End of Season

Mike Garner

As late-season waterfowlers wrap up their Light Goose Conservation Order hunts I can’t help but look back on my duck season and smile! This season marked the first time in five years that I wasn’t lugging camera gear through a marsh or across a frozen cornfield. And, it was the first time in five years that I had the opportunity to watch ducks and geese work a spread with only my shotgun by my side.

During my tenure with Ducks Unlimited Television I was fortunate to see some of the best wetlands, marshes, and fields in North America. From the Prairie Pothole Region of Central Saskatchewan to the Texas Gulf Coast we followed the migration in pursuit of ducks, geese, and great conservation stories. And in the end we were blessed with a talented supporting cast of DU volunteers, partners, outfitters, guides, and some of the best retrieving breeds in the world.

But, this season was all about me lacing up my Chippewas, heading into the field, and getting some much needed trigger time. Drawing upon five years of expert waterfowling tutelage I was probably the most prepared novice waterfowler in the country. In preparation for my season at home I tried to recall every successful scenario that I had experienced in the field – the best blinds, decoy spreads, and calling tips.

But, before I could even think about pulling the trigger I had to reconnect with my Oklahoma hunting buddies. And the OSU Ducks Unlimited Chapter’s annual spring banquet in Stillwater, OK was the perfect place to rekindle those relationships. My buddies Matt McMahan, an Avery Elite Team Member, and Justin Mace, the manager for the Crooked Creek Duck Club, were kind enough to introduce me to a couple enthusiastic waterfowlers from my hometown. Two knuckleheads named Greg Hambric and David Hamra literally saved my season and became my friends in the process.

Now fast-forward to the field. I tried to remember everything DU Biologist Mike Checkett ever told me about species identification. When it came to ground blinds I recreated everything DU host Wade Bourne taught me about great concealment. When it came to calling I did my absolute best to remember host Field Hudnall’s helpful tips and techniques. And when all else failed I simply approached every hunt (good or bad) like I thought my good friend former DU host, Huntley Ritter would have – hit or miss I had a smile on my face!

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Mike Garner Outdoors
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Chippewa has teamed up with Mike Garner, a lifelong sportsman and television personality with a love for everything outdoors, to bring you Mike's journey across the United States in his Chippewa boots.

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