Season One with FLG – Bubba’s Perspective

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Well here it is, early February and duck season is long gone; however, this season was very different for me than any of the other duck season I have ever had the pleasure to hunt. The season started as usual, hunting with my good buddy Rooney. But during the second split I got a phone call from Rooney asking if I would be interested in becoming more involved in FLG and be a part of the staff. I was honored, to say the least. I have been hunting with Rooney for the last 3 years and this was far unexpected, so of course I told him I was in!!! So, here we are at opening day of second season and it started off with a bang! We scouted all day on Friday and found a field with about 500 mallards on it so we decided that was the spot for the morning. We woke up at an unpleasant hour to beat the crowd, since we were on public land. We got set up and had ducks flying before shooting light which is always a good thing! We waited for what seemed like an hour and finally Rooney said “It’s time!” so we started whackin’ em and in fifteen minutes we were limited out! Towards the last few minutes of the hunt I dropped a bird way out in the tall grass and Rooney told his dog to go retrieve it. He came back and asked if I was the one that dropped that HEN in the weeds, I reluctantly said yes and when he threw her to me in my layout blind there it was, shining like a diamond, my FIRST band!!! What a great way to open the season! We didn’t slow down much; if I wasn’t working I was spending time with the family and scouting or hunting ducks. We were covered up on ducks this year; this couldn’t be a better season to be my first season with FLG! Not only did I get my first band but I also killed my unicorn, a fully mature pintail drake!!! Rooney and I were hosting the good folks at Fowled Reality and The Management Advantage when I picked that pintail out of a group of 80 mallards! But overall this was an awesome season! I met some awesome people and learned a lot about what being a part of a group like FLG is all about! I do not consider myself a professional, just a good ole Oklahoma boy that loves being outdoors! We are all here for the same reasons. We all love being outdoors. I enjoy all hunting but duck hunting is my true passion!

There are always certain things that stick in your head more than others from previous seasons and my first year with FLG was very memorable. The teamwork with these guys is awesome. It means a lot to have great people around me! Not only are we a team, but I consider each and every member of FLG Down Patrol a friend which means a lot! It’s pretty awesome how they have taken me in as one of their own immediately, we can all go on a duck hunt that morning and that night we sit around a fire and tell lies like we are a family! That’s not easy to come by and something I am very thankful for! Also the people I met this year are unforgettable!!! I learned that these people that I have watched and looked up to are just the same as me. We are dedicated water fowlers that love this sport! I got to rub shoulders with some of the top duck hunters in the nation and I learned very quickly that we are all humble and love what we do. I grew up here in Oklahoma and Oklahoma is the only place I have ever hunted ducks so I am one dimensional but this season changed that. Hunting with these guys that have hunted big numbers of birds all over the country sure taught me a lot! And what’s really great is the guys from FLG are not afraid to teach me and help me learn about other ways to hunt waterfowl. I went from hunting pot holes with a dozen and a half decoys to hunting big water and fields with 6 to 8 dozen decoys so that was a bit of a culture shock, but these guys all helped me learn. I can now get out there with the confidence and set a big spread the way it needs to be and get those big numbers of birds in. All in all it was an awesome season and I am very thankful for the lessons learned and the opportunities given to me from the guys at FLG. I couldn’t ask for a better group of guys to share the blind with! Y’all take care now and thanks for reading!

Be safe and have fun out there!!

​​Bubba

Find Bubba on Twitter: @FLGBubba

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Can optics help you be a better waterfowl hunter?

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It seems the optics industry is all wrapped up with big game hunters, professional shooters and even archery now with the popularity of the crossbow, but there is definitely a place in the optics world for the “little ole duck hunter.” The “weekend warrior” waterfowl hunter probably does not use optics often, but someone that chases them every day like a diehard hunter or guide service relies heavily on optics to get on the birds day in and day out.

With the rise in waterfowl related TV shows and social media channels, the competition has become pretty stiff out on public and private land. Farmers are seeing increased requests to hunt their land. Federal and state programs are buying up land and making it public. More and more hunters are able to obtain the larger boats needed to get on the bigger waters where the ducks and geese like to “hide out”. With this kind of competition out there, the serious waterfowl hunter needs to rely on optics more than ever before.
Let me give you an example, when the weather is cold, the ducks and geese need to feed on crops like soybeans and corn for the extra carbohydrates to keep warm and survive. This is when I would be scouting for birds in the morning and evening in the fields. As I am driving around, my goal is to find large concentrations of birds flying off the nearest body of water to go feed in a field. When I find this with the naked eye, I would use my Hawke Nature-Trek 10×50 binoculars to identify the birds in the air. All birds fly differently. They have different flock patterns. Their wing beat speed is different. I mostly concentrate on mallards and Canada geese in the dry fields, so those are what I would be looking for during these scouting trips. A good pair of binoculars will give you the edge on bird identification and make your scouting trips more successful.

After I have located the flights of the birds I want to concentrate on, the next step is to figure out what field they are using. This is where having a good spotting scope (yes, I said spotting scope) comes into play. I do not want to drive right up on the field I am scouting. If there is someone else scouting the area and they see that, they now have used me to locate birds and I now have competition on that field. I will find a high road somewhere within the field of view of where the birds are feeding. Using my Hawke Nature 24-74×70 Spotting Scope, I will pinpoint what part of the field they are using and get a good estimate on the number of birds using that particular field. Numbers are key when hunting in a field. I will not hunt a field that is only getting used by a handful of birds because at any moment, half of the birds could move on to a different field. I like to see a couple thousand birds using a field before I take the time to do a labor intensive field hunt.

The same goes for scouting from the boat. I always carry my binoculars in the boat if I am going scouting. I do not want the other guy seeing me motor right up on a concentration of birds and I also do not want to spook those birds off that daytime resting spot. If I can count and identify those birds from afar, my chances of hunting that spot the next morning with success has increased tremendously.

So if you want to be more successful hunting waterfowl and make your scouting trips count, get yourself some good optics with clear glass like Hawke has to offer. Bird numbers and identification are just as important when you are scouting as when you are actually hunting.

Good luck!

Josh “Rooney” Dickerson
First Light Gear

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“First Light” with Fowled Reality and The Management Advantage

The FLG Down Patrol crew enjoys having guests join them in their quest for waterfowl here in Oklahoma and this season was no different. This year we had the pleasure of hosting a couple friends from Ohio, Johnny  and Cory, Blake and Chris from Fowled Reality and Casey from The Management Advantage . All these guys are experienced hunters and, because of our social media connection, it was like we had been hunting together forever.

When they arrived on Wednesday afternoon, I was unsure whether it was going to be a successful week or not. The crew and I had been having trouble patterning the birds thus far. Weather had been up and down like a roller coaster and bird movement was changing on a daily basis. That afternoon, we all took a ride in the boat and setup in an area we could see any birds flying in the immediate area. The next morning we setup on a “safe bet” where I knew we could shoot a few birds and get everyone acclimated to our style of hunting. After a decent morning, we all knew scouting was on the menu for the afternoon. We had to find some birds no matter what and that’s exactly what we did. We split up and that was the ticket. Even though Johnny, Cory and I found a good spot, the other guys found the honey hole in a cut soybean field with a ditch running though it which made a perfect hide. We confirmed it was a field we had permission to hunt and the stage was set for an unbelievable week.

That next morning started early. Field hunting takes a lot of prep work, decoy setup, spinners, motion, cameras, hiding the dog and most importantly, hiding the hunters. Without much wind, the ducks could light into the decoys from any direction so concealment was key. After a very successful first morning in that field, we knew by the body language of the birds that we were going to try it again the next morning. The only thing we did different was added a bunch of water keel decoys and segregated the goose decoys so we could give them a different look. We dug the keels into the dirt with the claw of a hammer and it worked fantastic. We ended up hunting that field 3 days in a row and shooting 87 birds. That is the first time I have ever experienced that many days in a row with that kind of success in the same field.

I want to thank Hoss and Earnie for helping make this a successful hunt. I also want to thank my wife, Erika, and Hoss’ wife, Lisa, for opening your homes and cooking the meals for our guests. I could not have pulled it off without you. Thanks y’all!
Kill ‘em!
Rooney

Christmas Eve duck hunt with my wife

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With my parents in town visiting for Christmas, I decided to take the opportunity afforded to us with a free babysitter to take my wife, Erika, duck hunting. My options of blinds were limited due to the fact that she does not have all the proper gear so I chose a little slough that has easy access and a decent bottom for her to walk on. I’ve been to this spot quite a few times so I figured it would be the quickest setup and it was easy access by boat.

The wind was hard out of the NW which made the ride a little rough but we made it into the backwaters without too much hassle. As I approached the slough, my 18′ flat bottom rode up on an underwater stump. We struggled to get the boat off the hazard with no success. I decided to check the depth of the water against my waders. Seeing that it was shallow enough to get out, I slowly slipped over the edge of the boat only to find out I couldn’t touch bottom! I was hanging onto the rail as my wife tried to pull me back in. It wasn’t working. I took a chance to rest a second and remembered my outboard had a planer fin enough for me to get my foot on. I slid around and get positioned on the outboard and instructed her to raise the trim. I was lifted right into the boat with only a little water seeping down into the back of my waders.

We were able to finally work the boat off the stump, get to our spot and setup just before shooting light. My wife shot her first duck today even if she was mad at me for being “stupid”. Good quality clothing and my hunting partner possibly saved my life today. Be careful out there, there are so many factors that go into having a safe and successful hunt. The weather is turning cold on us. If you don’t have the proper gear for it, don’t go!

Kill ‘em!

Rooney

Scouting, scouting…….scouting

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In 24 hours, the FLG Down Patrol crew will be set up on our favorite slough listening to whistling wings as we monitor our clocks for legal shooting time. This week has been filled with scouting, scouting and a little more scouting.

Something we’ve been dealing with here is an increase in new hunter population. Don’t get me wrong, I love that we have new hunters in the sport but they seem to be concentrating more due to the drought conditions. This does not make for great hunting. The issue of hunter’s etiquette has become an increasing problem. Folks are not respecting public land, skybusting, not staying away from other hunters and I’ve even heard of fights occurring at public gates as hunters are “in line” waiting to get in.

We have decided to back off from our favorite public spots and find where the birds are going when they are pressured. It has worked good in the past and it looks like it’s going to work this year as we have found some great “off the beaten path” spots with very little sign of hunter activity.

Opening week is shaping up nicely with a cold weather front coming in on Sunday. Even with a perfect weather situation, you still have to be in the right spot and the key to success is scouting, scouting and a little more scouting!

Kill ‘em!

Rooney

The timber hole

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All our hard work this summer and fall on the FLG Down Patrol timber hole is finally complete. We are now just maintaining water levels and waiting on the migration. Wood ducks are using the creek as well as the new pools. Lots of acorns and pecans have fallen in the water. There is some millet left although the deer have eaten the tops off most of it. Just sitting on our hands waiting to echo the words “Kill ‘em!” through the timber…

Rooney