Wednesday, January 25, 2012


The second annual Tom Harpstreith Memorial Youth Hunt was held on Sunday, January 22nd. Forty area youth, ages 10-17, were treated to a day of Canada goose hunting. In the tradition of avid goose hunters everywhere, the day began early.Registration at 5:00 AM was followed by a complimentary breakfast at the Pineapple Grill.  The breakfast was provided by a wonderful client of mine, Jeff Meyer of Jacksonville, FL, owner of Pathfinder Ranch in Alcova, WY.

I am humbled by the support of my clients in making this a memorable day for the kids.  Friends of WyoBraska Waterfowl contributed over $4,000.00 to support the hunt.

Twenty local hunters who donated their time and pits served as guides for the kids. The Youth Hunt is not a competition. It is our way of introducing kids to the sport of waterfowling.

If you have been following the blog (and if not, why not?) you know that we have had an unusually warm winter. Southern Alberta and Saskatchewan and all of Montana have been warm as well. The geese never migrated in the numbers we are accustomed to seeing. We were all concerned about the quality of the hunt for the kids. More than one volunteer guide told me a tale of woe regarding their goose hunting so far. One pit normally has harvested over 200 geese by this time and they have shot 5! Some pits have not had a shot all year. Until Sunday.

I am certain that my good friend, Tom Harpstreith, was responsible for the storm that hit Montana last week. Snow coupled with below zero temperatures for several days pushed a number of fresh birds into our area. Many pits that had not bagged a goose all year shot limits on Sunday. Every pit had shots at geese.  More geese were bagged during this hunt than were harvested during the Goshen County 2-Shot Goose Tournament in December. Thank you my dear friend, I know you had a hand in the storm. The kids thank you as well.

The two hunters I had with me epitomize the purpose of the hunt. Ten year old Cade Herring had a hunting accident in December. Cade lost his thumb and little finger on his left hand to a shotgun blast. His desire to hunt and experience the outdoors has not been diminished by his accident. Joining Cade in the pit was his good friend Jared Myrtle. Cade and Jared did not want a parent to accompany them on the hunt because they wanted to experience a guided hunt on their own.

Think they were excited? The boys slept in their layout blinds the night before the hunt. How cool is that?

On the way to the Lingle pit, I explained the pit we would be hunting was Tom's favorite pit. The designated retriever for the day was Tom's Lab, Awesome, aka Aussie. Both young men were quick to grasp the significance of the honor that had been bestowed upon them. Once in the pit, Cade was informed that he was sitting in Tom's chair. His response was "I can't believe I am hunting in Tom's pit, with his dog and sitting in his chair. This is the best day of my life!" Quite impressive for a ten-year old.

The hunt ended at 12:00. Everyone gathered for lunch at The Little Moon Super Club in Henry owned by Ben Hager. Ben served on the organizing committee and guided in the hunt as well. The complimentary lunch  for the hunters and parents was provided by Bret Van Rensselaer of High Plains Wingshooters. Thank you Bret. Following the lunch a goose calling contest was held for the young hunters. Brett Guth won the 14-17 year old age group and Kash Kaufman  won the 10-13 year old age group. The winners were presented with Zink goose calls. The highlight of the day was a drawing for a new Benelli Black Eagle 20-gauge shotgun. This is the exact gun that Tom shot for many years. The winner of the drawing was Hannah Woster of Torrington. Hannah  had to borrow a gun for the hunt. Is it coincidence that last year's winner of the shotgun also did not own a shotgun? I think not. Thanks again Tom!

We had very few geese and then there "SOME"!

Trent Tatum Photography

Sunday, January 15, 2012


The duck season closed in Nebraska on January 11th. I had one of my long-time groups from Park City, UT, here for three days. We hunted the river that day. It was an epic mallard hunt.

We woke that morning to light snow and blustery NW winds. There was a certain amount of anxiety on my part on what the day might hold for us. In the six years I have hunted the river in Nebraska I have never had a bad hunt in the snow. Today was no exception.  The designated retriever for the day was Dani, the Platte River specialist. There is not a dog anywhere that can hunt the river better than Dani. 

From first light the sky was filled with mallards. The ducks were very responsive to the calls. My Dad, Michael, was with us in the blind. We make a formidable duo on our Carlson duck calls. We have been responsible for the demise of many mallards over the years. As legal shooting time passed we had several flocks of 20-30 birds inside ten yards over the decoys but because of the poor light conditions we didn't shoot because we could not tell the drakes from the hens. We practice "Green Only" at WyoBraska Waterfowl. 

We did experience an occasional lull but it would not last over twenty minutes and the ducks were back on us in full force. My hunters had their limit of 15 drakes by 8:30. We also bagged six Canada geese that morning. For the next couple of hours we called in  hundreds of mallards.  It is a joy just to watch them.

It was a great finish to a great season.

Sunday, January 8, 2012


If you have been following the blog (If not, why not?) you know I often write of friendships, belief in God and other cerebral musings. Friendships are a gift from God. If you are fortunate enough to have one or two close friends in your life you are truly blessed.

I have been blessed beyond mortal comprehension. I have unequivocally the best clientele in the world. Some of them have been hunting and/or fishing with me for years. Some go back to my days in Park City. Some have been hunting with me since I launched WyoBraska Waterfowl in Torrington. Some are good shots. Some are not. Some have become very close friends. In fact, Some have become spiritually close friends.

Some come to enjoy the spectacular sunrises. Some relish in the majesty of decoying mallards and Canada geese responding to the call. Some come for the stories and the 'man-time' in the pits and river blinds. Some come to enjoy the dog work.

Suffice to say I am blessed to have Some friends who pay me to take them hunting and fishing. Those Some are the perfect friend.

Better than Some?  None are better than my Some.

Allen Barber - Dr Lynn Wilcox
Better Than Some

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH.......yada...yada

WyoBraska Waterfowl continues to have a good season in spite of the low waterfowl numbers. Our goose numbers are well below normal. This time of year the Lingle Refuge would be holding 25-40 thousand geese. I estimate we have around 7 thousand. That being said, we have had only one total strike-out day. Our hunters have managed to bag many limits from the Lingle pit. Limits were taken as recently as 12/29 and 1/1.

Mallard numbers remain strong at Lingle, the river in NE and the lake. We hunted the river on 12/30 and 12/31 with the Hall brothers, Paul and Mike, and Alan Blum from Estherville, IA. They shot limits of mallards (all greenheads, I might add. Except for one 'friendly fire' hen. I won't say who shot it, but his name starts with P and ends with T) both days along with three bonus geese. This group was one of only three first time groups this year. I simply did not have room for anyone else. All other groups are return clients and for that I am very grateful.  By the way, both of the new groups who have hunted so far have re-booked for next year.

The weather has also been a real challenge this year. As I pen this report it is 61 degrees with light winds. As is common in most of the Midwest and West, we have had virtually no snow this year. We have had two rather benign snow events and surprise, surprise we had great mallard hunts on the river during the snow and an epic Canada-mallard shoot at Lingle. The lack of wind has been the other challenge. Day after day with little or no wind. Come on, this is Wyoming! The wind always blows here.

The mild weather is also responsible for our greatest challenge. Little or no migration. My contacts in southern Saskatchewan and Alberta report they still have open water and no snow.  They are covered with geese and ducks. Montana has 'stupid' numbers of geese and mallards. My sources there are having their best waterfowl season ever. I am so very happy for them. NOT! Send a few this way please.

No snow causes concern over lack of water and spring nesting success. We may go from record duck numbers to not so good in a year. However, things can change very quickly. So lets all pray for bad weather in Canada and especially Montana.

As always, you have my guarantee that WyoBraska Waterfowl will do our very best to provide you with a memorable hunting experience.

Pat Hall, Max, Rookie Guide, Alan Blum, Mike Hall, Nellie

"Jason & Michael, Thank you for a great hunt. You both did a great job of calling no matter what Al said about you. It was a very memorable trip and has to go down as one of my top hunts of a lifetime. Thank you again! Mike Hall."
 "Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the mallards and geese that take our breath away!"

Sunday, January 1, 2012


A few pictures from the 2011 waterfowl season. Thank you to all my amazing clients. It is a pleasure and an honor having you hunt with WyoBraska Waterfowl.