silhouette decoys. Think of them as above-ground pit blinds. We sat on five-gallon buckets and stood up to shoot. The waterfowl certainly flew comfortably into the set-up, ignoring the 3-foot structures.
On the second morning’s duck hut, all eight of us at camp hunted together in a different grain field using the same stand-up blind set-up. We had an unbelievable morning by limiting out with 64 ducks in just 53 minutes. We then spent an hour watching hundreds of other ducks continue to land into our decoys while we took in-your-face photos of the ducks, and some great video footage.
On the last morning we split up into smaller groups for more duck hunting, this time we set up over water on one of the many prairie potholes available to Dog ‘N Duck. My foursome capped our limit of 32 ducks in less than 43 minutes, with one huge mallard boxed up for me to take home and mount on the wall.
The hot afternoons proved unproductive, yet relaxing. We saw thousands of both ducks and geese in the air, but only a handful worked with us and came down.
Spoonbill Bob and the Author
Going on far-from-home hunts is always fun because you often see beautiful scenery, new-to-you wildlife species and interesting people. But every once-in-a-while, you’ll meet a true character. Someone EVERYONE at camp remembers long after your gear is unpacked and cleaned.
Meet Spoonbill Bob. Think of him as a 70-something, Canadian version of Rodney Dangerfield. His self-degrading jokes, R-rated one-liners, and constant wisecracks kept us rolling our eyes and chuckling in the duck blind. “Why do they call you Spoonbill Bob?” I asked Bob during the first night at camp.
“Spoonbills are horrible ducks … and I am a horrible man,” he replied with a smirk and a wink.
The Spoonbill Lounge was my personal favorite building on the property. It’s a wood-stove-heated shack named in honor of the “horrible” guide. It’s dotted with comfortable chairs, a poker table, and decorated with antique game calls, beer signs, knickknacks, and mounted trophies that many years of satisfied, return-visit guests donated.
Every hunter, staying at Dog ‘N Duck, has to sign the walls of the Spoonbill Lounge with permanent marker before they leave. Some of the guests add humor to the walls by writing down the one-liners (A.K.A Spoonie-isms) they heard him spout off during their hunt. Some prime examples include: “My ex-wife was an excellent housekeeper … She kept the house!” And, “I came into this world with nothing, and it looks like I’ll go out with most of it left.” Meeting Spoonie certainly was a humorous highlight of the Alberta trip.
Learn more about the outfitter at: www.dognduck.ca. If you’ve never spent some fall-harvest days in Canada, getting up-close and personal with wild waterfowl; then you must put it on your bucket list.