Everyone loves the Christmas holiday season,especially hunters! Those fortunate enough to escape the hustle and bustle of employment often seek solace in a duck blind. Although Christmas is about Christ, I for one believe He puts the creatures on Earth for us to enjoy.
Recently I was able to chat with the hosts of Drake’s Migration Nation, about their Christmas traditions. Wouldn’t you know it; both involved waterfowl hunting! Trey Crawford spend his entire fall and winter like a gypsy; wheeling his truck from north to south, guiding dozens of waterfowl hunters along the path. Typically he ends his regular season in Oklahoma and that is where he will spend his holiday season. “The day after Christmas, my newly married son and my seventeen year old daughter, will fly to Oklahoma,” explained Trey. After some catching up and gift exchanging, Crawford gets the band together again and heads out put his kids in some barrel burning action. “Guaranteed we’ll get into some “squeakers” and if the ducks show up that’s a bonus,” quipped Crawford in his easy going southern style.
Trey has spent the last several years guiding late season hunters for lesser Canada geese and ducks in the agricultural land of central Oklahoma. Previous episodes of Migration Nation TV have shown what he can produce with a duck and goose call. Limits of “squeakers” as he refers to lessers, is not a rare sight in his camp. Thus, a reunion of his children is just the icing on the cake for this traveling waterfowler. He mentioned it’s a time to chat, catch up and share some laughs with his clan in a great setting. The central flyway allows for six bird, dark geese limit, in addition to a six bird duck limit (5 Mallards) so expect game straps heavily laden with birds when his crew returns!
Christmas always means a big meal and fortunately Crawford is known as a great hand in the kitchen. No one appreciates a big meal more than hunters returning from the field but that meal is always improved with family at the table! All good things come to an end, and Trey’s kids have to return to their residences while he will greet another set of clients.
Ice flow is usually what forces Barnie Calef off the big Missouri River and onto different haunts. Previously cold weather froze the river up, allowing Barnie to head home and enjoy the Christmas holiday with family in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. This year he left the river early after a poor waterfowl migration. “The weather has been so warm up north,” he said frustratingly,” that we haven’t hardly seen any birds.” Biologist reports showed tens of thousands of ducks and geese stacked up in the Dakotas; while seasons ends south of them. Thus Calef was headed home for a few extra days to enjoy his free time with family.
“Typically, right after Christmas I’m on the phone chasing down hot spots to film a show,” explained the Migration Nation host. Knowing hundreds of reliable guides, hunters and outfitters allows him the ability to quickly locate areas where birds are stacked up and receptive to his calling. In mere hours, he can be on the road like a Labrador retriever chasing down the next duck.
Although Calef does have a penchant for the big rivers; where he enjoys really coaxing ducks via calling into a decoy spread, he is not against hunting them in a cornfield! Who doesn’t like the chaos of dozens of greenheads clamoring from the clouds, as they spy the decoy spread? “I have joined up with Trey (Crawford) once or twice in the past for some great late season hunting, and we may do that again after Christmas,” replied Calef.
No it doesn’t matter whether it’s Illinois, Arkansas, Texas or Kansas, the Drake team will travel there, hunt and film it all for posterity. All they require is ducks, geese and semi-passable road conditions.
Many of us will still be chasing ducks and geese during the Christmas season. Take a tip from the Migration Nation hosts, Barnie and Trey and “go the distance”. Even though the season may be tough, keep after them; the effort is often rewarded!
Story by Tom Cannon
photo 1 by Daniel Sample, photo 2 & 4 by David Weldon, photo 3 by Tom Cannon