John's Journal...


Exciting Hunts At Dog ‘N Duck

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 Quickest Limit Of Ducks At Dog ‘N Duck:
According to Rip Clark, “My guide, Mark Thirlwell, holds the record for the quickest four-man limit of ducks ever taken. His four hunters took their limit of 8 ducks in 20 minutes. All the ducks were mallards. The ducks had come from a small pond out in the middle of the field after they had been to an adjacent pea field. All the ducks were coming to a little dug-out drainage ditch, about 20-yards wide and 100-yards long. I had put the hunters out that morning, got into the truck and started heading down the road to go back to camp when my cell phone rang. When I heard Mark’s voice, the first thing I thought was other hunters might have come into their field, someone had gotten hurt or there was some kind of problem with the hunt, because no guide wouldClick to enlarge call me during the time he should be working ducks and geese. When I asked, ‘What’s the matter, Mark,’ he simply replied, ‘We’re done. Come and get us.’ So I turned the truck around and went back to pick up Mark and his hunters. I couldn’t believe that their hunt was over in 20 minutes.”

The Quickest Limit Of Geese At Dog ‘N Duck:
The quickest limit of geese on record at Dog ‘N Duck is 45 minutes. This limit occurred the opening weekend of the 2004 goose season. Thirty-two really-big Canada geese were on the ground (four limits in 45 minutes). “We had had quite a bit of rain the night before, so we couldn’t take the trucks into the field,” Clark reports. “We had to carry all our decoys, blinds, shells, guns and other equipment about 600 yards from where we’d parked the trucks. The trip in was the easy part. After the hunt was over, we not only had to carry out all the gear we carried in, but also those 32 big honkers.”

The Funniest Hunts:
On this particular day, Clark and his clients were hunting from layout blinds, commonly called “coffin blinds” because these blinds looked like coffins since they sat only a few inches off the ground. Brushed up with the stubble from the field, they blended in so well with the other field stubble that the waterfowl never saw the hunter’s heads, which were the only part of a sportsman’s body outside the blind. When the birds came in, the hunter would throw the doors of the blind Click to enlargeopen with his elbows and sit up to shoot. “The funniest thing I’d ever seen was when one of my hunters shot a giant Canada goose that was flying straight toward him,” Clark remembers. “The goose was coming so fast and at such an angle that when the hunter fired, the goose started falling straight toward him. To dodge the goose, he had to lay out over his legs, and the goose fell in the coffin blind right behind him. If that goose had hit the hunter, he would have given the hunter a headache he would remember for a long time, and/or possibly knocked the hunter out. The goose probably weighed 10 pounds.”

Another funny hunt was when Clark and his dad had been hunting all morning and failed to call in one duck or one goose. Clark’s dad, Bob, had an outstanding Labrador retriever that enjoyed hunting hard and making many retrieves in a morning. But this particular morning, the dog, as well as the hunters, was extremely disappointed when no geese came in. “When we got out of our blind to start picking up the decoys, the dog went over to one of our mallard decoys that was sitting on the ground and took a dump on that decoy, as if to say, ‘This is what I think of you and your ability to call ducks for this hunt today.’ My dad and I saw that dog go to the bathroom on that decoy, and we nearly fell out laughing. What could we say? The dog was right.”

Some people are just naturally unhappy. Regardless of how good or how bad the waterfowl hunting is going, these kinds of folks will always find something to gripe about. Clark remembers Click to enlargeone hunter named J.J. who just couldn’t seem to be happy. “J.J. was complaining because he was missing the birds,” Clark says. “He accused us of calling the shot too early or too late on every flight of birds that came in. He felt that the reason he was shooting so poorly was because I didn’t know when to call the shot. Finally I looked at him and said, ‘J.J., you’re right. I can tell that you’re an experienced-waterfowl hunter and that you probably can call the shot better than I can. So, the next flight of geese that comes in, we’ll all wait for you to call the shot.’ Before long we had a huge flight of Canadas working to our decoys. The geese came in and all lit down on the ground right in front of our blind. J.J. never called the shot. Finally the geese got up, and the other geese that were in the air circling and trying to come in flared. No one took a shot. I asked J.J. ‘why didn’t you call the shot?’ He answered, ‘I didn’t see the geese.’ We all started to laugh because there was no way he didn’t see the geese right in front of him. J.J. found out that making the call to take the geese wasn’t as easy as he thought it was.”

To learn more about Dog ‘N Duck, call (780) 913-1337 or (780) 416-3825, e-mail, or 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 2