Clay Baird: Welcome to the Ducks Unlimited Podcast, the only podcast about all things waterfowl. From hunting insights to science based discussions about ducks, geese and issues affecting waterfowl and wetlands conservation in North America. We bring the resource to you. The DU podcast with your host Chris Jennings.
Chris Jennings: Today I've got Brook Richard from Lafayette, Louisiana. Currently he's the Higdon Outdoors corporate relations manager.
Brook Richard : Correct.
Chris Jennings: Brook is a world-class speck hunter, caller, been called a speck specialist. And I think, you know we kind of talked before this and he said he's had this question probably a million times in the last few years. People are just starting to see specks, starting to get into it, people are buying speck decoys, people are buying speck calls cause they want to get in on this action. What are you telling people? "Hey, here's your starting point."
Brook Richard : Gosh, yeah it's a multifaceted question and there's so many different answers. It's typically, "Hey, I'm duck hunting and I see specks. I haven't seen a lot of them before. Now I see them. What do I do? Brook, how do I, how do I target these birds?" And a lot of times it's a very easy answer, it's "do you have a speck call?" "Oh yeah I've got one and I'm trying and we'll get their attention but they won't finish." "Okay, well do you have speck decoys out?" "Yeah well we do." "Well, what seems to be the problem?" "Well they're just not finishing." Okay, well you ever thought of maybe eliminating some of your ducks spread because specks are picking up on your ducks spread and maybe they're cautious of your duck decoys and --
Chris Jennings: Turn off the mojo, maybe.
Brook Richard : A lot of times that's what it is. It's folks hunting over water, they're seeing specks and specks are just hanging up at 80 yards and specks are very well known for that. Whether you have duck decoys out or not, that's just part of the speck game.
Chris Jennings: Even as a world-class caller you probably see them hang up at 80 to 90 yards. Maybe play the old shift game, where they get shifty moving left and right on you.
Brook Richard : They won't do it often because I'll pack up and leave if it's just not my day. You got to pick your day. We'll fight through it a lot of times, but it's just the name of the game with speck hunting. That's what makes them fun to hunt. They're not easy to successfully harvest a lot of times, but it's what keeps you going back for more, makes the good days good.
Chris Jennings: Absolutely. And you started speck hunting down in Louisiana, then you've transitioned up North. You mentioned earlier that someone had called and said "Hey, we want you to come up here and kind of be the speck specialist."
Brook Richard : Yep and that's the thing is originally from Lafayette, Louisiana, you hunt what you have. You hunt the hunt you have, if you will. And down South in South Louisiana, we haven't had the best duck seasons, but we had an abundance of specks when I was growing up, so we targeted specks. It was the low lying fruit and we were successful at it. Growing up targeting specks created what I didn't know was a great opportunity for me in the future and that's folks in Arkansas and you know all over the country saying, "man, please come show me how to shoot these things." As a young person from South Louisiana when that opportunities handed to you, you're like, "you know what, I'd love to go speck on with you in another state, that sounds like a great idea." That's really where I got my foot in the door guiding and things like that. It's just a unique skill set or was a unique skill set, now not so much because specks are popping up everywhere and folks are learning the game really quick, it's exciting.
Chris Jennings: Now you've got speck calling contests and you say you've judged bunch, you were at the Fall Flight Festival recently.
Brook Richard : Yeah, it's awesome to see the speck thing blowing up and you know I moved up to Paducah, Kentucky to work for Higdon Outdoors in 2016 and I was very happily surprised when I got to Paducah Kentucky and saw a huntable population of specks. I was kind of worried but Arkansas isn't far away from Western Kentucky, so I knew I could go through the back door and still get Arkansas. People, they're having speck calling contest and Peoria, Illinois, for goodness sake, I mean, what more could you want being a speck hunter? It's like yay people like the speck hunt now. I'm in a room with 10 friends now instead of just me being the only one who likes speck hunting.
Chris Jennings: That's cool.
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Chris Jennings: Actually where I'm from in Terre Haute, Indiana, I never even saw a speck until I moved down here to Memphis, started hunting Arkansas, Mississippi. Now I've got buddies up there who are buying speck decoys, so those birds are definitely shifting around and giving people more opportunities, which really opens the door for Higdon and for you to really get out there and talk about specks and talk about speck calls. That's one thing I want to focus on. I am not a great speck caller. I do just enough to be dangerous to a lot of juvenile specs. Sometimes from adults. I'll take pride in that but the juvies always fall for it. How do you explain to people what's the first step in really becoming a good speck caller?
Brook Richard : That's a double edged sword too, because speck hunting is unique in the way that I tell people all the time, they listen like mallards should and they finish like snow geese but you can work them a lot like Canada geese. More particularly with that being said, the Canada goose reference is more like cacklers if you will. You can call these birds very aggressive all the way to the ground, but you've still got to have 25% more calling if you will on the corners like you would a duck or Canada's because that's the difference in shooting into a flock of specks at 10 yards or 50.
Chris Jennings: You can make mistakes, you don't have to hit every note with a speck call. I've heard you say that before that if you're just rolling along, you're really getting into it, you can make a couple mistakes and just keep going.
Brook Richard : That's kind of what I set this statement up for up until this point is it's sustained calling. A lot like hunting small Canada geese, cacklers, you're calling them to the ground. So when people ask me, how can I improve my calling to harvest more specks and finish specks a little better or get their attention a little better; learn how to blow speck call for five minutes straight. Whenever you've blown your speck call for five minutes straight, if you haven't passed out yet, be able to do something different that you hadn't done in that five minutes and that is how you successfully harvest specks, that's the name of the game. You're just letting a little bit of rope out at a time and you're letting them do what they're going to do. Just like snow geese, they're big swings. They swing out far on their last pass, they drop down low and you've got to be able to turn them on that last corner and they're going to come in on the deck, but you've got to be able to give it to them. If you stop calling, a lot of times they get nervous. These birds are a lot like snow geese, you hear them making noise, it's because they're eating, they're aggressive, they're telling other geese to get away from them. When they get quiet, something's going on. So a lot of people who are new to speck calling will call them like mallards or even big Canada's, they'll call them on the corners and they'll stop and then the first thing you'll see that speck do is look down like, whoa, where's it coming from? Something's making me nervous. So sustained calling is highly recommended, it works for me very well, that style of calling. Then just becoming proficient and making different speck noises. Be able to change your amount of volume, be able to get a little quieter when you need to be able to get louder when you need to and have more tricks in your bag.
Chris Jennings: They have kind of a little bit of a growl.
Brook Richard : Just a little murmur.
Chris Jennings: It's almost like a Canada goose.
Brook Richard : It's like a little buzz. That's all it is, there's no reference really. When I teach people how to blow a speck call, I relate hail calls and a duck call to maybe yodels on a speck call. In all reality it's just noise, these are geese telling other geese get away from me or I'm really excited because I'm hungry.
Brook Richard : So it's noise, it's sustained calling. It's calling for extended periods of time to finish these birds, call them to the ground and they're coming to sound. Speck calling is a huge, huge advantage when it comes to trying to harvest specks. If you don't have a speck call, I'll just say this, I get asked all the time, we're going speck hunting, you forget one thing. You're bringing decoys or your call? Call 100% of the time. I would rather leave decoys at home and have my call to go harvest specks then vice versa. I truly believe that and specks go to noise, they're looking for it. There's a visual aspect to it, but calling is super important. So if you're listening to this, you want to learn how to get specks within 30 yards of you, go get you a speck call and start learning how to make speck sounds because it's going to help you out in the field.
Chris Jennings: That's awesome. Well Brook, I appreciate you joining me today. More information you can check out ducks.org ducks.org/callingtips. There's tons of calls on there, there's even some videos of Brook describing how to blow speck call and even some real advanced tactics. I appreciate you joining me today. Thanks a lot.
Brook Richard : Thank you for having me.
Clay Baird: Thank you for listening to this episode of the D U podcast. Be sure to rate, review and subscribe to the show and visit www.ducks.org/DUpodcast for resources based on today's topics, as well as access to more episodes. Opinions expressed by guests, do not necessarily reflect those of Ducks Unlimited. Until next time, stay tuned to the ducks.