Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Stuttgart, AR

Winchester Ammunition and Ducks Unlimited teamed up along with Yamaha to host a women’s media camp January 3-5.

On the night of the 3rd, I couldn’t sleep I was so excited. Here I was in Stuttgart, Arkansas, the duck hunting capital of the world and in a few short hours I would be hunting with a three-time Women’s World Duck Calling Champion.

It had snowed all night, and temperatures were dropping. The weatherman said it would be the coldest winter Arkansas has seen in 16 years. That did not stop a few of us ladies as we headed to our pit before sunrise.

I love hunting in different states, especially when the first time out is in the morning. I love the anticipation of the sun coming up, revealing the surrounding landscape. It is like opening a present; you have an idea of what you are getting, but still excited to lay your eyes on it.

When the sun came up I saw what the 13-inches of rain along with the freezing temperatures had done. There was water everywhere, and the only open water that was not victim to the temperatures was in front of our pit.

Even though the snow was blowing in our faces and the prospects of duck landing in front of or blind were slim, the highlight of this morning’s sit was to have Shelby Free, three-time Women’s World Duck Calling Champion calling for us.

Shelby may look like the typical 17-year old girl, but she everything but that. She is incredibly well spoken, has a positive attitude, is taking college level courses at the local high school and is one heck of a caller. She got the attention of a good majority of the ducks that flew overhead. Shelby calling on her RNT call is a form of art. It was a real treat to share a blind with her.

That afternoon I shared a different pit with writers Lisa Metheny and Pat Stockdill as well as DU biologist Virginia Getz. There was little movement that afternoon, and we spent the afternoon talking about anything and everything. What I love about waterfowl hunting is the social aspect.

Before supper we toured Rich-N-Tone duck calls facility. The countless hours spent researching, testing and manufacturing calls was very interesting most of it is still done by hand. After touring the facility we went next door to Mack’s Prairie Wings for some retail therapy.

After a traditional southern dinner we gathered around to discuss conservation issues with DU biologists. I learned about the work DU does on the breeding grounds and across continental breeding

grounds for the benefit of ducks and other wildlife. There was a biologist from every region on hand to discuss issues and solutions specific to their region.

We also discussed Winchester Ammunition’s involvement with DU. Did you know that the two joined forces way back in 1987? Winchester has been the exclusive ammunition sponsor for DU for several years. A DU membership application is included on each package of Winchester steel waterfowl ammunition and the DU logo is displayed on the packaging.

The next morning I hunted with Waterfowl & Retriever editor Hilary Dyer, DU biologist Andi Cooper and DU communication specialist Chris Jennings. We had a few shots on some specs, but nothing fell from the sky that morning.

When we decided to call it a day, Hilary and I decided to test our new Cabela’s women’s waders. We broke through about an inch of ice and walked around in about three feet of freezing water freeing trapped decoys. Breaking the ice on the rice pond reminded me of splashing in puddles when I was a kid and I didn’t want to leave. The new waders passed our “extreme” test with flying colors.

I think I am one of the first people in the world to go to Stuttgart and not shoot a single duck or goose. The 13-inches of rain and freezing temperatures was Mother Nature’s way of saying “that’s why it’s called hunting and not catching!” Despite that, I got to meet and spend time with incredibly talented (female) members of the outdoor media as well as the extremely passionate and intelligent DU staff members. Did I also mention Chevalier Advertising alum JoLee Liepman (now representing Yamaha) was my bunkmate?


1 comment:

  1. OH MY GOSH I made the Chevalier blog! I'm famous! *swoon*

    Seriously, it was a heck of a good time. Too bad the ducks didn't join us, but stomping around in that ice made for great pictures and a good story.