Monday, November 21, 2011


I had the great pleasure of guiding the Staggs brothers the past three days.  They drove from Memphis, TN, to hunt the North Platte. Leonard runs a Tractor Supply store and his brother, Logan, is a Marine recruiter.

Logan first contacted me in July of this year.  He indicated they were interested in an October duck hunt. I told him we normally don't have mallards until the middle of November.  Logan told me he had contacted several other guide services and no one mentioned we don't have ducks in October.  I didn't need to ask.  We communicated several more times by email during the fall and we settled on Nov 17, 18 and 19.  

When they arrived in Torrington,  I went to the Holiday Inn to meet them. I have never had hunters who were more excited to hunt than the Staggs brothers. Logan told me that he had done tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. All the time there he dreamed of hunting the river he had heard so much about. 

He and his brother, Leonard, had been on several guided waterfowl hunting trips before that were less than successful.  Needless to say they had high hopes but were understandably cautious. 

My Dad, Michael, joined us on the first morning. When we had finished setting the decoys, I took the 4-wheeler back to our parking area as the brothers were behind the blind organizing their gear.  Most of you know that Michael is quite good with his Carlson duck call.  It was about five minutes before shooting time when the first flock of mallards came up the river. Dad gave them a high ball and they broke down immediately. He continued to coax the flock of 100 mallards with distant greeting calls, lonesome hen and low end closing calls. The flock circled downwind and dropped over the trees and into the decoys. Most of them were inside twenty yards.  Ducks don't decoy like that in Fallujah.

The Platte River specialist, Dani, was the lab on duty for the morning.  I will put her up against any dog on the North Platte.  After thousands of retrieves on this river she knows where the ducks and geese are going to go before they do. We had a wing tipped drake heading downstream. As Dani got close to the bird, he began to run/fly/swim as fast as he could. Just like an LA auto chase, the chase always ends the same way. After a 300 yard run downstream, the drake made a fatal error of heading to the bank. Never ever ever leave your vehicle and run! Dani and the drake disappeared into a log pile. A few minutes later, Officer Danielle was coming across the sand bar with the duck in handcuffs.

The day continued pretty much the same way. A limit of mallards and one Canada goose. The second day was a carbon copy of the first. Limit and a goose. I did manage to trick a flock of 500 into the decoys.  200 landed in the decoys, There wasn't room for the remainder. We did not shoot. I don't need to educate that many at one time.  Pretty sure the brothers had ever witnessed that!

Saturday, the third day, dawned with a couple inches of snow on the ground. I love snow and mallards. When snow is on the ground mallards have the need to feed. The sky this morning looked like the Santa Monica Freeway at rush hour. Ducks were moving in every direction. The feeding chuckle sounded like an OWS chant minus the drum circle.  By 8:00, ten fat greenheads were doing the bicycle in the decoys. Another great day on the North Platte.
                            Leonard and Logan Staggs with North Platte Mallards

The Staggs brothers were on the road back to TN by 9:00. Safe travels and hope to see you again.

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