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FROM THE FIELD


Read some of our best hunting stories from world class hunting adventures with our certified outfitters. Know an outfitter that offers a great hunt? Please email us and we'll be happy to get in contact with them    




Decoying Spring Snow Geese over Water with Black Goose Outfitters

by Brandon Crowley, Co-Founder, Ultimate Waterfowlers Challenge

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CERTIFIED OUTFITTER:
LARRY FRIMANN - BLACK GOOSE OUTFITTERS

PHONE:
CALL 1-888-373-0008

EMAIL: CLICK HERE
WEBSITE: CLICK HERE

SPECIES HARVESTED ON THIS HUNT:
SNOW GOOSE, BLUE GOOSE & ROSS'S GOOSE
When you think of decoying snow geese in the spring you probably think of frosty mornings, muddy fields, layout blinds and needing at least three pairs of boots (and possibly waders) for a three day hunt. My adventure decoying snow geese in eastern Nebraska presented the unique opportunity to hunt a dry pit blind with transportation to and from the blind while hunting snow geese over water with a floating snow goose spread.

The journey began as I left the Twin Cities with more ammunition and coolers than I’d take for a typical hunt. I headed for eastern Nebraska for two exciting days of decoying spring snow geese, making my way through Iowa where the temperature topped 90 degrees. With the sun shining and the warm springtime air surrounding me, I dreamed of soon seeing flocks of thousands of snow geese over my head.

I arrived in eastern Nebraska at Black Goose Outfitters’ head camp where owner Larry Frimann and head guide Mike Meyer greeted me. They had already started preparing that night’s dinner, which included a generous New York Strip steak complete with potatoes and vegetables. While Mike finished cooking our dinner, Larry showed me around camp.

What an amazing view from camp! The lodge overlooked the two flooded fields and decoy spread that we’d be hunting at the bottom of the valley.

Meanwhile, I’d say the lodge itself was definitely “four stars,” providing everything needed for a fun and successful trip. Most outfitters can’t provide lodging, so I was excited to spend time at their beautiful lodge. I felt like I had my very own man cave, complete with a kitchen, bedrooms to sleep up to six people comfortably, hot running water to take a shower at the end of the day, a bird cleaning area complete with good lighting to prepare birds after dark, freezers to store birds, a living room area with couches and a big screen TV, a dining room table, a grill to cook enough meat to feed 15 men, and, to top it off, a beautiful fire pit overlooking the valley. In other words, the camp was/is a hunter’s paradise!

After Larry and I finished the lodge tour we hopped in his truck and took a drive to see the land. Larry showed me a handful of his turkey blinds where he runs spring turkey hunts after the spring snow goose season. He has a terrific set-up and a very high success rate. I haven’t been on one of his turkey hunts, but my good friend and business partner, Dan Wennerlind, said it’s a “must” so definitely talk to Larry about booking that hunt.

Eventually, it came time to unload the truck and wash up for dinner. Larry and Mike know how to treat guests well and every time I’ve been on a guided hunt with Black Goose Outfitters the meals have consisted of thick T-bone steaks, huge pork chops, prime rib and even ribs. I promise you that the meals are better than what you eat on a daily basis at home-- these guys know how to eat when on vacation.

After dinner I talked with the guys I would be hunting with in the morning. They told me about their previous hunts over the past three years with Larry and Mike and how they look forward to the hunt every year. I got excited hearing the numbers these guys were putting down on good migration days. Since they were from Iowa, we went into detail about the fall season they enjoy, including the early teal season. Later we agreed it was time to head for bed as we all had a date with the light geese early in the morning.

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Waking up at 6am, it was time for a quick, light breakfast. (FYI: Black Goose Outfitters cooks you a hot breakfast in the blind-- a very nice touch indeed.) Having put on our gear, we headed outside to discover the temperature had dropped 50 degrees overnight. Waterfowlers know one thing about temperature and hunting: when you have a significant decrease in temperature no matter what time of the year, you get in your blind and you get there early because waterfowl love to migrate when temperatures drop and hunters often refer to this as the “big push.” Mike had the six-person ATV ready and warmed up, so we put our gear in the back, loaded up, and headed down the valley to the blind.

The set-up was awesome to say the least; they had two flooded fields with a dike that ran down the middle and a 10 person pit blind built into the ground. The decoy spread consisted of 1,500 decoys with 1,000 full bodies on the dike and in the water on the north side of the blind and 500 floating decoys to the south. They also had three motion machines going on the dike coupled with Mike’s very own e-caller sound system. Mike has a background in audio and has custom recorded his very own snow goose sounds to replicate snow geese landing and sitting on the water-- from single birds to large flocks. It’s quite the sound to listen to as he adjusts the volume and tracks as snow geese work the spread making it very effective.

We unloaded our gear while Mike guided us to the pit blind. Larry and Mike smartly installed rope lights making it much easier walking up and down the stairs during morning darkness. Carrying guns, ammo and personal belongings, those rope lights illuminated our steps so we didn’t trip before the hunt even started.

We all got in and closed the hatch as Mike took the ATV out of sight. Then we waited 15 minutes until shooting time and loaded our guns; it wasn’t 10 minutes after shooting time that we had our first flock of birds working the spread. Now with my previous snow goose hunting experience in the United States, I knew that when you first see a flock until the time you might get the opportunity to shoot, it could take several long minutes. I quickly learned that hunting snow geese over water wasn’t going to be your typical muddy field hunt. These birds came down and they came down fast. It wasn’t 60 seconds before we first saw the flock and then pulled the trigger! I also learned that these guys from Iowa could shoot very well as we knocked 10 out of the 12 birds down. The fun had truly begun and I knew with such a good start to the morning that this was going to be one of those days to remember for the rest of my life.

Less than ten minutes later, as Mike and his Labrador Retriever finished picking up birds and returned to the blind, we had another flock of five Ross’ geese working the spread. They too, like the first flock, came in and presented a very manageable 20 yard shot and we harvested all five.

The sun began to rise. I had my shotgun in hand, covered in Natural Gear camouflage, and just made five new hunting buddies from Iowa-- what a great morning.

The drop in temperature really had the ducks and Specklebelly geese on the move that morning. It was beautiful watching and taking pictures in between the action of Pintails with full sprigs and seeing the Specklebelly geese landing in our snow goose spread. We saw literally hundreds of Pintails that morning.

Now Mike usually likes to start cooking breakfast in the blind around 9am, but the action was so thick with Mike and his Lab retrieving birds that breakfast had to wait. It wasn’t yet 10 o’clock and we had already shot down 41 birds. From singles and pairs to flocks of a hundred or greater working the decoy spread, Mike knew our comfort level as far as shooting distance and called the shots perfectly all morning long.

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Eventually it was time to eat a full breakfast. Mike prepared a hearty meal including two dozen eggs with bacon to make each of us a “breakfast burrito” as he called it. Topped with taco sauce, nothing hit the belly better after the morning adrenaline rush of shooting snow geese. In fact, we were interrupted on multiple occasions while eating our breakfast by incoming birds so the guys took turns trading shots while the others enjoyed their delicious meal.

As the morning went on and led into the afternoon I had some quality time in between the incoming flocks to get to know Mike and more about Black Goose Outfitters. I learned a lot about the variety of hunts that they offer from spring turkey hunts to fall duck and goose hunts and, of course, the current hunt that I was on-- their spring snow goose hunts.

We spoke more about the spring snow goose operation in eastern Nebraska and what realistic expectations were for how many birds they’d harvest on a daily basis. As all operations run, Mike said it depends on the day, how well everyone is shooting and how many hunters are in the pit. They’ve had days in the single digits to migration days where the birds are really flying some miles and hunters end up harvesting near triple digits. Mike informed me that although I was only hunting two days, it’s very important to book three days for this hunt to ensure getting some good shooting time.

The afternoon consisted of steady flocks working our decoys and keeping our gun barrels hot. We hunted until dusk when Mike picked us up in the ATV. We headed back to camp with our 81 harvested birds.

After taking some pictures with the guys holding the birds, we checked out the cleaning station and it took less than 15 minutes to prep the birds for the freezer thanks to a flawless set-up. I couldn’t believe how slick this cleaning station was-- with two bird hitches it was highly effective. Larry had on-site freezers to store our birds-- very convenient.

Dinner was delicious: thick cut pork chops with baked potatoes and veggies. Later that night I took a hot shower and hit the hay.

The next morning we were up at 6am, had a light breakfast, geared up, reloaded with shells, and headed down to the blind in the ATV. I had to laugh as I saw a couple of the guys wearing tennis shoes down to the blind on the second day. In all honesty this made sense-- why track down large uncomfortable hunting boots when tennis shoes are much easier on the feet? After all, the blind and dike were very dry and where in the world can you hunt snow geese in the spring in tennis shoes?

The morning temperature was in the low 40s with clear skies, similar to the first morning. Before we knew it, we had birds migrating into the decoys while we were still getting into the blind.

By the time we were set and ready, it was legal shooting time. The first flock was awesome to say the least; we managed to harvest all 14 birds as they nearly landed on top of the dike. I once again knew the day was headed in a great direction. It was almost an exact repeat of the first day, flock after flock giving us a great look (20-30 yards) picking off a handful of birds out of each flock and reloading for the next.

Mike had a good problem concerning what time to make pancakes for breakfast because it was non-stop action all morning into the afternoon.

While the morning consisted of pulling migrating birds down from what seemed the ozone layer, the afternoon was a little different. We managed to harvest our 81st bird around 2:15pm. Then thick clouds started rolling in and the rest of the afternoon saw only a handful of flocks for the remainder of the day.

As hunters, we knew two things by the end of the day: one, nobody was going to believe us that we harvested 81 birds on back-to-back days, and two, we saw a good part of the migration over the past 36 hours of hunting.

Like the end of the first day of hunting, we headed back to the lodge in the ATV, prepared our birds, and sat down to another delicious meal. Since this would be the last meal before we headed home in the morning, the guys decided to enjoy a nice campfire and share stories from the two days of hunting, taking time to just relax and enjoy our vacation. It was very peaceful as the clouds cleared and presented a beautiful star-filled sky with a bright moon. We even heard snow geese migrating in the distance.

We finished up, put out our campfire, and headed in for the night.

The trip exceeded my expectations. My hunting partner Dan Wennerlind and I go on several guided waterfowl hunting adventures all across the world and I always look forward to the trips with Larry and Mike with Black Goose Outfitters. They truly know how to cater to hunters of all backgrounds-- young or old, male or female, children, the disabled, etc.

I’ve already booked my hunt for next season and look forward to bringing my Dad and brother-- they’re big time deer hunters. It didn’t take them long to know it was something they wanted to experience, too, after seeing my pictures, and I know, like me, they’ll be back for years to come.

Be sure to get a group of six to eight hunters of your family and friends together, and experience one of the best kept secrets in eastern Nebraska-- decoying spring snow geese over water with Black Goose Outfitters!

BE SURE TO CHECK OUT SOME ADDITIONAL PICTURES FROM MY RECENT TRIP WITH BLACK GOOSE OUTFITTERS >>>







Hunting Specklebelly Geese in the Heart of the Duck World with Top of the Flyway Outfitters

by Brandon Crowley, Co-Founder, Ultimate Waterfowlers Challenge

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CERTIFIED OUTFITTER:
TREVOR MANTEUFEL-
TOP OF THE FLYWAY OUTFITTERSS

PHONE:
CALL 780-625-6736

EMAIL: CLICK HERE
WEBSITE: CLICK HERE
SPECIES HARVESTED ON THIS HUNT:
WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE (SPECKLEBELLY GEESE)

When you think of waterfowl hunting in Arkansas what’s the first thing that comes to mind? If you’re like most hunters, you think of hunting mallards in flooded timber and rice fields. You probably wouldn't think of hunting geese in the duck hunting capital of the world, but that's what I decided to do.

Arriving in Arkansas (from Minnesota), I knew it would be good hunting when I laid eyes upon the many flooded fields filled with birds. Besides ducks, I spotted white-fronted geese, better known as Specklebelly geese, aka “Specks.” They’re the birds I was after, and just seeing them upon arrival made me wonder how many I’d get during my time there.

I met Trevor and Nick from Top of the Flyway Outfitters at a local hotel in Arkansas and told them I was excited to spend two days chasing Specks with them. We walked to a nearby restaurant to enjoy a tasty BBQ and catfish dinner. Then it was back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep in anticipation of an early morning hunt the next day.

It had been raining in the area for three straight days, which ended up flooding many of the area fields, making for not so perfect field hunting conditions. However this weather wouldn’t last.

The first day of our hunt brought with it clear skies, and temperatures in the upper 30s with a light breeze. Trevor, Nick and I loaded up the truck and set out for the fields. During the ride, Nick informed me that we’d be hunting a feed field that had somewhere in the ballpark of 2,000 Specks in it, feeding regularly in the morning and afternoon.

After entering the field and emptying the trailer, Trevor and Nick set up a mixture of full body and silhouette Specklebelly decoys. They also mixed in 300-400 snow goose windsock decoys for visibility.

For me, the hide is what made the hunt. Trevor and Nick knew how to find the best hide possible, making sure the birds had no idea hunters were in the field. They emphasize concealment and they won't put out any decoys until the blinds have been brushed with a truckload of fresh cover to ensure quality decoying birds. We finished setting up the blinds and brushed them accordingly to match our surroundings.

It wasn't 10 minutes after shooting time that we had our first flock of Specks working the decoys. Trevor had informed me that they had shot 14 days straight of Specklebelly limits so I knew we had to keep the streak alive and seeing this first flock work the decoys was a sure sign that this hunt was going to be day number 15 to add to the total.

The first flock did it perfectly, feet down, 10 yards into the decoys, and all 6 birds’ flights were canceled. Two of the birds were what the guys called "Tar Bellies,” without a spot of grey on them. Well, they were completely “blacked out,” and, without hesitation, headed to the taxidermist!

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The next flock came around just 5 minutes after the first, and this flock truly made the hunt unforgettable. With somewhere between 40-60 birds, we were hand picking trophy Specks at 10 yards. It was a “feet down in your face, pick out the adults, and let the gun barrels ring” experience. We managed to take 10 birds out of this flock and it looked like the sky was falling. Well trained retrievers picked them up one by one. We gave each other high fives and let out shouts of joy. It was truly a sight to see!

As the sun rose that morning, the skies became even more visible and there were birds in every direction you could see! We were just a few birds shy of our limit of Specklebelly geese, so we let a few flocks pass to extend the hunt. We let a couple pairs finish. The hunt consisted of 35 awesome minutes and by then we had our limits of Specklebelly geese.

It was 9:00 o'clock in the morning and we were already done hunting for the day. Since I’m from Minnesota and we were hunting the grounds where birds winter, it made sense to spend the rest of the day exploring the migration.

We soon discovered a spectacular flooded rice field with thousands of different duck species including American Wigeon, Gadwalls, Wood Ducks, Pintails, and Redheads. Needless to say, I took tons of pictures.

After a couple hours of sightseeing and a quick nap, it was time for dinner at the nearby restaurant for some true Arkansas cooking.

At dinner, I learned about my fellow hunters. Since they were from Mississippi, it was fun to learn about their hunting techniques, which were different than what I knew being from “up north.” These guys swore by hunting flooded timber. Hearing about their hunts gave me quite an appetite, as I enjoyed some tasty ribs and BBQ Brisket and great conversation.

Soon it was time for bed, so we all headed back to our hotel rooms. I set my alarm for 4:30 and got a good night’s sleep.

The next morning we woke up to absolutely beautiful conditions. The temperature was 45 degrees with clear skies and a light breeze. It was time to hunt, and we soon heard that first scout goose coming to investigate. Trevor and Nick had no problem calling him down from the ozone layers. I had the pleasure to shoot this bird and it was absolutely gorgeous.

This morning’s hunt went even quicker than the first day as the birds came off the roost and continued right into our decoys. We had our limits in 18 minutes and it was literally like the saying "shooting fish in a barrel." The birds were feet down at 5-10 yards. You couldn't miss!

Trevor and Nick from Top of the Flyway Outfitters were not only great scouts, putting me on the birds, but they also focused on the hide better than any other outfitter I’ve ever hunted with. Their choice of concealment meant you could enjoy decoying birds at 5-10 yards. I also appreciated that these guys knew how to shoot limits. Being on day 15 and 16 of their impressive shooting streak, I’m happy to report they ended the white-fronted goose season in Arkansas with limits on 28 of 28 hunts-- absolutely incredible.

If you want to harvest trophy adult Specklebelly geese, Top of the Flyway Outfitters can take you on the hunt of a lifetime. Visit www.topoftheflyway.com for more information, or, better yet, visit their Facebook page to see evidence of their amazing hunts: https://www.facebook.com/TopOfTheFlywayOutfitters


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Canada Goose Hunting The Sandhills - Nebraska Style With Black Goose Outfitters
by Dan Wennerlind, Founder, Ultimate Waterfowlers Challenge

CERTIFIED OUTFITTER:
LARRY FRIMANN - BLACK GOOSE OUTFTTERS

PHONE:
CALL 1-888-373-0008

EMAIL: CLICK HERE
WEBSITE: CLICK HERE
SPECIES HARVESTED ON THIS HUNT:
CANADA GOOSE
Driving through the Sandhills of north central Nebraska on a warm December day was about as beautiful, and desolate as a place you’re going to find in all of the country. In fact after about two hours of nothing but a couple small “ghost towns” along the way, I was starting to wonder is there really a chance I am going to even see a Canada goose on this trip let alone shoot one.

At around sunset, we pulled into the Black Goose Outfitters camp located in north central Nebraska and I saw my first flock of Giant Honkers overhead. Then another, and another… until I was more than satisfied that we were in the right spot.

We met outfitter Larry Frimann, owner of Black Goose Outfitters and his head guide Mike Meyers at the BGO Lodge and got settled into our rooms and got comfortable in the lounge area, which was most rewarding after our long trip, before they gave us the scoop for the next day’s hunt. Although the recent cold snap that hit the entire upper Midwest over the past couple weeks had frozen up most of their prime duck hunting lakes, the Canada goose numbers continued to build on Larry’s 5 “Private Refuges” located in the immediate area.

After getting to know Larry’s overall operation a little better, I learned that he grew up in the area and has ties will all of the major land owners in the area and has set up a little monopoly if you will, for his goose hunting operation. In fact Larry is so tight with his landowners that he has 5 designated roosting sites for the birds, that stay open year round. Larry can and does leave these important roost sites untouched for the entire season to ensure a "First Class" Canada goose hunt from the start of the season in November, all the way through the end of the season in January. And to top it off, having the ability to harvest a limit of 5 big honkers per day in Nebraska was an added bonus!

After Larry clued myself and my hunting and UWC partner Brandon Crowley in on the Canada goose hunting set up, the conversation quickly turned to spring snow goose hunting. As soon as we started talking “Snow Geese” Larry’s head guide Mike’s eyes lit up like a Christmas tree!

Come to find, Larry has an equally unbelievable set up in SE Nebraska where they hunt the migrating spring snow geese in February and March each year. In fact, Larry runs what sounds like one of the most impressive water set ups for spring geese that I have heard of. He floods a 5 acre parcel of agricultural land every spring and sets a spread of the 600 new Avery full body snow goose decoys on the back side of his pit, with about 6 – 12 inches of water across the flooded parcel, and then puts out 500 Avery snow goose floater decoys in front of the pit in knee deep water. Larry said he is located about 90 miles from the Squaw Creek NWR right in the middle of the migration path north and they are VERY successful all season long pulling in large flocks of migrating snow geese.

After a long evening of talking goose hunting with Larry, Mike and the rest of the hunters in camp that evening it was off to bed at the Black Goose Lodge- which was a very comfortable and relaxing set up. My pup Brandy was even welcomed into my room, so she didn’t have to fend off the cold December night temps in the truck, which was an added bonus.

The next morning we were up bright and early as the 5:00am alarm went off. After a quick breakfast, we all piled into two trucks and made our way to the field. I would come to find Larry has his own style of hunting these birds, that is very different than I had experienced before. Larry’s spread of over 100 full body Big Foot goose decoys was not unusual, but his blind- a handmade portable hay bale blind that fits 5 hunters comfortably with room for the guide as well was unique. This seemed to fit in well today as we were hunting a large hay field that Larry said the birds had been using as a loafing field over the past week consistently. We soon found out that with the full moon, the birds were on the move early and with full bellies already they were headed our way right off the bat.

Larry new exactly where the first batch of birds were coming from. Within an hour of getting set up and situated in the blind, we were covered in geese! Not just one or two flocks, more like 5 or 10 flocks. It was very clear these birds had not been hunted much. We had singles and doubles landing within yards of the bale blind, as we patiently waited for the big flock to swing in front of the blind giving all 5 hunters a clean shot.

Finally we couldn’t take it anymore and the shot was called. Guns were blaring and geese were falling! We quickly covered back up and didn’t skip a beat as more geese kept pouring out from the north east. It wasn’t another 5 minutes then we has a flock of 25 birds actually land about 30 yards to the right side of the blind, which drew even more birds over to us. The shot was called again and more geese hit the ground. Talk about a thrill! I was very happy I had brought as pair of ear plugs along for this hunt as guys were shooting in every directing- the geese were all over us.

For the next 2 ½ hours we had geese coming from three different directions, all to a loafing hay field. It was clear Larry had done his homework on this hunt. By the time the smoke cleared and the geese started heading back to the roosts around 10:30am we had a pile of geese on the ground.
For the first time we had a few minutes to relax and Larry broke out the frying pan and cooked us all a HUGE breakfast burrito with fresh eggs and bacon. I watched in amazement as Larry crack 2 dozen eggs and added over a pound of bacon into his huge frying pan. My gosh did that hit the spot when it was done!

While we ate I had to ask Larry what he did to be able to keep the hunting this consistent all season long. I would have thought that with the goose hunting being this good, they would get smart quick. Larry said he has sole permission to hunt the entire area and with 5 different roost sites in the area holding over 20,000 Canada geese all winter, he is careful to only hunt each area once a week.

In fact Larry stated that this isn’t even his full time job. He simply runs his guide service as a part timer gig since he loves the sport so much and doesn’t want to get burned out. He only guides for geese in the fall 3 days a week. But with all of the effort and equipment Larry has tied up in his operation you could never tell. In fact Larry said he will let the geese sit in a field for up to 2 weeks sometimes before hunting it so his clients are assured to be covered up with birds during the entire hunt!

That evening Larry took me out on a scouting mission to showcase the area. Larry wasn’t kidding, he had geese all over the place. And would normally have very good numbers of ducks as well on his permanent lake set ups if they hadn’t froze over the week before. Larry can usually offer an unbelievable duck and goose combo hunt under normal circumstances.

The next morning, we split up into 2 groups. Each hunting a different field from the day before. Today we were hunting a harvested corn field with goose crap and feathers everywhere. The hunt started off very similar to the previous day with birds coming from several directions. We had a couple singles land in the spread right away and our partner for the day, Jim made quick work of those for us.

Then the action started to heat up with geese in all directions. If there was a downfall to the hunt it was that the blinds were a little hard to see out of and with geese circling in all directions, sometimes it was hard to tell when to call the shot. But we did our best, and ended up with another pile of geese by the end of the hunt. The birds stopped flying around the same time as they did the day before and by 10:30 we were out picking up crippled geese and taking photos again with smiles from ear to ear. Mike had showed us another fantastic day in the goose blind!

After the hunt, we met Larry and the other group back at camp and shared some war stories while we got packed up and ready to head back to civilization. What a trip, I couldn’t thank Larry enough for the great hospitality and incredible Canada goose hunting. When he offered to have us come down and check out his spring operation in a couple months Brandon and I both jumped all over it. Until then….








Hunting Ducks at 6,000 Feet Above Sea Level
by Brandon Crowley, Co-Founder, Ultimate Waterfowlers Challenge

CERTIFIED OUTFITTER:
JASON OSTRANDER

PHONE:
CALL 1-888-552-3179

EMAIL: CLICK HERE
WEBSITE: CLICK HERE
SPECIES HARVESTED ON THIS HUNT:
GREEN-WINGED TEAL, MALLARD, WIGEON
6,000 feet above sea level is more than a mile up from where I’d ever expect to hunt ducks. Yet I had the unique opportunity to do just that, in the mountains of Wyoming of all places.

I set up my trip with Jason Ostrander, owner of Grey Reef Western Wingshooting in Casper, Wyoming. Jason is our official UWC Outfitter for the Cackling goose, Ross goose, White-fronted goose and the Ruddy and Bufflehead duck. Although we wouldn't be targeting these specific species during these two days, we would be targeting some others in a place most hunters don’t even know about or ever consider.


Before the adventure, I checked Jason’s website, wyomingbirdhunting.com, just to make sure this whole idea was really real. The question that kept coming back into my head was one most of us would ask ourselves: Are there ducks in the mountains?

I called Jason on the phone and when he told me these birds are rarely hunted, the anxiety of hunting pressured birds left me. My anticipation for the hunt grew by the second as I envisioned what it’d be like.

The day before the hunt, my buddy and I made the adventurous drive to Casper. We experienced the elevation beginning to climb as we crossed the Missouri River in South Dakota and the elevation increased significantly once we crossed the state border into Wyoming. At one point I experienced some cramping due to the elevation change and had to stop and rehydrate. Jason had reminded us to hydrate more than we usually would and I found out the hard way. Thankfully, though, I wouldn’t experience any additional dehydration for the remainder of the trip.

We stayed at the Grey Reef Wingshooting lodge consisting of separate houses which did not disappoint. With two separate rooms, a kitchen, dining room and small entertainment room complete with a 40+ inch TV, I knew we’d spend more time hunting than lounging at the lodge, but knowing that I could catch the highlights of my favorite college football team was an added bonus.

The morning of the hunt Jason picked us up at the lodge and we headed into the mountains. Jason mentioned we would be hunting a river world famous for its fly fishing for brown trout while also being a waterfowler’s best kept secret with little hunting pressure. “The Miracle Mile” connected two reservoirs, Path Finder and Seminole, into the North Platte River. I was fascinated by the name and couldn’t wait to see what it looked like at first light as we carved through the mountains to get to our duck blind.

Upon arriving at the hunting grounds, we began helping Jason set up, but he insisted that he would handle it as most guides do. I insisted on helping, though, since I enjoy setting up as much as pulling the trigger.

Jason had a nice mix of decoys, including flocked Dakota decoy mallards and floating and full body goose decoys. We set up approximately three dozen decoys to hunt non-pressured, mid-season birds. I also got to experience hunting on backboards for the first time in my life and absolutely loved them. They were comfortable and didn’t require to be grassed due to the camo blanket you’d pull over your body while laying on the blind.

When shooting time grew close we had an abundance of green-winged teal, wigeon and mallards circling and landing in our decoys, and the anticipation, as you’d imagine, was now through the roof!

As the sun began to appear so did the barrels of our shotguns, and it didn’t take long before we started to pile up our birds. Of course we missed a few and this prevented us from taking our limits, but the hunt was nonetheless very much enjoyable. We had beautiful mountains in the background and Deetz, Jason’s well-trained black Labrador, to retrieve our birds. He had some nice long retrieves.

Unexpectedly, we had some very curious horses come up within a couple hundred yards of our decoys for a drink of water. They seemed very curious, wondering why we were there. They watched us, we watched them, and then they continued on their journey and so did we.

Jason mentioned he had heard some Hungarian partridge and we could possibly pick off a few of them. He put Deetz back in the kennel and grabbed three of his short hairs while we changed into our upland gear. We were soon pulling the trigger on these little critters and if you thought diver ducks were fast, you need to book a combo waterfowl/upland hunt with Jason and get after some of these. Not only are they fun to shoot, but possibly one of the best game birds in the world to eat!

The rest of the day consisted of Jason giving us the reins on what we wanted to do. We agreed we wanted to see the terrain, since being from Minnesota we wouldn’t normally get to see a landscape like this. The view was spectacular. Wildlife was everywhere. We saw a combination of mule deer, elk, bison, antelope, jack rabbits, pheasants and several different species of upland birds. The view atop these mountains was inspiring, as you could see miles and miles of natural terrain loaded with wildlife.

The second day of hunting consisted of hunting a small pond in a different area and again we followed it up with a great shoot on mallards and green-winged teal. We had a similar set up like the day before with a few dozen decoys while hunting on backboards. The hunt was successful and we experienced the true beauty of the outdoors for the second day in a row.

Jason proved to be a true waterfowl expert. I learned that he chases waterfowl for the latter part than half the year and the information gathered from the fall into the spring migration of snow geese is something that can’t be duplicated.

Jason speaks with waterfowl biologists and division of wildlife officers from all over North America on a regular basis and these guys feed him new information almost daily. And if that wasn’t impressive enough, his personal attention to detail and hospitality was above and beyond what an average outfitting service has to offer.

If you’re looking for a premier destination to fulfill a number of different species for the challenge, and if you love chasing upland, be sure to book Jason’s combo hunt.

I wholeheartedly recommend Jason Ostrander and Grey Reef Wingshooting for a world-class waterfowl hunt in beautiful Wyoming. Between shooting birds in the mountains and taking in the spectacular sights, duck and goose hunting doesn’t get much better than this.