Monday, February 14, 2011

"Grand Passage - Magellan and His Traveling Rig"

When's the last time you were humbled?  I mean truly humbled, to the tune of being nothing short of "in awe"?  For me, it's been going on since teal season, only just now culminating in a sincere disbelief.  For those that don't know, let me introduce "Magellan - the traveling decoy":

This photo was taken before I placed the tack eyes and added the nail...not to mention it was one of my first birds to carve from my own pattern and paint in oils.  But, enough of that, that's not important, Magellan's story is.  In fact, for many reading this, it's YOUR story.  The day I lost all control of having anything to do with Magellan was the day I sent him off the first time...after that, it's the guys here that made it work.

Work you ask?  Yeah, work.  Think about it.  You get a duck in the mail, hunt over it, write about it, photo it, add stuff here and there...all in a matter of days and have to make sure the next guy gets it.  Not one person failed to live up to their end of the bargain.  Not one.  I've seen countless "traveling decoys" on other forums get bogged down, hunts missed, "shoulda been here yesterdays"...not this one.  Magellan made it to each and every hunter without fail - if mail wasn't quick enough, these guys drove to the next guy.  I'm both humbled but not surprised.  The folks that took Magellan and the rig under their wing are first rate in my book.

Again, enough of that.  I'm not a numbers guy.  Fact is, I just don't care. But, I'm proud of what my friends pulled off this year and want to share it.

Magellan, hunted, saw killed, traveled and witnessed:

- 5 states
- 51 total days (a number I a bit surprised at, but considering travel, I shouldn't be)
- saw 740 birds be killed
- traveled roughly 6,684 miles

He witnessed 5 bands (4 straight up plus a kicker on a double band), 18 species, and was there for a dog's 500th retrieve.  He saw sun, wind, rain, sleet and snow.  He hunted hallowed ground at Beaver Dam (twice), 2 days at L'anguille Lounge Duck Club, and several at Double Cypress Duck Club.

He saw the beginning of the flyway for many of our ducks, hunting in North Dakota in mid-October.  He eventually made the long trek our Mississippi south delta, where many winter.  He witnessed mallards, black ducks, canvasbacks, and a score of other birds harvested.  He hunted with grandfathers, fathers, sons and daughters.  Once in a pit - 3 generations.

He saw 9 year olds on their first hunt, and 67 year olds doing it all over again, as well as every age in between.  He saw 4 or 5 children kill their first ducks.

On 6 different occasions, Magellan felt the excitement and tension of "the opener", be it teal season, a different states opening day or a hard working man getting back home to hunt for the first time.

He boated into places of duck hunting lore such as "Hanwercker Stand" and sat on "Chubby Andrews Dock".  A strong group of friends took him to "Atlanta West", better known as Matthews Brake.  He visited "Riley", "Wampler", "Millhouse's DeadMount", and drank Captain Morgan's with Pat "thewaterfowler" Pitt at L'anguille.  Watched sky bustin', levee shootin' and ticket writin' at Mahanna.  He was there the day my Canvasback saga ended, and watched my 9 year old lab "Gauge" make the retrieve. 

In every way, shape and form, Magellan saw the good, bad and ugly that IS duck hunting - sissy's need not apply.

But, take all that, all you just read, and swipe it aside...because it simply doesn't matter.  Magellan got to see some of the finest families and friends carry on the heritage and tradition that we know as waterfowling.  I'd love to say "I" handpicked the folks you are about to read about, but that would be a lie.  The idea was wrought, the decoy was carved, and the people that appreciate the old school charm of cork and wood came to me.  Simply put, they are the ones who got this done.  I only carved and painted a VERY ugly decoy.

A last bit about numbers.  If you add in Magellan's "brothers" in the rig, you get a feel for the enormity of the whole thing:

1) harlequin, Barrows goldeneye, blue bill, canvasback, green wing teal, eider, redhead and black duck decoys for the rig.

2)  add, Alaska, Utah, Texas, South Carolina, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Nova Scotia, Canada to the state list.

4)  add White Wing, Black and Surf Scoter; Oldsquaw, Common Eider (atlantic, northern, and possibly Pacific), King Eider, Harlequin, Barrows Goldeneye, and Redheads that I know have been confirmed...exception being Pacific Eider to date.

5) decoys saw as far East as you can generally go and as far west - being Nova Scotia and ADAK island, AK.

6) killed over 1000 birds

7) saw close to 30 species being harvested.

The rig as a whole hunted also in pits, from boats, in timber, from layouts, and in sink boxes.  It hunted on rice paddies, brakes, oxbows, rivers and oceans.

Over the next few months, you'll read a lot more about Magellan and his travels, not the mention the rig as a whole.  You'll read of some fantastic hunts and some that we've all had too many of.  I truly hope you enjoy what's about to transpire and realize that while we may not all be killing ducks, we can all hold ourselves up to a higher standard.  A standard of tradition and heritage, I believe, made higher and redefined by the very people you are about to read about.

Duck hunters, buckle your seat belts.

Hope you enjoy, please bookmark us and check back often, Justin

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