The Story Behind the Great Waterfowl Adventure
This is the story of two men whose lives were changed by chance and some might say by destiny. Both men share a love for dogs, the outdoors and wing shooting. They also share a set of family and personal values that have kept them grounded through nearly thirty years of friendship.
The story begins in a corn field in west central Iowa in 1982. Stan and a couple of friends from Alabama were chasing Iowa Pheasants in their usual fashion. Get in the truck and drive around the country to look for likely pheasant habitat on harvested farms, drive up to the farm house and ask permission. This usually involved a chuckle or two when the question was posed "Would Ya'll let us hunt your place if we are careful and respectful of your land and property?" And by the way have Ya'll seen any pheasants this year?
The first response being; where are you from? And the second being; why would anybody drive that far to shoot a pheasant?
On this particular day permission was granted to hunt the farm which was primarily harvested corn fields and the surrounding fence rows, grassy water way drains, ditches, a few plum thickets and wind breaks. The morning hunt was good and the group stopped for lunch around noon. They drove into the small town of Audubon, Iowa for a quick bite at the local A&W Root Beer Burger shop. "Stan's usual routine calls for getting a couple of plain burgers for the labs to eat for a quick energy boost for the afternoon hunt." After securing the burgers and returning to the vehicle to feed the labs, Stan discovered that his yellow lab Dusty had a severely swollen right foot. Closer inspection indicated that Dusty needed medical attention. The owner of the A&W gave directions to the Vet Clinic that was located a couple of blocks away.
The ladies at the desk in the clinic said that while the clinic was a large animal facility one of the vets would take time to look at Dusty. Dr. Mark welcomed Stan into the examining room and quickly discovered that a piece of corn stalk had penetrated the pad on Duty's foot. He opened the cut took out the corn stalk piece and cleaned out and bandaged the wound with a reassurance that Dusty would be fine to hunt in the afternoon. After thanking Dr. Mark for this help and not to miss an opportunity to find additional hunting areas Stan asked if Dr. Mark knew of any good pheasant spots. Dr. Mark said he was not a hunter but the clinic had just hired a young vet a few months earlier that really loved to hunt but was out on a call. Dr Mark suggested that Stan call Dr. Daryl early the next morning and he might be able to help with a pheasant spot.
The Alabama group returned to Des Moines which served as base camp for the Iowa trip. Early the next morning the group headed south to hunt but stopped at a pay phone (cell phones did not exist in 1982) around 7:00 AM to call the vet clinic in Audubon. As luck would have it Dr. Daryl was in and took Stan's call. After a few minutes of telephone conversation Daryl decided to take a chance on this unknown group and agreed to have them meet at the clinic the next day at lunch with a promise to take them along for an afternoon pheasant hunt. That one afternoon together started a friendship that has lasted 30 years.
To recap those near thirty years would take a hundred pages. For now suffice it to say that we will leave that for future writing.
Daryl was born and raised in South Dakota and has hunted pheasants and upland game for most of his life. Stan was born in Louisiana and was raised in South Alabama. He hunted doves, quail, rabbits and squirrels in his younger years but for the last 35 years has been an avid waterfowl and (thanks to Daryl) pheasant hunter.
In 2004 Daryl's wife Nancy gave him a book entitled "Following the Flight" with an inscription saying that she hoped someday he could make the trip described in Charles Potter's book. The book is a biographical account of a hunting adventure that Charles experienced in 1982 and 1983 when he set out to follow the fall migration of waterfowl from Canada to Louisiana. It describes the experiences and emotions that Charles shared with waterfowl, friends, acquaintances and his lab as they made their way from the waterfowl breeding grounds of the Canadian Prairies to the Bayou's of Louisiana. It is ironical that 1982 was the year Charles started his trip and 1982 was the year Stan and Daryl met for the first time and their friendship began.
Daryl put the book in play in 2005 when he loaned it to Stan and suggested that this might just be the best idea he had ever heard of for two avid wing shooter and duck nuts. As is the case with most fine wines and ideas they need time to age and mature. Daryl knew that Stan was a senior volunteer with Ducks Unlimited and probably had some connection that might come in handy for this plan.
In fact Stan's volunteer career with Ducks Unlimited has spanned over 30 years. He started as a volunteer committee member in Birmingham Alabama in 1979 and has since served as the Alabama State Chairman, the Regional Vice President for Ala. and Mississippi, Flyway Sr. Vice President for Al. Ms, La. Ark. Tn. Ky. Mo. He served on the Ducks Unlimited National Board of Directors for twelve years and the Ducks Unlimited Canada Board of Directors for three years. He currently serves on the Ducks Unlimited Inc. national Finance Committee and the national Audit and Budget Sub-Committee. This volunteer commitment to Ducks Unlimited has rewarded Stan with many great friendships from Canada to Mexico.
While Stan and Daryl shared a duck blind in Miss. in Jan of 2008 the challenge was made. "OK Daryl you put the idea on the table in 2005 and it is now time to make this dream a reality" and by the way Jane has blessed the deal. I will be 65 in Oct. and I think this would be a great way to celebrate 40 years of hard work and take a little time off. Daryl's response took all of 1 second "You're On Let's Do It". All that was left was to plan the route and start lining up hunting locations. And so the plan for the Great Waterfowl Adventure of 2009-10 was born and put in motion.
Over the next several months wheels turned, phone calls and visits took place all in anticipation of a schedule that would accomplish the stated goal. Track waterfowl from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico in one season.
The provinces and states on the list include the following:
- Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba
- North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Louisiana, Mississippi, Iowa, Alabama
Hunting camps and hosts for the trip are all friends and companions.
The trip will have four legs to accommodate the fact that both Daryl and Stan still work full-time in closely held businesses and have families that expect to spend time with Dad and Grand-dad during the fall and winter months.
- The first leg will start in early October and cover AB, SK, MB, ND, SD.
- The second leg will start in mid November and cover KS, NE, OK, IA.
- The third leg will be mid December and cover AK, TN, North LA, North TX.
- The fourth leg will be in early January and cover South TX, South LA, MS.
There are also a number of friends who have expressed a desire to be part of the adventure, by providing hospitality, so for many of the states there will be multiple venues depending on weather conditions and availability of hunting opportunities.