John's Journal...


The Beginning of a Great Hunt

Click to enlarge Editor’s Note: Ducks and geese rained from the sky like a giant black cloud. Although making an exact count was difficult, the cloud appeared to have 300 to 400 ducks in it, a flight of 20 speckle-bellied (white-fronted) geese and about 50 Canada geese. I waited in my Ameristep bale blind for Bob (Rip) Clark of Edmonton in Alberta, Canada, to call the shot. When I finally heard him say the words I’d been waiting for, “Take ‘em,” the Canada geese had dropped down through the swarm of ducks and were right in front of my layout blind.

The first goose was less than 20 yards and still coming down when I fired. The second goose was in that “Oh, my gosh--what have I done” position, trying to change gears from down to up. And, the third goose was now full throttle in the straight-up mode when I squeezed the trigger on the bird. I’d tripled on geese for the first time ever. The Browning Gold Hunter, which shot 2-3/4-inch to 3-1/2-inch shells in the Mossy Oak Shadow Grass pattern, had proved its worth. The Winchester Xpert Hi-Velocity 3-inch steel shells carrying a payload of #2 steel being shoved out of the barrel at 1,550 ft/s had proven to be more lead than those three geese could eat at one sitting. I learned that when I tripled on geese on the very first flight, I believed my guide to be the greatest in Click to enlargethe world and his calling unmatched and no shotgun, shells and camo pattern anywhere could be better than what I had.

For this hunt, I wore the new Mossy Oak BRUSH pattern, which would be introduced at the 2005 SHOT Show but not on the market until fall 2005. Although primarily a western open-lands pattern, this pattern worked great for hiding from waterfowl in Alberta. I’d heard you never could be sure of the weather conditions when waterfowl hunting in Canada, since temperatures might be in the 70s or down below freezing in October. Clothing could have been a major problem, but not with Mossy Oak Apparel’s APX three-system approach. I always wear Mossy Oak Apparel Base Layers whenever I’m hunting in cold weather because the clothing closest to my skin is the most critical for comfort. Base Layers keep moisture away from the skin and insulate the hunter, are available in Mossy Oak camouflage and can be removed as needed, if the weather warms up drastically. The insulating layer served three functions on this trip. If the weather was cool in the morning, I’d wear the insulating layer, which was warm, soft and extremely comfortable, over my 6-pocket pants and shirt. I also found another use for the insulating layer when I hunted in waders. I put the insulating pants on before I put on the waders. Because the water was cold, this insulating layer provided a barrier against Click to enlargethe cold, yet I could walk comfortably. The insulating layer also provided a barrier against the cold in-between my pants and shirt and my external layer, which was waterproofed APX for really-cold weather. By carrying a complete set of APX clothing with me to Canada, I could mix and match my clothing to fit constantly-changing weather conditions that occurred not only on a daily basis, but throughout the day.

During that first big flight of waterfowl, I was so excited about tripling on geese that I didn’t see how the rest of the shooters on the hunt had done. However, when Clark started picking up birds and hiding them under shell decoys, I learned that everyone had gotten at least one or two of the geese in the flock. No one had opted to take the ducks. Three more flights of geese that morning allowed me, Phil Bourjaily and Brad Fenson to limit out on geese. Too, wave after wave of ducks continued to come in, so the three of us also took our limit of ducks. This hunt with Rip Clark at Dog ‘N Duck, in Alberta, Canada, was the greatest three days of waterfowling I’d ever had. Click to enlargeThe area around Alberta is target-rich for waterfowl and some of the best waterfowl hunters in North America travel there each year to test their shotguns and shot shells on the webfoots. “I like H. S. Waterfowl’s Bill Collector Duck Call and H.S. Waterfowl’s Bad Medicine Goose Call to call in the waterfowl in our area,” Clark explains. “These calls sound really ducky. They are low-maintenance calls, and I’ve found that I can work ducks and geese in right to the blind better with these calls than I can with any other calls.

To learn more about: Mossy Oak’s BRUSH pattern, go to; Mossy Oak Apparel’s APX and Base Layers, visit; Hunter’s Specialties duck and goose calls, check out; Dog ‘N Duck, call (780) 913-1337 or (780) 416-3825, e-mail, or visit; Winchester Ammo, check out; Browning guns, visit



Check back each day this week for more about WATERFOWLER'S HEAVEN WITH JOHN E. PHILLIPS...

Day 1 - The Beginning of a Great Hunt
Day 2 - Exciting Hunts At Dog ‘N Duck
Day 3 - When To Make The Call And Aggravating The Guide
Day 4 - Why Clark Doesn’t Use A Dog
Day 5 - Sky Carp



Entry 272, Day 1