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Banding Together for Waterfowl

Call like a Champion

Secrets of an unforgettable Arkansas waterfowl hunt
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  • photo by Avery Outdoors
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By Matt Young

In these busy times, it’s hard to do anything on the spur of the moment anymore. Many of us have to live by the clock and the calendar, and throughout most of the year, we grin and bear it. But if you are a waterfowler, there are certain times when you just have to drop everything, get your gear, and go hunting. That was the case last December when I received a late-afternoon phone call from Jim Ronquest. We had been trying to plan a duck hunt since before Thanksgiving, but scheduling conflicts kept getting in the way.

“We have a group of our TV sponsors coming to Stuttgart in a few days,” explained Ronquest, who is multimedia director for Rich-N-Tone (RNT) calls. “John Stephens is hosting the group at his place on the reservoir. We’ve got room for one more hunter. Can you make it?”

While I had a deadline looming in the near future, Ronquest’s offer was hard to refuse. First, it was unlikely that I would ever have the chance to see two better duck callers in action on the same hunt. Stephens, who is president of RNT, has won the World’s Championship Duck Calling Contest three times (1995, 1998, and 2005), and Ronquest took the title in 2006 after several close finishes. They both earned their calling chops in the duck hunting crucible of east-central Arkansas, and their contest calling prowess may only be exceeded by their skill in calling live birds. Second, Stephens’s reservoir is a Stuttgart area landmark that can hold massive concentrations of waterfowl. All things considered, this was an invitation no duck hunter in his right mind would ever pass up.

“Count me in!” I replied. “I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

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